Traditional Territory Map
Download a map of Hupačasath First Nation traditional territory with place names.
Land Use Plans
The Hupačasath Land Use Plan (LUP) is a strategic higher level plan that defines the Hupačasath First Nation’s land and forest values and management objectives at the territorial level. The 2003 plan defines Hupačasath cultural and resource value for 29 Hupačasath Use Areas.
Contact the Natural Resources Department for details.
Statement of Aboriginal Rights and Title
The Hupačasath have inhabited their territory, which encompasses what is now known as the Alberni Valley and beyond, since time immemorial or ?iiqh-muut. Thus, Hupačasath have title within their territory. The Hupačasath have never extinguished title to their territory in any manner, and will not do so in a modern treaty.
In order to have given up title, Hupačasath would have had to do so in one of the following ways.
- Ceded their territory: a treaty or other legal agreement has never been signed by Hupačasath which extinguished their title and rights;
- By conquest: neither the Canadian government nor any First Nation has ever conquered the Hupačasath in war;
- By discovery: since Hupačasath have been here since time immemorial, they have never been discovered by any government. The concept of terra nullius has been discredited by the International Court of Justice in the Western Sahara case. In this case the government tried to say they gained title because the indigenous inhabitants that were there were uncivilized and therefore could not be considered to inhabit the land.
Therefore, through law, Hupačasath have never ceded, surrendered or released any part of their territory to any government and retain all of their rights and title which is now protected by s. 35 of the Constitution Act.
Muuhulthaht, Klehkoot and Ahahswinis Tribes
The Hupačasath First Nation is an amalgamation of original tribes, including the Muuhulthaht, Klehkoot and Ahahswinis peoples. These people got together to defend their territory from the encroachment by other First Nations prior to the arrival of Europeans. They traveled extensively throughout the entire territory and had permanent village sites at strategic locations.
The term, “seasonal round” refers to the cycle of resource use of the Hupačasath people as they moved and lived throughout the territory during the seasons of the year. Seasonal food gathering camps were located on all important fishing sites and where foods, medicines, forest products, marine resources and other resources were plentiful and easily accessible. There are a number of petroglyphs on Great Central and Sproat Lakes that prove Hupačasath use and ownership. The main villages were at Stamp Falls and at the end of Great Central Lake and at yaaquis or Prairie Farm on the east side of Somass River as well as other locations.
Present Hupačasath People
The Hupačasath First Nation has 5 Reserves, three of which are unoccupied. Below lists each of the Reserves.
HFN Reserves Area (ha)
- Ahahswinis IR 1 37 ha
- Klehkoot IR 2 116 ha
- Cous IR 3 53 ha
- Chuchakacook IR 4 2 ha
- Nettle Island IR 5 10 ha
Hupačasath First Nation’s two occupied Reserves include Ahahswinis IR 1 and Klehkoot IR 2. Ahahswinis is the First Nation’s main residential reserve and is located on River Rd. within the City of Port Alberni’s municipal boundaries. The Reserve’s boundaries include the Somass River to the south, Josephine Street to the west, Compton Road to the north, and Indian Avenue to the east.
Klehkoot IR 2 is located just north of the Sproat River Bridge on Highway 4 at the confluence of the Sproat and Stamp Rivers approximately 2.2 km west of Port Alberni. The occupied portion of this Reserve is accessed by Highway 4, about 6km west of IR 1.
Figure 4 on the following page shows the approximate locations of each Hupačasath Reserve. As shown, the three unoccupied Reserves are located south of Port Alberni, along the Alberni Inlet. Cous is located about 20 km and Chuchakacook is located about 30 km south of Hupačasath occupied Reserves at Ahahswinis and Klehkoot. Nettle Island is in the Broken Group portion of Pacific Rim National Park Reserve.
3.3 Present Hupačasath People: Population
Currently, there are about 230 Hupačasath First Nation members, approximately half living on-reserve. Membership growth over the past 20 years has been inconsistent. From 1980 to 1985 membership grew at a rate of 3.2% per year. From 1985 to 1990, membership grew rapidly at 9% per year, due to changes in the Indian Act. Growth in membership has since leveled off. Over the past 10 years, the average annual growth rate was 2.0%.
The Fall 2001 Community Profile shows that the Hupačasath First Nation has an on-Reserve population of 127 people (113 people at Ahahswinis and 14 at Klehkoot) comprised of Hupačasath members, members of other First Nations and non-status individuals by Indian Act definition.
Given the youthfulness of the Hupačasath on-Reserve population (36% is under the age of 20) and the anticipated levels of in-migration, the on-Reserve population is expected to grow rapidly over the next 20 years. It could grow at rates of 2.5% per year from 2001 to 2006 and 2.0% per year from 2006 to 2021. The growth in total membership is expected to occur at a rate of 2.0% per year.
The 20-year population projections are presented in Figure 5. As shown the on-Reserve population is expected to grow to 277 people, while the total membership could grow to 330.
Total Membership + On-Reserve Population Projections
The 50-year population projections have been estimated based on the assumption that both the on-Reserve and total membership population will continue to increase at a rate of 2% per year from 2021 to 2051. It is estimated that, based on these assumptions, the total on-Reserve population could reach about 500 people and the total membership population could reach 600 by 2051.
3.3 Present Hupačasath People: Land Development Needs
The Hupačasath First Nation does not have enough Reserve land to meet its current and future community development needs. Past studies, including the Physical Development Plan and Residential Options Assessment, show that the First Nation will be unable to meet even its 10-year housing needs. Over the next 10 years there will be a deficit of 16 houses. This will compound to 41 over 20 years and 141 units over a 50-year period, if the First Nation is unable to expand its land base.
This lack of developable Reserve land also constrains the ability of the First Nation to meet its economic development goals. In 2001, Hupačasath completed its 5-year economic development strategy. The main opportunities for economic development identified in this plan include eco-tourism and value-added wood. The First Nation requires a sufficient land base to pursue activities in these areas and the current lack of available land will limit the First Nation’s economic development activities.
Land and Resources
The HupačasathFirst Nation have exclusively owned, used and occupied the land, waters and resources as outlined on the map in Figure 1 of this plan since time immemorial. Their traditional territory is on central Vancouver Island and includes the town of Port Alberni. The land encompasses the headwaters of the Ash and Elsie River systems in the northwest, east to the height of land on the Beaufort Range and then southeast to Mount Arrowsmith to Labour Day Lake and the Cameron river system. The southeast boundary includes the China Creek, Franklin River, Corrigan Creek Areas and the north part of the Coleman Creek Area. The southern boundary follows Alberni Inlet to Handy creek then northwest to follow the height of land between Henderson Lake and Nahmint Lake. The west boundary includes the headwaters of the Sproat Lake and Great Central lake Areas. This territory also includes major physical features such as Great Central and Sproat Lakes, Mount Arrowsmith, Thunder Mountain and Mount Klitsa.
The Hupačasath First Nation have a claim to all the sea resources with the Alberni Inlet, Barkley Sound and offshore as exercised traditionally through to today. The Hupačasath were sea-going people and utilized all sea resources down the inlet and through Barkley Sound and beyond. The Hupačasath recognize that other First Nations utilized these waters to exercise their rights and title and the Hupačasath are not claiming exclusive rights to this offshore area. The Hupačasath further recognize that other First Nations have exclusive rights to parts of these areas and will use protocol in asking permission before any harvesting of resources is done when it is another First Nation’s territory.
Land and Resources
The area of the Hupačasath territory is approximately 232,000 hectares plus their interest in the Barkley Sound and offshore. This territory, on the wetter west side of Vancouver Island contains some of the most valuable forest, fish and marine resources in the world. The predominantly on-land winds created by the warm offshore currents from the Pacific Ocean create a warm maritime climate with a summer dry period. This creates vast stands of Douglas fir, western red cedar, hemlock and balsam at lower elevations and yellow cedar and mountain hemlock along the mountain ridges.
The lakes and rivers contain all five species of Pacific salmon as well as steelhead and trout. Estuaries, forests and fields contain a wide variety of berries, shrubs, tubers, and grasses that are used by the Hupačasath as foods, medicines and traditionally for clothing, utensils and a wide variety of other uses. Wildlife abounds; there are deer, elk, bear, cougar, wolves and many other species that rely on the forests and water habitat. Ducks, geese, swans, grouse and numerous other bird species live and migrate through the Hupačasath territory.
The Hupačasath people have lived sustainably with these forests, fish and marine, wildlife and birds for many thousands of years. Since contact with Europeans, Hupačasath control over their lands and resources has diminished as has the volume and value of the fish, marine and forest resources within the territory. This Land Use Plan is one way the Hupačasath will regain control over their land and resources based on sustainable resource management principles. The following is a list of the maps that can be accessed at the Hupačasath administration offices (some may not be available for viewing based on confidential information.
See Land Use Plan Download at top of page for a List of Land and Resource Maps.