Over the last twenty years, our community has revived its everyday use of Halq’emeylem, including its use in the various meetings and gatherings. What was once known as Seabird Island Band is also named in Halq’emeylem and community members freely express their pride in our culture and its spiritual practices, the longhouse and ceremonies that mark important events. Family gatherings are held throughout the village during the year and the oral traditions, family heritage and storytelling are carried forth. A museum and cultural centre helps in sharing the culture and in-season monthly salmon BBQ’s are important gathering events.
Planning & managing change
The involvement of community members is the cornerstone to our community’s planning and managing change. This approach has enabled the community to adapt to the changing needs of the population and the environment. Five-year plans have served well to provide the focus for community and organization in capital planning, community economic development, education and physical development. A sustained emphasis on human resource development and education has resulted in community jobs being filled and high employment rates. Stewardship of the territory’s natural resources has contributed to the healthiness and sustainability of these valued assets.
Profitable businesses, many of which are individually or family-owned are established on-reserve and these provide many employment opportunities. Joint ventures involving the natural resources have proved beneficial to the community. Other businesses provide commercial services, eco-tourism opportunities and harvesting from effective use of the land. The community circulates its revenues several times and benefits from little leakage.
The vast majority of 18 year-olds graduate from secondary school and many of these successfully go on to post-secondary education and training. Many members have benefited from the trades training and they currently hold journeyman status, enabling several people to be self-employed while also living on-reserve. With the school adapting to the students’ learning styles, success is evident and high school students rarely drop out of their studies.
Our community has healthy babies. No children are born with FAS and there is support for children with learning disabilities. Along with a concentrated, longterm campaign of zero tolerance for drugs and alcohol and elimination of the dealers (and associated crime), the community has focused on the healing centre for youth and families. Members’ self-esteem is high and they choose healthy lifestyles.
Children are raised without fear or economic poverty and they have opportunities to achieve all they can. Soccer is played under the lights until 10 p.m. The recently held 43rd Elders’ gathering celebrates the balance of cultural, spiritual, emotional, mental and physical well-being. The Elders’ complex is a centre for housing and services where retired teachers can sit in their chair telling stories and listening to traditional music with their great grandkids.
Land use planning & management
The land and environment are protected through the First Nation’s legislation on environment, water, air, forestry and land management. With a full dike on the Fraser River, annual land erosion has been stopped. Similarly, technical effects have helped to maintain year-round the slough’s water level, enabling the development of recreational and eco-tourism businesses.
Through proper planning and zoning development, several light industrial businesses are operating while other land supports agricultural enterprises.
Political stability, governance & accountability
Our constitution and the custom election code that took several years to build have been a foundation of strength for political stability and traditional governance in our community. The Youth and Elders Councils are fully functioning and provide input to the Council table of community decisions. Also, boards and commissions are established to support our self-governance, including a tribal justice and court system. Over 25% of the members attend community meetings and have that feeling of mutual support and accountability necessary for working towards our community vision. The treaty work provides for clarity in governance responsibilities as well as economic opportunities. Over the years, one can see how our community leadership has contributed to Stō:ló Nation unity.
Self-reliance & independence
The families’ financial well-being ensures that members own and maintain their homes. Housing payments in arrears is an issue that has long since passed. All households practice good financial management and personal financial planning. With a strong economy, our Nation has eliminated the poverty of 20 years ago and achieved higher incomes and standard of living. Several small businesses are profitable and provide employment for members. Our community has the technical capacity to perform the work that is required. Recently, we achieved a milestone where less than 25% of community government revenue comes from external government funding. Taxes, business revenues and secondary financing resources are the main sources now.