Wuikinuxv Village (Katit), Rivers Inlet
C/O BAG 3500, Port Hardy, B.C. V0N 2P0
Admin Office Phone: (250)-949-8625
Wuikinuxv First Nation Signs Landfill Agreement
Article Originally Appearing in The North Island Eagle
PDF Download Available Here: www.northislandeagle.com/news
By Kathy O’Reilly
The Wuikinuxv First Nation has signed a five-year agreement to bring their solid waste to 7 Mile Landfill starting Jan. 1, 2022.
“This has been a bit of a process that we’ve been going through within our community in terms of looking for waste management solutions and how to be most effective and impactful in terms of recycling and composting for our community and environmentally on a larger scale,” said Chief Danielle Shaw
at the Regional District of Mount Waddington board meeting July 20. Shaw began with an over-view of the village on the central coast near River’s Inlet that is only accessible via boat or airplane, mostly through Port Hardy.
“We have approximately 300 members but not all of our members live on reserve,” Shaw said.
Year-round, approximately 60 members live there, although that number can double in the summertime. The community has about 40 homes, a big house, and an elementary school that has about 10 children.
“Most of the children come to Port Hardy for high school,” Shaw said.
“Very recently, we finished construction of a daycare through the Aboriginal Head Start program and we’re really excited to have that operational. It’s going to be a great service to our community in terms of children having the amenities that they need, but also working parents,” Shaw said.
A youth centre for children with a gymnasium and a workout gym is underway as well. The Nation has other projects started or planned. For instance, in 2019 the Nation finished a run of the river hydro project that has helped them be less reliant on diesel. They are upgrading their water system design and are looking to improve their airstrip that is currently gravel. A solid waste transfer station project is currently under way that is “directly related to why we’re here today”.
“We currently have just a landfill and it’s got a fence around it, but we are also in the Great Bear Rainforest. We live amongst many, many big grizzly bears and it is extremely challenging to find a system and a fence that can keep the bears out of the dump system,” Shaw said.
“We’re constantly battling between the maintenance of that dump, that landfill, and making sure that the bears are healthy and not becoming garbage habituated because as much as it’s very harmful to the wildlife, garbage-habituated bears pose a huge risk for community members, so that’s a struggle that we have every single year,” she said.
“We are very bear aware. We raise our kids and our families to live amongst the bears and wildlife. The only way we are able to do that is if we are managing attractants in a responsible way,” she said.
“There are usually about 17, or so, grizzly bears in and around the village at any one time,” said Wuikinuxv First Nation Councillor Jennifer Walkus.
“We just run into them on the road. You know how to watch for them and listen for which dogs are barking and you plan your life around how you are not going to interact with the bears,” Walkus said.
“What we’re trying to do now is find ways to make sure that our garbage is handled in a way that we aren’t attracting bears into the village,” said Walkus,
explaining the landfill is fenced and electrified.
“The fact that we can live successfully (with bears) is something we are quite proud of in the village,” Walkus said.
The Nation has a crew that has been trained on the community’s waste management and recycling programs and a recycling truck and trailer have been purchased.
“We have started recycling and compost pickups and the recycling does get barged out once every two months to Fox’s Disposal and that’s working really well,” said Shaw.
The Nation’s new transfer station is expected to be completed by early September with a goal of closing the existing landfill. The solid waste agreement reflects ones the RDMW has in place with Klemtu and Bella Bella, with the base rate determined by population size, said Director of Operations Patrick Donaghy.
Wuikinuxv First Nation Chief Danielle Shaw presents Regional District of Mount Waddington Chair Andrew Hory with a paddle as a gift