From left to right, Sharen and Chuck Burchill with Homalco Chief Darren Blaney and administrator Sue Hanley. Image provided

The Homolco people find a home

North Island First Nation purchases building at remote camp near Bute Inlet

A Vancouver Island First Nation has taken the first step in setting down permanent roots in the heart of its traditional territory.

Homalco Nation recently purchased the residence at Homathko Camp, located at the head of the Bute Inlet on the B.C. Mainland coast opposite the Campbell River/Sayward area.

“This is Homalco re-establishing a permanent foothold in the heart of our territory,” said Chief Darren Blaney in a press release. “We are expanding our presence in Orford so expanding in Homathko was a natural next step for us to take. Homathko is a very special place for us and the site of many of our stories told since time immemorial. Today’s purchase is the beginning of a whole new set of opportunities for our Nation.”

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Homathko Camp is a remote camp accessible by air, or by boat north of Bute Inlet. The residence was built more than 30 years ago by Chuck and Sharen Burchill. The camp also features a power generation station vegetable garden and greenhouse and a number of outbuildings. In the past, it’s hosted a variety of groups including recreation enthusiasts, industry professionals and film crews.

Homathko camp is located at the head of the Bute Inlet. Google Maps

Blaney, alongside Councillor John Blaney, Health Director Lorraine Harry, Comprehensive Community Planner Jeannie Hill, Tourism Manager JP Obbagy and Administrator Sue Hanley made the three-hour boat trip to meet the Burchills and sign the agreement.

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“When we learned that the home was for sale, we knew we had to act quickly,” said Hill. “Today was the first time I’ve been here and as soon as I stepped ashore, I realized that I had already dreamed this place. Our ancestors are here and I just know this will be a powerful site of healing for our citizens.”

Chuck and Sharen Burchill on the dock at Homathko. The Burchills built the residence at Homathko camp more than 30 years ago. Image provided

Homalco Nation plans to use the residence as a base to offer healing services and to expand tourism, fisheries and forestry operations, a press release said.

Blaney also said the First Nation would like to take over the entire camp at Homathko in the future.

“We look forward to re-establishing our traditional relationship with our Tsilhqot’in neighbours just over the mountains,” he said, “and to taking a bigger role in the management of our territory.”

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