Thre Vancouver Island First Nations say they will use traditional practices and take back control over what happens with their water and lands within their territories.
The Huu-ay-aht, Ditidaht and Pacheedaht hereditary and elected chiefs formally announced that they signed a declaration to take back power over their traditional territories after over 150 years of decision-making by others regarding their land, water and people.
The trio say they want to manage forestry, fishing and any other decisions related to their lands and are going to halt old-growth logging on their territories for two years in order to work on a resource management plan.
“What you take out you must put back in and to me what that means is that I’m prepared to look at resource development as long as things are put back in and in the case of forestry if you’re going to log then I want you to plant trees so there’s a harvest for future generations,” said Huu-ay-aht First Nation elected Chief Robert Dennis Sr.
In the case of the Pacheedaht First Nation, that involves deferring the old-growth logging in Fairy Creek Watershed.
“But not the second growth so the second-growth logging can proceed so we’re all talking about two deferred areas which are Fairy Creek and the Walbran,” said Pacheedaht First Nation elected Chief Jeff Jones.
But there may still be old-growth logging on provincial tenure Tree Farm License 44 of which the Huu-ay-aht First Nation owns a 35 per cent stake.
The First Nation leaders say they want protestors to stop blockading logging they’ve approved.
“Respect needs to be coming from all individuals that proceed into our territories,” said elected Chief Brian Tate of the Ditidaht First Nation. “Respect for our hereditary system, our council systems and respect for the land.”
Tate says his nation is still wanting to get stumpage royalties despite the old-growth logging deferral and the nation is awaiting an answer from the province.