Chief Robert Dennis strains to find the top of a spruce tree in his territory on the west coast of Vancouver Island.
“If I was to guess how old this spruce tree is, it would be in 300 to 400 years old,” he says.
“And I would easily say that probably close to 250 to 300 foot range.”
Dennis just signed a deal with a forestry company that will allow the Huu-ay-aht First Nation to benefit from the forestry industry.
“We are focusing on generating wealth for the nation so that we can take care of ourselves so that can provide resources that our people need so that they can live healthy lives our culture can be revived,” he said.
Situated on the west coast of Vancouver Island is Anacla, one of the many villages of the Huu-ay-aht First Nation.
It is surrounded by the Pacific Ocean and by old growth trees dating back hundreds of years.
The First Nation is hosting a community celebration and feast as they sign a forestry deal with Western Forest Products worth $7.2 million.
The signing is also done as their ancestors did with cedar x’s and wax to seal it.
The deal is for seven per cent of a tree farm licence called the TFL 44 that extends into the traditional territory of the First Nation.
High Hereditary Chief Tliishin followed tradition by bringing his daughter Huupathis whose next in line to being Hereditary Chief to the celebration.
“So on behalf of our Hereditary Chiefs this is a positive step for a small First Nation here on the west coast,” Tliishin says. “We have come a really long way and we have strong relationships so we are very proud of that.”
Dennis says that up until 20 years ago, wood was taken out from the territory without their knowledge or consent.
He says this new partnership will provide a huge opportunity to have say in resource management, training and jobs as well as money to invest into its programs and services for its members.