Huu-ay-aht and Western Forest Products Agreement
Statement from Chief Councillor Robert J. Dennis Sr.
August 22 Announcement
I would like to share some information about the announcement made today jointly by Huu-ay-aht (HFN) and Western Forest Products (WFP) and how things are expected to unfold over the coming months.
In March 2018, HFN and WFP signed a reconciliation protocol that affirmed the parties’ commitment to seek mutually beneficial solutions to achieve their respective interests, while also developing opportunities to bolster the long-term sustainability of the forest sector in the Alberni Valley.
Over the past several years, HFN and WFP have deepened their working relationship through the purchase and lease back of the Sarita Dryland Sort and a 200,000 cubic metre timber sale. We’ve proven we can work together for the betterment of all.
Today we are announcing a further step in that commitment: HFN and WFP are exploring options to:
- Increase HFN participation in tenure ownership,
- increase business opportunities and sustain domestic manufacturing in the Alberni Valley,
- increase training and jobs, and
- provide strong environmental stewardship that aligns with Huu-ay-aht’s forestry guiding principles.
We are still in the early stages of discussions, so we don’t have a lot of details to share at this time. No decisions have been made and all options are on the table.
We are letting citizens know now, at the very beginning of these talks.
What we can say now is that we are working with WFP to explore potential alternative ownership structures in the ḥahuułi (Hahoulthee) of the Huu-ay-aht Ḥaw̓iiḥ pursuant to the Reconciliation Protocol Agreement. This collaborative effort may also involve other First Nations with traditional territories in the Alberni Valley over the next several years.
As we move forward, citizens will have many opportunities to ask questions and have discussions. We will make sure all questions are answered, to the best of our abilities, and citizens will receive updates as they are available. The results of these discussions will be brought to Huu-ay-aht Citizens, who will ultimately make the final decision.
Our approach to working with WFP will always be guided by our foundational values incorporated in “Ancient Spirit, Modern Mind” and our Huu-ay-aht Forestry Guiding Principles will be at the heart of the decision-making framework.
What today’s announcement is fundamentally about is reconciliation and forestry revitalization. What we are committing to you is an open process: we will be talking with you as we move forward and seeking your input and support as we build on our common belief that by working together we will benefit the community, region, HFN citizens and Western Forest Products.