After years of being separated from the sea, the Quatsino First Nation will finally be able to return to a waterfront community to call their own.
Western Forest Products Inc. (Western) and Quatsino announced in a news release on June 21 they have completed an agreement for a wholly-owned limited partnership of Quatsino to purchase a parcel of Western’s private land near Coal Harbour. The purchase of the 172-hectare property, which is located on the east side of Stephen’s Bay at Coal Harbour and near Quatsino’s Subdivision 18, supports the First Nation’s longstanding goal to return its 595-member nation to their own waterfront community.
“Our children will finally have a beach to play on again; it’s been many years since we have had that opportunity,” said Chief James Nelson. “I’m thankful to be here to see this happen, as we all lived by the ocean for many years.”
Shannon Janzen, Western’s Vice President, Partnerships and Sustainability and Chief Forester, said that re-establishing a waterfront community is important for Quatsino, and the company is “pleased to support turning this aspiration into reality.”
She added that reconciliation is “a journey and we are committed to working together to find ways to meet the Nation’s interests while supporting a long-term vibrant and renewable forest sector on the North Island. We know we will be stronger together and this is just one step towards a long-term working relationship built on trust and respect for each other’s interests.”
The news release also noted that in the coming months, Quatsino will engage with local stakeholders, including local government, as they work through the “Addition to Reserve” process, administered by Indigenous Services Canada, in the establishment of a new community for Quatsino Nation Members.
The land will be used for community housing and the building of a Big House so Quatsino youth can practice their culture in a Quatsino Big House again.
The agreement marks a significant step forward in the long-standing relationship between Quatsino and Western. Most recently, in September 2020, Western, Quatsino and the Province of B.C. signed a Memorandum of Understanding that creates a framework for working together to pave the way towards greater predictability for sustainable forest management on the North Island.
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