Western completes sale of ownership interest in TFL 44 to Huu-ay-aht
Media release from March 29, 2019
Huumiis Ventures Limited Partnership (“HVLP”), a limited partnership beneficially owned by the Huu-ay-aht First Nations (“Huu-ay-aht”), and Western Forest Products Inc. (TSX: WEF) (“Western”) announced today the completion of HVLP’s acquisition from Western of a 7% interest in the newly formed TFL 44 Limited Partnership.
“The transaction is a positive step for Western, for Huu-ay-aht and for the Alberni Valley,” said Don Demens, Western’s President and CEO. “This new partnership will directly increase First Nations participation in the forestry sector, while creating greater stability for our business, our customers, and our employees.”
A community celebration and official signing ceremony was held on Huu-ay-aht traditional territory in Anacla to mark the milestone. Both parties signed papers representing their commitment to the new partnership and sealed them with a traditional Huu-ay-aht cedar bark wax seal.
Videos and materials from the March 29, 2019 news conference and celebration
Many congratulations and messages of support were shared with Huu-ay-aht and Western on the closing of the agreement. See below for the videos, letters and statements from federal, provincial and local government officials:
- Video statement from BC Premier John Horgan
- Letter from Member of Parliament for Courtenay—Alberni, Gord Johns
- Letter from the Honourable Doug Donaldson, BC Minister of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development
- Letter from the Honourable Scott Fraser, Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation and MLA for Mid-Island
- Statement from Mayor of Port Alberni Sharie Minions
Video: ƛ̓aaqačiƛukqin nisma (Growth of our land)
Information that was shared at the recent Community Engagements Sessions on January 14 – 23, 2019
If you have any questions, please contact Heather Thomson, Communications Manager at email@example.com or 250-723-0100
Huu-ay-aht Statement on Tenure Ownership Announcement
Statement from Huu-ay-aht First Nations December 14, 2018 AnnouncementAs a Nation, we are excited to announce that Huu-ay-aht has reached an agreement with Western Forest Products (Western) to purchase 7% of tenure ownership of TFL 44 for $7.2M. This will be done by Western transferring the main assets related to TFL 44 to a newly formed Limited Partnership (LP).
This deal builds on the Reconciliation Protocol Agreement the two parties signed earlier in 2018. Huu-ay-aht and Western share the same goals, and together we have demonstrated a track record of cooperation and a willingness to work together to achieve reconciliation and forestry revitalization. We believe by purchasing this tenure, our Nation is working toward creating opportunities for citizens on our traditional territory. By working together, we believe we can revitalize forestry in the Alberni Valley.Western has demonstrated respect for our Nation and our sacred principles, and we are proud to be partners.“As Tayii, it is my responsibility to make sure our ḥahuułi (traditional territory) is protected for future generations,” explains Tayii Ḥaw̓ił ƛiišin (Derek Peters). “Our sacred principles of ʔiisaak, ʔuuʔałuk, and Hišuk ma c̕awak guide us as we focus on using our resources sustainably, and to create wealth for our Nation in a way that protects those resources for present and future generations.”
This deal is subject to the approval of Huu-ay-aht citizens and the provincial government. If approved, it will represent the next step toward a new and better business model for forestry within the Alberni Valley, one that brings the fibre basket together once again.
“This is about generating opportunities and options for our Nation, while playing an active role in forest management in our territory,” Chief Councillor Robert J. Dennis Sr. points out. “By having a seat at the table, we will advance Huu-ay-aht’s decision-making control in ƛiišin’s ḥahuułi (Huu-ay-aht’s traditional territory), and it will ensure everyone will benefit from the steps we are taking today.”“Forestry revitalization in the Alberni Valley and economic reconciliation with First Nations go hand-in-hand. To succeed with one, we need to succeed with the other,” said Rob Botterell, Huu-ay-aht Legal Counsel. “Today’s announcement by Western and Huu-ay-aht is the first step toward implementing an innovative new framework for the ownership, cooperative management and operation of forestry on TFL 44 and throughout the Alberni Valley that will achieve these twin goals.”Looking forward, this deal addresses key priorities of the Nation. It has the potential to create jobs, training, and business opportunities for Huu-ay-aht citizens close to home, including opening the door for our citizens to become entrepreneurs and operators on our own land.“Our economic development plan focuses on diversifying our revenue streams in order to build our economy both in the short and long term, and for now forestry remains our bread and butter,” explains Huu-ay-aht Councillor Trevor Cootes. “Not only is this deal going to generate revenue and strengthen our economy, but it will provide good paying jobs that will encourage more citizens to come live at home.”Huu-ay-aht continues its commitment to sustainable forestry practices and before undertaking any project we strive to exceed provincial forestry standards.“We are defining reconciliation, and this is the next step in the efforts of Huu-ay-aht and Western to pursue reconciliation and revitalization of the forestry sector together,” Chief Councillor Dennis explains. “Next we will participate in a joint study of manufacturing capacity in the Alberni Valley, including possible milling on Huu-ay-aht’s Treaty Settlement Lands (TSL), explore with other First Nations their business interests in TFL 44, and look at how the cooperative management framework can help us increase the value of activities within TFL 44.”It is still early days, and the Nation will continue to provide information to citizens, answer questions, and ensure citizens have enough information to make an informed decision when the time comes to vote on the deal at People’s Assembly. We will be holding community engagement sessions to discuss details of the deal with citizens in January 2019.
Citizen Community Engagement Sessions:
• Monday, January 14 – Anacla
• Wednesday January 16 – Vancouver
• Thursday, January 17 – Port Alberni
• Tuesday, January 22 – Victoria
• Wednesday, January 23 – Nanaimo
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.