Chief Robert Dennis receives a token of appreciation from Premier Gordon Campbell on Huu-ay-aht’s resounding treaty ratification.
On Friday, September 7 Premier Gordon Campbell visited the community of Anacla to honor the Huu-ay-aht on their treaty ratification vote and presented Chief Councilor Robert Dennis a framed document stating his appreciation on behalf of the government of British Columbia.
Members of both the Huu-ay-aht community and the neighboring Bamfield were on hand to witness the historic event.
Prior to the announcement, Premier Campbell visited the Paawats Educational Centre. The Paawats is a “reviving our language and living our culture” facility, a pre-school for children of the community. Campbell, upon his arrival was meeting and greeting many community members, the staff and especially the children. A few of the children sang the Premier a nursery rhyme in Huu-ay-aht phrases which the children are learning in the classroom.
Chief councilor Dennis presented the Premier with a few mementos and information from the Paawats educational center. After the presentation the delegation proceeded to the Anacla campsite where community members were gathered.
Before the scenic backdrop of their campground, Dennis thanked the Premier, Minister De Jong, Cantelon, and all those gathered. “Premier Campbell, we have invited our neighbours from Bamfield and as you can see we do things together as a community. We live side-by-side with Bamfield and are doing things together” said Dennis.
Dennis shared that the campground they gathered on belongs to their community and they are proud of it. “We borrowed money from the bank to develop it and in two to three years we were able to pay off the loan,” Dennis said. He said he was very proud of the young people of Huu-ay-aht for what they are accomplishing.
John Mass, president of the Chamber of Commerce congratulated the Huu-ay-aht on the ratification of their treaty. Mass said they are pleased to be working with Huu-ay-aht, especially for the betterment of the economy. “I would like to ask Premier Campbell for help so that together we can build a strong economic future for our people” said Mass.
Stefan Ochman, the regional director for electoral area “A” Bamfield talked about a joint Huu-ay-aht/Bamfield community abalone project, and joint community forest. He also spoke of a badly needed water supply system, more sustainable housing, and a better road.
He pointed out that there were a couple of bad accidents and there have been a few fatalities. Safety of those driving over the roads is an issue with both the communities of Huu-ay-aht and Bamfield.
Chief Councillor Vi Mundy of Ucluelet First Nation thanked everyone on behalf of the Maa-nulth Treaty Group for being present at the gathering.
She invited the Premier to lead in the singing of a very special happy birthday to Robert Dennis, who was celebrating his sixtieth birthday today.
Premier Campbell obliged and everyone joined in to sing happy birthday.
Chief Dennis acknowledged each of the visiting delegates from the Maa-nulth Treaty group; Toquaht, Ucluelet and Ka:’yu:k’t’h’/Che:k’tles7et’h’ before inviting Premier Campbell to say a few words.
“It is great to be here in the traditional territories of the Huu-ay-aht First Nation and celebrating a significant step, something that is a first,” Campbell said. He talked about leadership and, more specifically, Chief Robert Dennis. Campbell thanked Dennis for his leadership in Huu-ay-aht’s resounding treaty ratification.
“I am looking forward to getting similar results, perhaps a 90% vote from Huu-ay-aht members in the next election” Campbell said as many of the audience roared in laughter.
Other notable leaders Campbell mentioned were Dave Haggard who was present at the gathering and Tyee Ha’wilth Bert Mack from Toquaht First Nation.
Campbell also stated that he as well as Ministers DeJong and Cantelon were there to listen. “Let us move together to tackle one issue at a time, one step at a time. We will do this for you – you lay out the plan and we can do this together, we will be there in partnership” said Campbell.
The Premier called upon Dennis to present Huu-ay-aht First Nation with a framed document before asking for support from the other four Maa-nulth First Nations in their upcoming ratification votes.
Chief Dennis also asked the Maa-nulth representatives for their support in ratifying the agreement. “I would like to respectfully request that you deliver a message to your communities, especially to your young people as we have an opportunity to make change,” said Dennis.
Dennis called on the youth of Huu-ay-aht to lead in a couple of celebratory songs and dances. He was especially pleased that the youth asked him to join.
During lunch youth from Ka:’yu:k’t’h’/Che:k’tles7et’h’ invited the youth of Huu-ay-aht to their community to share their experience during the treaty updates and voting. Dennis immediately responded saying they would accept their invitation. Prior to Premier Campbell’s departure he stated that if the agreement is ratified and he is invited, he too would gladly take part in future ratification celebrations in other communities.
Dennis was very pleased with the day, a very special and significant day for him personally with the Premiers visit, gift to Huu-ay-aht and also his birthday. The icing on the cake would be the ratification of the Maa-nulth Treaty by all parties, and who knows, maybe even a paved road to Bamfield.
By Jack F. Little