Huu-ay-aht First Nations have purchased three properties in Sarita Bay from Western Forest Products for $3 million. The land includes Western’s dry land sort in that part of the Alberni Inlet.
The transaction also involves a long-term lease back of the dry land sort to Western, an agreement to harvest 200,000 cubic metres of timber from Huu-ay-aht Lands, and an employment and training agreement that seeks to increase the number of Huu-ay-aht citizens participating in the forest sector.
“As a Nation, we want to focus on building a safe and healthy community, and that starts with good relationships, first with our citizens but also with our neighbours and business partners,” said Huu-ay-aht Chief Councillor Robert J. Dennis Sr.
“Our citizens gave us the message that moving forward with Western is a key priority by providing their support at our Special People’s Assembly. Western has shown it respects Huu-ay-aht’s philosophy of ‘Ancient Spirit, Modern Mind’ and our core values. We are writing the book on how business is to be done in our Hahuułi and opening the door to economic opportunities that will bring our people home and create a strong future for the next generation.”
For the Huu-ay-aht, the Sarita River is the “Heart of the People” and the properties involved in the agreement with Western complete the reunification of Huu-ay-aht-owned lands at Sarita Bay. Huu-ay-aht received strong support for the land acquisition from its People’s Assembly held February 19, 2017. With a long-term lease in place, Western will continue to operate its dry land sort at Sarita, supporting its timber operations in TFL 44.
“We recognize the importance of the Sarita area to the Huu-ay-aht and are pleased to have delivered a mutually beneficial transaction to support increased economic benefits from the forest sector to First Nations communities and to Western,” said Don Demens, president and CEO of WFP.