Huu-ay-aht Citizens vote to approve purchase of 28% of TFL 44 LP with strong majority

In a Special People’s Assembly on April 10, 2021, Huu-ay-aht First Nations citizens showed overwhelming support for a proposal that will enable Huumiis Ventures LP (wholly owned by Huu-ay-aht First Nations) to purchase an additional 28% interest in TFL 44 LP.

“When we signed the Maa-nulth Treaty it gave our citizens a constitutional right to play an active role in the future of their Nation,” explained Chief Councillor Robert J. Dennis Sr. following the vote. “Today citizens practiced that right and show their support for this deal.”

Citizens were presented with a motion asking for support of a second investment of 28% in TFL 44 LP, bringing the total investment to 35% interest. The vote showed 82% of citizens voted in support of moving forward with the transaction, while 12% voted against. Citizens also voted on three other supporting motions that would move the investment forward with similar results.

“Throughout this process, we were led by our sacred principles of ʔiisaak (Utmost Respect), ʔuuʔałuk (Taking Care of), and Hišuk ma c̕awak (Everything is One),” said Tayii Ḥaw̓ił ƛiišin (Head Hereditary Chief Derek Peters). “We followed the guidance of our citizens and Ḥaw̓iiḥ Council, and we brought an opportunity to our citizens that we believe will honour our ḥahuułi and ensure it will support many generations to come. We look forward to carrying out the task of working with citizens, leadership, and partners.”

Huumiis currently owns 7% of TFL 44 LP, with Western Forest Products Inc. owning the other 93%. This step will increase that ownership to 35%, giving Huu-ay-aht much more say in what happens on their Traditional Territory. It also paves the way for the second stage of the transaction, acquisition of a further 16% interest in TFL 44 LP, to be considered in the first quarter of 2023. This stage would also be subject to a further vote of citizen at a People’s Assembly.

“Today, we moved forward with our Modern Mind, while honouring our Ancient Spirit, and we showed how resilient we are as a Nation,” Chief Dennis said. “This deal gives us more influence in what happens on our ḥahuułi and create opportunities for our citizens and our Nation, while focusing on being economically viable and environmentally sustainable.”

TFL 44 LP sets strong 2021 trajectory despite challenging past year

Tree Farm Licence 44 Limited Partnership (TFL 44 LP) announced today positive safety and financial results for fiscal 2020. TFL 44 LP is a partnership between Western Forest Products Inc. (Western) and Huumiis Ventures Limited Partnership (Huumiis). The 2020 financial and safety results were a remarkable achievement given TFL 44 LP only fully operated for seven months during fiscal 2020 and faced unprecedented challenges from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

“When we formed this partnership in 2019 with Western, we did so with the intention of advancing our shared vision of forestry revitalization, reconciliation, and creating a brighter future for present and future generations,” said Tayii Ḥawił ƛiišin, Huu-ay-aht First Nations Head Hereditary Chief, Derek Peters, and TFL 44 LP Board Member. “In order to accomplish this, we have focused on employment and training, strengthening the relationship with USW and long-term resource management planning. Now one year in, we are pleased with the positive financial performance, and we are making great steps toward our broader goals.”

TFL 44 LP is committed to fostering a strong relationship with United Steelworkers Local 1-1937 (USW) and the local workforce. It is focused on creating opportunities for employees and supporting increased jobs and training for Huu-ay-aht citizens, their family members, and other local First Nations, as positions become available. Huumiis has recently hired a new full-time Employment and Training Manager to ensure the success of its employment and training efforts.

“In light of the many challenges we faced in 2020, the progress that has been made is encouraging,” said Dallyn Willis, Western Vice President, Finance, and TFL 44 LP Board Member. “Western congratulates Huu-ay-aht First Nations and USW on their recent agreement and looks forward to all parties’ continued collaboration to foster the economic revitalization of the Alberni Valley forest sector.”

In addition to their focus on jobs and training, TFL 44 LP and Western have been invited to participate in the Huu-ay-aht-led hišuk ma c̕awak Integrated Resource Management Plan (IRMP). The IRMP is a coordinated plan for forest and environmental management on the Ḥahuułi of the Huu-ay-aht ḥaw̓iiḥ (Huu-ay-aht traditional territory) that respects the present and future needs of the Nation. It considers the entire ecosystem including watersheds, salmon, and other aquatic life, wildlife, and ancient trees. The plan will be guided by the Nation’s three sacred principles: ʔiisaak (greater respect), ʔuuʔałuk (taking care of), and hišuk ma c̕awak (everything is one). It will consider ways to advance the already industry-leading biodiversity and old-forest management practices employed by Western and TFL 44 LP, including retention, silviculture systems and big tree protections. “The commitment to collaboration with Western and TFL 44 LP on the development and implementation of the IRMP is very promising, and we are excited about the future of this relationship,” said John Jack, Huumiis Chair. “As we expand our collective vision of reconciliation and revitalization of the forest sector, we will contribute to the long-term stability of the Alberni Valley for all.”

West Coast Trail re-opening to overnight visitors in June 2021 – Huu-ay-aht supports

Parks Canada announced on Friday that the West Coast Trail would re-open for the 2021 visitor season with measures in place to protect the health of remote communities, Indigenous Guardians, visitors, and Parks Canada employees. This decision was supported by Huu-ay-aht, Pacheedaht, and Ditidaht First Nations, after collaborating with Parks Canada.

“We are happy to welcome people back to the West Coast Trail this year. Lead by our sacred principles – ʔiisaak, ʔuuʔałuk and Hišuk ma c̕awak – our priority will continue to be the safety and health of our citizens and visitors,” explains Huu-ay-aht Tayii Ḥaw̓ił ƛiišin (Hereditary Chief Derek Peters). “We are happy to work closely with our Ḥaw̓iiḥ, Parks Canada, and the other Nations to use the lessons we learned in 2020 and apply them in a way that will allow people to enjoy our beautiful ḥahuułi this year.”

The 75-km West Coast Trail will be open to overnight visitors from June 4 to September 30 in 2021. Reservations will open on April 30 at 8am PDT. All three access points, including Bamfield (Pachena Trailhead), Port Renfrew (Gordon River Trailhead) and Nitinaht Village will be open.

Experienced hikers can book their adventure by visiting reservation.pc.gc.ca or by calling 1-877-RESERVE (1-877-737-3783). Advance reservations will be required for all hikers; no spaces will be offered on standby. At this time, the West Coast Trail is only available to Canadians.

Parks Canada and local First Nations are asking visitors to limit the risk of COVID-19 transmission by paying attention to local signs and community protocols, completing a self-assessment before travelling to the area, and following the guidelines of public health experts, including travel restrictions.

Hikers are also asked to learn in advance whether First Nations villages are welcoming visitors prior to arrival. 

Huu-ay-aht’s village of Anacla, adjacent to the Pachena trailhead, is currently closed to outside visitors. The Nation and the Huu-ay-aht Group of Businesses are in the process of determining when and how to safely open Pachena Bay Campground for the season and will announce details soon. Visitors are welcome to take advantage ofthe locally owned businesses and other services in nearby Bamfield.

Ditidaht First Nation is ready to welcome visitors to the Nitinaht area and asks that visitors show respect to community members and one another.  West Coast Trail Comfort Camping at Tsuquadah, Nitinaht Motel, and the Nitinaht Visitor Centre and Store will be open.  Nitinaht Windsurf Park and Caycuse Campsite will be welcoming visitors on May 21 with reservations opening on April 7 (www.nitinahtcampground.com). Reservations will be required as there will be no walk-ins permitted.

Pacheedaht First Nation is offering a range of services near the Gordon River Trailhead, including extended stay parking, river crossing transportation, oceanfront camping with hot showers and laundry, shopping at the San Juan Market, and mountaintop lodging at Soule Creek.

To learn more about preparing for the West Coast Trail, check out Parks Canada’s hiker preparation video. Reservations for Green Point Campground in the Long Beach Unit will launch on April 7. Details on overnight camping opportunities and possible reservation opportunities for the Broken Group Islands and Keeha Beach are yet to be determined as Parks Canada continues to work collaboratively with local First Nations and explore safe visitor experience options. Detailed information and future updates on overnight experiences in Pacific Rim National Park Reserve can be found online at pc.gc.ca/PacificRim.

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.”

Huu-ay-aht receives $510,340 grant for Pachena Bay Campground

Huu-ay-aht First Nations is pleased to announce it is one of 38 rural communities to receive funding from the province’s Community Economic Recovery Infrastructure Program announced this week.

The Nation is the recipient of a $510,340 grant earmarked for the Pachena Bay Campground expansion. This grant is part of B.C.’s $10-billion COVID-19 response, with grants totalling $20 million across the province. The Rural Economic Recovery stream is designed to help people living in rural communities by supporting new jobs and economic opportunities to help them recover from the impacts of COVID-19.

“Last summer, we made the choice not to open our campsite in order to keep our community and citizens safe during the pandemic,” explains Chief Councillor Robert J. Dennis Sr. “Our citizens told us they did not feel safe opening our community to added risks. This decision came at a significant cost to the Nation. We are grateful for this grant as it will help us move forward with the plans we have despite suffering a devastating tourism season last year.”

The grant Huu-ay-aht received will help create additional sites, new trails, and service upgrades. This will also move forward the plan to build a second access road to the campground. This is something that has been important to the Nation as citizens of Lower Anacla often raised the safety concern related to having the access road through the village. The pandemic also highlighted the need for this second access.

Pachena Bay Campground is owned by the Huu-ay-aht Group of Businesses, which is owned by Huu-ay-aht First Nations. HGB will oversee these upgrades and changes. This is the second grant the campground has received. The first was a federal grant for $270,000.

“These grant funds provide an exciting opportunity to build upon the existing foundation of the Pachena Bay Campground, leading to greater economic success for Huuayaht First Nations,” explained Patrick Schmidt, Chief Executive Officer for the Huu-ay-aht Group of Businesses.

Prior to the shutdown in 2020, the Pachena Campground proved to be a successful venture for the Nation. The new facilities and amenities are expected to attract a new market, including more RV owners. By adding an additional 40 sites, visitor volumes are expected to increase as the campground is typically full for most of the season. This will potentially have positive spinoffs for the neighbouring community of Bamfield, leading to more employment and business opportunities. The expansion is expected to generate five direct jobs at the campsite, creating more opportunity to bring Huu-ay-aht citizens home.

“During the pandemic, we had to make decisions that were often difficult, but they were necessary in order to keep our citizens safe, especially those in our remote community,” explained Tayii Ḥaw̓ił ƛiišin (Hereditary Chief Derek Peters). “Our sacred principles of ʔiisaak, ʔuuʔałuk, and Hišuk ma c̕awak guide us in our decisions, and I am pleased to hear the province is offering support to help us recover from what has been a tough year for many of us.”

 For a full details and a list of all of the projects funded through the Rural Economic Recovery, please refer to the provincial release: https://archive.news.gov.bc.ca/releases/news_releases_2020-2024/2021FLNRO0010-000310.htm