British Columbia: Ahousaht and Hesquiaht First Nations reassert control of territory

In a mass email sent to local businesses as well as provincial and
federal politicians, the Ahousaht and Hesquiaht First Nations said
companies wishing to conduct business in their traditional territories
will soon have to seek permission from their hereditary chiefs and
even pay royalties, licences or fees. Both bands said they will also
increase their presence in their own traditional territories and will
use traditional laws to access and use their own resources.

Get full text; support writer, producer of the words:

“We’re calling for a new way to do business,” said Carol Anne Hilton,
a spokesperson for the Hesquiaht First Nation. “Our people have been
in a depression for 150 years. We’re saying ‘no more.'” Hilton said
local, provincial and federal governments have overlooked the
hereditary system. If band members wanted to use resources to make a
living or celebrate a potlatch, she said, they’d have to ask
provincial or federal parks or governments. “The people we’re going to
ask now is our Hawiih [chiefs].”

She said forest companies have extracted hundreds of millions of dollars in timber from Hesquiaht territory, but band members have seen no benefit. Hilton said Ahousaht and Hesquiaht will discuss further details at upcoming open houses which will likely be held in Ahousat, on Flores Island. Both Ahousaht and Hesquiaht claim lands and waters northwest of Tofino as part of their traditional territory.

The area is an eco-tourist Mecca, drawing countless visitors who patronize dozens of whale watching, kayaking and sports fishing companies. The area is also popular with heavy industry. Mainstream Canada, part of the Norwegian salmon-farming company CERMAQ, also operate Atlantic salmon farms in the area. This past summer, the Ahousaht and Hesquiaht First Nations sparred with environmentalists over logging plans for Hesquiat Point Creek, in northern Clayoquot Sound.

Meantime, Vancouver-based Selkirk Corp. wrapped up exploratory copper drilling on Catface Mountain, located in Ahousaht traditional territory. Mike DeJong, minister of aboriginal relations and reconciliation, was unavailable for comment Wednesday. However, Tofino Mayor John Fraser said Ahousaht and Hesquiaht just want their fair share. “They feel like they’re not getting their fair share of the deal,” said Tofino Mayor John Fraser. “They want to engage the businesses that use their traditional territories.” Ken
Matthews, forestry manager for the Coulson Group of Companies, said
his company is aware of the document but has not yet seen it or
discussed how it will affect logging operations.

Get full text; support writer, producer of the words:

Leave a comment

Your comment