Mayors' Statement About Collaboration with Nuu-chah-nulth First Nations as the Tofino and Ucluelet Tourism Economy Re-opens

Posted: June 13, 2020

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June 12, 2020. Tofino and Ucluelet, BC.

As we approach Phase 3 of the BC Restart Plan, the tourism economies of Tofino and Ucluelet are slowly beginning to resume and business are implementing health and safety protocols so we can responsibly welcome visitors while also protecting the health of the region’s residents. As the mayors of Tofino and Ucluelet, it is important to us that we clarify and affirm the steps that we are taking to communicate and collaborate with the five Nuu-chah-nulth First Nations in whose territories we live and conduct our local economies (Hesquiaht, Ahousaht, Tla-oqui-aht, Yuu?u?i??at?, and Toquaht).

We are committed to a path to regional recovery that ensures no community gets out too far ahead, and that no community is left behind. Through the work of both the District of Tofino and District of Ucluelet Covid-19 Recovery Task Forces, our weekly regional leadership and staff calls with First Nations, and our respective bilateral relationships with each First Nation, we are communicating often about Covid-19 response activities, risk mitigation, and seeking direct feedback on plans to safely and responsibly re-start the tourism economy. We continue to be grateful to the leadership at each First Nation for their open, transparent dialogue and efforts with us. We are all working hard to listen and understand each other as our communities each strive to balance the impacts of Covid-19 with the impacts of prolonged economic closure.

We are confident in the collaborative path we are taking to ‘slowly turn up the dial’ of visitation within the communities of Tofino and Ucluelet while being respectful and mindful of First Nations’ decisions about their own communities and about their wider territories (Hahuu?i) in Clayoquot and Barkley Sounds. This path remains consistent with the phased BC Restart Plan and we look forward to welcoming visitors to Tofino and Ucluelet responsibly, and in keeping with guidelines and recommendations from public health officials.

On June 9, 2020, the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council (NTC) released a statement regarding access to Nuu-chah-nulth H?ahuu?i (territories) for non-essential activities. While this statement may appear to be directed towards senior levels of government, we acknowledge that, as leaders of local governments, we too have a responsibility to reflect on this statement and its call to meet the principles of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. It is incumbent on local governments and communities to think of how the NTC statement applies to us, to initiate dialogue, and to respond accordingly. We recognize and acknowledge the concerns of the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council and that Indigenous people and communities are particularly vulnerable to Covid-19. Health, safety and well-being of the region’s residents remains our top priority.

In this time of a global conversation about race, culture, and reconciliation, we ask you all to continue the difficult and important conversations about reconciliation and Covid-19 recovery that are taking place in Tofino and Ucluelet.

Kleco kleco (thank you)

Josie Osborne, Mayor Mayco Noël, Mayor
District of Tofino   District of Ucluelet