Huu-ay-aht First Nations is planning a Bamfield-based fishing derby in support of C̕awak ʔqin Forestry Workers.
C̕awak ʔqin Forestry is a partnership between the Huu-ay-aht-owned Huumiiss Ventures and Western Forest Products to manage Tree Farm Licence 44, a large section of Crown land south of Port Alberni and Great Central Lake. Chief Counsellor Robert Dennis and Huu-ay-aht First Nations want to demonstrate their support with an event that forestry workers and their family can all enjoy.
Scheduled for Aug. 20-21, Huu-ay-aht First Nations Events Coordinator Sheila Charles says the late summer event will be a perfect event for forestry workers and those in the community to get to know each other and recognize that we are all one.
“C̕awak ʔqin means we are all one, and so, Robert just wanted an opportunity to gather all of those citizens and workers to just have a fun weekend together,” said Charles. “That way we can all get to know each other and just come together as one and recognize that we are all one.”
The support money raised by this fishing derby will be allocated to an emergency fund for all C̕awak ʔqin forestry workers and their families. Forestry can be a dangerous line of work and Dennis says one of Huu-ay-aht’s principles as a nation is to take care of each other. He adds that this is just one way they want to continue taking care of their workers in the best way they can.
“We're setting out a new ground here. And we're hopeful that things like this will help kickstart the want to work together as a team and support each other,” outlined Dennis. “We want to take care of our workers and do whatever we can. One of the things that we certainly wanted to do as a new owner of a forestry company, or part owners, is to create a culture where we do get along, and where we try to work as a team to support each other.”
“We can have a good, healthy working environment where we all get along and work together for the betterment of the company,” he added. “So, one of the things we decided to do, sometimes workers end up in crisis situations where maybe a family member gets sick, and they have to go stay in a hospital somewhere, or maybe even a passing in the family. So, we want to set up a fund where we can take care of our workers when it's needed. So that's the main purpose of raising money through this derby.”
The event is the first of its kind for Bamfield and Huu-ay-aht First Nations and, according to Charles, it all came together this year. Specifically, planning started in January. Charles says the event originally featured a traditional salmon barbecue, but a few changes had to be made.
“Since we just got word that there's a fire ban, it will not be a traditional barbecue salmon feast like we had intended, but it will still be a salmon barbecue with burgers and hotdogs and more,” explained Charles.
She adds that Gord Hawkins from Bamfield Breakers Marine was a major help in putting the event together.
“He provided a lot of help, because he's the one that planned the Bamfield Volunteer Fire Department Fishing Derby successfully for the past 20 years or so, and they have tons of sponsors,” said Charles. “And so, he had lots of advice for us.”
Sheila Charles and Huu-ay-aht First Nations won’t have to look far back for an example of Hawkins’ work and experience. The Bamfield Volunteer Fire Department successfully ran their fishing derby over the August long weekend.
Rods will be in the water for the Huu-ay-aht First Nations Fishing Derby August 20 and 21, and the event features prizes for biggest fish, hidden weights and biggest Coho salmon caught. Weigh-in stations will be operated by volunteers and held at Bamfield’s Upnit Lodge and Marina, formerly known as the Kingfisher Lodge. The event’s salmon barbecue is scheduled to take place at the Bamfield Volunteer Fire Department.
Tickets to participate in the fishing derby are now available at various locations in Port Alberni and Bamfield, including Gone Fishin’, Breakers Marine and Huu-ay-aht government offices.