Huu-ay-aht First Nations and Western Forest Products Inc. announced the signing of a Reconciliation Protocol Agreement, continuing progress along the shared path to reconciliation and a joint vision for a safe, competitive and forward-looking forest sector in the Alberni Valley, B.C.
“Long-term sustainable revitalization of the forest sector in the Alberni region is a critical component of Huu-ay-aht’s efforts to achieve reconciliation,” said Chief Councillor Robert Dennis, “self-reliance and a brighter future for Huu-ay-aht citizens and everyone in the region.”
Founded on mutual trust and respect, the agreement affirms the parties’ commitment to seek mutually-beneficial solutions that work to achieve their respective interests, while also developing inclusive opportunities that bolster the long-term sustainability of the forest sector in the Alberni Valley.
This ground-breaking approach guides how Huu-ay-aht and Western will work collaboratively with different forestry tenures, assets and interests to explore opportunities that improve the economic vibrancy of the Huu-ay-aht Ha-houlthee (traditional territory), including Huu-ay-aht Treaty Lands, and the broader Alberni Valley while respecting the three sacred principles of the Huu-ay-aht people: hišuk ma c̓awak, – “everything is one”; ʔuuʔałuk – “taking care of”; and ʔiisaak – “greater respect”.
“Our protocol with Western is an important next step on the road to reconciliation. We look forward to working with the Province and everyone in the Alberni Valley to make forest sector revitalization and reconciliation a reality,” said Chief Hereditary Chief Tliishin, Derek Peters. “Most importantly, Western is committed to fully respect Huu-ay-aht sacred principles.”
“Reconciliation requires a shared vision of the future, along with trust and an unwavering commitment to embark on that journey together,” said Shannon Janzen, Vice President and Chief Forester for Western. “Huu-ay-aht and Western are starting the hard work required to give reconciliation meaning and Western looks forward to building on this going forward. This Reconciliation Protocol Agreement is just one step on the path towards a better, more sustainable future for everyone.”
The Reconciliation Protocol Agreement builds on Huu-ay-aht’s and Western’s agreement in 2017 which included Huu-ay-aht’s purchase and long-term lease-back of Western’s dry-land sort at Sarita, a timber sale from Huu-ay-aht’s Treaty Lands, and an employment and training agreement. Together, Huu-ay-aht and Western are implementing those agreements as they look for opportunities to operate across a larger land base.
Huu-ay-aht and Western recognize that the way forward involves working closely with everyone in the Alberni Valley, and looking at different ways to achieve value from the forest land base to increase the economic vibrancy of the region. The parties believe that by everyone working together, a brighter future can be achieved.
Huu-ay-aht First Nations is an indigenous community located on the west coast of Vancouver Island in British Columbia. It is a part of the Nuu-chah-nulth Nation, formerly called the Nootka. Huu-ay-aht is a party to the Maa-nulth Final Agreement, a modern treaty that grants its five member-nations constitutionally-protected self-government as well as ownership, control and law-making authority over their lands and resources. For more information, visit huuayaht.org.
Western is an integrated Canadian forest products company and the largest coastal British Columbia timberlands operator and lumber producer. The company has a lumber capacity in excess of 1.1 billion board feet from seven sawmills. Western has an annual available harvest greater than six million cubic metres of timber, of which approximately 5.8 million cubic metres is from Crown lands.
(Western Forest Products)