Students plant seedlings

Students of Bamfield Community School gathered in Sarita to plant the 40-millionth seedling for Island Timberlands, on April 10.

The students were joined by representatives from Huu-ay-aht First Nations, Island Timberlands and a number of tree planters and other forest professionals.

The event was organized by Island Timberlands. It took place on a cut block approximately 57 kilometres from Port Alberni that is surrounded by Huu-ay-aht Treaty Settlement Land.

Elected Chief Councillor Jeff Cook took part in the official tree planting, along with Island Timberlands Chief Forester Bill Waugh and Island Timberlands President Darshan Sihota. The students were there to witness the planting of the 40-millionth seedling, a cedar tree, and they also had an opportunity to plant a number of seedlings on the cut block.

“I hope these youth will be able to remember where they were today, so they can come out here and recognize where they planted trees,” Chief Cook says. “They will then know that they made a difference today by planting these cedars.”

According to Sihota, Island Timberlands replants many more trees than it harvests. Island Timberlands stated it is their goal to reforest each area within one year of it being harvested. The 40 million trees were all planted within the past 10 years on sites owned and harvested by Island Timberlands. The cut block in Sarita will be reforested with mainly cedar seedlings, but some Douglas fir will also be planted closer to the road. Hemlock is also native to the area, but it will return on its own as it is a prolific seed producer. The plot was originally cut approximately 65 years ago.

Councillor Jack Cook

JackCookExecutive Councillor member Jack Cook grew up in Port Alberni. He has resided in Bamfield, Port Alberni, Nanaimo, Victoria and Vancouver.


His experience spans an extensive career in employment outreach and Human Resources Programs for Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal People. He has worked as a program coordinator at the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council/NETB (10 years) setting up, delivering and reviewing the Employment and Training Programs for First Nation communities and organizations as a result of the Aboriginal Human Resource Development Agreement (AHRDA) between the Service Canada and North Island/Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council Aboriginal Management Society (NI/NTCAMS).


While employed with the Canada Employment Insurance Commission (C.E.I.C) as a project officer for about 14 years, he did consultation, assessment, negotiation and promotion of employment programs within local government and community organizations. He was also required to do site visits, ensure effectiveness, measure impact, give recommendations for programs, negotiate on proposals for funding, as well as make sure that legal requirements were satisfied.


He was the manager of the Huu-ay-aht First Nations band office (Ohiaht) in Bamfield for five months (1993-1994). He has been involved in the drafting of Emergency Preparedness Plans. He has done research, reviewed, developed and drafted education policies and procedures for K to 12 and Post-Secondary Education, Forestry, Terms of Reference for Huu-ay-aht Economic Development, Finance and Treaty Implementation Committees. Elected as a member of the Huu-ay-aht Executive Council in June 2011, his portfolios include: Chair of Nananiiqsu Grandparents society, Finance committee, alternate for Co-operative Management with Parks Canada, Infrastructure committee and Treaty Implementation, Maa-nulth Director.


Jack has taken training in building construction and cooking. Travelling for both business and pleasure is one of his passions. He has been to Japan, Spain, Portugal and the USA. He is also active in sports and as an assistant coach.


He has been married to Deborah Cook for 42 years and has two daughters, one son and four grandchildren.

Councillor Tom Happynook


Tom Mexsis Happynook is the head Hereditary Whaling Chief of the Huu-ay-aht First Nations, which is a tribe within the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Group located on the West Coast of Vancouver Island.


From June 2009 to March 2011, Tom served as the Huu-ay-aht First Nations Treaty Implementation Team Leader. He is responsible to ensure all the work that needs to be completed for the Treaty Effective Date (April 01, 2011) is complete and there is a smooth transition into Huu-ay-aht self-government.


From November 2007 to November 2008, Tom served as the elected President of the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council. The Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council has 14 member First Nations residing along the West Coast of Vancouver Island.


Chief Treaty Negotiator for the Huu-ay-aht First Nations, Tom Happynook concluded the Maa-nulth treaty negotiations with Canada and the Province of British Columbia in July 2007.


Tom has also been deeply involved in the Huu-ay-aht First Nations’ forestry efforts to become part of the local, regional, national and international forest industry and economy.


Tom is the narrator of two Huu-ay-aht First Nations films, Heart of the People and Return of the River, and has been integral in fostering the cultural revival and rebirth of the Huu-ay-aht First Nations, arising from the forest and fisheries restoration efforts of the Sarita River.


As well, Tom was the founding chairman of the World Council of Whalers, which is an international non-governmental organization that provides a collective voice for Indigenous and Coastal whaling peoples around the world.


Tom was also the chairman for Uu-a-thluk (Nuu-chah-nulth Council of Ḥaw̓iiḥ) a forum for building and strengthening relations between the Nuu-chah-nulth hereditary chiefs; governments and their agencies; and between the Ḥaw̓iiḥ (hereditary chiefs) and the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council.


In addition, Tom was the chairman of the Nuu-chah-nulth Seafood Development Corporation (NSDC), a corporation designed to bring the Nuu-chah-nulth First Nations back into the fishing industry, including the shellfish industry.


Tom was also the co-chair of the West Coast Aquatic Management Board, a board that represents the various stakeholders on the West Coast of Vancouver Island.


Tom is also is a lecturer presenting at many Universities around the world bringing to the forefront the Huu-ay-aht/Nuu-chah-nulth culture and traditional ecological knowledge that has been passed down through his family.


A firefighter for 16 years, Tom retired as a Deputy Platoon Chief (Captain) in 1998.  He has been married to Katherine Ann Happynook since 1979. They have two adult sons, an adult daughter, two grandsons and two granddaughters.