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

Students at Creston Valley Secondary School put together an art installation of a replica residential school room. (Photo by Kelsey Yates)
Creston students create art installation of residential school room

The replica was decorated with a small bed, school uniform, and notes written with pleas for help

A living wage sets a higher standard than the minimum wage; it is what a family needs to earn to provide the basic needs based on the actual costs of living in a community.
Fruitvale now a living wage employer

“I’m really excited that Fruitvale is leading the charge for municipalities locally,” Morissette said.

Nelson police say a man attacked two people downtown with bear spray on Wednesday afternoon. File photo
Two people attacked with bear spray in downtown Nelson: police

Police say the three people know each other

Rotary eClub of Waneta Sunshine, alongside members from the Kootenay Native Plant Society and Trail Wildlife Association, joined together for a day of planting at Fort Shepherd. The Waneta Sunshine eClub was granted funds through an Express Grant from District 5080 to plant 50 shrubs which support pollinator opportunities at Fort Shepherd. Photos: Submitted
Kootenay conservation partners plant pollinator ‘superfoods’ at Fort Shepherd

TLC welcomes community groups to Fort Shepherd who would like to help local ecosystems thrive

Harold and Sadie Holoboff are bringing great food and service to the Eagle’s Nest Restaurant at Champion Lakes Golf and Country Club. Photo: Jim Bailey
West Kootenay golf course welcomes father-daughter team to restaurant

Chef Harold Holoboff brings comfort food to another level at Champion Lakes Eagle’s Nest Restaurant

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

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

The first suspension bridge is the tallest in Canada, with a second suspension bridge just below it. The two are connected by a trail that’s just over 1 km. (Claire Palmer photo)
PHOTOS: The highest suspension bridges in Canada just opened in B.C.

The Skybridge in Golden allows visitors to take in views standing at 130 and 80 metres

BC Green Party leader and Cowichan Valley MLA Sonia Furstenau introduced a petition to the provincial legislature on Thursday calling for the end of old-growth logging in the province. (File photo)
BC Green leader Furstenau introduces old-growth logging petition

Party calls for the end of old-growth logging as protests in Fairy Creek continue

B.C. Premier John Horgan leaves his office for a news conference in the legislature rose garden, June 3, 2020. (B.C. government photo)
B.C. premier roasted for office budget, taxing COVID-19 benefits

Youth addiction law that triggered election hasn’t appeared

A vial containing the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine is shown at a vaccination site in Marcq en Baroeul, outside Lille, northern France, Saturday, March 20, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Michel Spingler
mRNA vaccines ‘preferred’ for all Canadians, including as 2nd dose after AstraZeneca: NACI

New recommendations prioritizes Pfizer, Moderna in almost all cases

Most Read