|Huu-ay-aht First Nations (“Huu-ay-aht”) and Western Forest Products Inc. (“Western”) are pleased to announce that Western will provide $375,000 in support of Huu-ay-aht’s Watershed Renewal Program. The program began in 2017 in an effort to renew and enhance fish and wildlife habitats on Huu-ay-aht’s traditional territory (“Ḥahuułi”) for the benefit of future generations, specifically in the Sarita, Pachena, and Sugsaw watersheds.|
“Western’s contribution to this program signals its understanding of Huu-ay-aht’s goals, of both our current Hereditary (“Ḥaw̓iiḥ”) and Elected Councils, and from our elders for generations before us who passed on the teaching of: what you take out, you must put back in,” said Tayii Ḥawił ƛiišin (Head Hereditary Chief Derek Peters). “Huu-ay-aht’s values and sacred principles of ʔiisaak (utmost respect), ʔuuʔałuk (taking care of), and hišuk ma cawak (everything is one), must be upheld, and Western recognizes this. They are clearly implementing these principles and this contribution is an example of reconciliation and ʔuuʔałuk in action.”
“Western is pleased to support this work as it reflects our common interest for the long-term stewardship of the forests,” said Shannon Janzen, Western’s Vice President, Partnerships & Sustainability and Chief Forester. “Through our collaborative relationship with Huu-ay-aht, we have developed a shared vision for forestry based on leading industry practices for sustainable forest management, and through this work we intend to apply our shared knowledge and understanding to enhance forest ecosystems and the values we all care about.”
“Following the wisdom of our elders during the 90s when they spoke loud and clear that urgent action needed to be taken to restore the watersheds – this contribution will ensure we can move these objectives forward,” said Chief Councillor Robert J. Dennis Sr. “I am very thankful for Western stepping up and working together with Huu-ay-aht to restore our watersheds.”
ƛiišin emphasized that Western’s support of Huu-ay-aht is a great example of healthy working relationships between governments and business; one that has resulted in several outcomes that reflect a shared understanding and model for forestry. “This is what reconciliation looks like for our Nation on the ground. This type of relationship is unheard of – there is a lot to focus on and there needs to be balance – but when you work together, good things happen,” ƛiišin (Derek Peters) said.
Funds in support of Huu-ay-aht’s Watershed Renewal Program will be provided in equal installments of $125,000 over three years, for a total of $375,000. Huu-ay-aht intends to use some of the funds to apply for additional financial support through programs such as the BC Salmon Restoration and Innovation Fund, Pacific Salmon Foundation’s Community Salmon Program, and others that may arise.
There are over 20 separate projects and 14 technical reports that comprise Huu-ay-aht’s Watershed Renewal Program. Key outcomes include salmon enhancement, habitat restoration, fisheries and wildlife research, and enhanced forestry initiatives, such as improving riparian zone protection and windthrow management. The program has provided training and employment to Huu-ay-aht citizens since its inception. Huu-ay-aht has also established its own Watershed Renewal Fund and thus far, has allocated more than $1 million towards watershed and fisheries efforts.