Left to right: Mayor John Helin of Lax Kw’alaams, Mayor Lee Brain and Chief Harold Leighton of Metlakatla, following the signing of the agreement. (photo courtesy of the City of Prince Rupert)

City of Prince Rupert strengthen their commitment to Coast Tsimshian nations

Prince Rupert, Lax Kw’alaams and Metlakatla sign memorandum of understanding

The City of Prince Rupert is strengthening its existing relationship with the Coast Tsimshian nations of Metlakatla and Lax Kw’alaams with an agreement to work together.

On Monday, the three governments signed a Memorandum of Understanding — a non-legally binding commitment — establishing a basis for working together on shared goals for the region.

“We have a large number of our members that reside in Prince Rupert and any way that we can improve the lives of our members, people in the city and the region benefits all of us,” said Lax Kw’alaams Mayor John Helin.

One example Helin gave is a 60-unit housing complex which Lax Kw’alaams intends to build in Prince Rupert. Helin said they are working closely with the city to identify a site for development.

READ MORE: Metlakatla senior housing taking applications

Part of the agreement includes support for Tsimshian culture such as art installations, poles, Indigenous language initiatives, carving and traditional ceremony.

“The Metlakatla First Nation prides itself on having a strong relationship with our neighbours while ensuring that our Aboriginal Rights and Title are acknowledged and respected,” Harold Leighton, Metlakatla Chief Councillor stated. “This agreement not only works to create a healthy community and economy for those living in the territory we have called home for thousands of years, but further integrates Tsimshian culture into future planning as the region grows.”

The city is also looking to work with the two communities in achieving aims developed in the ReDesign Rupert initiative — developing affordable housing, regional transportation improvements,, the redevelopment of Watson Island and employment opportunities.

“As our region develops over the next decade, we believe this list of shared interests will only grow, and that these key priorities are an excellent place to start,” Mayor Lee Brain stated.

READ MORE: Redesign Rupert holds four-day workshop to reimagine the city


Jenna Cocullo | Journalist
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