Councillor Tom Happynook


Tom Mexsis Happynook is the head Hereditary Whaling Chief of the Huu-ay-aht First Nations, which is a tribe within the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Group located on the West Coast of Vancouver Island.


From June 2009 to March 2011, Tom served as the Huu-ay-aht First Nations Treaty Implementation Team Leader. He is responsible to ensure all the work that needs to be completed for the Treaty Effective Date (April 01, 2011) is complete and there is a smooth transition into Huu-ay-aht self-government.


From November 2007 to November 2008, Tom served as the elected President of the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council. The Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council has 14 member First Nations residing along the West Coast of Vancouver Island.


Chief Treaty Negotiator for the Huu-ay-aht First Nations, Tom Happynook concluded the Maa-nulth treaty negotiations with Canada and the Province of British Columbia in July 2007.


Tom has also been deeply involved in the Huu-ay-aht First Nations’ forestry efforts to become part of the local, regional, national and international forest industry and economy.


Tom is the narrator of two Huu-ay-aht First Nations films, Heart of the People and Return of the River, and has been integral in fostering the cultural revival and rebirth of the Huu-ay-aht First Nations, arising from the forest and fisheries restoration efforts of the Sarita River.


As well, Tom was the founding chairman of the World Council of Whalers, which is an international non-governmental organization that provides a collective voice for Indigenous and Coastal whaling peoples around the world.


Tom was also the chairman for Uu-a-thluk (Nuu-chah-nulth Council of Ḥaw̓iiḥ) a forum for building and strengthening relations between the Nuu-chah-nulth hereditary chiefs; governments and their agencies; and between the Ḥaw̓iiḥ (hereditary chiefs) and the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council.


In addition, Tom was the chairman of the Nuu-chah-nulth Seafood Development Corporation (NSDC), a corporation designed to bring the Nuu-chah-nulth First Nations back into the fishing industry, including the shellfish industry.


Tom was also the co-chair of the West Coast Aquatic Management Board, a board that represents the various stakeholders on the West Coast of Vancouver Island.


Tom is also is a lecturer presenting at many Universities around the world bringing to the forefront the Huu-ay-aht/Nuu-chah-nulth culture and traditional ecological knowledge that has been passed down through his family.


A firefighter for 16 years, Tom retired as a Deputy Platoon Chief (Captain) in 1998.  He has been married to Katherine Ann Happynook since 1979. They have two adult sons, an adult daughter, two grandsons and two granddaughters.