The People

The Heiltsuk are an Indigenous people of the Central Coast region in British Columbia. They are centered on an the island community of Bella Bella. The Heiltsuk speak Hailzaqvla, considered a separate language within the Wakashan language family.

Ancestors of the Heiltsuk have been in the Central Coast region of BC since at least 7190 BCE. The Heiltsuk practice a set of cultural expressions that are recognized as part of the “Northwest Coast”. Heiltsuk people are renowned as skilled traders, and for their artistic, ceremonial and spiritual expertise. Ancestors of the Heiltsuk have been in the central coast region of British Columbia, Canada for at least the past 10,000 years.

The Heiltsuk are the descendants of a number of tribal groups who came together in Bella Bella in the 19th century.

Heiltsuk means "to speak and act correctly”.

The Heiltsuk practice a set of cultural expressions that have been grouped together under the term Northwest Coast. These expressions include organization into extended family groups, linkage to origin stories, ranking and differentiation in status, ownership of non-physical prerogatives, seasonal movement to harvest resources centred on large permanent 'winter villages,' sophisticated use of wood, stone and other items, complex ceremonies and elaborate social interactions culminating in the Potlatch. Historically the Heiltsuk people were recognized as great traders, explorers in ocean going canoes, and warriors.