As a First Nation on Vancouver Island, the Huu-ay-aht First Nations must object to a resolution made yesterday by the Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM) concerning the banning of old-growth logging on Vancouver Island. As stewards of our lands for generations, the Huu-ay-aht First Nations is troubled by Resolution C27, which takes away from our legal and historic right and responsibility to manage our lands and resources as our hereditary leaders and duly-elected government see fit.
The modern treaty, the Maa-nulth Final Agreement, grants to the Huu-ay-aht: self-government, ownership of its own lands and resources, a stewardship role on Crown lands within Huu-ay-aht territory, as well as a Crown forestry tenure. The Huu-ay-aht First Nations also holds a seat with the Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District. As a result, we also fully-participate in the proceedings of UBCM. We are disappointed in the lack of consultation and full debate on the matter, as well as the means by which it was brought up and passed in short order.
“As First Nations, we are stewards of the forestry resources on our lands,” says Chief Councillor Robert J. Dennis Sr. of the Huu-ay-aht, “and in Huu-ay-aht territory, our forestry is not only sustainable but guided by three sacred principles: ʔiisaak (greater respect), Hišuk ma c̓awak (everything is one), and ʔuuʔałuk (taking care of present and future generations).”
While we understand that there are and will be First Nations communities that oppose the harvesting of old-growth on Vancouver Island, we would like to point out that it is the responsibility of First Nations and the Provincial Government to consult on and manage Crown lands and not that of local governments.
“Environmental groups do not speak for us on forestry issues,” Chief-Councillor Dennis continues, “I would have hoped local governments would realize that sustainable forestry begins with consultation and accommodation of First Nations’ interests. A unilateral and one-size-fits-all resolution calling on the Province to ban old-growth harvest on our traditional territory is completely unacceptable.”
While delegates of the UBCM may now urge the Provincial Government to take action based on this resolution regarding halting harvest of old-growth timber, the Huu-ay-aht First Nations will insist that the Province continue its practice of respecting our right and responsibility to manage our lands according to our ancient principles and modern, sustainable methods.