Huu-ay-aht moves forward on Integrated Resource Management Plan

Huu-ay-aht First Nations intends to create a coordinated plan for forest and environmental management in our entire ḥahuułi that respects the present and future needs of the Nation and the ecosystem in our care – the Hišuk ma c̕awak Integrated Resource Management Plan.

The deep need for this work has been highlighted by our Ḥaw̓iiḥ Council and citizens, who want to ensure that we, as a Nation, are doing all we can to balance important extractive industries on the land base with sound management that supports other aspects of our interconnected resources and livelihoods. This work is in the spirit of the principle that what one takes out, one must also put back in.

“The driving force behind the Integrated Resource Management Plan is Ḥaw̓iiḥ,” explains Chief Councillor Robert Dennis. “We heard the message, ‘You can use the ḥahuułi, but we want you to take care of it in accordance with our values and principles.’”

He said it only makes sense to call it the Hišuk ma c̕awak IRMP, because everything is connected. The plan will not just consider the land and trees, but also salmon and other aquatic life, wildlife, and so much more.

To achieve this goal, the Nation seeks to collaborate with the other organizations to which portions of our Ḥahuułi have been entrusted for forestry activities. The process will be led by the Huu-ay-aht Government on behalf of our Ḥaw̓iiḥ Council, with external support from subject matter experts and input from our citizens.

“Our three sacred principles, ʔiisaak, ʔuuʔałuk, and Hišuk ma c̕awak, and the Huu-ay-aht Forestry Principles must guide this work,” says Tayii Ḥaw̓ił ƛiišin (Hereditary Chief Derek Peters). “These principles have been followed by the generations who came before us and will guide the direction and implementation of the plan.”

The plan is intended to inform allowable annual cut (AAC), which is based on a harvesting, reserve, and silviculture strategy for the entire ḥahuułi, including Huu-ay-aht’s Treaty Settlement Lands and Crown Tenures and TFL 44 where that overlaps with the ḥahuułi.  The general approach has been endorsed by Ḥaw̓iih Council and Executive Council.

Huu-ay-aht First Nations has been actively managing their ḥahuułi for thousands of years. With the advent of the British Columbia forest tenure system in the late 1800s, Huu-ay-aht were excluded from the management and decisions made in their ḥahuułi. However, over the past 30 years the Nation has made significant progress towards regaining management of their lands. 

“We have always lived off the land and taken care of it,” says Councillor Duane Nookemis, who will be the councillor responsible for the IRMP. “We have done so in a sustainable way in the past. We have gotten away from that, and we need to get back to that way of thinking.”

He says the Nation has been unofficially doing many of the pieces of the work outlined in the Integrated Resource Management Plan, but now it will be in one place and serve as a reference tool for Huu-ay-aht.

Present timelines assume a two-year time horizon to complete the inaugural IRMP, but with acknowledgement that the work we are embarking on is an iterative and will continue to benefit from collaboration and planning into the future. It is our hope that the work will be funded collaboratively by all forestry partners operating within the ḥahuułi. Councillor Nookemis will be working with the team to ensure all avenues of possible funding and partnerships are investigated.

The planning process will consider:

  • Values identified by Ḥaw̓iih Council and citizens
  • Old-growth forests and monumental cedar
  • Environmental research and renewal
  • Recommendations from the 2020 review of forestry operations in the Huu-ay-aht ḥahuułi
  • Recommendations for forestry management systems and values

The IRMP will provide a collaborative transparent and effective process to manage forestry operations in the Ḥahuułi for the present and into the future. This process is in keeping with reconciliation and the intent of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) by promoting a collaboratively based sustainable future for our people, economy, and environment.

“We are not the only ones who rely on this land. We need to consider all of it,” Chief Dennis explains. “This is an opportunity to combine both of our strengths to integrate our Ancient Spirit with our Modern Mind.”