For Immediate Release: July 8, 2015
Hupacasath Nation is saddened by needless fire damage to Dog Mountain and offers assistance to marine patrol efforts.The Nation extends gratitude to firefighters and offers hospitality to Sproat Lake residents in the event of evacuation.
Port Alberni BC: Wednesday July 8, 2015: Hupacasath First Nation (HFN) is saddened by the current situation on ʕiił-či-y̓ak (Dog Mountain). The name ʕiił-či-y̓ak derives from the traditional use of dogs to chase muwač (deer) down the mountain. Once down the mountain the deer were shot for food.
HFN has used Dog Mountain for thousands of years and continues to access the mountain regularly as it is home to a number of Hupacasath sacred sites. Unfortunately the archaeology sites in the area cannot be saved.
“We are very grateful for the firefighters doing their best both on the ground and in the air, but are frustrated with the slow response time and the lack of action by the province to utilize the water bombers,” shared Chief Councillor Steve Tatoosh. It is our hope that the Province of British Columbia and the Government of Canada can galvanize support and resources to address the needs to protect our land. We know that the Canadian Armed Forces have been deployed to fires in other jurisdictions and we are prepared seek the same support here.”
HFN is pleased the Thunderbird crew is back home and fighting the fire on the ground. Former Thunderbird and HFN Councillor Warren Lauder says, “”Response time and deploying resources are critical factors in fighting fires, sadly the province let us down on both accounts, not just in the Alberni Valley but across the province. Its very unfortunate the Martin Mars water bombers were not under contract before the fire season. Having seen and utilized these planes in the past I’m very familiar with what they’re capable of doing and this fire and others could have been put out earlier and we wouldn’t be seeing fires double in size overnight. We can’t do anything to change that now but we can learn from this and be proactive moving forward. We are only in the beginning of July we have a long fire season still ahead of us. I hope we can see better leadership and effective allocation of resources in the future, in the mean time HFN is focusing on offering our resources and support.”
HFN has offered to house Sproat Lake residents at the House of Gathering in the event evacuation is necessary. Efforts are being made to work with existing resources and offer support for marine patrol too. Over the weekend boaters flocked to scene, some getting dangerously close to mountain. The number of boats at times impaired the ability of the helicopters to access water. HFN has a new 30 foot Weldcraft Cuddy King vessel that will be offered to help with creating a safe parameter, allowing crews to work safely and effectively.
Hupacasath First Nation is engaged with the Regional District Emergency Operations Centre that meets regularly to monitor the situation. Hupacasath Council cannot stress enough the importance of community relationships, strong leadership and effective communication in situations like the fire on ʕiił-či-y̓ak Mountain. “It’s important for us to all have the same information to address community concerns and know what resources we can all provide for the situation and to protect our land and resources for our future generations,” said Jolleen Dick, Communications Coordinator.
For more information contact Communications Coordinator Jolleen Dick at
Office: 250-724-4041 Ext. 23