Ahousaht declares territory closed to tourists indefinately

Denise Titian, July 10, 2020

The territory of the Ahousaht First Nation, which covers a large area of land and water north of Tofino, is declared closed to all visitors indefinitely due to COVID-19. This includes numerous provincial parks that would otherwise be a destination for tourists this time of the year. (Ahousaht First Nation map)

Ahousaht, BC — 

The Ha’wiih and elected council of Ahousaht have issued a declaration that access to all Ahousaht Hahulthi (lands and waters) will remain closed to tourists and non-residents of Ahousaht.

The declaration, issued July 2, states that the COVID-19 pandemic continues to be a serious health and safety threat.

“There is still no vaccine, no anti-serum and no cure for COVID-19; the Coronavirus is deadly and continues to spread quickly in a second wave in other countries,” reads the statement.

In his July 2 update to membership, Elected Chief Greg Louie pointed out that numbers of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. are still incredibly high and the risk to local communities is too high. He said Tofino General Hospital, which serves Tofino, Ucluelet as well as Toquaht, Tla-o-qui-aht, Ahousaht, Hesquiaht and other offshore communities has only 10 beds and one respirator.

On June 9 the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council issued a statement on access to the Hahulthi, emphasizing that the protection and health of the nation’s members is of the highest priority and must be assured before recreational and non-essential economic activities are expanded.

“[I]ncluding but not limited to the opening of provincial parks, federal parks and other activity that attracts non-residents into Nuu-chah-nulth hahulthi,” stated the NTC.

The latest Ahousaht declaration signed by Tyee Ha’wilth Maquinna-Hasheukumis and Chief Louie says that tourists and people without permission to be in Ahousaht territories will be asked to leave.

In his video statement, Chief Louie said all parks in Ahousaht Hahulthi will remain closed and will be monitored by the nation. Parks within Ahousaht territories include: Gibson Marine Provincial Park, Flores Island Provincial Park, Wildside Trail, Maquinna Marine Provincial Park, Sydney Inlet Provincial Park, Vargas Island Provincial Park and Epper Passage Provincial Park.