Assembly of First Nations National Chief Visits Huu-ay-aht

From left: Councillor Edward R. Johnson, Chief Councillor Robert J. Dennis, NTC Vice-President Mariah Charleson, RoseAnne Archibald, Tayii ḥaw̓iił ƛiišin, Councillor Trevor Cootes, Councillor Duane Nookemis, AFN Advisor Valerie Richer.

On June 22, 2021, Huu-ay-aht was honoured with a visit from Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief RoseAnne Archibald. Archibald was recently elected to her role as National Chief on July 8, 2021. Archibald hails from the Taykw Tagamou Nation of Ontario and is the first woman National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations. Also in attendance was Nuu-chah-nulth Vice-President Mariah Charleson of Hesquiaht.

The National Chief arrived during an elder’s community engagement session where she had kind words and gifts for Huu-ay-aht. She presented Tayii ḥaw̓iił ƛiišin and Chief Executive Councillor Robert J. Dennis Sr. with a gift of medicines from her home including sweet grass, sage, and tobacco. Archibald went on to say she gives medicine because it is about healing.

Huu-ay-aht Executive Councillor Robert J. Dennis Sr. utilized the visit of the national chief to table important issues facing Huu-ay-aht. Robert spoke passionately about his desire for Huu-ay-aht to gain and utilize its fair share of the fishery economy. He stated that one of his priorities was to get Huu-ay-aht citizens back on the waters and to make fishing a viable industry for Huu-ay-aht citizens. He stressed how the AFN leadership could help advocate federally for Huu-ay-aht on this issue to influence policy to create more opportunities for Huu-ay-aht fishers.

Archibald said that she would support Huu-ay-aht in its goals surrounding fisheries federally. Emphatically she spoke on how she understands what salmon and fishing mean to Huu-ay-aht both economically and culturally. She further stated that she will work hard for Huu-ay-aht’s inherent rights, treaty rights, and constitutional rights.

Executive councillor Edward R. Johnson also took time to speak on the needs of his portfolio of citizenship and citizen development, as well as the health. Johnson presented Archibald with a copy of the Huu-ay-aht Social Services Project: Safe, Healthy and Connected, Bringing Huu-ay-aht Children Home and its subsequent progress report. Edward spoke on how current federal policy is creating barriers for Huu-ay-aht’s social services project. Johnson said “The Ministry of Child and Family Development (MCFD) refuses to take part in reconciliation” by creating these barriers. He asked for Archibald and the AFN’s assistance in breaking down these barriers and gaining a stronger voice in Ottawa with the Ministry of Child and Family Development.

In closing, Huu-ay-aht executive councillors presented Archibald with a gift of a cedar box of canned salmon from St. Jean’s Cannery. Archibald was thankful saying:

“Thank you to everyone, it is my honour to be here as well. I have travelled through many territories, and I want to raise my two hands to your communities and your ancestors acknowledging the spirits the lands and the waters as I travel through this land.”

She went on the mention that she wanted to connect with Huu-ay-aht and other Nuu-chah-nulth nations more in the future.