The Huu-ay-aht First Nation and Bamfield residents came out in droves in late April to celebrate the HFN’s recent purchases of 11 properties in Bamfield.
“I’m happy to be able to celebrate this big step for our nation. It’s a historic day for all of us, for this whole community, both Bamfield and the Huu-ay-aht tribe,” Tayii Ha’wiilth (hereditary chief) Derek Peters told a crowd gathered in front of the newly-purchased Bamfield Motel.
“It’s very fitting that we wanted to come down here and celebrate with the Bamfield community because we’re one community. Even though we’re divided in the way we are, we’re the first nations village (Anacla) that lives just three miles away.”
The Huu-ay-aht purchased the 11 properties in January, signalling a turning point for both Bamfield and Anacla.
The properties include the Bamfield Motel, general store, restaurant, the Bamfield airstrip and Rance Island.
According to Huu-ay-aht Coun. Trevor Cootes, the 11 properties were a package deal being sold by an asset company.
“Those properties were being held by an asset company, and they used to be (Jack)Purdy’s properties,” said Cootes.
Purdy, who since 2011 had promised to pour millions into developing his Bamfield holdings, had done no such thing and has been the subject of numerous police and FBI investigations.
Bamfield electorial area director Keith Wyton said he was looking forward to the growth that the deal would bring to his community.
“I’m very excited to see what they do with the properties,” said Wyton, adding that he felt confident about the Huu-ay-aht’s development plans.
“This is their home. They’re here for the long haul.”
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According to Peters, the purchases will allow the Huu-ay-aht to continue investing and developing in their traditional territory. “We’re a nation that’s never left here and we’re never going to leave our homeland,” he said.
The desire to partner and work with the Bamfield community was made clear throughout the ceremony.
Bamfield’s oldest resident, Eileen Scott, cut a ribbon held by the youngest and oldest Bamfield Community School students in front of the Bamfield Motel.
“It’s very exciting and it’s kind of emotional for me. I see us now that all of us are citizens of the same community and I can’t say any more that it’s a historical day. Our goal was to bridge the communities and I think today is a huge step in doing that,” said Coun. Connie Waddell.
“I grew up here and that’s why it’s emotional. I’m a Huu-ay-aht citizen and I’m a Bamfield citizen and that’s why I say today we are all one citizen. I hold my hands up to all of you today.”
Peters echoed Waddell’s sentiments.
“We care a lot about our homeland and people so this is a huge day for us and we want to celebrate and we couldn’t do it without the Bamfield community. We recognize that the businesses we purchased are right here in the community and we’re really proud of that step for our nation. It’s a growth in the right direction.”