Impacts of climate change on the Cultural Keystone Places of the Heiltsuk of Central British Columbia, Canada

Date and Time: 
Thursday, 17 March, 2016 - 10:45
, Valentina - Hakai Institute, Simon Fraser University
, Dana - Hakai Institute & Department of Archaeology, Simon Fraser University
, Jennifer - Heiltsuk Integrated Resource Management Department
, Nick - Department of Geography, Simon Fraser University
Bella Bella
, Community of - Community of Bella Bella, Bella Bella, BC V0T 1Z0, Canada

The Heiltsuk people of the Central Coast of British Columbia have lived on the land and waters of their territories for over 12,000 years. Over this time, this region has experienced relatively stable sea levels. As a result, this cultural landscape retains a palimpsest of Heiltsuk interactions with and knowledge of their surroundings. These interactions are reflected in place names, countless archaeological sites, and the recent settlement of Bella Bella. Our semi-structured interviews (~30) with Heiltsuk members indicate that with changing climate, sea level is rising, ecological indicators are changing, and temperatures are increasing. These ecological and physical changes, coupled with other social changes, threaten a variety of places and landscapes that have cultural, spiritual, and economic importance to the Heiltsuk. We are working with the Heiltsuk to understand and plan for future changes to their cultural keystone places, using ethnographic methods and modelling.