In January the Huu-ay-aht First Nations (HFN) made a significant investment in the community by purchasing 11 properties in Bamfield Inlet.
The properties were bought as a package and include residential lots, businesses, land with cultural significance and land with future development potential. They are: Rance Island, a 6.8-acre parcel on the east side of the Bamfield Inlet; three acres on Binnacle Road; The Bay House on Seaboard Road, 6.11 acres along the Bamfield Inlet; 5.85 acres on Pachena Road; 5.36 acres on Grappler Road; 1.04 acres on Frigate Road; the Kingfisher Lodge and Marina on Bamfield Road; the Bamfield Airport, a 40-acre parcel on Binnacle Road; 0.275 acres on Seaboard Road; and Ostrom’s Marine on Seaboard Road, a 1.72-acre property.
Huu-ay-aht First Nations Hereditary Chief Derek Peters said, as head chief, he is proud that his Nation could make such a large investment.
“By purchasing these properties, it will give my tribe more opportunity to play an economic role in the region,” he said in January. “Outside of our current forestry operations, it’s a good step into tourism.”
In March, Coun. Trevor Cootes, who is the councillor in charge of economic development, said some of the 11 properties were unlikely to be developed anytime soon.
“Half the properties wouldn’t be necessarily desirable for businesses to come in but for Huu-ay-aht, it’s very desirable because we know we’re going to be there for generations to come so those lands are very important to our economic growth,” Cootes said.
The purchases will help the Huu-ay-aht with their tourism plan and expand the experience the nation can offer in their traditional territories at the mouth of the Inlet.
In late April the HFN and Bamfield residents came together to celebrate the purchases.
Bamfield electoral 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.”
On Nov. 19 the Huu-ay-aht reclaimed historic treasures from the Royal BC Museum at a repatriation ceremony at the Alberni Athletic Hall.
Objects include a wooden ceremonial screen; two Thunderbird masks and a single collection of 37 small carvings of birds; five objects associated with whaling and whaling rituals (including a whaler’s cape or charm, head band, rattle, charm and whaling float) and eight basketry objects.
The items will be taken to the Nations’ traditional territory for permanent public display at the Huu-ay-aht Government Office in Anacla, near Bamfield.
More good news for the Huu-ay-aht came in December when they were awarded $13.8 million in compensation from a Specific Claims Tribunal over Canada’s breaches of duty over a logging licence.
The compensation was awarded by the specific claims tribunal, a panel that decides First Nations claims against Canada regarding past wrongs.
Huu-ay-aht filed a claim with the tribunal in 2011 about logging that took place on former Numukamis IR1 between 1948 and 1969. Huu-ay-aht chiefs petitioned Canada at the time of the logging operations, asserting that the licence should be cancelled, to no avail.
“Today is a great day for Huu-ay-aht First Nations,” Chief Councillor Robert Dennis Sr. said.
Read more about the Huu-ay-aht in 2016 here: