Huu-ay-aht brings Coastal Nations together to discuss Old Growth

On April 28, 2022, Huu-ay-aht First Nations and C̕awak ʔqin Forestry hosted the Anacla Old Growth Summit bringing coastal nations together to discuss information on their stewardship and resource management planning and decision-making processes.

The Summit was led by MC, and Tayii Ḥaw̓ił ƛiišin speaker, Wišqii (Robert Dennis Jr.).

To open the meeting, Wišqii performed a prayer chant. He explained that the chant is of gratitude, that every day you are going to hold close to you what you value and what you cherish, including family, community, and things like vast resources that surround you.

Representing Huu-ay-aht at the front of the room were, Ḥaw̓iiḥ Council (hereditary chiefs), Tayii Ḥaw̓ił ƛiišin Derek Peters (head hereditary chief), Jeff Cook, Darlene Nookemis, Larry Johnson (sitting in for Tommy Happynook), Zelda Clappis (sitting in for Andrew Clappis), and Alec Frank. From Executive Council, Chief Robert Dennis Sr., and Council members Trevor Cootes, Edward R. Johnson, and Brad Johnson.

“Ḥaw̓iiḥ Chiefs are here forever, their seats will never disappear,” said Chief Councillor Robert Dennis Sr.. “We know what the principles of our hereditary leaders are and that’s the biggest advantage we have as Huu-ay-aht First Nations, the ḥaw̓iiḥ will guide how we manage our forests.”

The Summit was conducted in accordance with Huu-ay-aht’s Three Sacred Principles of: ʔiisaak (utmost respect), ʔuuʔałuk (taking care of), Hišuk ma c̕awak (everything is one). These three sacred principles are what guide Huu-ay-aht for present and future generations.

“These are strong values that are held by our chief houses and that is something we have never gone away from,” said Tayii Ḥaw̓ił ƛiišin Derek Peters. “We are in a historic time where we are starting to merge these traditional ways on how we manage our resources. It is through our resources, that we survived. We still need, we still harvest, and we still thrive off our territory today.”

Huu-ay-aht had the privilege of hearing from the Honourable Katrine Conroy, Minister of Forests, who joined the summit virtually to address the attendees.  

“We are continuing to support indigenous communities and respect the decision and right titleholders who have made it clear that they don’t support any more old-growth deferrals in their territory,” said Minister Katrine Conroy. “It’s so encouraging to see nations like Huu-ay-aht First Nations, taking these steps to manage the important forestry values for your community based on the best available scientific data and local indigenous knowledge.”

Following Minister Conroy was Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council (NTC) President Judith Sayers.

“It is time for First Nations to manage their own lands according to their own values,” said NTC President Judith Sayers. “We have seen Huu-ay-aht assert their title, assert their rights and assert their management, they’ve shown the world that they can do so.”

Presentations on stewardship and resource management planning and decision-making processes were made by Chief Mark Point of Skowkale First Nations, Chief Don Svanvik and Mike Green of ‘Namgis First Nations, Shannon Janzen of C̕awak ʔqin Forestry, and Tayii Ḥaw̓ił ƛiišin Derek Peters and Marina Rayner of Huu-ay-aht First Nations.

To view the Anacla Old Growth Summit recording, please visit the link here:

Anacla Old Growth Summit handout is available for download here: Anacla Old Growth booklet