UPDATE: First Nations tell B.C. to pause old growth logging on southwest Vancouver Island

Statement comes as traditional territory continues to experience high-profile blockades and arrests

Leaders of the Huy-ay-aht, Pacheedaht and Ditidaht First Nations sign an declaration to take back power over the resources on their traditional territories. The agreement includes telling the provincial government to stop old-growth logging for two years. (Huu-ay-aht First Nation photo)

Leaders of the Huy-ay-aht, Pacheedaht and Ditidaht First Nations sign an declaration to take back power over the resources on their traditional territories. The agreement includes telling the provincial government to stop old-growth logging for two years. (Huu-ay-aht First Nation photo)

Three Vancouver Island First Nations have joined their voices to tell the province to defer old-growth logging in the Fairy Creek and Central Walbran areas for the next two years.

The southwest Island-based Huu-ay-aht, Ditidaht and Pacheedaht First Nations signed the Hišuk ma c̕awak Declaration on Friday, June 4, to take back power over their traditional territories. On Saturday, they formally told the provincial government to defer old-growth logging in those areas while the First Nations prepare their own plans for stewardship of their traditional territories.

“We have made a commitment to our people to manage the resources on our ḥahahuułi the way our ancestors did – guided by our sacred principles of ʔiisaak (utmost respect), ʔuuʔałuk (taking care of), and Hišuk ma c̕awak (everything is one),” explained Huu-ay-aht Tayii Ḥaw̓ił ƛiišin (Head Hereditary Chief Derek Peters), Ditidaht Chabut Satiixub (Hereditary Chief Paul Tate), and Pacheedaht’s Hereditary Chief Frank Queesto Jones.

“We are in a place of reconciliation now and relationships have evolved to include First Nations. It is time for us to learn from the mistakes that have been made and take back our authority over our ḥahahuułi.”

Besides the disputed old-growth stands, the Nations are permitting other approved forestry operations to continue within their territories. The Huu-ay-aht had previously deferred all logging on their own treaty lands.

The territories in question have been the subject of old-growth logging protests for months, leading to more than 170 arrests since May 17. That’s when police began enforcing a B.C. Supreme Court injunction that prohibits blockades on Tree Farm Licence 46 which includes the controversial Fairy Creek and Caycuse watersheds.

The provincial government stated on Monday afternoon that it will honour the Hišuk ma c̕awak Declaration.

“These Nations are the holders of constitutionally protected Indigenous interests within their traditional territories,” Premier John Horgan said. “It is from this position that the chiefs have approached us.

“We further recognize the three Nations will continue to exercise their constitutionally protected Indigenous interests over the protected areas.

“We honour the Hišuk ma c̕awak Declaration. And we are pleased to enter into respectful discussions with the Nations regarding their request. We understand the request must be addressed expeditiously, and we will ensure a prompt response.

“Our government is committed to reconciliation. True reconciliation means meaningful partnerships. I know the three Nations are ready to enter into these discussions in a spirit of good faith, and with a goal of achieving a mutually satisfactory resolution. Our government is as well.”

Teal Jones, which has logging rights to TFL 46, agreed to stop old-growth logging in the area.

“Teal Jones acknowledges the ancestral territories of all First Nations on which we operate and is committed to reconciliation,” the company stated. “In recent years Teal Jones has had productive working relationships with 106 First Nations in BC, the specifics of each engagement reflecting the interests of the First Nation.

“We will abide by the declaration issued today, and look forward to engaging with the Pacheedaht, Ditidaht, and Huu-ay-aht First Nations as they develop Integrated Resource Forest Stewardship Plans.”

Charlie Forrester of the BC Forestry Association said the declaration is a positive thing for all parties.

“It’s their land,” he said. “If they want to shut things down for two years and come up with a plan, that’s a good thing. It’s no one’s business but their own.”

The Hišuk ma c̕awak Declaration says the three sacred principles are often ignored, and that First Nations are the last to benefit from what is taken out of the territory, and the last to be asked what must be put back. The three Nations are already engaged in extensive stewardship efforts on their territories to repair damage done in the past and to plan for future generationss.

“Our three Nations look forward to building a future based on respectful nation-to-nation relationships with other governments that are informed by Indigenous history, Indigenous knowledge, Indigenous rights, and Indigenous priorities,” said Chief Councillor of the Pacheedaht First Nation Jeff Jones. “We ask that all peoples both Indigenous and non-Indigenous learn and move forward together and that by working together we can realize a future that is fair, just, and equitable.”

The declaration states third parties must respect the Nations’ governance, stewardship, sacred principles, and right to benefit from the resources.

“It is our responsibility to take care of our land for future generations – we are the decision makers,” explained Huu-ay-aht Chief Councillor Robert J. Dennis Sr. “Our citizens have a constitutionally protected right to manage and benefit from our lands, waters, and resources.”

“Everything we need comes from our forests and our marine habitats in our traditional territory,” explained Ditidaht Elected Chief Brian Tate. “It is time for the people who come to our territory to respect that and to recognize the rights we have to what happens in our ḥahahuułi. What we take out must be put back in.”

READ MORE: Solidarity builds for Indigenous claims over Fairy Creek watershed on Vancouver Island

For more news from Vancouver Island and beyond delivered daily into your inbox, please click here.

Fairy Creek watershedforestryIndigenousprotest

Just Posted

Rob Kernachan editorial cartoon.
Editorial cartoonist focuses on Orange Shirt Day

Orange Shirt Day is the feature of Rob Kernachan’s contribution this week.… Continue reading

The grads of 2021 at Chemainus Secondary School will be resilient based on their experiences through COVID. (Photo by Don Bodger)
Making the most of grad events

Class of 2021 will carry resilience with them throughout their years based on COVID experience

COVID-19 has made the 2020-21 school year at Chemainus Secondary School interesting and challenging for graduates. (File photo by Don Bodger)
Chemainus Secondary School 2021 graduates

Here’s the young men and women who are embarking on life’s next journey

Girls just wanna have fun. From left: Danielle Dela Cruz, Melanie Cheng, Hanna Starkie, Camille Storteboom, Rebecca Rhode, Sian Diewert and Brianne Pamminger at the Crofton seawalk. (Photo by Alana Starkie)
Prom night brings some semblance of normalcy for 2021 Chemainus grads

Being together at least provides class members with some comfort

Tom Millard served his community well for so many years with the Chemainus Fire Department. (Photo submitted)
Millard dedicated himself to community service

Long-time Chemainus Fire Department member and chief remembered for his commitment

People line up to get their COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination centre, Thursday, June 10, 2021 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Vaccines, low COVID case counts increase Father’s Day hope, but risk is still there

Expert says people will have to do their own risk calculus before popping in on Papa

The Co-op gas station at Whiskey Creek is burning after a camper van exploded while refueling just before 4 p.m. on Thursday, June 17, 2021. (FACEBOOK PHOTO)
Exploding camper van torches Highway 4 gas station between Qualicum Beach and Port Alberni

Highway traffic blocked after Whiskey Creek gas station erupts into flames

Helen Austin performing with Trent Freeman at the 2018 Vancouver Island MusicFest. Austin is one of the many performers listed for the 2021 event.
Vancouver Island MusicFest goes virtual for 2021

Black Press to stream 25 hours of programming July 9-11

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Greater father involvement in the home leads to improved childhood development and increased marital satisfaction, says expert. (Black Press Media file photo)
Vancouver Island researcher finds lack of father involvement a drag on gender equality

Working women still taking on most child and household duties in Canada: UVic professor

FILE – A science class at L.A. Matheson Secondary in Surrey, B.C. on March 12, 2021. (Lauren Collins/Surrey Now Leader)
Teachers’ union wants more COVID transmission data as B.C. prepares for back-to-school

BCTF says that details will be important as province works on plan for September

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry outlines B.C.’s COVID-19 restart plan, May 25, 2021, including larger gatherings and a possible easing of mandatory masks on July 1. (B.C. government photo)
B.C. records 120 new COVID-19 cases, second vaccines accelerating

Lower Pfizer deliveries for early July, Moderna shipments up

A Heffley Creek peacock caught not one - but two - lifts on a logging truck this month. (Photo submitted)
Heffley Creek-area peacock hops logging trucks in search of love

Peacock hitched two lifts in the past month

The Calgary skyline is seen on Friday, Sept. 15, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
2 deaths from COVID-19 Delta variant in Alberta, 1 patient was fully immunized

Kerry Williamson with Alberta Health Services says the patients likely acquired the virus in the hospital

Most Read