Our Latest News

Huu-ay-aht offers condolences following Friday’s bus crash

Huu-ay-aht First Nations would like to offer its condolences to the family and loved ones of the two University of Victoria students killed in the bus crash late Friday night near Bamfield.

“Our hearts are heavy this morning after learning of this tragic loss,” explains Chief Councillor Robert J. Dennis Sr. “One of our three sacred principles is Hišuk ma c̓awak (Everything is One), and it is our belief that we are all connected. As a community, we want to offer our condolences to everyone involved in this incident.”

Chief Dennis was at the scene last night assisting with the efforts. He says this is a difficult time for everyone involved, especially the 48 people who were travelling on the bus at the time of the crash and their loved ones.

Huu-ay-aht would also like to expresses its appreciation to all of the first responders and volunteers who attended the incident. This includes the Port Alberni RCMP members, paramedics, firefighters, and seach and rescue volunteers, as well as the air support that was offered from 442 Squadron Comox.

“We live in a remote part of Vancouver Island, connected to larger communities by a logging road. We have known for a long time of the safety issues related to this road,” Chief Dennis says. “Knowing we have such a strong team ready to respond when needed means a lot to our community, and we want to make sure they know how much we appreciate their sacrifices.”

Chief Dennis would also like to express his appreciation to the City of Port Alberni for all they have done to help the victims of the crash. While the most serious were airlifted to Victoria General Hospital, the City of Port Alberni set up a reception centre at Echo Centre for the remaining victims, until they were bused back to Victoria.

At the time of the crash, the bus was travelling to the Bamfield Marine Science Centre along the Bamfield Road. This approximately 85-kilometre stretch of logging road is known to be dangerous. Huu-ay-aht First Nations has been actively trying to work with all levels of government to address the safety challenges this vital link poses for its citizens and others who travel the road.

“I believe this incident highlights the need for an immediate meeting with the province to discuss what can be done to ensure there is a safe route between Bamfield and Port Alberni,” Chief Dennis explains. “Safety on this road is one of our primary concerns as a Nation. Too many lives have already been lost.”     

MP Gord Johns meets with Huu-ay-aht

Wednesday, August 21, 2019 Huu-ay-aht Executive Council, administrative staff and fishers met with Gord Johns, Member of Parliament for Courtenay-Alberni.

Huu-ay-aht took the opportunity to focus on fisheries issues such as working with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans on policy changes that will enable Huu-ay-aht fishers to fish and make a reasonable living, enacting the “me too” clause and agreement (see August Uyaqḥmis), salmon renewal and enhancement and creating new opportunities. Elected Chief Councillor Robert J. Dennis Sr.  also shared stories of Huu-ay-aht’s strong history of boat building, and acknowledged present fishers and recognized the fishers unable to attend.

Gord Johns followed the comments by Chief Robert J. Dennis Sr. and our fishers by discussing how he values the relationship with Huu-ay-aht and the other Nuu-chah-nulth and First Nations. The MP acknowledged British Columbia is experiencing a Salmon crisis. He would like to see a full salmon crisis campaign to support salmon fisheries including restoration and seeing licences in the hands of fishers, and a conclusion to the Ahousaht et. al case.

After the meeting, the group headed down to the Bamfield dock to look at James Nookemus’ boat, Nawanhe II and gather for the Kiix̣in Tour. The tour was led by Stella Peters with additional comments and stories from Robert J. Dennis Sr., Ed Johnson Sr., Councillor Edward R. Johnson, and Councillor Connie Waddell. This tour allowed Huu-ay-aht to give our MP a glimpse of Huu-ay-aht’s connection to the land and sea, and why fisheries and ocean resource harvesting are a central piece of Huu-ay-aht culture.

Huu-ay-aht celebrates its graduates

On July 25, 2019, Huu-ay-aht Graduates gathered at Echo Centre to celebrate their secondary or post-secondary completions. (Pictured above.)

Huu-ay-aht would like to acknowledge, 2018/2019 graduates:

Talen Adair Dogwood
Michael Douangluxay-Cloud Master of Business Administration
Tia Frank Women in Trades
Lee-Ann Gurney Health Care Assistant
Simon Gurney Plumbing 3
Kenneth Joe Jr. Wildfire Crew Member Training
George Johnson Scaling
Jennifer Joseph Adult Graduation Diploma
Ethan Little Adult Dogwood
Tristan MacDonald Dogwood
Kalissa Montgomery Joinery/Cabinetry Foundation Certificate
Belinda Nookemus Joinery/Cabinetry Foundation Certificate
Tiana Peters Health Care Assistant
Andrea Pettigrew Esthetics Certificate
Destiny Stewart Education Assistant and Community Support Certificate
Cecila Thomas-Jules Dogwood
Dillinger Williams Adult Dogwood
Mercedes Williams Adult Basic Education

The day started off with a welcome and opening prayer, carried out by Edward R. Johnson. Following, was opening speeches and keynote speech from special guest Dr. Onowa Mclvor from University of Victoria.

Each graduate present was called to the podium, where Tayii Ḥaw̓ił ƛiišin (Derek Peters), Elected Chief Councilor Robert J. Dennis Sr., Executive Council members Connie Waddell and Edward R Johnson, wrapped each graduate with a blanket, gifted from Huu-ay-aht.

The education department did such a great job with making the room look amazing, the graduates had a backdrop and cedar arch where they could take photos of them and their family.

Images can be viewed on Uyaqhmis Huuayaht Facebook page.

Education Department

Education, Employment and Trades Manager – Brent Ronning
brent.r@huuayaht.org  , 250-723-0100

Secondary/Post-Secondary Educations Administrator – Kelda Blackstone
kelda.b@huuayaht.org, 250-723-0100

Huu-ay-aht would like to acknowledge those who completed a program in 2018/2019

Environmental Technician Certificate Program – 5-week program

Amber Bowes
Crystal Clappis
(Elliot) Randle Holland
Alan Bruce Holland
Jason Jack
(Wilson) Thomas Joe
Heather Johnson
Andrea Lucas
Leanard Nookemis
Shannon Nookemus

RISC 1 and 2, Indigenous Archaeology and Field Skills Training Certificate – 2-week program

Amber Bowes
Crystal Clappis
Cheyanne Dick
Elliot Randle Holland
Cory Howard Jr.
Heather Johnson
Andrea Lucas
Victoria Nookemus
Shannon Nookemus
Karen Robinson

New Executive Council receives portfolios

The 2019 Huu-ay-aht Executive Council is less than a month into its term, and already the elected members are busy working for their Nation.

One of the first orders of business is assigning the portfolios for each councillor. This is the responsibility of the Chief Councillor, and earlier this month Chief Councillor Robert J. Dennis Sr. handed out the first of these. This is the initial list, and it is subject to change and may be adjusted as the council settles into their roles with the Nation.

Councillor Connie Waddell will continue with the Finance Committee and will take on the Citizen Development Committee. The Ḥaw̓iiḥ Council and Citizenship and LNG will be the responsibility of Tayii Ḥaw̓ił ƛiišin (Derek Peters). Councillor Trevor Cootes will continue to be responsible with Economic Development and External Affairs. Treaty Implementation, LNG, Cooperative Management Board (Parks Canada), and the Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District still remains in Councillor John Jack’s portfolio. Councillor Charlie Clappis will take on the Infrastructure and Housing portfolio. Health, Lead Language and culture portfolios will go to Edward Johnson Jr. The Chief Councillor will be the Chief Negotiator and LNG and Huu-ay-aht First Nations Government Representative with other Indigenous Organizations.

The Executive Council will hold its first regular meeting in the Anacla Council Chambers on Thursday, July 11.

Huu-ay-aht Council sworn in

With an eagle flying over and waves crashing on the beach, the 2019-2023 Executive Council was sworn in on Thursday, June 20 in a ceremony at Kiix̣in National Historic Site.

Robert J. Dennis was sworn in as Chief Councillor, returning for his second consecutive term on Executive Council. He was Chief Councillor for the past four years, but prior to that he took one term off. He has more than 30 years of experience on council, serving both as a councillor and chief.

John Jack is returning for his fourth term as an elected councillor, after receiving the highest number of votes of the councillor candidates in the election. Trevor Cootes and Connie Waddell return for their second term as elected members of the executive council.

This Executive Council has two new member, Charlie Clappis and Edward R. Johnson. Charlie Clappis has previously served as a councillor between 2010-2014.

Following a traditional brushing by Cory Howard Sr. and a prayer and welcoming by Wišqii, Tayii Ḥaw̓ił ƛiišin (Derek Peters) joined the elected council and together they swore the Oath of Office.

The next step will be assigning portfolios, which will take place at the Executive Council meeting on June 27, in Anacla.