GITXAALA NATION - PEOPLE OF THE SALT WATER
Kitkatla is a small village on an island situated approximately 60 km southwest of Prince Rupert, the north side of Dolphin Island, BC. Canada. It has been home of people called the Gitxaala Nation for over 10,000 years.
My interested in cultures that still live mostly off of their own land, that hunt and fish for their food, took me to Kitkatla to explore their lifestyle and traditions. I've learned how well they take care of each other and respect the elders. When someone catches more than they need, they make sure no one goes hungry. Commercial fishing in their waters is not allowed, so they only fish for themselves. They closely monitor the area, to keep ocean water clean, make sure the rivers are accessible to the fish and most importantly, that they are using nature in the most sustainable way. It was very inspiring to see young people interested in biology, ecology, and environmentalism.
Like many other parts of the world, Kitkatla is facing a serious threat from the industrialized world. If the Enbridge Northern Gateway Project is approved, diluted bitumen from the Alberta Oil Sands would pass through their waterways to refineries overseas. Large oil tankers will travel through the very heart of their traditional territory and past their main village of Lach Klan. Wild Pacific Salmon and other marine resources that sustain their community will be threatened. Spiritual icons such as the Killer Whale and Kermode Bear will also be at risk from even a single tanker accident. Their environment, their culture, and their very existence could be at risk.