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Notification under Canadian Navigable Waters Act

Huu –ay-aht First Nation hereby gives notice that a submission has been added to the Navigable Waters Registry pursuant to the Canadian Navigable Waters Act for public comment described herein and its site and plans.
Pursuant to paragraph 10(1)(b) of the said Act, Huu –ay-aht First Nation has deposited with the Minister of Transport, on the on-line Navigable Waters Registry (http://cps.canada.ca/) and under registry number 754, a description of the following work, its site and plans: for their proposed Run-of River hydroelectric project inclusive of an intake / weir across, and aerial cable over the Sarita River.
The intake / weir is located ~ 650m downstream of Sarita lake spanning from Lattitude:48.9051; Longitude: -124.9126 to Lattitude:48.9045; Longitude: -124.911.
The aerial cable crossing is located ~ 680m downstream of the intake / weir spanning from Lattitude:48.9027; Longitude: -124.9205 to Lattitude:48.9023; Longitude: -124.9207.
Comments regarding the effect of this work on marine navigation can be sent through the Common Project Search site mentioned above under the Comment section (search by the above-noted registry #) or, by sending your comments directly to nick.balaban@barkley.ca if you do not have access to the internet.
Note that comments will be considered only if they are received not later than 30 days after the February 7, 2020 online publication of this notice.

Huu-ay-aht and Tseshaht sign protocol agreement

Huu-ay-aht and Tseshaht First Nations made history on Friday, February 7, 2020 when they signed a Protocol on Economic Development within Tseshaht Hahoulthee.

The agreement between the two nations is the first of its kind in the Alberni Valley, and it is a way of recognizing deep family connections and a strong relationship. The two nations are used to doing business together, as they have previously signed the Resource Management Agreement.

The protocol agreement is rooted in the sacred principles of ʔiisaak (Utmost Respect), ʔuuʔałuk (Taking Care of….), and Hišuk ma c̕awak (Everything is One).

“This is about doing business in the right way,” explained Wahmeesh (Ken Watts), elected councillor for Tseshaht First Nations. “We appreciate the steps that were taken after we raised concerns, and we see this as a commitment to work together in a good way.”

To start things off right, the protocol was signed in the presence of both elected and hereditary leadership from both Nations, as well as respected elders to witness the event.

“Our two nations have always been close. Our elders held that relationship close to their hearts, but we were letting that drift away.” said Huu-ay-aht Chief Councillor Robert J. Dennis Sr., explaining that the connection is still important. He said in the past elders would have done business through hosting and attending potlatches. “Now we have to look at things differently in a modern world. Instead of potlatches we use paper, but we cannot forget our connections and our traditional ways of working together for the best of both nations.”

The agreement acknowledges that both Nations intend to explore ways to work together economically in Tseshaht ḥahuułi and outlines how that will take place in the future. It says that they will keep lines of communication open when it comes to potential partnerships, including business opportunities and investments within the ḥahuułi. This includes early communication on potential planned developments within Tseshaht ḥahuułi.

Both nations commit to holding annual reviews of the agreement and quarterly meetings to explore potential partnership opportunities. Huu-ay-aht will ensure that their businesses acknowledge that they are operating on Tseshaht territory and include appropriate signage.

“I am proud of what we are doing. It is a little step, but it shows we appreciate each other and our relationship,” explained Huu-ay-aht Hereditary Chief Jeff Cook. “I see a vision where all nations move forward together like this, and we’d all be successful. It’s about making a better life for our people and trying to improve all of our lives.”

Wahmeesh added that he too hopes that other nations will follow Huu-ay-aht’s lead and sign similar protocol agreements.

“This is important business that we are doing,” said Cynthia Dick, Elected Chief Councillor for Tseshaht. “It is a reminder that we are walking in both worlds, and it is amazing to see our nations put things aside to look for better ways to work together in the future.”

Huu-ay-aht Tayii Ḥaw̓ił ƛiišin (Derek Peters) said it is important to keep Tseshaht and Huu-ay-aht ties strong because they have always existed through family connections, pointing out the links his family has to Tseshaht’s hereditary leaders. Tseshaht’s Hereditary Chief Kʷaacaapi (Josh Goodwill) and Tayii Ḥaw̓ił E. Darlene Taylor were both at the signing. ƛiišin daughter Olivia Peters was also present to witness the historic event.

“This is an important step to demonstrate strengthening the ties of our Nations,” ƛiišin said. “As we move forward with our modern work, we cannot forget these ties, and I look forward to building a strong relationship.”

Broadcast Premiere of the Award-Winning Huu-ay-aht Documentary waałšiʔaƛin (Coming Home)

Explore the modern story of Huu-ay-aht First Nations in waałšiʔaƛin (Coming Home), an award-winning documentary, in its broadcast premiere presented by CHEK Television on January 29, 2020 at 8 p.m.

The broadcast premiere is open to the public and will be screened live at the Alberni District Secondary School (4000 Roger St., Port Alberni, BC). Doors open at 7 p.m., broadcast begins at 8 p.m., followed by a live-broadcast question and answer period.

Full Press Release here: Broadcast Premiere of waałšiʔaƛin (Coming Home)

Pilot program graduates first Huu-ay-aht forestry students

North Island college marked the successful completion of their forestry pilot project, the Coastal Forest Worker Certificate, by celebrating its first graduating class.

The certificate was created in partnership with Huu-ay-aht First Nations to give their citizens hands-on skills for a range of entry-level careers in the forest industry. The funding for this pilot project came from a Community Workforce grant that Huu-ay-aht received. Based on its success, the certificate program will be part of NIC’s future programming.

Registered Professional Forester and NIC instructor Colleen MacLean-Marlow designed the program with an eye on ensuring the courses and learning outcome was in line with the technology program offered in Campbell River. This allows students to go on to the next level if they choose to do so.

“We wanted to make sure to make the program modern and different from what is already being offered,” she explained. “I believe that training should be more regionally based, so it was amazing to be able to launch this program in the Alberni Valley.”

She said it was a pleasure working with Huu-ay-aht. The grant the Nation received, and the work they put into the program, allowed the College to start much earlier than they would have been able to otherwise. She was the main instructor for the course, but they had six other teachers from the forest industry and support from many others, including Brent Ronning, from Huu-ay-aht First Nations.

Huu-ay-aht Chief Councillor Robert J. Dennis attended the graduation and expressed how proud he is of the eight graduates. He said what these students are doing will make a big difference in the future and will shape how the Nation invests in forestry education and employment. He explained that in 1995, when Huu-ay-aht first got involved in forestry, only two citizens were working in the industry on the Nation’s territory. He remembers the boom days in Port Alberni and believes Huu-ay-aht needs to be ready when the market shifts and forestry is in full swing again. He acknowledged that it will never be as big as it once was, but it will always offer many different employment opportunities to people who have the training.

“I believe more young people can work in forestry,” he said. “We just have to get beyond the belief that the industry is dying – it’s not.”

Lance Wingrave and Justine Kumagai represented Western Forest Products at the graduation. They agreed it is important to find skilled young people who are interested in forestry, to replace an aging workforce.

Kumagai said most of the people working in this area are over 50 years old. Although this trend is seen industry wide, Port Alberni has some of the highest rates.

“We need to change the narrative and make sure young people understand that the future is bright in British Columbia,” Kumagi said. “It’s harder to get people to work out in the woods, but there are great occupations because every day is different, and you get to spend time outdoors.”

This year’s graduating class consisted of Alec Frank, Cole Giroux, Jason Jack, Ethan Little, Tristan MacDonald, Belinda Nookemus, Daryl Patterson, and Jenn Thomas. During the four months, students learned silviculture, harvesting, occupational safety, surveying, timber cruising, grading, scaling and overall resource management. As a graduate, they will be prepared to work safely and productively in a range of entry-level forestry and harvesting positions.

Some of the students already have jobs in the forest sector once they graduate and others will be presented with opportunities in the coming weeks. For some, it is just a starting point to go on to work in wildfire suppression, while others will go on to explore the technologist program that begins in the fall in Campbell River.

“I think this was a really good course,” explained Ethan Little. “I didn’t know what to expect when I signed up for it, but now I see it has given me options of where it can take me. I think I want to do some wildfire fighting.”

Tristan MacDonald has his eye on the technology program in the fall. He has always been interested in forestry, and he enjoyed the certificate program as it allowed him to discover what is available in the field.

“It was a really good look at the different careers in forestry in our area,” he said. “Now I want to continue on, but first I’m going to get a few other courses, like a higher level of First Aide.”

Daryl Patterson moved to the Island from Smithers to take the course. He was working as a chef, but he wanted to do something more outdoorsy.

“This course gave me a chance to move back and be closer to my family,” he said. “The instructors were great, and now I know I want to be out in the bush, probably fighting wildfires.”

MacLean-Marlow said the requirement to graduate from the class was 70%, and all students far exceeded this minimum.

“There’s really nothing like working in the woods,” she said. “This program lets students explore a wide range of forestry theory and resource management and apply their learning in the field with working professionals. Forestry is an ever-evolving art and science. I can’t imagine doing anything else.”

She added that she is proud of the graduates and is honoured to be able to introduce them to an industry she loves. Although the future looks bad for forestry now, she stressed that it’s a cyclical industry and it will bounce back. When that happens, these students will be ready.

Maa-nulth Nations gathered in Ucluelet for the second annual Government-to-Government Forum

The Maa-nulth First Nations and British Columbia Leaders Forum was created as a result of a commitment made when the treaty was implemented on April 1, 2011 to stand with the Nations as a partner on a new path under the treaty. Last year was the first meeting of the two levels of government, and this year was even more successful than the inaugural meeting. In attendance were leaders from the Maa-nulth Nations – Councillor Wilfred Cootes (Uchucklesaht), President Chuck McCarthy (Yuulu?il?ath?), Chief Anne Mack (Toquaht), Chief Robert J. Dennis Sr. (Huu-ay-aht), and Legislative Chief Kevin Jules and Hereditary Chief Francis Gillette (Ka:’yu:’k’t’h’/Chek’tles7et’h’) – and representative from the Provincial Government – Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation Scott Fraser, Finance Minister Carol James, Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Claire Trevena, Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy George Heyman, and Craig Sutherland, Assistant Deputy Minister for the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development.

The discussion started with a traditional welcoming and prayer, followed by a welcome to the territory from Anne Mack. She said it’s encouraging to have so many ministers present around the table and that shows the province is taking their government-to-government meetings serious. Mack acknowledged the progress the province has made recently in adopting the UNDRIP legislation. Although this is a monumental act, the Maa-nulth nations are still dealing with several challenges since implementation of the treaty.

The biggest of these challenges is financial, Mack explained. She pointed out that the colonial mind is still alive and well and this means both parties at the table must work harder to educate front-line workers on how to eliminate this from their belief system.

“We acknowledge that there is lots of hard work ahead if us,” she said. “I look forward to working on this together.”

Scott Fraser also offered a welcoming. He used the Nuu-chah-nulth principle of Hišuk ma c̕awak, explaining that he believes everything is connected and one, and that by working together they will be stronger. He shared his believe that the government-to-government forums will continue to get better year after year.

Climate Change

Since Minister Heyman could not stay for the whole day, climate change began the official discussions of the day. He talked about the importance of including indigenous knowledge when the Province draws up climate change initiatives. He acknowledged that CleanBC could have consulted First Nations more in Phase One, but that they will learn from this and reach out more to the communities. He also stressed the importance of creating economic opportunities for First Nation communities.

Robert Dennis brought up how much removing First Nations people from the land has changed the ecosystem where they traditionally lived. The example he offered was that when the seal hunt stopped sea urchins became more plentiful, and now they are harming the kelp beds, which are important for overall health of the ocean. He said there are many more examples of where the balance was disrupted when First Nations left their land. He stressed the importance of returning the balance by bringing Indigenous People back to their land. Scott Fraser supported this idea stating that forestry and tourism could bring people home.

New Fiscal Relationship

Wilfred Cootes presented on the fiscal relationship. He said one big obstacle they must overcome is the collaborative Fiscal Financing Agreement. He indicated that during the negotiations in 2018/19 provincial negotiators repeatedly stated that BC was committed to renewing its fiscal relationship with Maa-nulth Nations. After lengthy negotiations, it is the belief of the Maa-nulth Nations that BC’s offer of status quo funding would equal 0.3 to 0.6% of federal funding for each year under the FFA. This offer was accepted under protest, but the Maa-nulth Nations are still waiting for BC to negotiate more appropriate funding.

Cootes said this is a defining moment in the relationship between Maa-nulth Nations and the Province. He asked on behalf of the other Nations that the Province:

  • Contribute to some of the cost associated with participating in the provincial collaborative fiscal financing process
  • They empower their team with a strong mandate to deliver on the work we are doing together
  • Create a realistic and clear timeline to complete the work.

He wrapped up by stating that it is the hope of the Maa-nulth Nations that the relationship they have with the province be repaired, because when First Nations succeeds everyone succeeds.

Fraser and Carol James were both supportive of this statement, adding that it’s not just about giving money but about creating opportunities to build a strong economy with benefits for all.

Roads

Kevin Jules explained to the ministers gathered that road access to the Treaty Settlement Land needs significant upgrades in order to allow the Nations to fully utilize the rights and benefits of the treaty. He pointed out that safety concerns mean that the discussion needs to be how the safety improvements will be made. It can no longer be about whether or not it can be done.

Given that the primary route to Maa-nulth lands are forest service roads, they are maintained with heavy industry in mind and are often unsafe for residents. Citizens and other people who travel the road deserve a safe, reliable way to get supplies and services, as well as offering a corridor that will open up their regions to tourism opportunities. Instead, the roads are prone to eroded corners and edges, flooding, washouts, and poor visibility.

The Nations asked that B.C. commit in writing the co-development of a work plan to:

  • Chip seal the Bamfield Road
  • Increase the reliability and safety of the Fair Harbour Road
  • Increase road safety including:
    • Funding to support consultation, engineering reporting, work plan development, and implementation of road improvements
    • Set timelines for the co-development work plan, funding, and completion of improvements
    • Feasibility study to consider alternate routes to the communities.

They also recommended creating written standards and criteria for road maintenance, increase the budget for maintenance and improvements, implement safety measures, and ensure all improvements take into consideration the wet conditions on the West Coast.

Minister Claire Trevena said they are aware of the issues raised and are not ignoring them. She said the ministry is interested in working on relationship building and possible partnerships with the Nations to help address the road concerns.

Groundwater

Maa-nulth natural resources consultant Ron Frank brought groundwater to the table, pointing out that the Maa-nulth Treaty makes provisions for addressing groundwater that requires BC to negotiate and attempt to reach agreement with Maa-nulth as the Province was regulating groundwater in February 2016. Despite this, the Province came to the table in 2018 unprepared to negotiate.

The Maa-nulth Nations are concerned because they are the most underfunded self-government in Canada, and yet they are expected to address groundwater on their own now. The Province has:

  • Shown little commitment to resolving this vital issue
  • Been unwilling to provide a mandate, an experienced negotiator, or a senior official to take the lead
  • Failed to adequately fund the acquisition of scientific and technical groundwater data that would facilitate or adequately fund the negotiation.

Therefore, Maa-nulth Nations are asking for BC to:

  • Establish that the resolution of groundwater issues is a critical policy objective in the reconciliation construct that guides provincial relations with FN and recognize that the Maa-nulth-BC table will be provide a template for future relations with other First Nations.
  • Find the person best qualified to successfully negotiate groundwater
  • Be prepared to make a reasonable financial commitment for scientific work and negotiations
  • Do the above in a timely fashion.

Sutherland said he is more than aware of the challenges facing the group, but together they can find money to meet treaty obligations. Fraser also reassured the Nations that he will advocate for more funding.

Implementation of the Treaty Wildlife Chapter and Wildlife Population Management

Frank pointed out that when it comes to wildlife, the treaty nations have many common struggles, and the key is to work collaboratively to find ways that everyone will benefit. It is essential that everyone be engaged when it comes to the importance of wildlife. He said the Maa-nulth Nations are doing what they need to be doing, and the Ministry needs to focus on the priorities that would support that work.

The report each member at the table received had a detailed list of 11 specific recommendations, but the key is that an increase in human, financial, and infrastructural resources is needed. After some discussion, the everyone agreed to work on the 11 recommendations and bring a report back to the next government-to-government forum in 2020 to see what progress has been made.

Closing

At the end of the meeting each representative was given a chance to offer closing statements. The common thread in all their comments was the desire to work together to ensure the best interest of the Maa-nulth Nations is the focus. Most people spoke of coming up with creative ways to make things work for everyone involved and the desire to continue to meet on a regular basis. Several people spoke of the importance of building relationships and the effectiveness of the Maa-nulth Treaty in negotiations.