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ƛiišin takes time to focus on his own wellbeing, entering a Nanaimo treatment facility

On behalf of Tayii Ḥaw̓ił ƛiišin (Derek Peters), Huu-ay-aht First Nations would like to announce that our Tayii Ḥaw̓ił has made the personal decision to enter a treatment facility at this time.

Irene, Olivia, Nora, and the rest of his family said he has made the very courageous decision to spend time focusing on his own wellbeing and taking care of himself. They said ƛiišin has recognized his need to slow down and focus on healing of grief, trauma, and addiction. He realizes he has not made good personal choices over a short period of time.

ƛiišin has expressed his desire to be stronger, most importantly for himself, but also to set a healthy example for his daughter and be closer to his family.

“Olivia and I are very proud of him and will be right here to support him. We are grateful that the Nation has moved so quickly to help,” explained Irene. “ƛiišin, you are important to all of us, Olivia and I are very proud of you. You are showing resilience and continue to uphold our teachings and the sacred values.”

She added that he lives these values:

  • ʔuuʔałuk – In his desire to take care of himself,
  • Hišuk ma c̕awak – That he is willing to share his journey with everyone as we are all connected, we are all one family. We have a strong nation we must walk together with one another, and
  • ʔiisaak – To love and respect himself and to invest in himself.

“Our family has supported him every step of the way, with open arms and love,” She added. We wanted to let you know from our family that he is in good hands. Although, it has been just a little over a week, I can tell you he is sounding well and happy and putting in the work. He is utilizing all resources so he may be supported through his growth.”

In an email to Chief Councillor Robert J. Dennis Sr. last week, ƛiišin shared his wishes to seek addiction treatment at Edgewood Treatment Centre in Nanaimo. He expressed his wishes that his journey be shared with Huu-ay-aht citizens in hopes that others will be inspired by his example. He also asked that his speaker, Wišqii, stand in for him during this time to fulfil his duties with the Nation, as he understands the importance of this role.

Chief Councillor Dennis expressed his admiration for the bravery ƛiišin has shown, as often acknowledging you have a substance problem is the hardest step. He said by doing that and entering a treatment program, ƛiišin is showing citizens how important it is to take responsibility, focus on your health, and lead by example. Robert also said he is proud of ƛiišin for taking the extra step to make his decision public. He said this is a difficult journey, but by sharing it with others ƛiišin is also leading the way for more citizens to seek treatment.

“The example he is setting as our head chief will lead to a healthier Nation in the end, I hope others will see what he is doing and decide to follow his lead.” the Chief Councilor explained. “As a Nation, we have seen a wave of people going through treatment, and this for the betterment of the Nation.”

Executive Council respects and honors ƛiišin’s decision to have Wišqii fulfil the duties and responsibilities of Huu-ay-aht’s head chief until the time he feels he is ready to return.

“We are strong leaders, and because of that we can take on the extra work that may come our way as a result of ƛiišin’s absence,” Robert Dennis said. “We will do this to support him.”

If you or someone you know would like to seek treatment, please contact Rena Johnson at Rena.j@huuayaht.org or call 250-735-4326.

Huu-ay-aht appeals for expansion of national wage subsidy to include Indigenous businesses

Huu-ay-aht First Nations is concerned about the long-term impacts they will see on their businesses if the federal government does not change the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy to include Indigenous businesses.

Earlier in April, the federal government introduced the program, offering employers who qualify, a subsidy that would cover up to 75 per cent of their employees’ wages for 12 weeks. Businesses must be able to show they have suffered revenue declines of 30 per cent or more as a result of COVID-19.

The Huu-ay-aht Group of Businesses (HGB) does not currently meet the criteria for this subsidy because the limited partnership structure is not considered an “eligible employer”.

HGB fears the economic impact will be far greater than 30 per cent. In March, the Group of Businesses saw a 34 per cent decrease in forestry revenue, a 44 per cent drop in sales at the Market in Bamfield, and a 65 per cent drop in their hospitality revenue. Based on these numbers, HGB estimates they will have to trim their budget 30 to 50 per cent over previous years.

HGB employs 55 full-time equivalent positions during its peak season. So far, they have been carrying a significant amount of staffing costs in hopes that the subsidy will become available, but that is not sustainable.

Chief Councillor Robert J. Dennis Sr. points out the impact goes well beyond revenue and will have a significant social cost to the Nation as well. Most of the employees at the Group of Businesses are Huu-ay-aht citizens. If they are not employed, the Nations will see a rise in needs from their citizens in a year that the income for the Nation will be down significantly.

“We are the major employer in the region, and if we are forced to make cuts this will be devastating to the Bamfield and Alberni Valley economy,” Dennis explains. “Bamfield’s economy was just starting to rebound after years of neglect because of Huu-ay-aht’s investment in the community. I fear this will set us back again.”

Dennis says the Nation is already developing an economic recovery plan. Still, the small fishing community on the West Coast of Vancouver Island faces economic decline unless the federal government changes the restrictions on Indigenous businesses. Dennis points out that Huu-ay-aht is not alone in their concerns. Many Indigenous-owned businesses will be ineligible because of the limited partnership requirement and because it excludes businesses that are operated “on-reserve as a corporation that is tax exempt under the Income Tax Act”.

TFL 44 Limited Partnership Announces Ratification of Timberlands Contracts and Return to Work for TFL 44 Limited Partnership

TFL 44 Limited Partnership (“TFL 44”) is pleased to announce that the United Steelworkers (“USW”) members have ratified new contracts with TFL 44 contractors and that TFL 44 has initiated plans to return to work. 

“We are excited to get people back to work,” said Robert J. Dennis Sr., TFL 44 Board Member and Chief Councillor of the Huu-ay-aht First Nations. “We formed a partnership last year with Western Forest Products to advance our shared vision of forestry revitalization and reconciliation. Our focus has been to collaborate with all stakeholders to manage the forest resource to provide good paying, sustainable jobs while respecting sound environmental practices.  This ratification will allow us to make meaningful progress towards that vision.”

The strike by approximately 100 USW members was against three contractors: Island Forest Company, Big Lake Logging and Mount Sicker Timber. The agreement contains provisions that address particular concerns to workers in TFL 44 and generally mirrors the one signed by USW Local 1-1937 members in February 2020.

“We are glad this strike is behind us so we can turn the page and move forward together,” said Shannon Janzen, TFL 44 Board Member. “We are in a time of unprecedented global uncertainty and moving past labour disputes is critical to increasing stability for the forest sector. This includes TFL 44’s ability to provide fibre to the local Alberni Pacific Division sawmill.”

Huu-ay-aht declares a State of Emergency

In a special Executive Council meeting last week, members of the Executive Council agreed that COVID-19 and coronavirus present an immediate and significant threat to Huu-ay-aht citizens and staff and to the broader community. Following the lead of various levels of government that have taken extraordinary measures to protect Canadians, the Nation has decided to take more extreme measures.

In light of this step, Chief Councillor Robert J. Dennis Sr. has issued the following statement for citizens.
Letter to Citizens – State of Emergency

Huu-ay-aht Announces Aid Package for Citizens

The COVID-19 pandemic is causing a lot of unrest across Canada, and Huu-ay-aht First Nations wants to ensure citizens are supported during this difficult time.

Huu-ay-aht is offering financial aid in the amount of $500 to each citizen. The intention of this funding is to help citizens and their families ride the wave of uncertainty that is coming in the wake of COVID-19.

“Our ḥaw̓iiḥ leaders want you to know we take this very seriously, and we ask you to as well and please exercise and practise social distancing,” said Tayii Ḥaw̓ił ƛiišin Derek Peters. “We also want to reassure our Huu-ay-aht family that we are working hard, with all the proper professional supports internally and externally, so that we can serve our citizens accordingly. We rely on your direction as well, so we are all working together.”

The intent is to provide citizens with this assistance as quickly as possible. This $500 aid will be provided individually to each citizen over the age of majority, and adult care providers will also receive additional funds based on the number of minor citizens in their households.

Huu-ay-aht can offer this assistance because of the support the Federal Government has offered First Nations Communities along with Huu-ay-aht contingency funds. The Nation will continue to access all funding sources including, but not limited to, First Nations Health Authority and B.C. Emergency Management and any additional Federal funds that become available.

Direct Deposit

Please provide us with your banking information for direct deposit by 4 p.m. on Monday, March 30, 2020. This can be done by filling out the direct deposit form at https://huuayaht.org/how-do-i/ and email them to Colleen.s@huuayaht.org.  Direct deposit applications received after this deadline will be used for future disbursement of funds to you from the Nation. If you already have direct deposit set up, you will receive your funding this way.

Mailing Addresses

Please ensure your addresses are up to date by 4 p.m. on Monday, March 30, 2020 if you wish to receive these funds by cheque through Canada Post. Cheques will be mailed early the week of March 30. You can change your mailing address by emailing Vanessa.s@huuayaht.org or calling 250-723-0100. There is also a link on the website that allows you to change it online: https://huuayaht.org/how-do-i/change-of-address-form/

No cheque pick up

Because of the threat COVID-19 poses, cheque pick up will not be available this time.

Dependent Children To ensure that dependent children’s benefit is managed correctly, please call Shannon Zimmerman at 250-720-5797 or by email Shannon.z@huuayaht.org. Parents may choose to have their children’s benefit added to their Huu-ay-aht Trust Fund.

Click here to see complete policy Policy Guidelines for the Provision of Emergency Financial Aid During the COVID-19 Crisis
Direct Deposit Form
Change of Address