Mowachaht/Muchalaht members restricted Western Forest Products’ access to Highway 28 south of Gold River in the summer of 2019, an action the First Nation is repeating due to the highway’s trespass over reserve land. (Submitted photo)
Access restrictions begin today for the highway running south of Gold River, as Mowachaht/Muchalaht respond to a breakdown in negotiations with Western Forest Products over the road that passes through the First Nation’s reserve.
The decision to block the forestry company’s vehicles from passing through was announced by the Mowachaht/Muchalaht’s Council of Chiefs. Highway 28 passes through Ahaminiquus, Indian Reserve No. 12, and ends at Muchalaht Inlet.
The First Nation stated that the restriction will only apply to vehicles serving Western Forest Products; the general public will still be permitted to pass through.
“This is NOT a blockade!” stated an announcement from the First Nation. “It is MMFN’s legal right to say who can use their roads and have access through their reserve lands.”
The road was built through the reserve over 50 years ago without consulting the First Nation, providing forestry companies a route to a log sort on Muchalaht Inlet, where timber is loaded and transported to oversees markets.
In recent years the Mowachaht/Muchalaht and Western have failed to reach an agreement on compensation to the First Nation for the continued use of the road through its reserve. The forestry company stated that it has been in ongoing discussions with the Nuu-chah-nulth nation and are “working in good faith to quickly resolve this complex issue.”
Now the First Nation is talking to the B.C. Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure “towards an acceptable compensation agreement” that considers the road being built without consent.
This is planned to be a peaceful protest without aggressive behaviour.
“We do not want protestors to physically join us,” stated the Mowachaht/Muchalaht. “We ask that environmental organizations assist us by writing letters of support and provide updates for us through their social media page.”