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2001 Ecotrust Indigenous Leadership Award

Honoree: Hilistis Pauline Waterfall

Hilistis Pauline Waterfall
Hilistis Pauline Waterfall (Photo by Les Jones) Download a hi-res image: right-click here and select Save As (6.9mb TIF)

"The boundary of our traditional home extends to those parts over which we have been stewards since we first came here."
—Hilistis Pauline Waterfall

Hilistis (Hee-lees-tees) Pauline Waterfall is honored as a finalist for the 2001 Ecotrust Indigenous Leadership Award in Conservation for her community work on conservation, cultural revitalization and community health issues over the past thirty years. Her community of Waglisla (also known as Bella Bella) is a village of 1,500 people on British Columbia's central coast. Hilistis Pauline Waterfall is a member of the Heiltsuk Nation. Archeological evidence places Heiltsuk origins to 12,500 years in one of the ancient village sites.

For the past three years, the Heiltsuk Nation has worked in partnership with Ecotrust Canada to develop a comprehensive research project that focuses on support of Heiltsuk title and rights to the territory. Hilistis is a member of the Internal Working Group that provides this project with professional guidance, helps prioritize research projects and coordinates fundraising efforts. She assists in data analysis for research projects to assure that protocol and interpretation reflect Heiltsuk cultural values and knowledge.

Hilistis has been active in the educational development of Heiltsuk Community College. She is currently serving as the college's Executive Director but plans to retire in the new year. As an instructor, Hilistis designs supplemental materials and courses containing Heiltsuk knowledge that are used in related college courses. She also helped to establish the Band school, allowing youth to attend school beyond Grade 8 after a seventy-five year history of being sent out to residential schools.

Hilistis is currently in the process of developing several new conservation-based, community development initiatives. She plans to document the traditional land stewardship roles and responsibilities historically practiced by her people. Hilistis also has plans to develop school curriculum materials on Heiltsuk traditional values that focus on conservation-based development in the traditional territory.

Hilistis has also served her community by serving on a variety of committees and boards. For the past ten years, she has served as an Advisor for the Heiltsuk Hemas Council, a society comprised of Heiltsuk hereditary chiefs.

Hilistis is mentoring her son, Brett Waterfall. They work together on preservation of the pristine environment that supports their community. The cultural research that she has undertaken for 25 years is now being shared with her son, who teaches young children to sing and dance in the traditional way.


2001 Honorees

Phillip Cash Cash

Susan Burdick

David Hatch

Dennis Martinez

Hilistis Pauline Waterfall

Excerpts from celebration speeches


Learn More

About Hilistis Pauline Waterfall:

Heiltsuk College


Astrid Scholz
tel: 503.467.0758
Download vCard

Jason Pretty Boy
Indigenous Resilience Fellow
tel: 503.467.0803


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