Tofino signs historic agreement with Ahousaht First Nation

“The bottom line is about just us working together”

Tofino’s First Street Dock was the scene of a historic agreement on Monday as Ahousaht and Tofino’s councils signed a commitment to working together collaboratively.

The agreement states both communities agree “to pursue a lasting relationship based upon mutual respect, honour and in the spirit of cooperation,” and commits both councils to meeting together at least twice a year to discuss communal interests, including health, infrastructure, emergency planning and economic development.

“Today is about Ahousaht and Tofino coming together, acknowledging each other’s work and the togetherness that we’ve been doing…The bottom line is about just us working together,” said Ahousaht Chief Greg Louie at the dock. “It does state in the protocol that anytime we mutually agree that we want to separate, or no longer have this protocol, we can do this respectfully. But, I believe, it will be ongoing for a long, long time because we come together so often.”

Tofino mayor Josie Osborne said the agreement was a product of the two communities meeting together regularly over the past five years.

“After our last meeting, when we left Ahousaht and travelled back down to Tofino together, we were sitting on the boat and we were remarking to each other, ‘Isn’t this incredible. We just sat down and had a conversation about some easy things and some very difficult things, but there was laughter, there was respect and, at all points, we felt like friends that could actually have that conversation,” she said. “That’s the culmination of a lot of work.”

Courtenay-Alberni MP Gord Johns attended the signing ceremony and said it was an honour to witness the agreement becoming official.

Johns spoke to his time on Tofino’s municipal council where, in 2009, the two communities brought their children together to play baseball, which they have continued to do ever since.

“Our kids are playing ball together, but now it’s time for the adults to play ball together and it’s been long overdue. Today, you’re on your way. You’re on first base. This is a great start. It’s a start towards the future and I really want to commend you,” he said. “It hasn’t been easy and I know that there’s a lot of opportunity here to reconcile some of the injustices of the past. I congratulate you for listening to each other, for understanding and recognizing each other, and for using common sense and vision to move us forward.”