British Columbia and Ahousaht First Nation celebrated the start of a powerful new economic partnership today.
The government and Ahousaht launched the Ahousaht Protocol, an agreement to work together to develop more jobs, more prosperity and new opportunities for the Ahousaht people and create a strong, vibrant economy.
And in a rare and significant honour, Ahousaht hereditary Chief Maquinna (Lewis George) bestowed an Ahousaht name on Premier Clark during the ceremony on Meares Island. The Premier’s Ahousaht name is "Cha-chum-wha,” which in the Ahousaht language means "One Who Speaks Meaningfully and Truthfully."
“I’m deeply humbled that Chief Maquinna has honoured me with a name that will forever connect me to the Ahousaht people,” Premier Clark said. “Our celebration and protocol agreement signify the enduring strength of the Province’s partnership with Ahousaht and our shared goal of creating more economic opportunities for the Ahousaht people and their neighbouring communities.”
Through the Ahousaht Protocol, the Province and Ahousaht will work to improve the Ahousaht economy, to develop a collaborative approach to natural-resource management and permitting within their traditional territory, and to explore the renaming of significant geographic place names to reflect Ahousaht’s historic connections to the land.
“I thank B.C. and Premier Clark for supporting our efforts to diversify our economy in ways that are sustainable and drawn from Ahousaht values of respect, caring, helping and teaching,” said Chief Maquinna. “Our protocol opens the door to new partnerships and job opportunities for our people through concrete actions and achievable outcomes. This is a great day for the Ahousaht people and all people in and around our Hahoulthlee.”
“I commend the continued efforts of our people to manage the lands, waters, and resources throughout Ahousaht's Hahoulthlee, and to pursue courageous, bold, and innovative approaches to build the partnerships required to carry forward our responsibilities,” said Ahousaht hereditary Chief A-in-chut Shawn Atleo. “Today marks an important step forward in advancing our partnership with the Province, and our collective commitment to realize new economic opportunities guided by the values of mutual recognition, care, respect, and a shared vision to co-create a sustainable and prosperous future.”
The Ahousaht Protocol commits B.C. and Ahousaht to develop an economic diversification action plan within two years, with specific tasks, deliverables, and timelines. As well, the agreement provides $1.25 million over five years to support Ahousaht’s participation in developing the action plan.
“This protocol is a catalyst for sustained positive change for the Ahousaht people, and a testament to what can be achieved through open dialogue,” said John Rustad, Minister of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation. “It honours the priorities of Ahousaht, and reflects the government’s commitment to reconciliation and improving social well-being in First Nation communities.”
Premier Clark also recognized the Ahousaht community’s heroism in responding to the Leviathan II tragedy in October 2015 and announced a $50,000 grant to support the needs of Ahousaht emergency response services. Premier Clark bestowed the British Columbia Medal of Good Citizenship on the communities of both Ahousaht and Tofino in recognition of their respective rescue and recovery efforts.
“I want to thank Premier Clark and the B.C. government for supporting our emergency services and celebrating our protocol agreement with us in our community. Our agreement supports our priorities of building our economy, managing our lands and resources and exploring place names that are more reflective of our language and culture. We are on a new path together, one that will benefit our people and the greater community,” said Ahousaht Chief Councillor Greg Louie.
- Ahousaht’s Hahoulthlee (traditional territory) encompasses much of Clayoquot Sound, with the village of Maaqtusiis on Flores Island being the only village site inhabited year-round.
- Ahousaht has more than 2,100 members, with about 700 living within Ahousaht’s traditional territory.
- Ahousaht’s Maaqutusiis Hahoulthee Stewardship Society and Ahous Business Corporation own and operate a number of businesses in Clayoquot Sound related to eco-tourism, aquaculture, transportation, commercial retail, project management and renewable energy development.
- Ahousaht and four other Nuu-chah-nulth First Nations collectively hold tree farm licences 54 and 57 in Clayoquot Sound.
Ahousaht Protocol: ow.ly/TFpQ302u7Sn
Ministry of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation: gov.bc.ca/arr
Ahousaht First Nation: ahousaht.ca
For more on the Medal of Good Citizenship for Ahousaht and Tofino: www.gov.bc.ca/medalofgoodcitizenship