Huu-ay-aht and WFP build foundation for long-term and strong relationship

Western Forest Products Inc. and Huu-ay-aht First Nations announce that they have completed a transaction for the sale and purchase of three properties, including Western’s dry land sort, located in Sarita Bay, British Columbia for a purchase price of $3 million. The transaction also involves a long-term lease back of the dry land sort to Western, an agreement to harvest 200,000 cubic metres of timber from Huu-ay-aht Lands, and an employment and training agreement that seeks to increase the number of Huu-ay-aht citizens participating in the forest sector.

The transaction provides a strong foundation for Western and Huu-ay-aht to develop a long-term partnership with respect to lands and timber resources in the Bamfield-Anacla area.

Huu-ay-aht Chief Councillor Robert J. Dennis Sr. commented regarding the sale, “As a Nation, we want to focus on building a safe and healthy community, and that starts with good relationships, first with our citizens, but also with our neighbours and business partners.” He added, “Our citizens gave us the message that moving forward with Western is a key priority by providing their support at our Special People’s Assembly. Western has shown it respects Huu-ay-aht’s philosophy of Ancient Spirit, Modern Mind and our core values. We are writing the book on how business is to be done in our Ḥahuułi and opening the door to economic opportunities that will bring our people home and create a strong future for the next generation.”

“We recognize the importance of the Sarita area to the Huu-ay-aht and are pleased to have delivered a mutually beneficial transaction to support increased economic benefits from the forest sector to First Nations communities and to Western”, said Don Demens, President and CEO of Western.

For the Huu-ay-aht, the Sarita River is the “Heart of the People” and the properties involved in the agreement with Western complete the reunification of Huu-ay-aht-owned lands at Sarita Bay. Huu-ay-aht received strong support for the land acquisition from its People’s Assembly held February 19, 2017. With a long-term lease in place, Western will continue to operate its dry land sort at Sarita, supporting its timber operations in TFL 44.

Sarita and Nuumaqamis Open to Bivalve harvesting

The subareas 23-4, to 23-6, and 23-10 are open to manila clams, littleneck clams, oysters and mussels only, closed to all other bivalve shellfish.

Marine Biotoxin – Toxins that are produced by certain species of naturally occurring microscopic algae that bloom under favourable conditions. Filter-feeding bivalve shellfish accumulate the toxins when they ingest toxic algae as a food source. The consumption of toxic shellfish can lead to illness and even death. The toxins do not kill the shellfish nor cause any discernible changes in the appearance, smell or taste of shellfish that would alert consumers of toxicity. As conditions (e.g., water temperature, salinity, and nutrient levels) become less favourable, the algae bloom subsides and with time, shellfish rid themselves of toxin and are once again safe to eat.

For more information on Marine Biotoxin and Sanitary Contamination Closures, go to Fisheries and Oceans Canada.

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Investment in Bamfield by Huu-ay-aht appreciated by residents

In late January, the Nation purchased 11 properties in the Bamfield area. It took a lot of hard work to close the sale and even more to get the turnkey operations open and ready to accept visitors.

On April 23, 2016, Huu-ay-aht First Nations invited its citizens, dignitaries, and residents of Bamfield to join them in a celebration to mark this accomplishment.

The event exceeded all expectations, filling the Rix Centre for Ocean Discoveries for the luncheon and a large crowd gathered at The Hotel for singing, dancing, and a ribbon cutting. It was a chance for Huu-ay-aht to thank everyone involved in making it happen and welcome the community. It was also an opportunity for people in attendance to hear Huu-ay-aht’s vision for the future.

Following this successful event, Tayii Ḥaw̓ił ƛiišin (Derek Peters) and Elected Chief Councillor Robert J. Dennis Sr. received the following letter and a photo collage from the day. He wanted to share it with the community.

The letter follows:

Gentlemen,

I have been meaning to congratulate you both on your ribbon-cutting ceremony on April 23.

Bamfield needed a fresh start and you have been doing a wonderful job of being that catalyst and including the whole community in your plans.

Growing up in Bamfield in the 1950s and early 60s, I have watched the gradual decline of our community – first with the commercial fishing demise and then the stagnation of so much of the commercial property.

I feel a hope for Bamfield again, which I have not had for some time. 

Best regards and the best of luck on your venture,

Marc Phillips

 

 

Businesses offer employment to Huu-ay-ahts

When Huu-ay-aht First Nations signed the Maa-nulth Treaty in 2011, one of the main reasons was to create opportunities for its people.

Five years later, that is exactly what it has done.

Since becoming self-governing, Huu-ay-aht has had many opportunities to create wealth and opportunities for the Nation, such as forestry, fishery, and other businesses. Gradually more citizens have been receiving training and finding employment, but nothing has been as successful in job creation as the purchase of 11 properties in Bamfield earlier this year. This move has pushed Huu-ay-aht into the hospitality industry with two feet.

The property purchase includes four turn-key operations – The Motel, The Pub, the Kingfisher, and Ostroms Guest House. It also offered the opportunity to combine two gas bars into one and open the float house as a tourist information centre and convenience store. The businesses, plus The Market and Café means that Huu-ay-aht has a strong presence in Bamfield, but it also opens many doors for Huu-ay-ahts looking for work in their traditional territory.

“With many of these jobs there’s not a lot of barriers to enter the workforce,” explains Bobby Toor, Hospitality Manager for the Huu-ay-aht Group of Businesses. “Most jobs require little to no experience to do them, so it’s a great opportunity.”

Toor has hired approximately 12 Huu-ay-ahts to fill the vacant positions at The Motel, The Pub, Ostroms and the Kingfisher available since the purchase. He says that is not 100 per cent Huu-ay-aht, which is the ultimate goal, but it is getting pretty close.

Toor says it is important to hire and train Huu-ay-aht citizens for more reasons than that their Nation owns the businesses. He explains that they have personal reasons for wanting the businesses to succeed, and that will hopefully create an extra drive to do the job well.

“It also give us a competitive advantage,” he adds. “It offers us something other businesses can’t – the Huu-ay-aht experience.”

He says people want to hear about the history of the area and the traditions and stories of the First Nations who have called it home for centuries. It only makes sense to hire Huu-ay-ahts so that the businesses that are owned by the Nation offer that unique experience. Although the businesses will train all of their staff to be Huu-ay-aht ambassadors, it makes the experience more genuine if the people telling the stories have a connection to the land and the culture.

Pachena Campground and Gas Bar is a huge success story when it comes to offering employment to Huu-ay-aht citizens. This season has been busy with lots of exciting things going on around the campsite. Not the least of these is that this year job opportunities at the campsite brought eight Huu-ay-ahts home to their traditional territory, and all 11 of the staff are Huu-ay-aht citizens.

Having Huu-ay-ahts working at the campsite adds to the experience for the visitors every summer, as they are able to talk about the cultural significance of the land and add details others might not know.

One challenge is finding the right person for the right job, as working physical labour on a campsite is not for everyone.

Esther Jackway manages The Floathouse, The Market and Café. Although Huu-ay-aht has owned these businesses for a number of years, the demand for staff continues to grow.

Esther believes these businesses can offer year-round employment for Huu-ay-aht citizens. Unfortunately, she has not been as successful as Toor in finding Huu-ay-ahts to work for her at the different businesses. She is hoping that will change as citizens start hearing more jobs are available. Currently, Jackway has only two Huu-ay-aht employees out of nine. She says with more positions available that should improve.

“We are close to fully staffed, but with the extended hours, we will be needing more people,” she says. “I’m hoping that it is just bad timing. People are used to these being seasonal jobs, so we’re hoping citizens start looking for summer work soon.”

She explains the biggest obstacle to hiring Huu-ay-ahts continues to be transportation.

“Skills are not the issue here, we can train people,” she adds. “Unfortunately getting here can be hard. Often transportation is an issue, as citizens have to come from the Village (Anacla) to work in Bamfield.”

She says people often believe The Market is a hard place to get employment if you are Huu-ay-aht, but that is not the case, it’s more about availability.

“Our doors are open to anyone,” she says. “But if no one from the Village applies, we have to draw from elsewhere.”

Huu-ay-aht First Nations remains committed to hiring and training its people. The Government offers many education and training opportunities that will give citizens the skills they need to fill positions when they become available.

Gary Wilson says when he  accepted the role of CEO for HFN Management LP and Huu-ay-ath Group of Businesses in December 2015, he was impressed with the companies track record for recruiting and training Huu-ay-aht citizens throughout the organization. He adds that it has been, and continues to be, HGB’s objective to build on this success. The organization will work with the Nation and supporting organizations, like NETP, to create long-term, sustainable opportunities for Huu-ay-aht citizens.

“Having said this, there are challenges that prevent us from achieving this objective in the short-term, like transportation or lack of accommodation, especially those citizens with families who move home, with which we have no immediate solutions,” he says. “Despite the challenges with respect to recruitment of citizens, we are finding creative ways to overcome the barriers to success, but such bandage like resolutions are temporary. A longer-term solution will require a collective effort of Huu-ay-aht, HGB, and others.

Despite these challenges, the board and executive management are extremely pleased with the efforts and subsequent results of the management team in Anacla/Bamfield in terms of preparing our operations for the season and the recruitment of citizens.

“Our next objective is to take the learnings from the experiences this year, build on the successes, and incorporate into our objectives to extend the seasons, creating long-term, eventually year-round employment and creating careers for citizens, he explains.

Annie Merritt oversees training and employment for Huu-ay-aht First Nations. She says the Nation is there to help in any way possible. Her goal is to equip citizens with the skills they need to get jobs and stay employed.

“We are trying to be proactive,” she explains. “We are developing tools that people can use to make sure they are ready to work, that might be a proper resume, a checklist of things to know heading into an interview, or information on who is hiring and how to get noticed.”

She is working closely with Huu-ay-aht’s Human Resource Manager Marleen Nookemus on employment equity and diversity measures that would increase the chances of citizens getting a job with the Nation or HGB. The idea is they will offer more feedback when people apply for jobs within Huu-ay-aht and its businesses. For instance, when someone applies for a job, they will receive an automatic reply that tells them their resume has been received. If that person is a citizen, they will also receive a list of services that are available through the Nation should they need assistance. If they do not get the job, citizens will be offered the opportunity to receive feedback on why they were not chosen. This is an opportunity for them to fill in the gaps and make improvements for when the next job with the Nation becomes available. It would also be another opportunity to receive assistance from the Nation.

For now, the Nation is focused on the jobs that are currently advertised and making sure citizens are ready to apply and fill the positions. Annie says that her current focus is getting the Nation’s employment and training services on citizens’ radar. Since these are new services, many people still don’t think to get in touch for employment support. She says it is also important to adjust the plan of action to the person instead of trying to develop a “one-size-fits-all” method. This is why the Nation is taking a varied approach in employment programming, ranging from L training, to the Trades Discovery Program, and a Cultural Tourism training program coming up in the fall.

“It’s difficult trying to strike a balance between offering a focused training approach and meeting people where they are,” she says. “It’s important to take into consideration people’s individual interests, natural abilities and attributes, as well as practical things like schedules.”

The Nation is also working to develop relationships with businesses and organizations who might offer employment opportunities in the future, as well as educators in the area. Annie mentions NETP, Vast, and Alberni District Secondary School as examples.

The good news is that Huu-ay-aht is leading the pack when it comes to employment and training.  It is very uncommon for Nations to have a dedicated employment and training staff member, and this means that we can get creative with our employment programming and support.

“But we can’t go it alone,” Annie explains, adding that Huu-ay-aht is exploring many opportunities to take advantage of opportunities by partnering with other Nations, organizations, and businesses.

Huu-ay-aht also has a number of summer postings for students. Please go to www.huuayaht.org for more information.

If you would like more help preparing for employment or training, contact Annie at 250-723-0100 or email her at annie.m@huuayaht.org. Employment opportunities with Huu-ay-aht are posted regularly at www.huuayaht.org.

Huu-ay-aht shares vision with new Strategic Plan

The 2016-2020 Strategic Plan is now complete.

The Executive Council believes that, “As a strong and self-governing Nation, this Strategic Plan is an important tool that will guide us along our path for the coming four years and beyond. It helps us connect where we have come from, where we are now, and where we want to go.”

The plan identifies:

1) The outcomes that the Huu-ay-aht government is setting out to achieve

2) The broad strategies the Nation will use to accomplish these outcomes

The plan builds off of the previous 2014-2017 Strategic Plan and reflects the input of citizens, Ḥaw̓iiḥ, and committee members who voiced their ideas in the creation of the preceding plan and through renewed consultation in the fall of 2015. The plan provides the foundation for the annual budget and will also be used as the basis for the more detailed roadmaps that will be used by council and administration.

Ḥaw̓iiḥ council says, “Our goal, as we the Huu-ay-aht, is Nation building. We wish to build capacity of our Ancient Spirit, always remembering ancestral teachings and looking for
opportunities where our language, culture and history can be shared in the modern day!”

Citizens are encouraged to read the Huu-ay-aht First Nations Strategic Plan 2016-2020 and offer their feedback. Community Engagement Sessions will be announced soon, so that Executive Council can open conversation on the plan with citizens. If you would like to offer your feedback prior to this, please email communications@huuayaht.org or in the comments section of the website.

The Strategic Plan 2016-2020 is also available, along with the previous strategic plan, under Our Government on the Huu-ay-aht website.