Ucluelet First Nation
The Ucluelet First Nation, also known as the Yuułuʔiłʔatḥ (Yuu-thlu-ilth-aht) is the First Nations treaty government of the Yuułuʔiłʔatḥ in the Canadian province of British Columbia, located on the west coast of Vancouver Island on the northwest side of Barkley Sound.
Yuułuʔiłʔatḥ's main village is located at Hitacu (Hit-tat-soo), across the bay from the town of Ucluelet (You-clue-let). The Nation’s territory is located at the northern gateway to Barkley Sound with open access to the Pacific Ocean. Being a member of the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council and the Maa-nulth First Nation Treaty Society, the Yuułuʔiłʔatḥ is currently organizing around a post-treaty environment, and actively pursuing social and economic development (visit: www.ucluth.ca). The following introduction to the community is posted on the Nation’s website (www.ufn.ca), one of the most comprehensive and well-maintained community websites in the region.
Today, the community lives reasonably within their means. With a downturn of the major forestry industry, shortage of work in the fishing industry and closure of on-shore local processing plants, many members of the community are now employed in the rapidly growing tourism industry, while others are upgrading their education or gaining employment with smaller forestry companies.
Housing in the Hitacu community has been revived with the Grand Opening of six units in 2006, six units in 2007 and many more to come for the 2008 New Housing Year. The goal of the Yuułuʔiłʔatḥ is to continue with the planning and development of the new subdivision or Official Community Plan (OCP), which will provide more housing units and community centres for the Yuułuʔiłʔatḥ.
The children/youths (Kindergarten through Grade 12) commute to school by bus to the town of Ucluelet where they attend either Ucluelet Elementary School or Ucluelet Secondary School. On reserve educational programs are offered through the Ittatsoo Learning Centre, where students have the opportunity to upgrade through long distance education; or the Ittatsoo Preschool Daycare where a Head Start Program is delivered. During the summer, children/youth join a summer day camp where they participate in many different activities that offer them experience and encourages exercise.
The summer season is a time for community members to harvest, prepare and stock food for the winter season. During this time many items such as halibut, salmon, herring and berries are prepared traditionally by smoking or drying; or by jarring. Throughout the year other traditional foods are stocked such as deer, ducks, herring eggs, crab, sea urchin, clams, oysters and mussels.
The Yuułuʔiłʔatḥ is proud to have the talent that thrives in and outside our community. There are many men and woman, who express themselves traditionally and artistically through carving, beading and weaving. Marking our time in history, the first ever totem pole was raised in March 2005. Artist, James Cootes (a.k.a. Hudson) designed the totem with a thunderbird, killer whale, bear and a salmon. The pole is located at Kwisitis (Wickanninnish Beach) and sits as a welcoming figure noting a historical place where Yuułuʔiłʔatḥ ancestors gathered during the fishing season.
In total there are slightly more than 600 members of the Yuułuʔiłʔatḥ. Approximately 230 Yuułuʔiłʔatḥ citizens reside in Hitacu with the rest living in Port Alberni and beyond.
The main village of Hitacu is located approximately 14 kilometres from the township of Ucluelet, and is located approximately 18kilometres from the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve.
The hereditary system of the Yuułuʔiłʔatḥ originates from a congregation of 17 Ucluelet tribes, which each had a Ha’wilth (Chief) and associated Ha’houlthee. Most Ha’wilth retained a Tsaksi (speaker on behalf of the chief) who represented the Ha’wilth in tribal affairs. The Ha’wiilth had a number of Tupatsi, or advisors, who played an important role in influencing the direction of tribal affairs. When Europeans arrived in the 18th century, these tribes were still vibrant as autonomous entities, operating in a manner similar to a federation. However, with the development of, dare we to say, atrocious Canadian assimilation policies for aboriginal groups, the Yuułuʔiłʔatḥ tribes eventually merged to form the current Yuułuʔiłʔatḥ.
So while many of the 17 tribes are defunct today as governance structures, families are aware of which house and tribe they belong to historically. The current Tyee (head Ha’wilth) for the Yuułuʔiłʔatḥ is Wilson Jack.
Most importantly, as proposed in the Maa-nulth Treaty, the Yuułuʔiłʔatḥ Constitution sets up an integrated hereditary/elected governance system which permanently reserves a seat for one Ha’wiih on Council.
For people interested in a more-in-depth understanding of traditional Yuułuʔiłʔatḥ governance system, Dr. Michelle Corfield, published an excellent M.A. thesis on the topic in 2002.
(Quoted from the nation's Election Act YFNS 8/2011)
Through our inherent right to self-government, the Yuułuʔiłʔatḥ has preserved and protected our territories and culture with the advice and counsel of our Ha’wiih. While embracing our past and relying on the guidance provided by our Ha’wiih, as a self-governing treaty first nation, the Yuułuʔiłʔatḥ also recognizes the importance of responsible government and the honour and integrity of our elected representatives.
The Yuułuʔiłʔatḥ assumes the responsibility of providing transparent and accountable government through impartial, open, fair and free elections. This requires an electoral process that is conducted with honesty and integrity for the common good of all Yuułuʔiłʔatḥ citizens.
Through the establishment of election rules and procedures to realize these goals, Yuułuʔiłʔatḥ elections will be conducted in a manner that promotes public confidence and trust in the integrity of Yuułuʔiłʔatḥ elected officials and the Yuułuʔiłʔatḥ government.
The Yuułuʔiłʔatḥ adopted the Yuułuʔiłʔatḥ (FN) Elections Act (YFNS 8/2011) based on these values.
The nation elects seven representatives every four years to form a Legislature. The Legislature consists of one President (formerly the Chief Councillor) and six Legislative Members (formerly the Councillors). The standing member of the Legislature, unless otherwise appointed by the nation's Council of Ha'wiih, is the Ha'wiih who is selected to represent the Council of Ha'wiih. Following an election, the Legislature must select representatives of the Legislature known to form a body known as the Executive. Those selected to represent the Legislature on the Executive each hold a portfolio and collectively have decision making powers. The difference between the Legislature and the Executive is that the Legislature has the ultimate law making authority and the Executive has the power to make decisions that support the administration of the Yuułuʔiłʔatḥ Government.
The current members that form the governing body of the Yuułuʔiłʔatḥ (2011 - 2015) are:
- President, Charles McCarthy - Executive of the Lands and Resources Portfolio, Alan McCarthy - Executive of the Assets Portfolio, Lawrence D. Baird - Executive of the Community Services Portfolio, Geraldine Touchie - Executive of the Finance Portfolio, Rose M. Touchie - Legislative Member, Art Cootes - Legislative Member, Tad Williams
Business and Economic Development
In the past, one of the challenges for economic development was that everything had to go through Indian and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC), which was a deeply frustrating process. Joint ventures were almost impossible to develop as they quickly got mired in red tape and federal policy and legal control. The post-INAC environment is extremely exciting, but it is hard to see how things will develop going forward. Now that the Nation will be in control of its own affairs, the biggest challenge will be to provide skills & employment development in addition to direct investment.
Employment with the Yuułuʔiłʔatḥ is minimal; however, as economic development grows more employment opportunities will become available. To date, the Yuułuʔiłʔatḥ are in partnership with companies such as Hittatsoo Limited Forest Company, UFN Holdings Company Ltd., Eagle Rock aggregates project, Upnit Power Corporation project and the Ucluth Development Corporation (which owns the Thornton Motel in Ucluelet). The Yuułuʔiłʔatḥ also holds a 20-percent ownership interest in the Iisaak Forest Resources Ltd. and Mamook/Coulson Forestry Ltd.
During the workshop with Yuułuʔiłʔatḥ Council in October 2007, the following governance and community opportunities were identified by Council members: On the political side, the leadership wonders what the post-treaty environment will mean for key institutions, such as the Central Region Board, Central Region Chiefs, NTC, etc. There are some unknowns in terms of how self-governance might change relationships over the long-run. Yuułuʔiłʔatḥ for instance is developing projects with other Barkley Sound nations. There is a sense that it will be important to determine how institutions that were created as bridges to treaty transform themselves in a post-treaty environment.On the social side, one of the key questions is how to attract people back to the community. The housing situation has dramatically improved with some innovative projects. The next step may be to create jobs so that people can feel drawn back “home.” Finally, the current treaty opens many opportunities for economic development. Namely, the Nation will increase its legal jurisdictional area from 199 hectares to 5,346 with an extra 216 hectares pre-approved land for purchase.
- "Nuu-chah-nulth Central Region Governance Structures". Ecotrust Canada. September 2008.