Gwawaenuk Governance follows a traditional Hereditary Head Chief Governance Structure. Chief Charlie Williams is the Hereditary Chief of Gwawaenuk. Chief Williams takes his direction and guidance through discussions with the Heads of each family in the Tribe.
Each head family member is updated regularly by Chief Williams personally and important immediate decisions made between the Chief and head family members.
Large and over arching community planning and decision are made at community meetings attended by the entire community, children as well.
The benefit and strength of the Hereditary system, is the continuity if brings to long term community planning, external party relationship building and program /project history and accountability.
In addition this system ensures that all major decisions impacting the Tribe are guided by traditional protocols and priorities.
Archeology Stratification shows habitation and use for over 4000 years at Hopetown.
Historically Heghums has been the main village and winter site for Gwawaneuk, and is the main Gwawaneuk village today. It is where the Gwawaenuk Tribe has always lived and wants to continue living and working.
Prior to a post Colonial massacre, archaeology shows that there were thousands of people living all along the waters edge of Watson Island, confirming that Heghums was one small portion of a much larger community that included the entire of Watson Island
(Born-to-be-head-of-the-world- - Wilson Duff 1955 - Boas 1905)
IR10A - Hopetown
Under the Indian Act and Royal Commission, Heghums became a Reserve Allotment in 1916. IR 10A is only a small portion of the original village that oral history and historic and archeological record suggests encircled the coastline of most of Watson Island.
ν Latitude 50.55
ν Longitude –126.49
Heghums has always been the main village site, wintering area and Potlatch site for the Gwawaenuk.
Accessibility: Heghums is a remote coastal village, accessible by boat from Port McNeil or Port Hardy; it is approximately a 1.5 – 2 hour boat ride and has emergency evacuation via medi-vac, recently improved by the addition of a replacement dock in the community that is also a helicopter pad.
Gwawaenuk Never Treatied Or Sold Their Lands And Territory.
Gwawaenuk’s Traditional Territory Extends:
IR 10A (Hopetown) is only 1 of 10 Gwawaenuk reservations allotted by commissioner O’Reilly in 1886, confirmed by the Royal commission in 1914 & 1916 and does not reflect the entirely of Gwawaenuk Territory
The Province allocated the reserves in 1938:
- Hopetown IR10A CLSR BC 434,5.85ac, Band’s
- Dove Isl IR12 CLSR BC 410,20ac, Band’s
- Gleyka IR6 CLSR BC 47,8.4ac Surr-timber 1941
- Kadis IR11 CLSR BC 409,318ac Surr-timber1932
- Keogh IR3 CLSR BC 47,10.6ac Surr-timber 1934
- Kunstamis IR 2-2A CLSR BC 47,17.2 ac & 435,96.8 ac Surr-timber 1934-5
- Lawanth IR 5 CLSR BC 45,14.4ac lease to DFO till 1999
- Magwekstala IR 10 CLSR BC 413,9.4ac Band’s
- Quay IR4 CLSR BC 47,10ac Band’s
(Anthony Newman, Land Research of Nanaimo)