PORT HARDY – Just days away from the one year anniversary of the initial signing, local and First Nations governments gathered Mar. 14 to reaffirm and celebrate the first year of the North Island Protocol Agreement: A memorandum of understanding to foster respect and cooperation between neighbouring governments.
Nearly forty representatives of local, regional and First Nations governments gathered to have a State of the Region Summit and to review the status and progress stemming from the Protocol.
“This process has been an immense eye opener for us” said Bev Parnham, Mayor of Port Hardy, speaking of bilateral discussions she has been holding with Kwakiutl First Nation Chief Coreen Child. “When we started speaking to each other we soon realized that we had literally hundreds of shared interests. The challenge was to begin the process by selecting just one item to focus on.”
“This protocol, has not been about quick fixes, or about miraculous changes in opinion.” said (Summit host) Gwa’sala-Nakwaxda’xw Chief Paddy Walkus. “But the doors of communication opening amongst all of our communities already feels like a great success it makes me feel like we are moving to a strong place in our relationships throughout our homelands”.
Economic development, communications and collaborative resource sharing were themes discussed throughout the day, as well as in-depth discussions about emergency preparedness, health, employment and training, and maximizing resources for better opportunities for the entire region.
Formally signed March 17, 2010, the North Island Protocol Agreement was characterized as a living document, keeping the door open for additional participants to sign on at anytime in the future.
Signatories to the North Island Protocol Agreement currently include: The Regional District of Mount Waddington; the District of Port Hardy; the Town of Port McNeill; the Village of Port Alice; the Village of Alert Bay; The Kwakiutl First Nation; the ‘Namgis First Nation; the Da’naxda’xw / Awaetlala First Nations; the Kwik’wastutinuxw Haxwamis First Nations; the Gwa’sala-Nakwaxda’xw Nation; the Quatsino First Nation, and the Tlatlasikwala First Nation.