Huu-ay-aht and Province agree to upgrade Bamfield Road

Premier John Horgan and representative from Huu-ay-aht, the City of Port Alberni, and the Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District stop in November 2019 to recognize the loss of life of two UVic students on the Bamfield Road.

Huu-ay-aht First Nations is pleased to announce a project with the Province of B.C. that will bring significant safety upgrades to Bamfield Road.

The announcement made today in Victoria is welcome news to the Nation as it has been working diligently for decades to upgrade Bamfield Road. This is the Nation’s top priority as Bamfield Road provides a vital link for citizens living in the Huu-ay-aht village of Anacla, on the west coast of Vancouver Island. Without upgrades, the 76-kilometre logging road is a safety concern to all who travel it. This is a very positive end to the first part of this journey, and the Nation looks forward to working with the Province over the next three years to complete the next phase of their vision.

Chief Councillor Robert J. Dennis Sr. would like to acknowledge the commitment made by Premier John Horgan and Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation Scott Fraser. They took time out of their busy schedules to prioritize the Nation’s concerns, even travelling the road in November 2019 to see first-hand the challenges the road poses for travellers.

“By working in a respectful way with Huu-ay-aht to make upgrades to Bamfield Road a reality, we see that the Province is ready to work on true reconciliation with First Nations and is honouring the importance of the safety of our community,” said Chief Councillor Robert J. Dennis Sr. “The upgrades they announced today will make Bamfield and Anacla safer places to live, and it will open up economic opportunities for our communities to prosper together in the future.”

The bus crash in 2019 that claimed the lives of two young University of Victoria students highlighted the need for these upgrades, but their families are not the only ones to lose loved ones along this dangerous stretch of logging road. Through the years, Huu-ay-aht has lost a number of citizens in accidents on Bamfield Road. This project is a legacy to all of the lives lost.

“The Province is honouring our elders and the Nation’s sacred principles of ʔiisaak (Utmost Respect), ʔuuʔałuk (Taking Care of….), and Hišuk ma c̕awak (Everything is One) with today’s announcement,” explained Tayii Ḥaw̓ił ƛiišin (Hereditary Chief Derek Peters). “Our Nation was forever changed when Tayii Ḥaw̓ił Art Peters, my grandfather, was killed on Bamfield Road. It is tragic that it took the loss of so many to highlight the need for chipsealing the road, but we honour the ones we have lost by doing everything we can to prevent the loss of life along this vital link in the future.”

The project is expected to cost approximately $30.7 million. Huu-ay-aht will contribute $5 million, and the Province will contribute $25.7 million from its COVID-19 Re-start and Recovery program. The Nation will manage the project with technical support from Urban Systems, as well as contributing gravel from its pit on treaty lands.

The project is expected to start soon, beginning with geotechnical and design work, and will likely take approximately three years to complete. The Province and Huu-ay-aht will ensure measures are in place during the COVID-19 pandemic to complete this major construction project in a way that protects the safety and health of the people in Bamfield and Anacla.

Upon completion, the road will have a seal-coat surface that will offer a safer, smoother drive for travellers. The upgrades will decrease many of the risks travellers currently face on the logging road such as dust, uneven surfaces, loose gravel, flooding and washouts, and dangerous corners and road edges.

Although the main reason for upgrades is to improve safety on the road, construction is expected to also offer a significant economic boost to the area.

Bamfield was at one time a booming fishing village, but in the past two decades that has changed and the community has struggled economically. The construction of the road will bring its own economic opportunities to Bamfield and the surrounding communities, and when the road is complete it will improve the economic outlook for the whole community.

Roads are a crucial contributor to economic success for a community. With a reliable link to its neighbouring communities, the Bamfield region could see many opportunities come its way. In 2016, Huu-ay-aht First Nations invested in Bamfield through the purchase of 11 properties, including a number of turnkey operations. That investment has already proven to be beneficial to the business community in Bamfield, and the Nation believes it is only the beginning. When a community flourishes economically, it has a significant impact on social development and community health. With this announcement that the Bamfield Road will be chipsealed, the Nation believes the whole community will benefit on many levels.

Huu-ay-aht First Nations would like to acknowledge that the success of this project was built on the framework of working together. Today’s announcement is possible because all the parties worked together to solve this challenge, including the Province, the City of Port Alberni, the Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District, Western Forest Products, Mosaic Forest Management, Urban Systems, University of Victoria, the Bamfield Marine Science Centre, and the many residents and business owners who showed their support for the project.

For full news release, click here

Huu-ay-aht First Nations Receives $375K Contribution for Watershed Renewal from Western Forest Products Inc.

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.

Huu-ay-aht sees cultural centre partnership as exciting step in reconciliation journey

Huu-ay-aht First Nations is excited by the announcement of funds that will alow the community to move forward with their cultural centre in their village. The announcement was made today by the governments of Canada and British Columbia, and the Nation sees it as an exciting and important step toward reconciliation.

Today, the Honourable Catherine McKenna, Minister of Infrastructure and Communities; the Honourable Maryam Monsef, Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Rural Economic Development; and the Honourable Scott Fraser, Member of Legislative Assembly for Mid Island-Pacific Rim, on behalf of the Honourable Selina Robinson, B.C. Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, announced funding for 22 projects on the Island under the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Plan.

Huu-ay-aht’s cultural centre was among the recipients. The projects are an investment in community infrastructure by the two levels of government to benefit communities on Vancouver Island. The project is also expected to support economic recovery in the wake of COVID-19.

Huu-ay-aht will build a new culture centre to provide the community with a language training room, a kitchen, dedicated areas for the production and the sale of arts and crafts, multi-purpose rooms, and washrooms. The facility will also have a multi-purpose field with bleachers for soccer and softball, and a presentation stage with stands for outdoor cultural events.

Huu-ay-aht Councillor Charlie Clappis attended the announcement and spoke about the important role this cultural centre will play in the remote community on the west coast of Vancouver Island.

“We want to find ways to continue to invest in our community as we work toward bringing our people home,” Councillor Clappis said. “We are excited to participate in this partnership, and we look forward to starting this long-awaited project.”

He added that there are several components to the project that will help promote cultural wellness in their community. The centre will feature an elders’ section that will give opportunity storytelling, which is an important part of Huu-ay-aht’s culture. It will also offer recreational opportunities in the upper village with a plan to build playing fields beside the centre.

Under the treaty, Huu-ay-aht also negotiated the return of some significant cultural treasures from the Royal BC Museum and Archives in Victoria. Several of these items were returned in 2016 and are on display in the government office in Anacla. The cultural centre will give these items a permanent home and make room for the return of more treasures.

The Government of Canada is contributing more than $33.2 million, the Government of British Columbia is contributing over $8.7 million and the individual applicants are contributing more than $12.2 million to these projects through the Community, Culture, and Recreation Infrastructure Stream (CCRIS), and the Rural and Northern Communities Infrastructure Stream (RNIS) of the Investing in Canada Plan.

More than $23.2 million of the federal and provincial funding is going to eight projects in Indigenous communities.

For more details on these projects, check out the full announcement.

Pachena Bay Campground will remain closed for 2020

Pachena Bay Campground Management and staff have made the difficult decision that, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the campground will remain closed for the 2020 camping season.

For more information, see the attached announcement related to the Pachena Bay Campground closure.

Thank you for your understanding.