It was a time of celebration and sadness that the Huu-ay-aht Development Corporation bids farewell to its outgoing Chief Executive Officer Stan Coleman. Stan informed the HDC board last year that he would not be renewing his contract when it expired in January 2016. The board has since named Gary Wilson as his successor.
Stan will be missed by the staff at HDC, the board and Huu-ay-aht First Nations as a whole. He began working for the Nation in 2011 and served five years as HDC’s CEO. In that time, he took the organization from a small forestry operation employing approximately 15 people to what it is today, with more than 50 employees.
It has since grown from a forestry-based operation to one that has many businesses and responsibilities. This includes the Pachena Campground, The Market, Forestry, Fisheries, Gravel and, now, the new businesses purchased by Huu-ay-aht in Bamfield, a deal which Stan helped move forward. Although his contact continues until the end of January, HDC staff and board members hosted a going-away party for Stan at Chances RimRock Casino on January 13. Approximately 55 people attended, including staff, members of the board, representatives from Huu-ay-aht First Nations and business partners and contractors.
“It was a chance to recognize what he created,” explained Tracy Walker, Executive Assistant at the group of businesses, “he made such an impact on everyone.” “He has a level of integrity that few could match”, said Martha Johnson, Accounting Assistant at the group of businesses, adding that they organized the party as a way of showing their appreciation for all that Stan has offered them, especially the staff. “We appreciate how far he would go for us,” Martha explained. “He has such dedication, and he has an eye for seeing potential in employees and fostering that. He is a great mentor.”
She added that, during his time at HDC, Stan also brought in many outside contacts that have served to be extremely important in the operation of their businesses.
“Stan has been uniquely committed to the Huu-ay-aht First Nations and the group of businesses over the years” said Angela Wesley, Board Chair. “He has not only been our CEO, he has become part of the Huu-ay-aht family, and although he has decided not to extend his contract, we know that Stan will never be far away and will continue to help us as we move forward”. At the party, the staff and board showed their appreciation to Stan by presenting him with a very unique gift. “The board, management team and staff will treasure Stan’s strong vision and commitment to leadership. The piece represents the wealth of knowledge and guiding light Stan has brought to the organization,” Martha said of the art designed for the outgoing CEO.
The vision for the piece was a collaboration of ideas, from Martha and Tracy it also involved local artist Kelly Poirier and her team at White Raven Consulting, as well as Todd Robinson of Cascadia Glass Studios. The piece is a smaller rendition of art that is showcased at the Richmond oval, called the “Chiefs Treasure Box”. It is made of red and yellow cedar, etched glass and LED lights. It is a contemporary version of a traditional hupakwanum of the Nuu-chah-nulth People. Hupakwanum is the tangible embodiment of treasure.
“The wolf paw represents the creation of the Huu-ay-aht Development Corporation, and Stan’s instrumental involvement in bringing HDC into fruition,” Martha said. “The landscape represents our land and resources, and Stan’s extensive background in the forest industry. Finally, the hammer stamp signifies the first Treaty Settlement Land cut block harvested under treaty.”