Ellis Ross speaking on the importance of the Haisla's acquisition of MK Bay Marina.

Ellis Ross speaking on the importance of the Haisla's acquisition of MK Bay Marina.

Haisla mark purchase of MK Bay Marina with ceremony

Song, dance and gift giving was part of the ceremony in Kitamaat Village marking the purchase of the marina by the Haisla.

The Regional District of Kitimat-Stikine have officially bowed out of the waterfront business, with the sale of MK Bay Marina to the Haisla.

The ink on that deal dried late last year, but it became real with a gift-giving and dance ceremony at the Haisla Recreation Centre in Kitamaat Village January 14.

The event, however, also teased to the Haisla’s next plan, which is acquiring Lot 98, and Chief Councillor Ellis Ross explained is right across the road from the marina and is owned by Rio Tinto Alcan.

That said, acquiring the marina was a key component of having that land released from the company and in front of a gymnasium full of Haisla members said that he’s hopeful of seeing that land become the Haisla’s in under a month.

Lot 98, he said, was originally going to be transferred to the Haisla but there were complications relating to MK Bay Marina and the land was held under expropriations since 1998.

We did not immediately receive comment from Rio Tinto Alcan about the land.

Back on the marina itself though, there will be changes and upgrades in the future, and while the Haisla Nation Council has committed money to seeing it done he said the finalized plans aren’t ready, but early diagrams of the future facility show an expanded breakwater, an extension to the store and restaurant, and there may be more berths as well.

Even the name is on the table.

“We haven’t really had time to take a breath yet, but I think that’s probably one of the next things we’ll have to do with our business partner and our community,” he said about the possibility of changing the name of the marina.

Speaking to all who attended the event, he said that while LNG may provide a big opportunities, he said there are side opportunities the Haisla also need to get a handle on, and acquiring the marina is a major step for the community’s economic independence.

“I do not want my kids or my grandkids to continue begging for money from Ottawa. I don’t want our people to exist under the Indian Act forever or think that treaty is the answer. We’ve got to start looking at ways to sustain ourselves,” he said.

He said he hopes that the regional district understands the significance of this deal to the Haisla, which brings in to their ownership land that for decades had existed just on the other side of their community but which didn’t belong to them.

It was reported late last year that the Haisla were set to pay $875,000 in total for the land deal, which breaks down to $704,300 for the land and improvements, $5,000 for the a Crown water lease and $139,000 for other items including remaining assets, trademarks and goodwill.