Ha-Shilth-Sa Newspaper April 22, 2021

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INTERESTING NEWS Canada’s Oldest First Nations Newspaper - Serving Nuu-chah-nulth-aht since 1974 Canadian Publications Mail Product Vol. 48 - No. 08—April 22, 2021 haas^i>sa Sales Agreement No. 40047776

‘Reset’ on fishing rights: Nations celebrate ruling B.C. Court of Appeal widens scope of Aboriginal right, removes restrictions previously set by Justification Trial By Eric Plummer Ha-Shilth-Sa Editor In a decades-long legal battle to allow their people to pursue a livelihood on the water, five Nuu-chah-nulth nations are celebrating a decision from the B.C. Court of Appeal on fishing rights. On April 19 a unanimous decision came more than two years after three judges heard arguments on the scope of Nuuchah-nulth fisheries at the appeal court in Vancouver. Over five days in February 2019, Justices Groberman, Fenlon and Fisher heard arguments on how Canada should accommodate the Aboriginal rights of the Ahousaht, Ehattesaht/Chinehkint, Hesquiaht, Mowachaht/Muchalaht and Tla-o-qui-aht First Nations. The recent judgement eliminates restrictions previously placed on how the five nations should harvest and sell seafood from their territorial waters off the west coast of Vancouver Island. This pertains to language in Justice Humphries’ 2019 B.C. Supreme Court decision - know as the Justification Trial - that stated the nations’ fisheries are to be “a small-scale artisanal, local, multi-species fishery to be conducted within a nine-mile strip of the shore.” The Nuu-chah-nulth nations challenged this interpretation of their Aboriginal right, resulting in the B.C. Court of Appeal expanding these limits with the new judgement. “The words ‘small-scale’, ‘artisanal’, and ‘local’ do not add precision to the declaration, and are apt to create confusion. They should be removed,” wrote the appeal judges in their decision. They further clarified the scope to “a non-exclusive, multi-species, limited commercial fishery aimed at wide community participation, to be conducted in their court-defined area for fishing, which extends nine nautical miles offshore.” “We have an inherent right, and we’ve come before your courts to have those recognized,” said Cliff Atleo, Ahousaht’s lead negotiator, after the judgment was released. “Today is a good day, and a day to celebrate.” Lisa Glowacki of Ratcliff LLP, who legally represents the nations in the case, said the recent decision is a “significant step forward”. “This means that these nations have a right to participate in commercial fisheries for any species in their territory, and they don’t have to stay on the margins of those fisheries,” she said. “We’re getting closer to full recognition and implementation of the nations’ constitutionally protected rights.”

Photo by Melody Charlie/Ha’oom

Wickanninish, Cliff Atleo, plays the drum while singing the Nuu-chah-nulth song on the court steps in Vancouver after the Justification Trial decision was released in 2018. Three years later an appeal has expanded the scope of fishing rights. The rights of Nuu-chah-nulth nations to commercially catch and sell fish from their waters has been in court for over a decade. A major victory came for the nations in 2009 when the B.C. Supreme Court upheld this right, ordering Canada to negotiate on how to accommodate this within the management of ocean resources. But over the years talks have stalled, resulting in multiple appeals from both sides as catching allocations from Fisheries and Oceans have not aligned with the nations’ own management plans. “They put so many restrictions on our people, a lot of our members didn’t really want to go out fishing because we never got enough quota for our members to make a living off of,” said Ehattesaht Councillor Ernie Smith. “So now this is going to make a huge difference. Hopefully the Liberal government will give direction to DFO to live up to their promise that they are going to support First Nations people.” “Since 2009 we’ve had some very

Inside this issue... West Coast Trail re-opens...........................................Page 3 Province pushes for drug decriminalization...............Page 6 Tough decisions for Tofino hotels..............................Page 8 Preparing for Red Dress Day....................................Page 10 Return to Vargas Island.............................................Page 15

limited access to start off our rights-based fishery,” added Josh Charleson, chief councillor of the Hesquiaht First Nation. “Knowing now that this appeal has reset everything, it’s a new, clear table. We’re now on really strong grounds to form the fishery how each nation wants the fishery to run.” Justices Groberman, Fenlon and Fisher determined that, historically, fishing was an integral part of the Nuu-chah-nulth economy – a reality that was upheld by the B.C. Supreme Court in 2009. “There can be no suggestion that Nuuchah-nulth people fished merely for spiritual reasons or as a hobby,” they wrote. “While fishing may have not been the exclusive way that the plaintiffs generated their livelihoods, it was found by the original trial judge to be ‘the predominant feature of the Nuu-chah-nulth society’. It clearly had great economic importance.” “I grew up when our communities were totally self-sustaining. I remember that,” said Atleo. “There was no government

housing program, there was no welfare, we didn’t know what those things were because we were able to look after ourselves through a way of life that included a lot of fishing.” Now it remain to be seen how Ottawa will honour the recent court decision in allocations. Tla-o-qui-aht’s lead negotiator Autlieyu, Francis Frank, expects that Fisheries and Oceans Canada will challenge the ruling. “Because DFO’s mindset is frozen in time of denial, we expect that they and the justice department likely will provide instructions to appeal,” he said. “That certainly doesn’t match up with the spirit of so-called reconciliation under which we’re supposed to be negotiating.” “We need to call on DFO to implement this decision immediately,” said Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council President Judith Sayers. “Look how long our fishermen have been off the water, how much money they’ve lost because they haven’t been on the water…No more excuses.”

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April 22, 2021—Ha-Shilth-Sa—Page 3

Photo by Curt McLeod

On the former site of the Ahousaht Day School, which closed its doors in 1986, community members gathered on April 19 to let go of painful childhood memories.

Tears flow as Ahousaht performs cleansing ceremony Community emphasizes healing as pandemic strain has worsened addiction struggles for some of its members By Denise Titian Ha-Shilth-Sa Reporter Ahousaht, BC – It’s been more than a year since one of the two former day school buildings that stood on Ahousaht’s front beach was demolished. With the debris removed and the ground bulldozed, community members gathered on a sunny April 19 to let go of the painful memories of the Ahousaht Day School. The twin white and green day school buildings were built on the south end of Ahousaht’s main beach sometime after the Ahousaht Indian Residential School burnt down in 1940. Dozens of Ahousahts attended school there in the more than 40 years that it operated, many reported physical, verbal, mental and sexual abuse. “I went down there thinking I’ll just be part of it, didn’t think anything of it,” said

Darleen Dick, Ahousaht drug and alcohol counsellor. But then they called all former day school students to stand in a circle and placed a sprig of spruce in their hands. “When they started chanting, that’s when all the memories came flooding back,” said Dick. Darleen, now 69, recalled abuse she suffered as a child in Ahousaht Day School by both teachers and a community member. “I didn’t think it would hit us that hard, but it hit some of us hard,” she said. Wally Thomas, a lifelong resident of Ahousaht, works at the holistic centre known as Cha-Chum-Hi-Yup-Tiichmis as a cultural support worker. He organized the cleansing ceremony under the guidance of Ahousaht elder Dave Frank. With former day school students and young people from Maaqtusiis School

looking on, Dave, Wally and others cleared the site of negative energy with eagle down, cedar branches and prayer. “There was a ‘letting go’ ceremony, the Yaht Yahta, what we do at memorial potlatches,” said Thomas. Following the ceremony, Darleen said they were given a cup of traditional medicine to drink. When that was done they were instructed to throw the cup and spruce sprig in the fire. “It was a big relief – it was like, this is not mine to carry. ‘I am a free woman’, is what I thought,” she added. She shared that her abusers are long gone and she vowed not to carry the burden of what happened anymore. Thomas said a similar ceremony was conducted the month before at the grounds of the former residential school site in Ahousaht. “I see the hurt being released and the healing beginning,” said Thomas, adding there were a lot of tears. Thomas said there is a lot of suffering in the community as people deal with grief, loss and trauma. “Some people turn to drugs and alcohol to ease the pain, but we’re here to help them take a step in healing,” he added.

Dick says drugs and alcohol is an ongoing problem with a small segment of the community. There were people already indulging but since the pandemic started, some are drinking more heavily. “We do our best to talk to them, to offer help,” she said. “We really need to change,” continued Dick. She worries that the kids will think it’s normal to see people like this. “It’s not normal,” she said. Ahousaht’s Holistic Centre staff offer help, including an upcoming five-day retreat at Ahousaht’s Aa-uk-nook Lodge for people needing to detox or give their bodies a break from intoxicants. “There’s willingness, even if it’s just for five days, that’s a big plus,” said Dick. During retreats, the people will do cultural healing practices like sweats along with western programs. She says there is room for 18 at each retreat and this time they have 10 people signed up. “Sometimes we have too many but we’ll never turn people away,” she said. “Our goal is to bring healing to our nation,” said Thomas. “Today was a good start.”

Page 4— Ha-Shilth-Sa—April 22, 2021 Ha-Shilth-Sa newspaper is published by the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council for distribution to the members of the NTC-member First Nations, as well as other interested groups and individuals. Information and original work contained in this newspaper is protected by copyright and may not be reproduced without written permission from: Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council P.O. Box 1383, Port Alberni, B.C. V9Y 7M2. Telephone: (250) 724-5757 Fax: (250) 723-0463 Web page: www.hashilthsa.com facebook: Hashilthsa Ntc

2020 Subscription rates: $35 per year in Canada and $40 per year in the U.S.A. and $45 per year in foreign countries. Payable to the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council. Manager/Editor/Reporter Eric Plummer (Ext. 243) (250) 724-5757 Fax: (250) 723-0463 eric.plummer@nuuchahnulth.org Reporter Denise Titian (Ext. 240) (250) 724-5757 Fax: (250) 723-0463 denise.titian@nuuchahnulth.org Reporter Melissa Renwick (416) 436-4277 Fax: (250) 723-0463 melissa.renwick@nuuchahnulth.org

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Diagnosis leads to healthier lifestyle Since finding out she has fatty liver disease, Robyn Samuel has made major dietary changes By Karly Blats Ha-Shilth-Sa Contributor Port Alberni, BC - In January 2020, Robyn Samuel, youth navigator with Nuu-chah-nulth family and child services, found out she had fatty liver disease; a diagnosis that propelled her into a wellness journey that continues today. According to WebMD, fatty liver disease occurs when someone has extra fat built up in their liver. Usually the first line of treatment for fatty liver disease is to lose weight, keep cholesterol down and exercise more. Samuel, from Ahousaht First Nation, said finding out she had fatty liver disease came as a surprise. She originally went to her doctor because she was experiencing foot cramping that was making it very difficult to walk. “It felt like bowling balls on my heels,” Samuel said. “I went to the doctor and it turned out I had something wrong with my liver. The pain from my feet was caused because of my liver.” After the diagnosis, Samuel’s doctor told her she needed to change her diet, eat healthier and try to walk at least three times a week. Samuel started by changing her diet. She was forwarded an article from a friend on the best foods to eat for people with fatty liver disease and so she decided to use the article as her go-to guide for meals. “I eliminated dairy, cow, pig, sugar, anything deep fried, bread, rice and potato. My food intake is basically fish, chicken, salad, fruits and vegetables and a lot of eggs,” Samuel said. “It was a big change and what I also did was started cutting back what was on my plate.” In the first three months of changing her diet, Samuel lost 50 pounds and has since lost 30 more. “I’ve never met [my doctor] in person yet and I told him I dropped 50 pounds in the first three months and at that time I didn’t know that I had lost another 30 because I didn’t feel it. I don’t own a scale,” Samuel said. “[My doctor] was blown away by how much weight I had lost. It was really just keeping true to what I eat and how often I eat. I do eat three meals a day and then I have snacks in between, I usually have a bedtime snack too…it’s

Photo submitted by Robyn Samuel

Robyn Samuel, pictured at Port Alberni’s waterfront, lost 80 pounds in just over a year through regular exercise and healthy eating. just eating smart.” As for her journey with exercise, Samuel said she attempted to start walking when she was first diagnosed, but found she couldn’t get into it in the beginning. “I found out at the end of January 2020 that I needed to start changing what I’m doing,” she said. “In January (2021) I knew for a few months there that I had energy that I should be utilizing. At the beginning of January one of my family members was like ‘Hey, we should go for a walk’… so ever since the beginning of January up until today I’ve gone out every day.” Samuel eventually got bored with just walking and her exercise routine evolved into daily jogs. She says on average she will go out for a five-kilometre run, but if she comes up short some days it’s just important she got outside. “There’s no excuse for me not to go,” she said. “Just accepting that you don’t always have to go to the max, that’s one thing that I’ve learned.” Samuel said her blood work has been

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COVERAGE: Although we would like to be able to cover all stories and events, we will only do so subject to: - Sufficient advance notice addressed specifically to Ha-Shilth-Sa. - Reporter availability at the time of the event. - Editorial space available in the paper. - Editorial deadlines being adhered to by contributors.

looking really good and she’s waiting for the results of a recent test to see if there’s still any damage to her liver. “I would say I’m proud of my accomplishments. My dad was diagnosed with liver cancer just before I was diagnosed with my fatty liver disease so I really felt that I needed to take better care of myself,” Samuel said. “My dad can keep moving on his journey in a good way and I can keep moving on my journey in a good was as well. I have young children. I’m still young, I’m going to have these kids in my nest for a good 10-plus years and I want to improve my health and make better choices.” Samuel said her advice to anyone wanting to start living a healthier lifestyle is to just take the first step. “Be brave and strong and positive and we can focus on today and worry about tomorrow later,” she said. “If they don’t feel they’re ready, just take on what they’re ready for. Being healthy is important in the long run, it’s worth it.”

Ha-Shilth-Sa belongs to every Nuu-chah-nulth person including those who have passed on, and those who are not yet born. A community newspaper cannot exist without community involvement. If you have any great pictures you’ve taken, stories or poems you’ve written, or artwork you have done, please let us know so we can include it in your newspaper. E-mail holly.stocking@nuuchahnulth.org. This year is Ha-Shilth-Sa’s 47th year of serving the Nuu-chah-nulth First Nations. We look forward to your continued input and support. Kleco! Kleco!

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April 22, 2021—Ha-Shilth-Sa—Page 5

Cookbook shares healthy, diabetes-friendly recipes The ‘fluid’ cookbook allows Nuu-chah-nulth members to submit their own traditional recipes for healthy eating By Karly Blats Ha-Shilth-Sa Contributor A registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator with the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council (NTC) is working to help those with diabetes - or at risk for diabetes - cook healthier at home. Rachel Dickens has created a cookbook to share healthy recipes that are helpful for managing or preventing diabetes. The cookbook also addresses the increased cost that is often associated with healthy eating, offering cheaper ingredients and substitutions. “We kind of wanted to create a traditional foods cookbook that was based around community members’ recipes and then the idea was to have the community member’s story around their recipe and relating it to their experience with it or their family,” Dickens said. “We were able to document a few of these stories and recipes but then COVID happened and the cookbook project kind of stopped.” Dickens, who is originally from Prince Rupert and is of mixed heritage, including Tsimshian of the Lax Kw’Alaams band, European settler and East Asian, said in the initial phases of lockdown last year she continued with the cookbook with several of her own recipes and a few from community members. The recipes aim to be free of refined carbohydrates, refined sugar and they all contain a quality protein source. “When there isn’t a traditional food like fish or wild meat it might be something like eggs or peanut butter for the protein source,” Dickens said. “All carbohydrate sources push our sugar levels up and exhaust our pancreas, and that’s what kind of leads to diabetes down the line

Screen grab from cookbook page

A Nuu-chah-nulth cookbook for healthy eating and diabetes prevention is available online. or makes our diabetes get worse. One traditional recipes to it. thing I do try to focus on for people with When she receives a new recipe, Dickdiabetes is getting one protein source at ens cooks it at home to make sure all the every meal.” measurements are right and then takes a Dickens said the goal of the cookbook photo to add to the cookbook. is for it to be “fluid” so community “If needed I would add more fibre or members can continue to add their own protein depending on the recipe and share

it back with the community member, and if they’re okay with it I give them credit in the cookbook,” Dickens said. “Someone recently shared a recipe and she wanted to share some language in it as well so that one will be included soon.” Some recipes are also borrowed from some favourite Indigenous cookbooks, resources and websites. According to the cookbook, rates of Type 2 diabetes are higher in Indigenous populations across the country. The statistics show that 11 per cent of Vancouver Island First Nations living on reserve reported being diagnosed with diabetes, compared to nine per cent for non-indigenous people. The combination of chronic stress with a decreased access to quality and traditional foods, as well as a decrease in physical activity levels, has led to higher rates of Type 2 diabetes in Indigenous populations across the country. “I tell everyone that has diabetes it’s the same kind of eating style that everyone should be following, it’s just healthy eating,” Dickens said. “Part of that is the 80/20 approach, so 80 per cent of the time you can eat pretty well, high fibre, low refined carbohydrates and quality protein and 20 per cent of the time it’s okay to be flexible.” The cookbook can be found online at http://nada.ca/?page_id=3518 Or by emailing Dickens and requesting a copy at Rachel.Dickens@nuuchahnulth.org. Not only does the cookbook offer plenty of diabetes-friendly recipes, it provides a wellness guide for what foods are best to eat and what is best to avoid. It also provides tips for nourishing the body, mind and spirit, diabetes prevention, management of the condition and how to read labels and nutritional information.

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Province of BC pushes for drug decriminalization Fifth anniversary of health emergency marked by application for an exception under Canada’s criminal code By Eric Plummer Ha-Shilth-Sa Editor Victoria, BC - After seeing the number of overdose fatalities nearly double over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, the provincial government is pushing to decriminalize possession of illicit drugs. British Columbia is now seeking an exemption under the Criminal Code of Canada in order to “remove shame that often prevents people from reaching out for life-saving help,” according to an April 14 announcement from the B.C. Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions. This exemption hinges on approval from Ottawa, but now the ministry is working with Health Canada to apply for a provincewide exemption to the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, which governs possession of narcotics in B.C. “Stigma drives people to hide their drug use, avoid health care and use alone,” said Sheila Malcolmson, minister of Mental Health and Addictions in a statement. “Through provincewide decriminalization, we can reduce the fear and shame that keep people silent about their drug use, and support people to reach out for help, life-saving supports and treatment.” This statement represents a shift in the provincial government’s stance on

drug enforcement. Almost two years ago Provincial Health Officer Bonnie Henry pushed for the decriminalization of illicit drugs, but the province declined to move forward on the recommendation. Since then frustration has been evident when Chief Coroner Lisa Lapointe has delivered her regular tallies of overdose deaths. During a press conference held on April 14 she remarked how a whole infrastructure has been built over decades to punish people for the underlying health condition of drug addiction. “What we have here is a very patchwork, ad-hoc system in this province,” she said. April 14 marked the fifth anniversary of the province’s declaration of the opioid crisis as a public health emergency. Since then there have been some improvements in the number of people dying from illicit drug use, with B.C.’s total fatalities falling significantly to 985 in 2019. But this progress was broken the following year when COVID-19 transformed how health and social services are delivered. By the end of 2020 the B.C. Coroners Service tracked 1,724 suspected deaths from street drugs. Another 329 people are believed to have died over the first two months of 2021. During a press conference headed by Lapointe and Henry, the officials spoke of

Dr. Shannon McDonald how the pandemic has worsened the opioid crisis. Henry noted that some people who coped with their addictions issues in recent years have resorted back to street drugs amid the difficulties of COVID-19. She admitted that measures introduced to control the spread of the highly infectious coronavirus have created “more precarious situations.” Indigenous people have been dramatically affected by the opioid crisis, with a fatality rate by overdose that is more than five times that of the rest of B.C.’s population. From January to May of last year the First Nations Health Authority reported a 93 per cent increase in Aborig-

inal people who died by illicit drug use over the same period in 2019. During the April 14 press conference Dr. Shannon McDonald, the FNHA’s acting chief medical officer, stressed that efforts to keep drug users alive “have not been sufficient and have failed.” “There isn’t enough places to go for people to get the help they need,” she said. Public health officials blamed the pandemic for disrupting the normal distribution routes for narcotics, thereby causing a more unpredictable and deadly mix of supply on the street. Fentanyl has been linked to 83 per cent of recent illicit drug deaths. “Even a single experiment can be fatal,” cautioned Henry. Besides decriminalization, opioid agonist treatment has been identified as a means of curbing the overdose crisis by prescribing safer alternatives to drug users, such as Suboxone. Currently more than 23,000 people in B.C. are receiving opioid agonist treatment, but the shift to more health professionals supplying these medical alternatives has been “painfully slow,” remarked Henry. Use by inhalation, such as smoking crack-cocaine, is now the most common cause of overdose death, reports the Coroners Service.

Overdose response funding aimed at Nuu-chah-nulth By Mike Youds Ha-Shilth-Sa Contributor An agency that provides substance use counselling to youth and families will be consulting with Nuu-chah-nulth First Nations to determine how to spend additional funds for overdose response. West Coast Community Resources Society (WCCR) is among the 23 rural, remote and Indigenous communities and organizations to receive the extra support, totalling more than $1 million, from the B.C. Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions. The funds — which amount to roughly $50,000 per group — are earmarked for helping small communities to expand local overdose response and awareness efforts through the ministry’s Community Action Initiative. “We’re looking to provide the services that is most appropriate and needed, knowing that the last few months have been very, very challenging for a couple of communities on the coast,” said Margaret Morrison, executive director of WCCR. Morrison explained that the one-time grant will be directed pro-actively at overdose prevention and harm-reduction measures through education. That may involve provision of Naloxone kits, a potentially lifesaving medication for fentanyl overdose, training in administering Naloxone or instruction in the use of an app called Lifeguard, launched last year. “It’s one way someone might minimize risk,” Morrison said. Five years after a provincial health emergency was declared in an all-out response to illicit drug overdoses on an epidemic scale, the crisis continues to exact a deadly and ruinous toll. More than 1,700 people died from fatal overdoses in B.C. in 2020. That amounts to above five OD deaths daily, and Indigenous populations are disproportionately affected. According to provincial data from January to October

Photo by Mike Youds

Naloxone, an opioid-blocking medication, can prevent fatal drug overdoses. 2020, First Nations people died from overdose at a rate 5.5 times higher than other B.C. residents. The second provincial health emergency — the global pandemic that continues to have First Nation communities in a state of high alert and in many cases closed to visitors — presents an added challenge in responding to the first. Fatal overdoses increased on central Vancouver Island over the past year, a trend that health officials believe has been worsened by the novel coronavirus pandemic. “We want to respond to communities that are wanting to remain cautious,” Morrison said. WCCS, which has offices in Tofino and Ucluelet, has one staff member currently dedicated to substance use counselling and may add another, she said. They may employ Zoom conferencing in order to provide services to communities temporarily closed due to pandemic concerns. “But if that’s not going to answer a particular need by a community, we would hope to respond with whatever is most helpful,” she said. People in rural and remote areas face major hurdles in accessing substance use services just as they do for health services

in general. They often face longer travel distances to obtain health care and treatment. Access to the overdose antidote Naloxone and harm reduction services are sometimes limited in rural areas. Among Indigenous peoples, these factors can be compounded by a reluctance to access mainstream health services due to negative experiences in the past. “Intergenerational trauma stemming from a history of colonization and racism has given way to a terrible reality that Indigenous peoples continue to be disproportionately impacted by the overdose crisis in the province,” said Murray Rankin, minister of Indigenous relations and reconciliation. “The crisis has only intensified during the COVID-19 pan-

demic. This new funding will help those struggling to connect with communityled, culturally appropriate programs, which is vital to recovery and promote healing.” Morrison said she regrets that there was no chance to consult with First Nations in advance of their grant application in January. The deadline was “pretty tight” and it was evident as a result that other organizations were not responding in time, she noted. They were prepared to have their application rejected and would have welcomed another agency stepping up, she added. In 2020, drug toxicity deaths increased by more than 50 per cent on the central Island, as numbers rose from 36 deaths in 2019 to 58 deaths in 2020. B.C. Coroners Service shows that there were 11 overdose fatalities in the Alberni-Clayoquot region in 2020. Statistics tell only part of the overdose story, though. The broader reality is that most fatal overdoses occur within private homes when people are taking drugs alone. In many cases, they had people in their lives who may have been able to take preventive steps. Morrison said there have been indications from neighbouring communities that the funding is necessary to ensure there is a response capability as needs arise. “We have some knowledge of what might be helpful,” but will rely on community consultation to properly focus efforts, she stressed.

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West Coast Trail to re-opens to the public in June This summer overnight visitors will be permi•ed to book time on the West Coast Trail from June 4 to Sept. 30 By Melissa Renwick Local Journalism Initiative Reporter Vancouver Island’s West Coast Trail is re-opening to overnight visitors in June 2021. The 75-kilometre trail runs between Port Renfrew and Bamfield, passing through the territories of Huu-ay-aht, Pacheedhat and Ditidaht First Nations. In consultation with Parks Canada, “the three First Nations came to a decision to open it with safety precautions in place,” said Ditidaht First Nation elected chief Brian Tate. After being closed for the 2020 season, Parks Canada will begin accepting reservations on April 30, which are being offered to Canadian residents only between June 4 to September 30. Tate said the decision was made after community members had received their vaccines and before the recent surge of COVID-19 cases in the province, which recorded 1,262 new cases on Friday, April 9. The important thing for Huu-ay-aht is that safety protocols are in place so that not only their citizens are safe, but the territory itself, said Trevor Cootes, Huuay-aht elected councillor. “We need to be very mindful of where COVID-19 cases are at and how those impact our community,” said Cootes. “Even with vaccinations, Huu-ay-aht will always be mindful of making sure that we make prudent decisions around keeping our citizens within the territory safe and the people that travel into the territory.” Although the national reservation system does not prevent bookings based on traveller’s origin, Parks Canada and the surrounding nations expect visitors to

Photo by Eric Plummer

Pachena Bay lies at the northern end of the West Coast Trail, after being closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. have been added, said Cofsky. on April 7. The Ditidaht-owned camphonour current travel advisories and ask “We’ve been working with council and ground will run at 50 per cent capacity that only people who reside in Canada the community to make sure that we’ve from May 21 to September 30. hike the trail, said Karen Haugen, Pacific got all our safety protocols in place,” A haven for kiteboarders and windsurfRim National Park Reserve superintensaid Cofsky. “We’ve had a lot of time to ers, the recently expanded campground dent. adjust and we feel that we’re safely able sits on the shores of Nitinaht Lake and “Visitors have a shared responsibilto open by spacing out the sites.” the winding Caycuse River. ity to limit the potential spread of the Huu-ay-aht intends to open the Pachena “The bookings were non-stop from COVID-19 virus,” said Haugen. “Local Campground, but the nation is working morning-to-night,” said Bryan Cofsky, First Nations are asking visitors to pay through protocol before beginning to take Ditidaht Economic Development Corattention to local signs and community online reservations, said Trevor Cootes, poration executive director. “It’s such a protocols, complete a self-assessment Huu-ay-aht elected councillor. popular spot and people are just dying to before travelling to the area, and follow “We’re aiming to be open this year, get out.” the guidelines of public health experts, being very mindful of the ever changing Visitors will be required to make an onincluding travel restrictions.” line reservation prior to arrival as no sites environment that we’re in in B.C.,” said To reduce potential crowding on the Cootes. “Hopefully cases will decrease will by available to walk-ins. trail, Parks Canada, local First Nations like they did last summer, recognizing The campground will be accessed and commercial operators have been that could also change and go in the other through a security gate and a reservation meeting to discuss forthcoming stratedirection.” confirmation will be needed before entry gies. Along with the West Coast Trail, the is permitted. “These strategies will be confirmed campgrounds are following the guidelines “[Visitors] will not be interacting with before the trail opens and could include a laid out by provincial health officials. reduction in daily available spaces for the our community,” said Tate. “There will “Huu-ay-aht is very resilient,” said be guidelines set-out for where they can trail, restrictions around group sizes, and Cootes. “We’ve gone through pandemics and cannot travel to-and-from.” requirements for hikers to stick within and famines before. We’re resilient and Construction of the campground began their own bubble and avoid grouping,” we’ve been demonstrating that through in Fall 2019 and is ongoing as improvesaid Haugen. the past 13 months … hopefully we’re on ments and upgrades to picnic tables, fire After being closed for a year due to the other side of this.” COVID-19, reservations for the Windsurf rings and roads continue. To date, an additional 40 tent sites and 5 new RV sites Park and Caycuse Campground opened

Huu-ay-aht votes in favor of growing stake in TFL 44 By Denise Titian Ha-Shilth-Sa Reporter Port Alberni, BC – More than 80 per cent of Huu-ay-aht citizens voted in favor of purchasing a portion of Tree Farm Licence 44 at a recent Special People’s Assembly held online. The purchase will increase Huu-ay-aht’s interest in the TFL partnership, bringing opportunities to its citizens while protecting hahulthi for future generations. On April 10 the Huu-ay-aht entertained the motion asking for support of a second investment of 28 per cent in TFL 44 LP, bringing the total investment to 35 per cent interest in the large section of Crown land south of Port Alberni. Huu-ay-aht is the sole owner of Huumiis Ventures LP (Limited Partnership), the business entity partnered with Western Forest Products Inc. On Dec. 14, 2018, Huumiis Ventures LP and Western Forest Products Inc. announced the creation of a newly formed limited partnership when Huumiis acquired a seven per cent interest in TFL 44 LP. Western Forest Products owns the remaining 93 per cent. Now, with the support of Huu-ay-aht citizens, the nation will increase their investment to 35 per cent, allowing the nation to have more say in what happens with regard to forestry in their territory. Chief Councillor Robert Dennis Sr. told Ha-Shilth-Sa that the nation has tracts of old growth that will be protected through management plans being developed in consultation with the people. There are 16 Huu-ay-aht working in

forestry in their territory, including two contractors. A slide presentation about forestry was made at the people’s assembly, featuring Huu-ay-aht members at work. “The people saw the faces of our people at jobs – I think this was important for them to see,” said Dennis, adding that the imagery was likely a factor in the vote. Huu-ay-aht’s latest venture in the TFL represents an investment of $22.4 million and is subject to financing and satisfaction of customary closing conditions, including third-party consents. “We followed the guidance of our citizens and Ha’wiih Council, and we brought an opportunity to our citizens that we believe will honour our hahulthi and ensure it will support many generations to come,” said Tyee Ha’wilth +iis^in (Head Hereditary Chief Derek Peters). Chief Dennis said that the nation is targeting 50 more jobs for Huu-ay-aht citizens in the next two years. Owning a controlling interest in TFL 44 in Huu-ayaht hahulthi will allow the nation more direct say on how forestry is carried out. “Our people have raised concerns about the protection of old growth, environmental issues and waste,” said Dennis. In the past, Huu-ay-aht protected old growth forests through agreements like the one with the federal government affecting the Pacific Rim National Park, a portion of which runs through Huu-ayaht territory. By agreeing to allow the national park in their territory, Huu-ayaht was able to protect old growth forest in the vicinity of the park. Through the development of their His^uk

ma ca’wak Integrated Resource Management Plan, made with input from citizenship and Ha’wiih, these issues will be addressed. “We can now agree to not only meet but exceed provincial standards where possible,” said Dennis. For example, he added, if the provincial standard is to replant a cutblock with 12,000 trees, then can plant 13,000 to 14,000. “If they ask for so many feet for a buffer zone by a waterway, we can increase that if we think it’s sensitive enough,” he said. Dennis anticipates the resource management plan will be ready for citizenship approval in 2022. “It offers the potential to diversify and increase our revenue streams by seeking out new opportunities that will help us be more involved in various aspects of forestry and be more economically viable as a nation,” said HFN Councilor Trevor Cootes. Huu-ay-aht is only one of several First Nations whose hahulthi is included in TFL 44. Chief Dennis says this is an opportunity for the establishment of partnerships with neighboring First Nations. The Huu-ay-aht have marked the 10th anniversary of the signing of the Maanulth treaty, affirming their rights to constitutionally-protected self-government as well as ownership, control and law-making authority over their lands and resources. “Today, we moved forward with our modern mind, while honouring our ancient spirit, and we showed how resilient we are as a nation,” said Dennis.

Robert Dennis Sr. Once the transaction is completed, the second stage will begin. Huu-ay-aht plans to acquire another 16 per cent interest in TFL 44 LP, bringing their total to 51 percent controlling interest. “[I]f approved by our citizens, step two would bring Huumiis’ interests up to 51 per cent, giving it majority say into what happens in the tree farm license in our traditional territory,” said HFN Councilor John Jack. The second stage investment is expected to be presented at an Huu-ay-aht People’s Assembly in early 2023. In its first year of operations, TFL 44 LP reported positive safety and financial results for the 2020 fiscal year. +iis^in attributed the success to the shared vision of forestry revitalization, reconciliation and creating a brighter future for generations to come.

Page 8— Ha-Shilth-Sa—April 22, 2021

Prolonged construction closures planned for Tofino Ten-hour closures for rock blasting begins April 28, set to be completed before summer tourism season starts By Denise Titian Ha-Shilth-Sa Reporter Kennedy Lake, BC – The long delays Highway 4 travelers face as they travel between Port Alberni and Tofino and Ucluelet are about to get worse. The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure issued a traffic advisory April 14 stating that more major blasting work needs to be done during daylight hours. On March 16 the Kennedy Hill construction zone was closed for 10 hours to conduct major blasting safely, during daylight hours. At that time, boulders the size of houses were blasted off of the rock face. But there’s much more work that needs to be done. In order to finish the work, a schedule for ongoing blasting work planned for Highway 4 at Kennedy Hill has been set. “Drivers are advised a section of Highway 4 at Kennedy Hill will be closed from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on five consecutive Wednesdays starting on April 28, 2021, for the blasting and removal of a significant rock bluff,” says a Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure press release. The mid-week, 10-hour closures are required for crews to undertake multiple complex blasts on the project in an area of the bluff directly above the road repair site where a temporary bridge had to be used in spring 2020. At that time, a nighttime blasting mishap took out a large portion of the road, closing it for a few days until a temporary bridge could be

Photo supplied by BC Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure

The $38-million widening of Highway 4 above Kennedy Lake was expected to be complete last September, but construction issues coupled with pandemic safety orders have considerably delayed progress. brought in. to preserve the overall integrity of the According to the ministry, the dayroad.” The Kennedy Hill Safety Improvement light closure will allow workers time to project began in September 2018. It set prepare the road beneath the blast area at this previous repair location, and to out to widen and straighten a notoriously dangerous 1.5-kilometre section of Highsafely and efficiently scale and remove way 4 that hugs the cliffs above Kennedy loose rock from the bluff immediately following the blast before reopening the Lake. This section of the highway, a former road. logging road, is steep, narrow and has “[P]reparation in advance of each blast is required for these next five scheduled blind corners. blasts,” states the Ministry of TransportaIt is the only east-west corridor on Vantion and Infrastructure. “This includes couver Island servicing the west coast communities of Ucluelet and Tofino as protecting the road surface from a large boulder falling onto the surface above the well as the Pacific Rim National Park previous repair site, which is necessary Reserve at Long Beach. This is a critical

route for moving goods, linking communities, and supporting a thriving tourism industry in the region. The $38 million project was expected to be complete in September 2020 but construction issues coupled with pandemic safety orders have considerably delayed progress. The closures are set to begin April 28 and will continue every Wednesday until June. The ministry stated that it is anticipated that after May, the complex high-risk blasting required on the remaining bluff will be substantially completed, and no further 10-hour closures will be needed to complete the project. It is expected that after the completion of these blasts, the contractor will be closer to moving to night-time blasting, as the busier summer months approach. The regular project closure schedule of four-hour road closures on weekdays between 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. will continue on the other weekdays. An update on the overall project schedule is expected to be available following the completion of these remaining complex and high-risk blasts. For more information about the Highway 4 Kennedy Hill Safety Improvement Project and scheduled closures visit contractor Emil Anderson Construction’s Facebook page. You may call 1-855-451-7152 for 24 hour travel advisory updated daily or visit the Drive BC website. On Twitter go to (@TranBC, @DriveBC, #BCHwy4)

Tofino resorts face tough decisions during pandemic By Melisa Renwick Local Journalism Initiative Reporter Tofino, BC - Tofino’s Wickaninnish Inn has been closed since November 2020. The decision was made in the interest of the “safety of our staff, our community of Tofino and the surrounding First Nations populations,” said Charles McDiarmid, managing director of the Wickaninnish Inn. “We thought it was prudent and best supportive of the message of our public health officer,” he said. “[Dr. Bonnie Henry] is the expert and if she’s recommending against non-essential travel, we felt we should be in support of that.” While McDiarmid stands behind his decision, “it has come at cost,” he said. To support staff who have been waiting on stand-by for the resort to reopen, the inn is currently covering rent for all employees living in staff accommodation. Of all the resorts in Tofino, the Wickaninnish Inn is the only one to remain closed. “It feels like I’m kind of walking a lonely road,” said McDiarmid. “We’re not trying to be a martyr or anything, we’re just doing what we think is best for the community.” The Best Western Plus Tin Wis Resort re-opened in June 2020 and is currently operating at 65 per cent capacity. It will remain at a lower occupancy rate until vaccinations have been “completely rolled-out” within the province, said General Manager Jared Beaton. The Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation-owned resort has kept its doors open because, “like every other business, we have bills to pay,” said Beaton. It’s a difficult predicament to be in, said Saya Masso, Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation tribal administrator.

Photo by Melissa Renwick

Despite a provincial order against non-essential travel, the Wickaninnish Inn remains Tofino’s only resort to stay closed. “There isn’t enough government support for the amount of loans and debt servicing required for the resort,” he said. “Our nation has long been asking for a Vancouver Island bubble only, which wasn’t supported by B.C. and would have added to our comfort level.” Many businesses are feeling the stress of a long year, said Laura McDonald, Tofino-Long Beach Chamber of Commerce president. “All businesses in Tofino are abiding by the provincial health orders and have implemented COVID-19 safety plans according to the requirements set out by WorkSafe BC, including regular inspections,” she said. “The well being of our employees and community members remains the top priority.” Because Tin Wis is a First Nations owned-and-operated business, eligible resort staff have already received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, said

Beaton. And with strict protocols in place, he said he feels “confident that we are doing the right thing.” Tin Wis has not marketed or advertised its resort, they have established a touchless check-in and check-out system, rooms are not cleaned during a guest’s stay, breakfast is served as grab-and-go and the resort maintains a zero-tolerance policy for anyone who is non-compliant to their protocols, he said. “We’re on 25 acres of beachfront property where there’s lots of room to social distance,” said Beaton. The reality is, income needs to be generated to pay for the fixed expenses that are associated with the resort, he said. “This is [an] extremely difficult time for owner operators who remain dedicated to supporting our local community,” said McDonald. “They continue to follow current regulations that the

provincial government has set out. We could not be prouder of how our business community has faced the challenges of this pandemic.” Tofino’s community-wide vaccine roll-out began this week, where people 18 years of age and older are eligible to receive their first dose. Residents can call 1-833-348-4787 to book a vaccination appointment with Island Health. McDiarmid said the Wickaninnish Inn will not re-open until at least two weeks have passed after the town has been vaccinated. “I believe it’s in the best interest of the community until we can ensure everyone is [at least] safely vaccinated with the first shot,” he said. “I can’t deny that it’s somewhat disappointing that there are so many visitors coming for non-essential travel and yet I understand why people want to be here.”

April 22, 2021—Ha-Shilth-Sa—Page 9

Blockades stand their ground at Fairy Creek Pacheedaht states that ‘third-party activism’ isn’t welcome, as First Nation seeks to guide future of old growth By Eric Plummer Ha-Shilth-Sa Editor Port Renfrew, BC - Blockades remain to prevent logging in an untouched valley near Port Renfrew, despite a court injunction to have them removed and a statement from the Pacheedaht criticizing the “unsolicited” involvement in the First Nation’s territory. On April 1 an order came from the B.C. Supreme Court to have several blockades around the Fairy Creek watershed removed. For the last eight months the encampments have been held by the Rainforest Flying Squad, a loosely affiliated collection of old growth activists, to prevent road building into the section of Crown land that is considered one of the few old growth forests untouched by industrial logging. No arrests have been made since the court order was issued, and volunteers continue to man the posts, said Bobby Arbess, a defendant in the injunction against the blockades. Arbess pointed to direction given by Bill Jones, a Pacheedaht elder who has supported the blockades for protecting the traditional importance of the old growth forest. “They’re all up. Nobody has left because Bill asked people to hold their ground,” said Arbess. “We’re at this critical point where something has to change with the way forests are being managed.” But on April 12 the movement was dealt a blow with a statement from the Pacheedaht First Nation, which had previously remained silent on the conflict since last August. In a letter signed by Hereditary Chief Frank Queesto Jones and Chief Councillor Jeff Jones, the First Nation states that decisions over forestry resources need to be made by the Pacheedaht, adding that the nation has always harvested old growth for various reasons, including economic purposes. “Our constitutional right to make decisions about forestry resources in our territory, as a governing authority in our territory, must be respected,” reads the

Photo by Eric Plummer

Yellow cedar trees that are more than 1,000 years old can be found around the Fairy Creek watershed. statement. “We do not welcome or support unsolicited involvement or interference by others in our territory, including third-party activism.” “I think that’s an appropriate request by the people who have rights and title,” added Premier John Horgan during a press conference the day after the Pacheedaht’s statement. “If there are those who claim that they are standing up for Indigenous rights, they’re certainly not doing that. They’re disregarding the requests of the not just the elected, but hereditary leadership as well.” The statement references the “increased polarization over forestry resources” as the Fairy Creek conflict has continued, pointing to tensions within the Pacheedaht nation over the future of the old growth valley. Besides Bill Jones, Roxy Jones spoke against logging in the area at a March 4 demonstration in Victoria. An elected councillor, Roxy Jones opted to speak independently as a Pacheedaht citizen during the rally. The Fairy Creek valley is within Tree Farm Licence 46, with tenure held by the Teal Jones Group. In court documents the shake and shingle producer argued

that $10 million in business is at stake, particularly in acquiring the rare cedar available in the valley that would be used to build custom-made guitars. The forestry company’s submission states that the Pacheedaht gave consent to harvesting in the Fairy Creek valley. Arbess admits that the recent statement from the Pacheedaht First Nation has affected moral at the blockades. “I’m finding it really quite awkward that we are being put in the position of taking sides and exposing the internal rifts within that community in the public spotlight. I feel personally really uncomfortable with that,” he said. “What we’re dealing with here is essentially 150 years of colonialism that have resulted in First Nations being essentially bound and gagged by revenue sharing agreements with government and industry that has put them between a rock and a hard place.” For the time being, the Pacheedaht has received commitments from the tenure holder and the province to suspend forestry activities in specific areas as a forest stewardship plan is developed by the community, led by hereditary and

elected leaders. “This will result in the implementation of an immediate interim conservation measure,” reads the First Nation’s statement. “Our stewardship plan will include the identification of special sites, traditional use areas and places where conservation measures will be in place. Given our governance rights, this stewardship plan must guide forestry activities in our territory.” In recent years, the 280-member First Nation has claimed a growing stake in its territory’s resources. The nation has 50 per cent ownership over Pacheedaht Anderson Timber Holdings, a company that holds forestry licences in TFL 61 and owns a sawmill in Port Renfrew. Through a forest revenue sharing agreement with the province, the First Nation receives a percentage of the stumpage fees paid by all tenure holders in its territory. This regional influence is expected to increase, as the Pacheedaht are in the final stage of treaty negotiations with the provincial government and Ottawa, which would enshrine the nation’s territorial rights, obligations and interests in Canadian law.

Ahousaht society rebuilds boardwalk at Hot Springs By Denise Titian Ha-Shilth-Sa Reporter Hot Springs Cove, BC – Nearly two kilometres of boardwalk and staircases are being replaced as Maaqutusiis Hahoulthee Stewardship Society prepare for an uncertain 2021 tourist season while the COVID-19 pandemic drags on. According to John Caton, general manager of Maaqutusiis Hahoulthee Stewardship Society (MHSS), BC Parks awarded the $1 million capital project to MHSS in late 2020. Ahousaht, through MHSS, has a contract with BC Parks to maintain and operate Maquinna Provincial Park in Hot Springs Cove. MHSS and Ahous Business Corporation (ABC) were incorporated by the Ahousaht Ha’wiih, the elected chief, council and advisors in 2012 to ensure that the First Nation retains control over and decisions about economic development in Ahousaht territories. Through MHSS, several Ahousaht business interests are managed and developed to benefit membership, including ecotourism and transportation. BC Parks hired 43K, a company from Campbell River, as general contractor for the project. Caton said the company has

a solid reputation with BC Parks, having built other boardwalks and infrastructure in the province. In what he calls a joint venture, Caton says MHSS and 43K are rebuilding the entire 1.7-kilometre boardwalk at Maquinna Marine Provincial Park. “We have a work camp set up at the end of the wharf that is housing the workers. We have been there since mid-January and no one is allowed on the work site,” he told Ha-Shilth-Sa. The old boardwalk starts near the site of what was a general store, owned by pioneer Ivan Clarke and family. It winds through the old growth forest featuring giant cedar trees and up and down rugged coastal rock faces. Many of the planks were removed and replaced with beautifully carved pieces, often made of cedar. But this posed a problem. The newer planks made the boardwalk uneven, posing a tripping hazard. BC Parks put out a call to the artists who made the planks, offering to return them. Ahousaht workers arrived at Hot Springs Cove in January 2021, first to build a base camp at the head of the trail and then to begin tearing apart the old boardwalk. There are two crews of four workers from Ahousaht that work eight-

John Caton day shifts. The construction project is supervised by 43K staff while Ahousaht supplies lumber, transportation and labor. According to Caton, Ahousaht purchased lumber in Port Alberni from Trans-Pacific Trading. They barge the lumber to the west coast, storing at the Tofino Airport. From there it is bundled

in 700-1,000-pound loads to be carried by helicopter and dropped at sites along the trail. In an agreement with residents on the strata property adjacent to the park, old lumber is dropped there. They will take what they can recycle and will dispose of the rest. According to Caton, and estimated 50 per cent of the old boardwalk will be recycled. “The project is on time and on budget,” Caton said, adding that the work is expected to be completed by the end of June 2021. As for carving new planks for the new boardwalk, this will not be allowed. Ahousaht park workers will monitor the boardwalk when it opens again for visitors. The park has been closed since the beginning of the pandemic by provincial health orders. The reopening date of the park will depend on the status of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. According to Caton, Ahousaht leadership and BC Parks will make a call on whether or not to open the park later this spring. Caton says the best way to determine when the park is open is to visit the Provincial Parks website for updates.

Page 10— Ha-Shilth-Sa—April 22, 2021

Photo by Melissa Renwick

A red dress hangs along the Highway 4 near the Tla-o-qui-aht Ha’houl’thee, on April 11, recognizing missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls.

Tla-o-qui-aht members honour their nation’s missing and murdered women and girls Three red dresses will be recognizing Chantel Moore, Lisa Marie Young and Edith Margaret Claver on May 5 By Melissa Renwick Local Journalism Initiative Reporter Tofino, BC - In honour of this year’s Red Dress Day on May 5, sisters Nora Martin and Grace Frank are planning to hang three red dresses within Tla-o-qui-aht’s traditional territory. “We want people to know that our family and relatives are still missing,” said Martin. The national day of awareness aims to recognize and shed light on the increasingly high numbers of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls in Canada. According to the Assembly of First Nations, a national advocacy organization representing First Nation citizens in

Canada, Indigenous women make up 16 per cent of all female homicide victims and 11 per cent of missing females, despite Indigenous people accounting for just 4.3 per cent of Canada’s population. Indigenous women are also roughly seven times more likely than non-Indigenous women to be murdered by serial killers, said the 2017 National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. The annual day of recognition was initiated in 2011 by Métis artist Jamie Black, who hung red dresses at the University of Winnipeg as an art instillation. Black’s REDress Project has since rippled throughout communities across the country. Within many nations, red is thought to

be the only colour that spirits can see. By wearing red, it’s hoped the missing spirits of Indigenous women and girls will be called back and laid to rest. Each dress that Martin and Frank plan to hang will represent a different woman from Tla-o-qui-aht who has gone missing or been murdered. One will memorialize Chantel Moore, Frank’s granddaughter, who was fatally shot in her New Brunswick apartment during a wellness check by an Edmundston police officer on June 4, 2020. “To keep her name alive,” said Frank. Another will hang for Lisa Marie Young, who went missing from Nanaimo on June 30, 2002. “She’s been missing since 2002 and there are no leads on who abducted her or

what happened to her,” said Martin. And a final dress will be hung in remembrance of Edith Margaret Claver, who went missing in 2009. In preparation for the Red Dress Day and the one-year anniversary of Moore’s death, Frank has also been hard at work making red and black beaded earrings. Like the dresses, they will serve as another way to keep her nation’s missing and murdered visible. “There’s been a lot of First Nations men and women that have gone missing,” said Martin. “And there’s nothing being done about it.” To learn more about the project, visit lilreddressproject.ca or visit them on Facebook at www.facebook.com/lilreddress/.

Phrase of the week: +ih=%ic^nis%a> wikmah=sa wikwinc^i> >uusaamih=%aqh=kin Pronounced Glee ich nish alth Wik marh saw Wik win chilt tluth Caa minhr ugh kin, it means ‘we wear red, to never forget our women’. Supplied by ciisma.

Illustration by Ivy Cargill-Martin

April 22, 2021—Ha-Shilth-Sa—Page 11

------- Employment Opportunities ------Job Opportunity - Hesquiaht Cultural Support Worker Position Summary The Cultural Support Worker will assist the nation by designing age-appropriate activities that meet the cultural needs of the children and families of Hesquiaht First Nation. The Ideal candidate will have experience in language, regalia making, weaving, crafts, foods, medicines and other traditional practices. This is a full-time position at 40 hours per week for a term of one year. Key Duties & Responsibilities: • Promote and support traditional Hesquiaht cultural teachings and practice for our families, community, and staff. • Assist in singing, drumming, brushings and dance groups • Assist in creating and maintaining an environment of safety and wellness in the Community Wellness and programming areas. • Work with children and families to provide cultural teachings • Provide supportive and trusting relationships with community members. • Participate in team meetings, agency meetings and training • Maintain an appropriate records and information system. • Help build a Hesquiaht model of cultural safety for grieving, the healing ceremonial process and to reintroduce the traditional ways • Maintain a high level of confidentiality and discretion Qualifications, Knowledge and Experience: • Completion of High School and some post-secondary education • Teachings and experience in traditional Hesquiaht language, knowledge, healing practices and wisdom. • Experience working with children, youth and families. • An outgoing, energetic individual who is a team player • Administrative, computer and office skills. • Demonstrates practical knowledge and understanding of traditional Hesquiaht and mainstream healing practices • Demonstrates practical and historical knowledge of intergenerational trauma, stress and cultural repression. • Strong organizational skills, ability to multi-task; self-motivated • Models participates in cultural, recreational, and social programs • Participates in the development and delivery of community-based events geared towards balanced lifestyles and health promotion • Manages personal stress by utilizing various appropriate coping skills. • Reliable transportation and current valid class 5 BC Driver’s License • Acceptable Driver’s Abstract required. • Acceptable criminal record check required. To Apply Interested candidates should submit a cover letter and resume to the Hesquiaht Tribal Administrator at the following email address: norma@hesquiaht.ca on or before 4pm PST on April 28, 2021. Candidates of Hesquiaht ancestry are strongly encouraged to apply; please self-identify in your cover letter. Only candidates who are selected for an interview will be contacted.

CASUAL/ON CALL SECURITY GUARD This posting is for a Casual/On Call Security Guard with the Port Alberni Port Authority. Responsibilities include, but are not limited to: • Maintaining security for Port Authority property at P.A. Terminals. • Overseeing site visitors, contractors and tenants through proper access control. • Conducting foot and vehicle patrols of the site and buildings. • Writing detailed Shift Summary Reports and Incident Reports. • Upholding professional appearance and demeanor at all times.

Qualifications: • Preference will be given to applicants with security experience. • Must possess a valid security license or in the process of obtaining one. • Must be 19 years of age. • Strong verbal and written communication skills. • Must be able to work flexible shifts including weekdays, afternoons, nights, weekends and holidays. • Must possess a valid B.C. driver’s license. • The Casual/On Call Security Guard is to be reliable, punctual and able to work with minimal supervision. • All applicants shall successfully complete a thorough interview, as well as provide a Criminal Record Check.

Casual on call Security Guards are not members of the ILWU Local 517 Bargaining Unit. Please submit Cover Letter, Resume and 3 References to Bianca Filipchuk, Manager Administration & Properties at: bfilipchuk@ papa-appa.ca by 4:00 p.m. May 7, 2021. The Port Alberni Port Authority regrets that only those selected for interview will be contacted.

Job Opportunity – Hesquiaht Indigenous Mental Wellness Counsellor The Indigenous Mental Wellness Counsellor (IMWC) works within a multidisciplinary team to provide prevention, assessment, referral, clinical counselling and follow-up services to individuals and family members affected by mental wellness and substance use issues, specifically individuals who are Indigenous. Qualifications, Knowledge and Experience: • Master’s Degree in a Health Science discipline from a recognized post-secondary institute with three (3) years experience providing treatment services to adults and/or youth with mental health and/or addictions issues; or an Undergraduate Social Work Degree with minimum 5 years experience • Minimum of two (2) years experience working with Indigenous communities • Preference will be given to qualified candidates of Indigenous ancestry • Extensive experience leading and facilitating healing groups and Indigenous cultural programming • A strong understanding of Indigenous cultures and the ability to apply these strengths into the healing services being offered • Substantial history working on personal healing so as to better connect with and provide services to MVISS clients • A strong understanding of problematic substance use, trauma and the underlying root causes • Ability to apply knowledge, skills and education to different healing and wellness approaches through group healing, one-to-one counseling, family counseling, etc. • Ability to contribute positively to a healing environment • Extensive experience managing caseloads, assessments and referrals • Experience developing and delivering psycho-educational supports in the areas of suicide prevention, substance use, anxiety and depression, historical trauma, grief and loss, child sexual abuse, lateral violence, and the intergenerational impacts of colonialism/residential school • Ability to lead and facilitate community engagement, outreach • Knowledge, skills and ability to apply western-based healing and Indigenous healing and wellness approaches To Apply: Interested candidates should submit a cover letter and resume to the Hesquiaht Tribal Administrator at the following email address: norma@hesquiaht.ca on or before 4pm PST on April 28, 2020. Candidates of Hesquiaht ancestry are strongly encouraged to apply; please self-identify in your cover letter. Only candidates who are selected for an interview will be contacted. Job Opportunity - Hesquiaht Elders Coordinator Position Summary Reporting to the Hesquiaht Tribal Administrator, the Elders Coordinator is responsible for organizing and facilitating Elder’s meetings, events and program activities; providing travel assistance as required; and for administering the Elders Emergency Housing Repair issues that support mobility and safety for Elders in Hot Springs Cove. Key Duties & Responsibilities: • Organize at least one monthly social and/or educational event • Organize and facilitate the monthly Elders’ meeting • Provide Elders with transportation to all Hesquiaht Nation events • Ensure proper management of financial records, budgets and reports • Inform Elders about Membership meetings and community events at least one week in advance • Facilitate and arrange the registration, bookings and travel requirements for out-of-town events • Create program activities and prepare the monthly newsletter; maintain and provide regular updates to the calendar • Plan for and prepare the annual report to Chief and Council Qualifications, Knowledge and Experience: • Human Service Worker Certification, Home Support Worker Certification, or previous experience and education in the geriatric field is preferred • Valid BC driver’s licence with an acceptable driver’s abstract • Must have own reliable transportation • First Aid Level 1 or Emergency First Aid certification • Acceptable criminal record check with Vulnerable Sector Search required. • Experience overseeing budgets, balancing financial records, and reporting • Previous experience organizing and facilitating meetings • Experience working with office equipment • Excellent interpersonal and people skills with strong communication skills • Ability to advocate for clients and to relate to all ages, especially the elderly • Ability to work as part of a team or independently; must work with the cultural support worker, family care worker and Usma Nuu-chah-nulth Family & Child Services To Apply Candidates of Hesquiaht ancestry are strongly encouraged to apply; please self-identify in your cover letter. Interested candidates should submit a cover letter and resume to the Hesquiaht Tribal Administrator at the following email address: norma@hesquiaht.ca on or before 4pm PST on April 28, 2021. Only candidates who are selected for an interview will be contacted.

Page 12— Ha-Shilth-Sa—April 22, 2021

President’s message to Nuu-chah-nulth-aht Hello everyone. Another busy month with many issues to deal with. I wanted to begin by sharing my deepest condolences to our families and communities that have lost loved ones in the past few months. It is hard to grieve when we cannot gather as we usually do to support one another. My thoughts are with you all. In B.C., COVID-19 cases have spiked to approximately 1,000 per day. It helps to know that many of our adult members on and off reserve have now got the vaccinations. Most are still waiting for the second shot but we are assured by the First Nations Health Authority that they have retained enough Moderna vaccines for all Nuu-chah-nulth to get their second shot. This is good news. In a recent report by the First Nation Health Authority, it was reported how disproportionally Indigenous peoples have been affected by COVID. Indigenous peoples are 7.6 per cent of the population in B.C. Yet the number of Indigenous people who got COVID represent 34.9 per cent of the COVID cases and had three times the rate of hospitalizations and four times the rate of deaths. I share this with you because we need to understand how COVID has impacted us and that we still need to take as many precautions as we can to keep us and our families safe. Even though we have had the vaccines, it’s not 100 per cent, so we need to make sure we wear our masks, physically distance and wash our hands. Our communities with the help of our leaders have kept our COVID numbers low, but we are still at risk, so follow the guidelines of your community and the provincial health officer. The big news for Nuu-chah-nulth was the B.C. Court of Appeal decision regarding the right to a commercial fishery was finally given on Monday, April 19th after waiting for 26 months for that decision. It was good news for a change. The right to commercially sell fish was established by the courts in 2009 and that was appealed to the B.C. Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court of Canada, who refused leave to appeal. The courts had said that the five nations, Ahousaht, Ehattesaht, Hesquiaht, Mowachaht/Muchalaht, and Tla-o-qui-aht, and DFO were to negotiate within two years what the fishery would be for all species (except geoduck). There was no agreement so the five nations launched another case in 2016 saying that DFO had infringed their right to a commercial fishery. The decision happened in 2018 and the five nations decided to appeal to the Court of Appeal because the justice limited the right even further from the 2009 decision. The appeal was heard in February 2019 and finally decided on April 19th, 2021. This has been far too long of a court process. The wins that these five nations achieved were that the court did not allow the limitations to apply - that is things like calling the fishery artisanal, small scale, low cost, with no technology used. Court of appeal said the justice had no authority to limit the right. The court ruled that any allocations for the five Nntions had to be agreed to by these nations and DFO for all species. They also ruled that the right to a commercial fishery is a priority over commercial and recreation fisheries. The court found that DFO’s policies unjustifiably infringed the nations right to a commercial fishery. That they don’t have to have one commercial fishing

Non-Insured Health Benefits - NIHB Coverage – Travelling Out Side Of Country General Principles 1.

Prior approval is required.

2. The client must: a. Be eligible for the NIHB Program; and b. Be currently enrolled or eligible to be enrolled in a provincial or territorial health insurance plan and continue to meet residency requirements for provincial/territorial health coverage.

licence per vessel, have all fishing vessels registered, have to pay licence fees and the cost of obtaining license and quota to exercise their rights, or have to hold one licence per species. That the five nations can split and transfer licences or split quota, and that any limited entry licencing does not have to be based on vessel length and catch history. All of these things were ruled to be infringements on the five nations rights as that is not how they exercise their rights. Now these five nations and DFO must get to the table to figure out allocations and NTC has called up DFO to do this immediately. There is a small chance that DFO may appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada which could further delay implementing this right. The court of appeal decision was unanimous, all three judges agreed on this case so it would be difficult to appeal. Also with reconciliation, living up to UNDRIP and good faith, we can hope there will be no appeal. This case benefits all First Nations. For Nuu-chah-nulth, the Maa-nulth nations negotiated a “me too” clause in their final agreement, meaning whatever is won in the court case, they too will have that right. The other three nations who are part of phase two of this case and are hoping that DFO will sit down and negotiate with them as opposed to going through years of lengthy and costly court cases. On the justice front, Mariah and I appeared before the B.C Legislative Committee on the Reform of the Police Act. We recommended changes to the Police Act, including things like having the minister work with Nuu-chah-nulth in setting priorities for policing and enforcement in the province. We asked to amend the police act so that any racist act or behaviour was misconduct, and that there be a specific provision for racism so police officers know it is not acceptable and that there are consequences. We also asked for a whistleblower policy or legislative change so police officers can freely report any misconduct towards Indigenous peoples. After the policing shooting of one of our Nuu-chah-nulth members on Opitsaht, we met with the high levels of the RCMP to talk about how we can work together to ensure that no more of our people get shot or treated disrespectfully. We decided to form a police committee with the RCMP that will look at ways to work together respectfully. We have had two meetings and we will continue meeting to come up with solutions. Positive changes are needed. -Kekinusuqs Judith Sayers

3. For Transportation to Medical Services: For transportation to medical services outside of the country the client must be referred for provincially/territorially insured medical services by a provincial or territorial health care plan for treatment Shaganappi Plaza: wage change for Building Maintenance and Superintendent Windspeaker.com http://www.windspeaker.com/news/sweetgrass-news/building-maintenanceand-superintendent/ ammsa.com http://www.ammsa.com/content/careers/shaganappi-plaza-ltd-calgary outside of Canada. 4. For Supplemental Health Insurance Premiums: Full-time students enrolled in a post-secondary institution to study outside of Canada must provide a letter of confirmation that tuition, which is not an eligible benefit under the NIHB Program, has been paid. What is covered? For Supplemental Health Insurance Premiums: The cost of privately acquired health insurance premiums for approved students or migrant workers and their legal dependents will be reimbursed. For Transportation to Medical Services: Transportation benefits when eligible clients are medically referred and approved for treatment outside of Canada by a provincial or territorial health care plan. For further information on coverage outside of Country you are encouraged to call First Nations & Inuit Health Branch (FNIHB), Vancouver BC toll free @ 1-800-317-7878 What You Should Know- “Before” Leaving British Columbia If you are leaving the province, you should be aware that your coverage may not pay all health care costs. Health services provided outside Canada often cost more than the amount paid by the Ministry of Health Services. Sometimes the difference is substantial; for example, the amount we pay for emergency inpatient hospital care will not exceed $75 (Canadian) a day for United States of exceeds $1,000 (US) per day and can be as high as $10,000 a day for intensive care. In addition, some items/services that may be a benefit in BC are not covered outside the province; for example, prescription drugs and optometric services. Further, the Ministry does not subsidize fees charged for ambulance service obtained outside BC. We advise you to buy additional health insurance to supplement your basic coverage before you leave the province, regardless of whether you’ll be in another part of Canada or outside the country – even if your company or travel agency can advise you about extra coverage to pay for any difference in fees and to provide benefits not covered by the Ministry. If you have a pre-existing medical condition, you must mention this when purchasing additional insurance as most policies will not cover treatment of that condition outside the province. In some cases you may purchase an insurance policy where the insurance company has a signed agreement with the Ministry. This permits the company to pay physician and hospital claims and receive reimbursement on your behalf thus eliminating the need for you to handle your own claims. NOTE: Ambulance – If you require ambulance service while in another province or outside Canada, you will need to obtain service from an ambulance company in that jurisdiction and will be charged the fee established by the-out-of-province service provider. Fees range from several hundred to several thousand dollars. When purchasing additional out-of-province health insurance you are advised to obtain insurance that will cover emergency transportation while you are away and, if necessary the cost of transportation back to BC. MSP Contact @ 1-250-386-7171 or fax 1-250-952-3427 – In case the number s have changed the web site is: www.healthservices.gov.bc.ca/msp

April 22, 2021—Ha-Shilth-Sa—Page 13

American anglers receive stiff fines and suspensions Gold River bust uncovers sports fishing violations, resulting in prohibitions, fines and seizures of equipment By Sam Laskaris Ha-Shilth-Sa Contributor Gold River, BC – Nathan George was pleased to see some serious action being taken. But George, the acting manager for the Mowachaht/Muchalaht First Nation fisheries department, believes much more still needs to be done to curtail illegal activity in the Nuu-chah-nulth First Nation. George had mixed reactions following a press release issued last week that detailed information about three American residents who received fines, forfeitures and fees totaling more than $70,000 for an incident that dates back to September 2019. “I think it is very important,” George said of the penalties which were assessed by the Campbell River Provincial Court. “It plays a big part in helping conserve the wild stocks and show there are consequences for actions taken outside of the guidelines given for the season.” The three individuals who plead guilty to various violations of Canada’s Fisheries Act are residents of the state of Washington. They are Bradley Wogalmott, Geoffrey Hoover and Jonathan Magee. The trio faced various charges stemming back from an investigation that was conducted jointly by the RCMP and Fisheries and Oceans Canada in Gold River, resulting in a seizure on Sept. 11, 2019. Officials from the Nootka Sound detachment for the RCMP were alerted that the three men potentially violated the Fisheries Act. The American men were stopped by RCMP officers who discovered the anglers had a substantial amount of fish that were not properly recorded based on the

Photo supplied by DFO

Seized fish shown in court proceedings against three American anglers charged for illegal fishing in Nuu-chah-nulth waters. conditions of their recreational licenses. were sentenced on Apr. 12. Campbell River officials from Fisheries Wogalmott received the stiffest penaland Oceans Canada took charge of the ties. investigation. For starters, he was fined $15,000 and Greg Askey, a fishery officer who works was prohibited from fishing anywhere in in Campbell River, detailed the seriousCanada, or holding a fishing license in ness of this case calling it “the most the country, for 10 years. significant sport violation I have seen in The court also ordered him to forfeit all my over 20-year career.” of the fishing equipment, valued at more The American anglers had plead guilty than $6,000, that was seized on the vessel to their charges this past February. They used during the illegal fishing activities.

Plus, he also forfeited a pair of outboard engines which cost about $32,500. Wogalmott was also responsible for paying about $10,000 to cover the storage and transport fees for the seized vessel. Besides forfeiting his fishing equipment that was seized, Hoover was given a $5,000 fine. And he received a two-year ban from fishing or holding a fishing license in Canada. Like Hoover, Magee was also fined $5,000 and had his equipment seized. Hoover was given a ban lasting one year, preventing him from fishing or holding a fishing license in Canada. Besides seizing a 30-foot fishing vessel and large quantity of fishing gear, officials also found substantial amounts of Chinook salmon, ling cod and rockfish on the boat. George, who has worked off and on in the fisheries industry as a laborer and technician since the late 1990s, believes others should also be brought to justice. “No, I don’t think enough is being done,” said George, who has been the acting manager of his First Nation’s fisheries department for slightly more than a year now. “There are still reports of illegal activity in our territory.” One of the mandates for Fisheries and Oceans Canada is to protect and conserve marine resources. It also aims to prosecute offenders under the Fisheries Act. Compliance of the act occurs via a combination of sea, air and land patrols. Members of the public who wish to report on any possible fishing violations are encouraged to call the toll free number 1-800-465-4336 or send details to the email address DFO.ORR-ONS.MPO@ dfo-mpo.gc.ca

Page 14— Ha-Shilth-Sa—April 22, 2021

Bligh Island oil spill response enters a new phase Boaters reminded to stay clear as assessment begins; 30 tonnes of fuel recovered, but a leak continues from the shipwreck By Mike Youds Ha-Shilth-Sa Contributor Nootka Sound, BC - A remotely operated vehicle revisits a Nootka Sound shipwreck this week to probe for a permanent solution to an especially challenging oil spill. Four months after an all-out spill response got underway, officials are counting on a two-week technical assessment in waters off Bligh Island to yield critical information on fuel still seeping from the 50-year-old sunken wreck of the freighter Schiedyk. “It’s what we’ve been building up to for the last few months to really ascertain what is down there,” said Gillian Oliver, a Coast Guard incident commander. An oily sheen in the area was reported by a pilot last fall. Since then, a virtual incident command post — jointly managed by personnel from Coast Guard/ DFO, Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy and Mowachaht/ Muchalaht First Nation (MMFN) — has overseen containment and cleanup operations in Zuciarte Channel. COVID-19 safety provisions have complicated matters. A team of about 40 workers is deployed at the site while another 43 staff lend support at various other locations in what amounts to a “virtual command post.” Ehattesaht First Nations fisheries department, Hesquiaht First Nation and Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council are also involved in the co-ordinated response. To date, responders have recovered more than 30 tonnes of fuel, but they need to find a way to stop the upwelling. “It’s not an easy one, and because it’s in deep water it’s more complex,” Oliver said. The vessel, which grounded on a shoal off Bligh Island before sliding into deeper water, came to rest hull up at depth of 106 to 122 metres (360 to 400 feet). That makes it the deepest wreck involving a fuel spill in Canadian waters in recent years. Resolve Marine Group, a U.S. firm that specializes in complex emergency salvage and response, was awarded a $7-million contract to technically assess the wreck of MV Schiedyk. Resolve was involved in cleanup efforts after the massive 2010 Deepwater Horizon spill in the Gulf of Mexico. In 2019, the company raised, repaired and delivered a 420-feet cargo barge in Discovery Passage. Canadian-registered Atlantic Condor serves as the ROV operations platform while a company from Newfoundland and Labrador supplies a remotely operated vehicle (ROV), essentially the eyes of the assessment. “It helps inform how we’re going to be able to get the product out,” Oliver said of this latest stage of the spill response. “We need to know what’s left and we need to know where it is.” There are three primary tasks ahead of them: Survey and seal leaks wherever possible. Assessment of the hull by ROV, which will map the thickness and integrity of the hull. Determine the location of all fuel tanks on Schiedyk and, if possible, sample remaining heavy Bunker C oil and diesel on board. Built in 1949, Schiedyk underwent a diesel conversion in 1960 and there remains some degree of uncertainty over precisely where the vessel’s fuel tanks are located. The Coast Guard consulted

Photo by Bligh Island Shipwreck Unified Command

The Atlantic Condor serves as an operations platform for ROV dives to the wreck of the MV Schiedyk. archives at Ireland’s National Museum, studying records from Harland and Wolff shipyard. Bunker C oil is more persistent in the environment than diesel, Oliver noted. The fuel is upwelling at rate of one to four litres per hour, sometimes increasing to 11 to 13 litres per hour. Fuel containment and recovery has been especially important at Bligh Island, located in an ecologically sensitive area of the coast, a migratory pathway for birds and mammals. Wildlife monitoring and sampling suggests the impact so far has been minimal. “I would say we’ve been very successful at mitigating the impact to the marine environment and wildlife,” Oliver said. “I think we had one slightly oiled mew gull.” She figures there may have been a much greater impact had the oil spread over a larger area. Mowachaht/Muchalaht members have played an instrumental role in “EU,” the Environmental Unit responsible for tasks including shoreline cleanup assessment technique (SCAT), net environmental benefit analysis and surveying resources at risk. Traditional knowledge and experience specific to the area are integrated with science, according to the Unified Command information site. Workers on site are ready to respond to any increased risk during this latest phase, having added protective booming, mobilized equipment and added monitoring in case any patching work increases upwelling from the wreck. “There is a small, increased risk when they’re down there trying to patch up the leak,” Oliver said. Wash from vessels passing by could disrupt the position of the operating platform, so it’s more important than ever that boaters stay clear of the emergency zone in Zuciarte Channel over the coming weeks, she noted. They have seen a few more boats lately. “We do have an emergency zone established,” Oliver said. “It is getting into fishery season and better weather. Try to stay away from Zuciarte Channel.”

Supplied photo

The MV Schiedyk is pictured tied up in Vancouver in the 1960s. 1968, although the captain reported difThe technical assessment could take ficulty steering as they exited the channel. a couple of weeks or more, depending Captain and crew were rescued. on weather conditions and barring any “I understand it was a foggy night,” unforeseen issues. Weather has generOliver said. “Clearly there was a course ally been favourable through the winter correction that didn’t happen.” despite the exposed location. Insurer Lloyds of London wrote off the “There haven’t been too many weather wreck and paid out the value of ship and delays,” Oliver said. There has not been a definitive explana- cargo to Holland America. tion for the freighter’s sinking in January


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April 22, 2021—Ha-Shilth-Sa—Page 15

Returning to Kelsmaht’s traditional land and territory Couple begins a new life on Vargas Island, becoming the lone occupants on the tribe’s historical village site By Melissa Renwick Local Journalism Initiative Reporter Vargas Island, BC - The tide was out in the early morning as Genevieve Mack ran towards her grandmother who was carrying a burden basket loaded with wood. While returning home on the east end of Vargas Island, they walked past a row of canoes that neatly lined Yaksis, otherwise known as a white-sandy beach. All of the old growth on the surrounding mountains remained intact and there were no speedboats driving by or airplanes buzzing overhead. “It was so peaceful,” she said. Now, when the 77-year-old travels from her home in Ahousaht past the island she feels “homesick.” As a young girl, it was normal for Mack’s family to move with the changing seasons. Their summers were spent on Vargas, and in the winter, they would canoe to Meares Island to seek protection from the nasty winds and angry waves. They were a whaling people, known for living on the ocean-side of their territory’s islands, said Nate Charlie, Mack’s son and Kelsmaht Nation’s Ha’wilth (chief). “True-blue ocean-going people,” he said. Despite continuing to be recognized as its own nation, Kelsmaht was amalgamated with Ahousaht First Nation in December of 1950. Along with Qwatswiaht, they have been operating as one nation ever since, said Charlie. Today, around one-third of Ahousaht’s members are Kelsmaht. The other Kelsmaht Ha’wiih are recognized as Eugene Atleo, Hohomyiis and Kanupit, according to Charlie. While families still return to the island to camp in August, only one remains living in the traditional summer village on Vargas. Lennie John and Marcie Callewaert relocated from Ahousaht to the quiet island in the fall of 2020, after having spent the previous four years dreaming about making the move. Their off-grid lifestyle on Vargas became a reality when they purchased a tiny wooden cabin in the spring of 2020 that was built by John’s parents in the ‘80s. “My mom and my dad put their blood, sweat and tears into that cabin,” said John. Not only does their new home connect John to his late-parents and ancestors, he said it has been a real turning point in his journey towards healing. As a child, John “served” five years at Christie Residential School on Meares Island, just across the channel from Kelsmaht. To this day, he is triggered by his memories of screaming children. Like many others, John turned to alcohol as a coping mechanism, but after suffering from health-related issues, the 52-year-old became sober two years ago. Callewaert attributes the “little place of peace” as a fundamental anchor for John to continue his healing work. “This place means the world to me,” he said. Remnants of the old village remain scattered throughout the forest behind their home – mostly metal objects, such as a penny from 1914, fishing weights and pots and pans, said Callewaert. Other than the three wolves that frequent their beachfront, no-one else occupies Yaksis. Yet, the presence of John’s ancestors remains. “When you’re there alone, you’ll hear voices,” said Callewaert.

Photos supplied by Marcie Callewaert

Marcie Callewaert and Lennie John pose for a photo in front of their home on Vargas Island. They aren’t spooky or threatening, she reassured. “It’s as if someone is having a conversation nearby,” she said. The constant “chit-chat” from his ancestors has been a surprising source of comfort for John. “It’s motivation for me,” he said. “Knowing that we’re not alone here.” Kelsmaht and Ahousaht have always been closely tied, both in proximity and in war. Ahousaht used to occupy the northwest corner of Vargas. Kelsmaht lived nearby, situated on the south end of the island, explained Dave Jacobson, an Ahousaht historian. Their relationship was solidified in the early 1800’s, when Kelsmaht and the neighbouring Qwatswiaht Nation joined Ahousaht in waging a war against Otsosaht Nation. The Megin and Atleo Rivers flowed within Otsosaht’s traditional territory and they were unwilling to share their resources, recounted Lewis George, Ahousaht’s Tyee Ha’wilth (head chief). “Every time our people would try and get some fish from the rivers, [Otsosaht] would slaughter them,” he said. The war “marked a real kinship” between Ahousaht and Kelsmaht, who were victorious as Otsosaht is no longer a recognized nation, said George. “Prior to contact, we were a confederacy,” said Jacobson. “Each nation had territory and had harvesting rights …. Marcie Callewaert and Lennie John cook a salmon kluup-chus on their Vargas but the nations worked together. It’s not Island beachfront. something that is new. It was something Paired with a limited fresh water supply herring on sticks and hanging them to dry that was always there.” and without anywhere to keep their motor over the open embers. Fast forward to the early 19th cenboats safely anchored on Vargas, families “I feasted on it for myself and then tury when a crew of Kelsmaht men and have remained in Maaqtusiis ever since, shared it with the ancestors,” said Mack. women were lost at sea. A sealing schoo“It was awesome.” ner capsized while sailing to the Aleutian said George. It’s difficult for Charlie to wrap his Just the other week, John and CalleIslands, and the tragedy left Kelsmaht head around how different the coastline waert shared in a similar tradition. With a with very few male citizens. would have looked just one generation view of Opitsaht floating in the distance, The calamity was cause for the two naago. Thinking back to his mother’s life the couple cooked a salmon kluup-chus. tions to become even closer, as Ahousaht as a young girl, he shook his head in It’s a traditional style of cooking salmon, stepped in to support the widowed bewilderment. where the fish is butterflied open and seKelsmaht women, many of whom had “It’s like a time-machine,” he said. cured between cedar sticks before being previously married into the tribe from “We’ve been put into these permanent placed in the smoke over the fire. Ahousaht. homes where we’re not traveling with the Despite having only lived on Vargas for The official amalgamation of the two food anymore. There was a lot of teachjust over six months, neither can imagine nations in the 50’s was in the federal ings and culture tied with that moveliving anywhere else. government’s interests, said Jacobson. ment.” John said he is grateful to have found By combining smaller communities with Mack still has vivid memories of at least Callewaert, who was willing to follow larger nations, it made it easier for the government to provide services to homes, seven homes that used to stand on Yaksis in his parent’s footsteps by living in the when she was 5. Instead of a smokesame space they once occupied. such as sewage and water, he said. house, her grandmother used the gathered For them, it was about “getting back to Around that time, families started movwood to light a fire on the beach. There, the basics,” said Callewaert. “And getting ing off Vargas Island to Maaqtusiis, an they would spend hours putting clams or back to the land.” Ahousaht village site on Flores Island.

Page 16— Ha-Shilth-Sa—April 22, 2021

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