Our Latest News

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