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First Modern-day Treaty on Vancouver Island Takes Effect

ANACLA (Bamfield), BRITISH COLUMBIA - April 1, 2011 will be a historic day in British Columbia as the latest modern-day treaty comes into effect.

The Maa-nulth Final Agreement will be the first modern-day treaty on Vancouver Island, and will mark the beginning of a new era for five First Nations along the west coast shores of Barkley and Kyuquot Sounds.

The Huu-ay-aht, Ucluelet, Uchucklesaht, Toquaht, and Kyuquot First Nations will share a portion of 24,550 hectares of treaty settlement lands and a $73.1 million capital transfer.

The Nations also negotiated a resource revenue payment that could bring in up to $1.8 million each year from commercial forestry operations within their traditional territories, and payments of $10.3 million each year to fund ongoing programs and services.

“This agreement is 150 years in the making, and we have arrived at a place where all three levels of governments—federal, provincial and First Nations—are ready to build a better future together,” said Huu-ay-aht First Nation Chief Councilor Robert Dennis.

One of the Maa-nulth Nations, the Huu-ay-aht First Nation is already actively involved in forestry, fishing, shellfish aquaculture and aggregate mining in their territory. They own and operate the Pacheena Bay Campsite, HFN Forestry L.P., a gravel pit and other businesses surrounding the tiny village of Bamfield, where they are the largest employer in the area.

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"Our first priority is to build upon our successes and leverage funds to bring a strong and secure economy to our area," said Huu-ay-aht Chief Councilor Robert Dennis. "Our First Nation has a long history of working with the people who have come to settle within our territories, and that will continue as we work together for a better future for everyone."

Devastated by downturns in the local forestry and fishing economies, the Huu-ay-aht First Nation is planning to spark a new era of prosperity for the Bamfield area.

"The villages of Anacla and Bamfield have been partners in growth for the past decade," said Stefan Ochman, the Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District Director for Bamfield. "With a Final Agreement now in place, the future of the entire region is now brighter thanks to the economic certainty it brings."

Under the Maa-nulth Final Agreement, the Huu-ay-aht First Nation retains 1,077 hectares of former reservation lands and 7,181 hectares of additional lands, mostly second growth forest lands. These lands will provide a 60,000 m3 Annual Allowable Cut in addition to Huu-ay-aht’s current crown tenure allocation of 87,000 m3.

“The foundation of Huu-ay-aht’s post-treaty success will be in the forests,” according to Huu-ay-aht Development Corporation Chief Executive Officer Stan Coleman, a longtime forest manager on Vancouver Island.

“Our connection to these forests go back tens of thousands of years, and we believe we can provide a model for forest management,” said Huu-ay-aht Chief Councillor Robert Dennis. “From logging to harvesting non-timber forest resources, we now have the ability to build a sustainable resource economy for our communities and our future generations,” he said.