Economic fund benefits all Huu-ay-aht

The proposed liquefied natural gas facility at Sarita Bay isn’t the only thing that Steelhead LNG and the Huu-ay-aht are partnering on.

Huu-ay-aht First Nation citizens and staff display the fresh food that the refrigerator truck will transport.

The proposed liquefied natural gas facility at Sarita Bay isn’t the only thing that Steelhead LNG and the Huu-ay-aht First Nation are partnering on these days.

Thanks to an unconditional contribution to the Huu-ay-aht’s new Generations Fund, any benefits from the LNG facility will be spread out to all Huu-ay-aht citizens.

“Over the past few months, the Huu-ay-aht government and Huu-ay-aht citizens clearly identified the conditions that must guide the proposed Project for it to proceed,” said Steelhead LNG CEO Nigel Kuzemko.

Officials declined to say how much Steelhead’s initial contribution was.

“The Generations Fund will help us address many of those conditions together and will help provide the Huu-ay-aht with the funding and internal resources they need to carry out their nation’s strategic plan,” Kuzemko said.

Huu-ay-aht executive director James Edwards said that they looked at other resource development projects carried out by various governments to get an idea of what the best use of the money generated would be.

“When we looked to Alberta or Alaska or a number of other regions, what we see is that sovereign wealth funds—when the resource money is set aside and put into social benefits—that really is the best practice,” said Edwards.

The first community initiative funded by the Generations Fund began in early May with the purchase of a new refrigerator truck for the fresh food program.

“Food security is a significant issue, especially for children in their early years,” said Edwards, adding that healthy, nourishing food in early years is linked with success later in life.

With the new refrigerator truck, the Huu-ay-aht will be able to distribute fresh, local food to more of their citizens.

“Members of the community who benefit most from access to healthy, traditional foods will get it in a timely and accessible manner.”

The benefits of the Huu-ay-aht’s fresh food program will spread beyond just their own citizens.

“One of the benefits we see with the food truck  is that we will be sourcing locally from organic, local producers within the Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District,” Edwards said.

“One of the things that executive council has said that we want a positive impact on the whole region.”

Huu-ay-aht citizens have identified that the health and wellness of Huu-ay-aht children, and providing them with safe, nurturing environments in which they will thrive is of utmost importance.

As a result, their government will use resources provided by the Generations Fund to develop its own agency and programs to assume responsibility for the foster care and welfare of Huu-ay-aht children from the Province of British Columbia.

“Nothing is more important than the health and welfare of our children,” said Cook. “There are many historical and ongoing issues that affect our ability to provide the best for our children, and there is no easy or quick fix. The most important fact, however, is that these are our children, and the best way to ensure they have the brightest and healthiest future possible, is to provide a Huu-ay-aht approach to their care, with input from our Ha’wiih, our elders and our people.”

Providing employment for their citizens is another key requirement for any economic development the Huu-ay-aht engage in.

To that end, funding from the Generations Fund has been set aside to support citizens to transition into jobs within the Huu-ay-aht organization.

Where Huu-ay-aht citizens have interest in current and new positions, the funding will be used to support job shadowing and internships.

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