About Us

The Waaykaash Story

Two questions are at the heart of Waaykaash Timber’s origin story: How to create a thriving forestry company that leaves the majestic coastal forest intact? And how to kick start economic revitalization for a small Indigenous community?

When Hereditary Chief Jordan Michael and his son Erick, members of the Nuchatlaht First Nation, started working in the salvage logging industry, they weren’t thinking about these questions. They just wanted to work. But at some point the questions asked themselves—and Jordan and Erick could see an answer.

“We realized that we have all the necessary knowledge and manpower, and the rights to our land as well. Why not start a company?” says Erick.

Erick was in his early 20s and thinking about his future, and the future of his community. Jordan had been working in forestry for about 15 years and was feeling increasingly uncomfortable in that industry.

“I wanted to do something I can feel good about. I didn’t want to be destroying the forest,” Jordan says.

Jordan and Erick founded Waaykaash in 2017. The company is named after Jordan’s grandfather (Erick’s great-grandfather), a tree faller who has provided encouragement and inspiration over the years.

“Starting the company was a real leap of faith,” says Jordan. The father-son duo were expert loggers, but didn’t have much business experience. There was a lot to learn along the way. “It was a tough go at first,” says Jordan, “But we’ve come a long way.”

Today, Waaykaash harvests 10,000 cubic metres of salvaged wood annually, on average. It is the biggest employer in its community and works with a circle of partners that includes A&A Trading Ltd, one of North America’s premier forestry producers, harvesters and distributors, and The Nuu-chah-nulth Economic Development Corporation.


Creating Employment

For decades, there were few jobs available for the Nuchatlaht people, especially those living on the Oclucje Reserve on the Vancouver Island coast, a three-hour drive from Campbell River. Waaykaash has changed that. The company employs up to 15 people, from loggers to camp cooks, mostly from the Nuchatlaht and surrounding Indigenous communities.

“We’ve been able to hire some young strong First Nations guys who have become some of the best loggers I’ve seen. And we’re a huge role model for the kids. They see us up early, working hard,” says Erick.

“It’s uplifting seeing the unemployment level going down,” says Jordan.


Salvage Logging

Erick and Jordan Michael and their team harvest cedar trees that have blown down in the wild West Coast storms. These are typically thousand-year-old western red cedar giants, many of which are six feet in diameter at the base, primarily on Nootka Island in Nuchatlaht territory. As salvage loggers, they do not engage in clear-cut logging and instead harvest timber that has already fallen, some of which has been dead and on the forest floor for decades. 

“We provide quality old-growth cedar for the market without killing the forest. Hopefully this is slowing down the harvest of old growth,” says Jordan Michael. “When I look around at all the spots where we used to go harvest cedar bark for traditional uses, the cedars are mostly gone. The way logging has been done isn’t sustainable.”

Waaykaash offers a different way, one that is more environmentally sustainable than conventional logging and which supports Indigenous revitalization, providing solid answers to the two questions that lie at the heart of this business’s founding.