(Victoria Buzz)

The Huu-ay-aht, Pacheedaht, and Ditidaht First Nations have given notice to the BC government to defer old- growth logging for two years in the Fairy Creek and the Central Walbran areas and Huu-ay-aht First Nations to defer logging of its treaty lands.

The Hišuk ma c̕awak Declaration was signed on June 4th outlining the management of the Huu-ay-aht, Pacheedaht, and Ditidaht traditional territories and is guided by three sacred principles of land stewardship that the Nations’ said they’re often ignored.

“This Declaration acknowledges that three sacred principles are often ignored, and the 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 declaration read.

The territories include areas such as Fairy Creek watershed, where protestors have been blockading logging roads since August 2020 and the RCMP have been arresting those violating the injunction granted by the BC Supreme Court to logging company, Teal-Jones.

The declaration from the Island First Nations’ comes a week after the BC government announced its intentions to modernize the forestry sector.

Last week, the government said it will begin to focus on reconciliation with First Nations’, stewardship and sustainability, increased sector participation, and a strengthened social contract to give the government more control over management of the sector.

In regards to the protests at Fairy Creek, Premier Horgan said his government will honour the title land owners.

“The critical recommendation that’s in play at Fairy Creek is consulting with the title holders,” said Horgan.

The declaration said it intends to honour forestry operations in parts of their territories.

“The Nations ask that while work is underway everyone allow forestry operations in other parts of their Territories, approved by the Nations and the province, to continue without disruption,” said the declaration.

“Anyone who requests permission to enter our ḥahahuułi is welcome provided they conduct themselves in accordance with our sacred principles. That includes safe, peaceful, and lawful protest that does not interfere with legally authorized forestry operations. “

Teal-Jones has also said they will abide by the declaration.

“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,” the company stated.

As of Friday, June 4th RCMP have arrested 170 protestors at Fairy Creek.

Premier issues statement on declaration

“My government has received the Hišuk ma c̕awak Declaration and deferral request issued earlier today by the Chiefs of the Pacheedaht, Ditidaht and Huu-ay-aht First Nations.

These Nations are the holders of constitutionally protected Indigenous interests within their traditional territories. 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.”

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