Huu-ay-aht First Nations would like to offer its condolences to the family and loved ones of the two University of Victoria students killed in the bus crash late Friday night near Bamfield.
“Our hearts are heavy this morning after learning of this tragic loss,” explains Chief Councillor Robert J. Dennis Sr. “One of our three sacred principles is Hišuk ma c̓awak (Everything is One), and it is our belief that we are all connected. As a community, we want to offer our condolences to everyone involved in this incident.”
Chief Dennis was at the scene last night assisting with the efforts. He says this is a difficult time for everyone involved, especially the 48 people who were travelling on the bus at the time of the crash and their loved ones.
Huu-ay-aht would also like to expresses its appreciation to all of the first responders and volunteers who attended the incident. This includes the Port Alberni RCMP members, paramedics, firefighters, and seach and rescue volunteers, as well as the air support that was offered from 442 Squadron Comox.
“We live in a remote part of Vancouver Island, connected to larger communities by a logging road. We have known for a long time of the safety issues related to this road,” Chief Dennis says. “Knowing we have such a strong team ready to respond when needed means a lot to our community, and we want to make sure they know how much we appreciate their sacrifices.”
Chief Dennis would also like to express his appreciation to the City of Port Alberni for all they have done to help the victims of the crash. While the most serious were airlifted to Victoria General Hospital, the City of Port Alberni set up a reception centre at Echo Centre for the remaining victims, until they were bused back to Victoria.
At the time of the crash, the bus was travelling to the Bamfield Marine Science Centre along the Bamfield Road. This approximately 85-kilometre stretch of logging road is known to be dangerous. Huu-ay-aht First Nations has been actively trying to work with all levels of government to address the safety challenges this vital link poses for its citizens and others who travel the road.
“I believe this incident highlights the need for an immediate meeting with the province to discuss what can be done to ensure there is a safe route between Bamfield and Port Alberni,” Chief Dennis explains. “Safety on this road is one of our primary concerns as a Nation. Too many lives have already been lost.”