On the eve of the 10th anniversary of the Clayoquot Sound protests on the West Coast of Vancouver Island, the Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation is handing an eviction notice to International Forest Products.
Tla-o-qui-aht councillor Simon Tom said hereditary chiefs say they want Interfor gone because the logging company is ignoring their concerns. “Our cultural values were not being respected,” said Tom.
The province and company ignored the Clayoquot Sound Central Region Board when Tla-o-qui-aht representatives voted against a 10-year forest development plan. The company also wanted to re-assess cultural values in research cutblocks, he said.
Tom said the areas contain medicinal plants and culturally modified trees — trees that have markings or had bark removed in the past for such things as basket-making, Tom said. “We are looking to take over control and management of our resources and cultural values,” he said.
However, the band also wants to maintain employment and economic opportunities for people on the coast, so they want to negotiate with the province about transferring control of the tree farm licence, Tom said. So far, there has been no reply from the province, he said.
Tom would not speculate what would happen if Interfor moves in to harvest in the area. “Time will tell what is going to happen. We are preparing ourselves for any course of action.”
Chief Moses Martin said the band has had enough and the only solution is for the Tla-o-qui-aht to manage the tenure themselves. “This logging tenure was given out decades ago without our consent and Interfor and the government continue to operate without meaningfully accommodating our interests,” he said.
Rie Slaco, Interfor chief forester, said the company does not have anyone working in the Tla-o-qui-aht traditional territory, but long-term plans call for some harvesting in the area. Interfor’s average annual harvest from Clayoquot Sound is about 120 hectares – .05 per cent out of the 260,000 hectares which makes up Clayoquot Sound, Slaco said. Of that, about 11 per cent is in the Tla-o-qui-aht traditional territory.
“The government and First Nations have to sit down and work out a process because it would appear at this point we are caught in the middle,” Slaco said. “It’s difficult for us to have two landlords — both of them looking for money.”