Ha-Shilth-Sa Newspaper April 9, 2020

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INTERESTING NEWS Canada’s Oldest First Nations Newspaper - Serving Nuu-chah-nulth-aht since 1974 Canadian Publications Mail Product Vol. 47 - No. 07—April 9, 2020 haas^i>sa Sales Agreement No. 40047776

Ahousaht starts emergency measures Decline in Preparations underway for worst-case scenario amidst the COVID-19 pandemic cases offers ‘glimmers of hope’ By Denise Titian Ha-Shilth-Sa Reporter

Maaqtusiis, BC – With its population of about 1,000, Maaqtusiis, the name of Ahousaht’s main village on Flores Island, is the largest First Nations community on the coast of Vancouver Island. It is remote, accessible only by boat or float plane. On a normal day, it is teeming with activity. Residents travel around the village in vehicles that have been barged in; they can be seen criss-crossing the settlement most days. The elementary and high schools are usually filled with children and staff while workers in the village carry on with their day-to-day tasks. But in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic Ahousaht has grown quiet as people heed the warnings to stay at home and avoid contact with others. The Ahousaht Emergency Operations Team has jumped into action, initiating protocols to protect residents and developing new measures where needed. Curtis Dick is Ahousaht’s EOC Director. He began coordinating community meetings and dispensing information about COVID-19 in early March, before the ban on large gatherings was imposed on British Columbians by the provincial health officer. But with dire news coming in from China and Spain about the spread of COVID-19 there, and the provincial government declaring a state of emergency, Ahousaht was in a position to activate their Emergency Operations Team. According to Elected Chief Greg Louie, this means that Ahousaht could reach out to Emergency Management British Columbia for resources to help get through the crisis. Dick’s team works from a command centre located in the village fire hall. They’ve inventoried the residents, making note of those suffering with health issues, including cold or flu symptoms. “We started with 19 people that selfisolated; today there are nine with seven of those isolating due to compromised immune systems,” said Dick on April 6. The team has requested that all residents and boat owners check in when they enter or leave the village, noting the places that they went. No non-residents are permitted to come to the village unless they are essential workers, and this includes visiting family. Dick says that sanitizing products are placed at each dock so that the boat skippers can do the required cleaning of their boats after each trip. Because there is no hospital in Ahousaht, the village has a roster of first

responders who are trained in first aid and often assess patients, deciding if they need a trip to Tofino General Hospital. But now there are only four volunteer first responders willing to take the risk of home visits when needed. Dick says they are working with Tofino General Hospital, the First Nations Health Authority and the NTC nurses to develop protocols for people dealing with those exhibiting symptoms of contagious illnesses. “They go in with full PPE,” said Dick, meaning Personal Protective Equipment – they wear full gown, gloves and masks. In one case, Dick said that the first responder went to the house and stood at the door while talking to the patient. “She made a call to 811 (B.C.’s nurse help hotline) for advice,” said Dick, adding that they have received instruction from TGH that only life and death cases should be transported there. “If the patient must go to Tofino then everyone wears full PPE, even the boat driver.” He explained that we all must do our part not to overwhelm the health care system at this time. Most people are abiding by health professional’s advice to stay home and Dick believes that because they are proactive early on to protect the village, they are having success. “But, like anywhere else there are one or two that don’t follow the rules,” he said. The EOC heard reports of some people that had been partying and mingling with others, raising the risk of COVID spread. “We are in uncharted waters and we’re scared of what could happen if this came to our community,” said Dick. He noted that it was unfair to the rest of the community when there’s one or two putting them at risk. “We have a place to send them if it continues,” said Dick, adding that they haven’t had to use that facility yet. Chief Louie continues to seek support for his people. “Two weeks ago the Prime Minister announced $305 million would be going out to First Nations across Canada; we are reaching out to Indigenous Services Canada to determine how much of that will be coming to Ahousaht.” Louie noted that his council has faced challenges in finding support for its offreserve population due to government funding conditions. Ahousaht has been bringing groceries into the community in an effort to keep people at home. In addition, residents have been fishing and harvesting other resources to feed people. They have sent out food vouchers to members living in Port Alberni, Victoria and Nanaimo.

Inside this issue... Highway 4 update.......................................................Page 3 Serving the less fortunate...........................................Page 4 NAIG cancellation.....................................................Page 5 Do masks protect you from COVID-19...................Page 11 Progress at Big Bar landslide...................................Page 12

By Eric Plummer Ha-Shilth-Sa Editor

Curtis Dick “We hope that we can help our people both on and off reserve once a week,” said Louie. Louie said his nation is hoping to secure federal funding for its off-reserve people, but were told by the Indigenous Services regional director that funding for offreserve members goes to urban organizations like Friendship Centres. “But some Friendship Centres are closed (due to COVID-19 pandemic), so we are asking that funding for urban members come to the nations so we can take care of our own,” said Louie. As Ahousaht leadership continues to navigate its way through uncertain waters, Dick said his team is preparing for worst case scenarios. “We are preparing our lodge to put people there in isolation if it comes here,” he told Ha-Shilth-Sa. They also plan to use the elementary school for the same purpose if necessary. One thing that Ahousaht’s EOC cannot do is meet the emotional needs of the community. Prolonged isolation is especially difficult for a community, a culture, that revolves around togetherness. “We’ve noticed that people are starting to display anxiety,” said Louie, adding that people are struggling after being confined to their homes for several weeks. “We are a social community, there’s always something going on the beach or at the hall; now we can’t do that.” Dick said that they make an effort to knock on the windows of the elders sitting there in their homes. “It’s tough for the little ones that can’t go out to play together,” he said. “I tell everyone to take care of themselves, be safe and if you’re feeling stress or anxiety, give us a call,” said Louie. “We’re strong and we will get through this.”

Victoria, BC - The number of new coronavirus cases in British Columbia remains stable, indicating to health authorities that the province’s models for spread are on track and that social distancing measures are working. On Tuesday, April 7 Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonny Henry announced 25 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 over the previous 24-hour period, a daily total that has gradually declined over the previous two weeks. B.C. has not reported over 70 new cases of the respiratory disease since March 24. These new cases bring the province’s total to 1,291, including 79 confirmed cases on Vancouver Island – but the number of COVID-19 recoveries continues to grow, now comprising 805 of the total cases tracked in B.C. On Tuesday the province also announced four new deaths tied to COVID-19, bringing that total to 43 fatalities. Weeks into a provincial state of emergency banning gatherings of 50 or more people and urging individuals to stay home whenever possible, Henry has stressed that social distancing measures to contain the spread of the virus will continue for the coming weeks. “The risk remains high for everyone here in British Columbia,” she said. “We have to have united focus for the next while…We need to keep our firewall strong.” The most recent numbers align B.C. with models presented in late March, showing that the province is close to being in line with infection rates experienced in South Korea. With a population of 51 million, as of April 7 the Asian country had reported 10,331 coronavirus infections and 192 deaths, showing rates significantly lower than what has struck Italy and Spain. The province’s models also show a scenario that could be as bad or better than the outbreak that first hit China’s Hubei province at the end of 2019. This enables provincial health authorities to prepare for a situation where the rise in critical COVID-19 cases fills hospital beds, with 80 per cent of these patients requiring ventilators to stay alive. Continued on page 3.

If undeliverable, please return to: Ha-Shilth-Sa P.O. Box 1383, Port Alberni, B.C. V9Y 7M2


Page 2— Ha-Shilth-Sa—April 9, 2020

Kennedy Hill Construction Project falls behind Previously set for completion this summer, January’s blasting damage and the coronavirus have delayed work By Melissa Renwick Ha-Shilth-Sa Contributor Kennedy Lake, BC - The Kennedy Hill Construction Project was slated for completion in summer 2020, but the B.C. Ministry of Transportation recently announced that its end date has been pushed back to this coming winter. A controlled blast that caused a rockslide larger than expected wiped out a section of the road in late-January. The accident cut off Clayoquot Sound’s communities from the rest of the island for days and caused many residents to recognize just how dependent they are on the highway. As the grocery shelves in Tofino and Ucluelet’s Co-ops sat empty, many worried about when the delivery trucks would be able to make it across again. The Kennedy corridor is a major transport artery for the west coast of Vancouver Island and any delay is a burden on the region, said Tla-o-qui-aht Tribal Administrator Saya Masso. “We wish they’d be pushing through right now while tourism is slow.” Maintaining optimism, Masso said that hopes that the project will be completed before its new target date. “If you have to travel to Port Alberni for any type of emergency, you get an anxious feeling about encountering that construction site,” he said. Despite previously contending that the rockslide would not impede the completion date, the Ministry of Transportation has changed their tone. “Factors affecting the completion date include the fast-evolving COVID-19 pandemic, the need for more complex blasts due to variable rock, increased

B.C. Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure photo

The 1.6-kilometre stretch of highway over Kennedy Lake is undergoing extensive construction, where cliff-side blasting and excavation has been conducted daily during scheduled road closures over the winter. environmental protections and the repairs international travel. While Emil AnderIt is too soon to know how the delays to Highway 4 resulting from blasting son Construction expects to ramp up its will impact the project budget, which curdamage at the project site in January,” the blasting operations as employees return rently sits at $38.1 million. Ministry of Transportation said in a press to work, the Ministry of Transportation The announcement revealed that as release. said that the pandemic has impacted their blasting on site continues to be the key In response to COVID-19, contractor daily operations and that the developing activity, the contractor anticipates being Emil Anderson Construction had employ- situation poses the possibility of more able to shorten highway closures in the ees in isolation for 14-days following delays. next few months.

First Nations step up to help during coronavirus crisis By Denise Titian Ha-Shilth-Sa Reporter Nuu-chah-nulth territories – The COVID-19 pandemic has seen businesses forced to close and families ordered to stay home by Dr. Bonnie Henry, B.C.’s provincial health officer, leaving some struggling to get much-needed groceries and supplies. Many Nuu-chah-nulth nations have rallied to support their people. In midMarch Ahousaht Tyee Ha’wilth Maquinna announced that care packages filled with groceries would be delivered to Ahousaht’s elders living on reserve. The following week care packages were delivered to Ahousaht seniors living in Port Alberni. More care packages were delivered to families in Ahousaht, allowing them to stay home rather than risk a trip out of the village to shop for groceries. The Ahousaht Emergency Operations Centre closely monitors the comings and goings of people in the community, recording who is traveling on boats and where they have gone. They have implemented a 10:30 p.m. community curfew and most people are staying indoors. According to Ahousaht elder Wally Samuel, the nation’s elected council and hereditary chiefs are working on plans to get support to members living off of reserve. “There are more than 100 Ahousaht households in Port Alberni,” said Samuel, adding that it would be difficult to assemble that many care packages while maintaining safe social distancing.

Denise Titian photo

Tseshaht members weigh herring spawn on kelp fro distribution to elders on March 28. Vehicles lined up on the First Nation’s reserve by Maht Mahs, so that volunteers could leave packages in trunks without making contact. Tseshaht First Nation has also distributed care packages through their Crisis and Wellness program, coordinated by Gail Peterson Gus. In a March 20 press release, Hugh Braker, information officer for the Tseshaht Emergency Operations Centre, announced that the nation had declared a state of emergency. The declaration came as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic

and will remain in place until June 30, 2020 with the possibility of an extension. All public buildings, schools, daycare and administration buildings are closed. Access to Tseshaht playgrounds, cemetery and Papermill Dam Park are restricted, while hours have been reduced for the First Nation’s businesses like Tseshaht Market and the Orange Bridge Cannabis Store, as staff are practicing

social distancing. Peterson Gus says that her program has funds which are being utilized to make care packages for Tseshaht members. In addition, she has reached out to local businesses like Tseshaht Market, Double R Meats, Circle Dairy and the Buy Low supermarket for support. “There is a weekly distribution of food boxes for anyone that needs the help,” she said, adding that hundreds of care packages have already been distributed. “We exercise social distancing – only Tracy Robinson and I make the care packages, and this saves people from having to go from store to store looking for food – it’s prevention.” She went on to say that she and Robinson will continue to provide food boxes until they run out of cash. “And if that happens, I’ll find more cash – I’m good at that,” said Peterson Gus. Like the fish and seafood provided by volunteers in Ahousaht, Tseshaht has also delivered seafood; halibut to the members one week and herring spawn on kelp to elders the following week. Peterson Gus said that one Tseshaht program supported some members with funds while another supplied grocery gift cards to families with children. Other Nuu-chah-nulth nations are providing financial support to its members during the crisis. Huu-ay-aht First Nation sent its members notice that they would be receiving funds to support them in this difficult time, as did Hesquiaht First Nation.


April 9, 2020—Ha-Shilth-Sa—Page 3

Feeding the needy during COVID-19 pandemic Port Alberni’s service providers forced to make adjustments to continue delivering desperately needed support By Denise Titian Ha-Shilth-Sa Reporter Port Alberni, BC – It’s 11:00 a.m. on Tuesday, Apr. 1 and a couple of vehicles pull up to the entrance of the Salvation Army building on Argyle Street in Port Alberni. One-by-one people enter the foyer, pick up a grocery hamper then leave while a volunteer sprays down the door with disinfectant before the next person enters. John Edmondson and Captain Michael Ramsay are working together to coordinate supplies, donations, volunteers and distribution of the food to those in need. They spoke to Ha-Shilth-Sa about how their organization and others are working together to safely deliver food to people in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis. “The front doors of the Salvation Army [are] being used as an outlet for handing out food to the people,” said Edmondson. He went to say that the Bread of Life, the Canadian Mental Health Association and the Salvation Army are working together to provide cold lunches, hot meals and food hampers to those that need it in the city. Social distancing requirements have forced changes in how food is prepared and delivered to the people. “There are challenges,” said Edmondson, “most volunteers come from the senior citizen population so they need to stay home to protect themselves.” The service organization reorganized, streamlining where food is prepared and how it is handled. “The silver lining is that we came together and in a few hours came up with a plan that maximizes community resources in an efficient way,” said Edmondson. There are no longer daily meals being served, because there is a ban on seating people together for food service. Food is being dispensed in lunch bags or in food hampers. Some people walk in to get food and others drive up. On this day there were seniors and young parents that drove in to pick food up. Cyndi Stevens, Executive Director at the Port Alberni Friendship Center, says they are operating on a limited basis, and are waiting for federal relief funding to

Photo by Denise Titian

John Edmondson and Captain Michael Ramsay are working together to coordinate supplies, donations, volunteers and distribution of the food to those in need. To help with the collective effort to feed Port Alberni’s hungry, donations to the Alberni COVID-19 Community Response can be made through the group’s Facebook page. come in. She notes that there will likely be strings attached to how the funds are utilized but her limited staff are working hard to provide food and services as safely as possible and on a very limited basis. “There is nowhere in town where someone can get a free cup of coffee,” said Stevens. And that small thing means so much to the homeless population and to those that enjoy the social connection that comes with sharing a cup of coffee. “Our front door is open and we provide coffee in a careful way,” Stevens said. A staff member will hand a cup of coffee to a client in the foyer. “It feels very unfriendly but we have to do it that way or we couldn’t do it at all,” she added. The PAFC has a regular clientele of

Half of ICU beds vacant Continued from page 1. Currently 4,549 acute care beds are empty in B.C., an availability made possible by the province deferring scheduled surgeries, said Health Minister Adrian Dix. To date half of B.C.’s critical care beds are available in case they are needed for coronavirus patients. On April 7 the province reported that 138 of those with COVID-19 are hospitalized, a slight decrease from the previous week. “While we are absolutely determined to have the best results, we are preparing for the worst possible scenarios,” said Dix. “Using the likely scenario of below or at a Hubei epidemic level, using inpatient medical and surgical beds, capacity looks good focussed on using all sites.” While the number of new cases continues to ramp up in other parts of Canada and the United States, B.C.’s numbers indicate that the practice of social distancing could be working, said Henry. After a 24-per-cent rise in new cases earlier in March, transmission had slowed to 12 per cent by the end of the month. “If all of us have done our part, and I’m

starting to see some glimmers of hope, our trajectory has leveled off a bit,” said Henry. “We need to see that continue, and, of course, ideally we’d like to see it going down. We probably won’t see it going down for a while yet, but this trajectory allows us to maintain our health system.” The U.S. border needs to remain closed to non-essential travel, and those who come from outside the country must isolate for 14 days immediately, otherwise B.C.’s efforts to control the virus could be undermined, said Dix. “We have to double down on activities and we cannot allow new circumstances to get in the way of what Dr. Henry and the whole team of people in every corner of B.C. - and the 5 million participants of that team of people who live in B.C. - are doing right now,” he said. “We’re continuing to work with the federal government to press them to ensure that when people come the British Columbia, come to Canada from outside the country, that the Quarantine Act measures are put in place properly.”

homeless and marginalized people that rely on them for food. Some of the staff will cook up whatever they have on hand to feed people – it might be yogurt and fruit, or sometimes there are eggs or oatmeal to warm some bellies. “Lunches are cooked every day and boxed up for delivery,” said Stevens. They have served up spaghetti, chili and shepherd’s pie with salad. “There’s not enough for everyone but we’re trying,” said Stevens. Captain Ramsay of the Salvation Army expects that there will be an increased demand for food services as people are laid off or can’t otherwise get food. “We have regulars we see at the Bread of Life, but as access to secure food decreases, we start to see new faces coming in for hampers,” he said. The service organizations are using two kitchens with a volunteer crew of about 10 to 12 people that prepare the meals and build the food hampers. They welcome any donation of food. “We are working to get the numbers of First Nations in town, including homeless Indigenous people; we hope to be able to make efficient use of resources by combining resources,” Ramsay said. In addition to dispensing food donations, both the Salvation Army and the PAFC are working on delivering hampers to people that can’t leave their homes. Elderly people, those with compromised immune systems and the handicapped are a few examples of people forced to stay at home. To follow the provincial social distancing and isolation requirements, it would be best if people stayed home and had food delivered to their doors, but this is not possible for the homeless population, who often lived clustered together somewhere outdoors. “We need to keep people safe, but still fed,” said Ramsay. Stevens has been extremely busy at the PAFC on the phone searching for funding to deliver much-needed food and services to clients. Her staff has been greatly reduced due to forced layoffs as a result of

the COVID-19 pandemic. “We had to shut down many groups due to the strict rules around close quarters,” she said. Her existing staff has had to find new ways to move around the building to maintain social distance. The PAFC continues to deliver some services by phone, including legal advocacy and mental health and addictions. “We know that some people don’t have phones so we allow them to use the lobby phone to speak to staff members, and then the phone is disinfected after each use,” shared Stevens. The PAFC daycare has had to reconfigure it services and hours. “We have 10 short-term spaces available for essential services workers,” said Stevens. Contact the PAFC to register; the daycare hours during this period of time are 8:30 a.m.to 4:00 p.m. Stevens is concerned for her elders working in the Daycare. “There are lots of people feeling isolated; elders are super lonely,” she noted. Stevens hopes to set up a video conferencing service for her elders who teach the Nuu-chah-nulth language so that they can communicate remotely with the daycare children they so desperately miss. “People’s spirits are fairly good,” said Stevens. “People seem most concerned about the unknown – that is the most stressful thing to think about.” The PAFC has also reduced its hours from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Legal advocates at the PAFC can assist clients with residential tenancy matters, Employment Insurance applications, grant applications and rental subsidies. Stevens says that she hopes the PAFC can deliver more in the coming weeks when anticipated federal funding arrives. To help with the collective effort to feed Port Alberni’s hungry, donations to the Alberni COVID-19 Community Response can be made through the group’s Facebook page. So far over $10,000 has been raised towards the group’s $100,000 goal.


Page 4— Ha-Shilth-Sa—April 9, 2020 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: $35.00 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 Audio / Video Technician Mike Watts (Ext. 238) (250) 724-5757 Fax: (250) 723-0463 mike.watts@nuuchahnulth.org Editorial Assistant Holly Stocking (Ext. 302) (250) 724-5757 - Fax:(250) 723-0463 holly.stocking@nuuchahnulth.org

DEADLINE: Please note that the deadline for submissions for our next issue is April 17, 2020 After that date, material submitted and judged appropriate cannot be guaranteed placement but, if material is still relevant, will be included in the following issue. In an ideal world, submissions would be typed rather than hand-written. Articles can be sent by e-mail to holly.stocking@nuuchahnulth.org (Windows PC). Submitted pictures must include a brief description of subject(s) and a return address. Pictures with no return address will remain on file. Allow two - four weeks for return. Photocopied or faxed photographs cannot be accepted.

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Stop the spread, act like you have the virus B.C. cases increase daily, but most have recovered and are cleared from isolation By Eric Plummer Ha-Shilth-Sa Editor Vancouver, BC - Medical officials in B.C. are advising people to behave as if they have the coronavirus in order to maintain measures to hold back a storm of infections currently affecting other areas. On Tuesday, April 7 the province announced 25 additional confirmed cases of COVID-19 over the previous 24-hour period, with four more fatalities. On Monday, April 6 the province tracked 37 new infections over the previous day. While new cases are continuing to arise since the province began introducing measures to mitigate the spread of the virus over three weeks ago, transmission has not surged like in other provinces recently. On April 8 Ontario reported 550 new cases, including 21 additional deaths related to the respiratory illness that has not medical cure. Now British Columbia has a total of 1,291 confirmed cases, including 79 on Vancouver Island, with 43 fatalities. But the positive news is that most of these cases have recovered, and these affected individuals have been cleared for release from isolation. In her daily media announcement B.C. Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonny Henry advised people to be steadfast in preventing highly infectious disease from spreading. Recommended measures include staying at home whenever possible, keeping a minimum six-foot distance from others while out in public, frequently washing hands and avoiding touching the face, as the coronavirus is transmitted by water droplets from an infected person. “We really are in a critical juncture right now in B.C.,” said Dr. Henry of the next two weeks. “We are not through the storm yet, we have not yet reached our peak.” While more than 3,000 people are being tested for COVID-19 each day in B.C., not everyone with symptoms are advised to be screened. Currently testing is being focused on those at the highest risk, such as long-term care residents, or health

FNHA photo

Dr. Nel Wieman, the First Nations Health Authority’s senior medical officer. care workers. Those with mild symptoms you transmit the virus to yourself.” are recommended to isolate at home for An order prohibiting gatherings of 50 14 days to prevent transmission, leaving or more people remains in place, but Dr. the likelihood that the provincial figures Henry believes that even small groups indicate a fraction of the total number of bring the risk of transmission. infections in B.C. “It doesn’t mean that you can have 49 The First Nations Health Authority people at a house party,” she said. “Those is urging people to avoid crowds, and are the situations that caused this virus recommends holding funerals or other to spread, and it’s going to spread to gatherings through virtual means or on a the people that are closest to us. I need very small scale. people to understand that small groups “The single most important message is inside are a risk. We need to maintain for people to act as if they already have those physical distances, particularly in COVID-19, so that they take care in the coming weeks so that we can break their behavior to not transmit the virus those chains of transmission in our comto the people they love, friends, family, munities.” people in their community,” said Dr. Nel As these measures continue in April, Wieman, FNHA senior medical officer, mental and spiritual health among First in a video posted online by the health Nations communities has become a topic authority. “People can be walking around of discussion. Dr. Wieman advises indifeeling completely well, or just having viduals to not spend every waking momild symptoms while they actually are ment online, but to take time doing things positive for COVID-19.” that will help to lower their anxiety. “COVID-19 is not an airborne agent,” “Dedicate some hours a day to activishe continued. “In a carrier it quickly ties that make you feel good,” she said, falls to the ground or ends up on surfaces noting that these could be drumming, that are touched. Why we’re asking peobeading, yoga or just practicing mindfulple to do things like frequently washing ness. “We will get through this if we stay your hands, trying not touch your face, connected to one another, support one is because your hands may have touched another, and help each other maintain and surfaces that other people carrying the build our resilience through this period of virus may have touched, and in that way time.”

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April 9, 2020—Ha-Shilth-Sa—Page 5

Athletes disappointed with NAIG cancellation North American Indigenous Games is now scheduled for summer 2021 in Halifax due to coronavirus concerns By Sam Laskaris Ha-Shilth-Sa Contributor Nanaimo, BC – Bryce Amos was eagerly anticipating the 2020 lacrosse season. The 17-year-old, a member of the Ehattesaht First Nation, was expected to play his first season of junior lacrosse. Amos was hoping to suit up at the Junior B level for the Nanaimo Timbermen. Amos, who lives in Nanaimo with his mother Kelly, was also among those who were expecting to be named to the British Columbia boys’ under-19 lacrosse squad that was to compete at the North American Indigenous Games (NAIG), which were to be held in Halifax and surrounding communities this summer. But due to COVID-19 concerns, not only is the start of Amos’ junior career in limbo, this year’s NAIG have also been cancelled. The plan right now is to stage the multi-sport Indigenous games in the Nova Scotia capital in the summer of 2021. Amos had hoped to be named to the provincial squad at its final tryout camp. Those tryouts, which were supposed to be in Kelowna in late March, were cancelled. “I kind of felt disappointed,” said Amos, a Grade 11 student at John Barsby Community School in Nanaimo. “I think I would have had a good chance to make the team.” Amos was hoping to be one of several Nuu-chah-nulth athletes that were expected to be named to various NAIGbound provincial teams. This list would have included 19-yearold basketball player Tamia Edgar, a member of the Ditidaht First Nation. Edgar, who lives in Vancouver, would have in all likelihood played a key role for the B.C. girls’ under-19 team at the NAIG. Edgar said she was disappointed once she discovered the squad’s final tryouts and the NAIG were cancelled. “I was pretty bummed out because I was doing a lot of practicing,” she said. She was one of 16 players in the running to be named to the provincial club. The final roster of 12 individuals was to be named following a camp, which was set for March 14-16 in Kelowna. While COVID-19 has created worldwide uncertainty, Edgar was surprised organizers cancelled NAIG, an event that was four months away. The Games were scheduled to be held July 12-18. “I was pretty shocked about that,” she said. “But I understood it as I live in one of the cities shutting down everything.” Edgar’s disappointment over the NAIG cancellation was even greater since this marked her final year of eligibility for the Games. But NAIG organizers have already indicated they are willing to change their age groupings and allow those who would have been in their final year of eligibility to take part in the 2021 Games. “My mother let me know that they are letting people who were maxing out this year go for next year,” she said. “I was happy about that. So I’m keeping up with my training now.” Edgar’s late father Jason was a member of the Ditidaht First Nation. Her mother Nicole McIntosh is a member of the Hesquiaht First Nation. Amos, who played Midget lacrosse in Nanaimo last season, has no idea when the Timbermen might be able to resume training. The squad had just one practice before

Submitted photos

Ditidaht member Tamia Edgar (taking shot on left, above) was expected to play a key role on the B.C. girls’ under-19 basketball team at the NAIG. Bryce Amos (below), who is hoping to play Junior B lacrosse this season with the Nanaimo Timbermen, was also aiming to represent B.C. at the now cancelled North American Indigenous Games. its season was placed on hold. The team, which competes in the BC Junior B Tier 1 Lacrosse League, was originally scheduled to begin its regular season in late April. Amos said trying to stay in shape and ready for when, or if, the 2020 lacrosse season will resume, has proven to be difficult. “My mom is concerned about me going anywhere outside,” said Amos, who lives in a Nanaimo townhouse with no backyard with his mother Kelly. Amos’ father Bruce Lucas is a member of the Hesquiaht First Nation.

Amos is hoping the Timbermen will not be sidelined for much longer. “Hopefully in a month or so we can start up again,” he said. If that does indeed happen, Amos believes there could be a period of adjustment players will need to go through because of their recent inactivity. “Everybody is going to need to get used to playing again,” he said. As for Edgar, she is trying to make the best of her situation and stay in shape. Edgar, a 5-foot-8 forward, had graduated from Britannia Secondary School in Vancouver in June of 2019.

She spent this past basketball season playing with a Vancouver-based Indigenous squad called All My Relations. She had also been working full time in childcare but that position is now on hold. To keep in shape, Edgar said she runs five-kilometre routes through Vancouver streets three times a week. Plus, she has downloaded an app which provides her with daily basketball challenges. Though she does not have a backboard and basket, she is able to work on suggested dribbling drills on her back patio.


Page 6— Ha-Shilth-Sa—April 9, 2020

With summer season under threat, the Indigenous tourism indu After a few years of strong growth, businesses fear collapse as COVID-19 threatens the 2020 season By Sam Laskaris Ha-Shilth-Sa Contributor Vancouver, BC – How quickly things change. Just a few short months ago, many Indigenous business owners from coast to coast to coast were preparing for what they were hoping would be another successful year. The Indigenous tourism industry in Canada was growing at an impressive rate. “During the last three years regular tourism in Canada was growing 13-14 per cent,” said Keith Henry, the CEO of the Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada. “But (Indigenous tourism) was growing at about 25 per cent during that same comparative time.” But now Henry is warning without some financial support in the near future the entire Indigenous tourism industry across the country could collapse. That’s because all but a few of the 1,900 Indigenous-owned businesses in Canada have already been forced to close their doors because of COVID-19 concerns. Extended closures will in all likelihood result in the permanent loss of many of these businesses. ITAC officials believe if the entire Indigenous tourism season is lost for 2020, that as many as 40,000 people who work at these businesses will lose their entire income for the year. Henry believes the day when many Indigenous businesses declare they will close up shop for good is fast approaching. “We’re getting close to it,” he said. “I think we’re 30-60 days away from the point of no return.” But there is still some hope. The federal government has announced various plans of how they are trying to help during these unprecedented challenging times by offering some assistance through programs like Employment Insurance, wage subsidies and work-sharing ventures. Funding is also available nationally via business loans through the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) and Export Development Canada (EDC). “A lot of (Indigenous) businesses would have limited success applying to those programs,” Henry said. “We have done very little business with them.” A large number of Indigenous businesses across Canada are relatively new and haven’t yet shown any profits. As a result, they would not be eligible for BDC or EDC loans that are being offered. Henry said many Indigenous businesses have primarily dealt with the National Aboriginal Capital Corporations Association (NACCA). This association is a network comprised of about 60 Indigenous financial institutions. Thus, Henry believes Indigenous businesses would best be served by having federal funding distributed through NACCA. Henry said many Indigenous businesses need money – not loans – now in order to survive. ITAC is doing its share by announcing it has created a $1.2 million stimulus grant fund. This money will enable 140 Indigenous businesses to each receive $25,000 grants. “We don’t want these businesses to disappear,” Henry said. “We’re trying to do what we can for these businesses.” He’s is calling on federal officials to immediately top up this funding. ITAC officials are hoping the federal government steps up to increase funding for its stimulus grant fund by $2.3 million, for a total of $3.5 million. This funding would provide

some immediate relief for Indigenous businesses that are deemed to be most at risk of going under. In previous years ITAC has offered $10,000 grants in the fall to various Indigenous businesses. Henry added ITAC is doing what it can by boosting the amount of these grants, and offering them in the

Keith Henry coming weeks instead of the fall. For some time now Henry has been in daily contact with officials from Indigenous Services Canada and with representatives for Melanie Joly, the minister of Economic Development and Official Languages, stressing the importance of getting immediate funding to Indigenous business owners. “I’m hopeful,” Henry said. “But I’m losing hope by the day. It feels like it’s lost its sense of urgency.” A prime example of an individual on the verge of losing everything is Tseshaht First

A popular windsurfing campground park on Nitinaht Lake is just one of the numerous Indigenous busin start opening up again. She is debating Bryan Cofsky, the CEO of the DDC, whether she wants to continue operatsaid 42 people were employed at the park ing the Secluded Wellness Centre as the and campsite in 2019. thought of offering massages sounds ter“We were hoping to push it to 50 people rifying to her now. this year,” he said, adding the campsite “I am so scared to touch anybody,” she had been expanded to accommodate 120 said. “I don’t know if I want to touch sites. strangers.” Besides those who had various duties As for Chims Guest House, running the campsite, others were emall of the reservations she had ployed at the park in numerous capacifor coming months have been ties including water taxi drivers, shuttle cancelled. operators, gardeners and working at a “All of my bookings were general store. Seasonal businesses usually from places like Germany, the runs from May through September. United Kingdom, England and Cofsky said the businesses collectively Australia,” she said. make about $150,000 per month. So People have varying opinions several hundreds of thousands of dollars how quickly the economy, which is currently being battered, will rebound after businesses eventually start to reopen. Nicholson believes Chims Guest House would continue to suffer even if it does once again somehow manage to open its doors. “I don’t think a lot of people are going to travel (to other countries),” she said. “I think you’re going to see a lot of Naomi Nicholson, pictured with husband Ed staycations.” Nation member Naomi Nicholson, who As a result, Nicholson said she would be owns not one but two Indigenous businessforced to try and target Canadians to stay es. For more than eight years Nicholson has at her guest house. If that were to happen, operated the Secluded Wellness Centre, an Nicholson is wondering how many people award-winning business that specializes in that are travelling - but still conscious of massages. And since July of 2018, Nicholthe cleanliness of where they are visiting son has also operated Chims Guest House, - would be willing to stay at her facility which offers an Indigenous-themed experiinstead of a brand-name hotel. ence for its visitors. “Are they going to trust a local Indigenous On Monday, March 30, Nicholson made entrepreneur?” Nicholson asked. a heart-wrenching video of what life is like Another Nuu-chah-nulth business currentnow that she has closed both of her busily suffering losses due to forced COVID-19 nesses and has no income coming in. The closures is the Ditidaht Economic Developvideo, which is slightly more than four ment Corporation (DDC), the economic minutes long, can be viewed here: arm of the Ditidaht First Nation. It was anhttps://www.facebook.com/naomileeenounced on March 19 that the First Nation able/videos/10163265401545542/ was indefinitely closing a number of its of“It took a lot for me to do that video and fices, including its administration location, lay it out on the table,” said Nicholson, as well as its Windsurfer Park and Campwho lives with her husband Ed and her two site on Nitinaht Lake. The First Nation also adult step-children. operates a visitor centre for the West Coast Nicholson is uncertain what her life will Trail and a number of businesses along the Dezrae Frank (above) listens carefully to instructions on ho be like even when businesses eventually route. a safe ride on the zip line at West Coast WILD in the Tla-o-


April 9, 2020—Ha-Shilth-Sa—Page 7

tourism industry requires immediate funding to avoid collapse

Photo by Rebecca Page

ne of the numerous Indigenous businesses closed indefinitely because of COVID-19 issues. The Tla-o-qhi-aht’s Best Western Tin Wis in Tofino has been closed for visitors since mid-March. would be lost if the businesses are unable to open this year. Even if some do eventually get the green light to lay out the welcome mats, Cofsky does not anticipate business to be as brisk as previous years. He fears visitors from abroad will be reluctant to travel. “We have a lot of bookings coming from the States,” Cofsky said. “They’re in a lot worse shape than us right now (with COVID-19 cases).” Cofsky estimated about 30 per cent of the money coming in during recent years for Ditidaht businesses at the park and along the trail was from the American market. An additional 40 per cent was from the international market.

Photo by Denise Titian

efully to instructions on how to make the most of West Coast WILD in the Tla-o-qui-aht’s tribal park.


Page 8— Ha-Shilth-Sa—April 9, 2020

Submitted photo

Corey Anderson’s mini longhouse is about one foot wide by one-and-a-half feet and about eight inches tall. The roof of the longhouse opens wide to show the inside with a fire pit and a bench.

Man builds a miniature Tseshaht longhouse replica By Karly Blats Ha-Shilth-Sa Contributor Port Alberni, BC - With access to the Tseshaht Longhouse unavailable during the COVID-19 pandemic, a Tseshaht man has built a miniature replica of the facility where he’s made many lasting memories. Corey Anderson said it’s always been in the back of his mind to build a Nuu-chahnulth doll house, but his idea finally came to fruition after adding some upgrades to his son’s bedroom. “I figured I needed to do something for my daughter too,” Anderson said. “I got a bunch of scrap wood I’ve been saving up and now I finally had the time to do it.” The mini longhouse is about one foot wide by one-and-a-half feet and about eight inches tall. The roof of the longhouse opens wide to show the inside with a fire pit and a bench. Anderson said his five-year-old daughter Annika loves her new longhouse and so does her big brother Odis. Anderson frequents the Tseshaht

Longhouse, using the space for drumming practice on Tuesday nights. He said he’s been missing the facility since the COVID-19 pandemic has caused social distancing. “Just when I was going to open the longhouse again for practice on Tuesdays we couldn’t anymore so I improvised I guess,” Anderson said. Anderson said he’s shared a lot of great moments in the Tseshaht Longhouse with his friends and that he believes people are really missing the space right now. “Every week it’s something new, new people show up. There’s always a good healthy group of people and you have such a good sleep after you go and practice,” he said. “There’s lots of people who post online about just needing that culture but they can’t. It’s not the same when you’re online as it is when you’re with a group of people in person.” With lots of scrap wood remaining, Anderson joked that maybe making mini longhouses will be his new hobby. “I’ll sell them at a craft fair or something,” he said with a laugh.

Photo by Denise Titian

Members of the Pacheedaht and Ditidaht First Nations launched a canoe for Tribal Journeys in 2019, the first time in decades the Pacheedaht participated in the annual event. This summer’s Tribal Journeys event that was scheduled to end in Nanaimo has been cancelled.

Tribal Journeys cancelled By Eric Plummer Ha-Shilth-Sa Editor Nanaimo, BC - A canoe journey that attracts participation from multiple Nuuchah-nulth groups as a well as numerous other First Nations on the West Coast each summer has been cancelled amid concerns of spreading the coronavirus. The hosting Snuneymuxw First Nation announced on Thursday, April 2 that the Tribal Journeys event, which was scheduled for July 27-Aug. 1 in Nanaimo, would not be taking place due to the risk of transmitting the virus that causes COVID-19, a respiratory disease that currently has no medical cure. “Covid-19 poses a serious threat to the health and well-being of paddlers, Canoe Families and First Nations across the Pacific North West,” said Snuneymuxw First Nation Chief Mike Wyse. “Given the enormous health and safety risk to participants of Tribal Journeys 2020, we

have decided that it is in the best interest of everyone that Snuneymuxw cancel hosting Tribal Journeys this year. As summer and the warm weather approaches, it remains to be seen if Nuuchah-nulth and other West Coast First Nations will gather for any traditional canoe journeys. Currently the Snuneymuxw First Nation is stressing the need for all to follow the directives from B.C.’s provincial health officer against gatherings and being within six feet of one another. “It is a way for our culture and tradition to be shared with the world,” said Wyse of the Tribal Journeys event. “While large gatherings is our custom, the health risk due to COVID-19 is substantial and we cannot bring thousands of people together for a number of days with the presence of the pandemic. The long-term impacts of COVID-19 is unknown and we must err on the side of caution to protect everyone.”

Phrase of the week - his^uk%a+nis^ %uus^ya wiiqmis%is^ %aani>%at Pronounced ‘hish shook alt nisg oohs ya wiiq mish ish ah mii ilth aut’, this means ‘we are all suffering together, its no fun to be alone’. Supplied by čiisma.

Ivy Cargill-Martin Illustration


April 9, 2020—Ha-Shilth-Sa—Page 9

Feds deem fish farms essential, adjust operations Aquaculture operators see demand continue, as drop in restaurant market is made up by an increase in retail By Eric Plummer Ha-Shilth-Sa Editor Tofino, BC - Measures to slow the spread of the coronavirus have put millions of Canadians out of work, while businesses close operations under government orders against crowds and close contact. But fish farms continue to operate, as they have been designated an essential service to ensure food supply chains remain unbroken. On the west coast of Vancouver Island aquaculture operations continue, but companies have had to adapt to minimize the risks of spreading the highly contagious virus. Trips by boat and crew vehicles have increased to cut down on the number of passengers and their vicinity to each other in each vessel. Managing over a dozen farm sites, Cermaq is the largest aquaculture operator in Clayoquot Sound. Twice as many employees are now driving to the company’s facility in Tofino instead of riding on the crew vehicle, and more buses are being used to thin out passengers during transportation from Port Alberni to the work site in Tofino. “We’ve increased the crew bus runs that have allowed us to achieve an 80-95 per cent reduction in our staff riding those buses,” said Cermaq Canada Managing Director David Kiemele. “We’ve reduced people in crew boats by 50-70 per cent, we have also increased the crew boat runs per week by 120 per cent, and we have doubled the amount of boats that we are utilizing.” Creative Salmon has also adjusted how it transports workers to its sites near Tofino. Limits have been imposed on the number of people travelling to work together in vans and boats. “Staff used to move among our four sea sites helping with tasks as workload demanded, but this practice has changed,” said Creative Salmon general manager Tim Rundle in a press release. Grieg Seafood, which farms Atlantic salmon in Nootka Sound, Esperanza Inlet and other locations on the east side of Vancouver Island, is no longer using crew boats or vans to transport its workers to remote sites. Now employees use personal transportation to Gold River, then board smaller boats designed for each farm site. “Previously the farms were close enough where workers might go from one farm to another farm,” said Grieg’s Managing Director Rocky Boschman. “We’ve stopped that now. When people go out to a farm, they’re isolated only on

Cermaq photo

A Cermaq employee gets ready for a shift in the company’s processing plant. Aquaculture operators are seeing demand continue during the COVID-19 crisis, as a drop in the restaurant market is made up by increase in retail. “There’s growing opportunity for that farm for their entire shift.” someone is going to come to work and Canada to ship towards there, especially “The number of staff on many farms has infect multiple people.” as they start to recover from their virus been reduced to essential levels,” noted Kiemele and some other Cermaq situation quicker than we’re recovering. Shawn Hall, communications manager employees are working from home, but As things get back to normal in Asia, it for the BC Salmon Farmers Association. many staff whose duties are in processwill certainly help us,” he said. “We’re “Rather than one week on, one week off, ing plants, warehouses, hatcheries or on working every single day really, really some farmers have gone to two weeks ocean pens are still heading out to sites. on, two weeks off in order to minimize These workers are being paid an essential hard to try to get the salmon to the market, but the market is there.” contact during transportation.” services premium, said Kielele, adding As much as 40 per cent of Cermaq’s “We have implemented cleaning and there have been no layoffs to date. employees on the West Coast are Indigdisinfection procedures across all living Daily lunches have been added to enous, a reality that has led the comareas,” added Kiemele. “That includes the breakfasts that were already being pany to be in daily communication with a minimum twice-a-day wash down and provided to ensure workers at Cermaq’s Ahousaht leadership as the First Nation sanitization of all crew vessels.” Tofino facility don’t need to venture into works to prevent COVID-19 from reachGrieg Seafood has groups of two or the community. ing its Flores Island community. three staff who normally stay on a farm “The food that people require to see “I personally have spoken to Maquinna site for an eight-day stint. The company them through the course of the day can a few times about this,” noted Kiemele has introduced more stringent standards all be found within our four walls,” said of his contact with the Ahousaht Tyee for the shared kitchens. Kiemele. “It eliminates the need for our Ha’wilth. “We are very much following “People are cleaning more rigorously employees to go into town to find food.” their leadership in terms of what they than they did before, they have the prodAs a measure to prevent gathering and need to do to keep their village safe.” ucts on the farm to clean the common transmission of the coronavirus, restauAs a remote community, Ahousaht areas,” said Boschman. “We’ve really rants across B.C. have been ordered by residents normally rely on venturing to just tried to reduce the possibility that the provincial health officer to provide Tofino or other Vancouver Island centres take-out only. Salmon farmers are seeing for supplies. But the ongoing risk of conthis reflected in what sort of packaging tracting the coronavirus makes such trips and cuts their purchasers demand. a hazard, so care packages are being sent “The markets have changed,” said GATEWAY TO THE PACIFIC RIM to the Flores Island community. Cermaq Hall. “You’re seeing a lot less demand, recently contributed to this initiative with obviously, from restaurants now, but 2,000 cans of seafood from St. Jean’s demand from retail outlets has actually Cannery in Nanaimo. increased.” “We’re also supporting a broader proCermaq normally sells 35 per cent of its gram to ensure Ahousaht has the means salmon to Canadian buyers, with 60 per to deliver care packages to all of its memcent going to the United States and the bers,” said Kiemele. remaining 5 per cent to Asian markets. Creative Salmon has also pledged to The volume of demand has remained stable during the pandemic, said Kiemele. adjust its business according to the needs of the Tla-qui-aht First Nation, as the “Japan has recently been requesting adcompany manages fish farms in their ditional volume, because I think they’re territory. further along on flattening the curve,” he “We have reached out to Tla-o-qui-aht said. leadership and we will adjust operations Asia accounts for 15 per cent of Grieg’s Hours of operation - 7:00 am - 10:30 pm as needed to support the nation’s needs,” customers, a market where Boschman Phone: 724-3944 sees opportunity as new COVID-19 cases said Rundle. E-mail: claudine@tseshahtmarket.ca decline in China and elsewhere in the east. Find us on Facebook

TSESHAHT MARKET


Page 10— Ha-Shilth-Sa—April 9, 2020

The president’s message to Nuu-chah-nulth-aht March was one the most worrisome one of our lives as we all fight to keep COVID-19 from our communities. People have been describing the month as unprecedented and never before seen, bringing the world economy to its knees. My thoughts and prayers are with all of you for your continued health and strength to take care of your elders, disabled, children and all our people. I know many of our communities are taking various actions to stop the spread of the virus including only allowing members into the community, asking people to not leave except for groceries or medical. Some communities are providing money to members to help buy extra groceries and supplies, others are providing supplies themselves to cut down on the number of people going to grocery stores. Many are preparing in case the virus does come into the community. Some of our Maa-nulth Nations have passed emergency laws, many have declared states of emergency, and some are working with Emergency Management BC, First Nations Health Authority and ISC to update their emergency response plans for a pandemic of this size and seriousness. Let me assure you that our leaders and emergency response teams are doing everything they can to stop the spread of the virus. I can only repeat what the Prime Minister, Minister of Health and Provincial Health Officer tells us every day. We have to do everything in our power as individuals to help stop the spread of this virus in our families, homes, and communities. Lives are at stake. • Stay at least six feet away from others inside or outside • Wash your hands thoroughly for 20 seconds with soap and water OFTEN (you don’t need hand sanitizer if you have soap and water) • Cough or sneeze into your arm or a Kleenex • Disinfect frequently-touched surfaces (including mobile devices, remote controls, doorknobs) regularly throughout the day • NO social gatherings with anyone from outside your home • Stay home as much as possible to prevent exposure to the virus; and • Self-isolate for 14 days if you have any symptoms of illness or if you have returned from out of the country. • Stay in contact with family and friends over phone, computer and social media make sure they are all ok. • Pray and send good energy to our people and the people of the world • Get outside where you can enjoy our world but stay away from people The hardest part for all of us is staying away from each other’s home where we visit frequently, attend feasts and funerals. We must do so for now. This is for a time in our lives, and at some point, we can go back to our lives as we knew them. The federal government has provided money to First Nations: $215 Million to all across Canada and $41 million into B.C. This money has already gone out to your First Nations to help with this health crisis. This money can be used to prepare and react to the spread of COVID-19 and includes things like support for elders and vulnerable community members, measures to address food insecurity, educational and other support for children, mental health assistance, emergency response services and preparedness mea-

Community&Beyond Memorial Potlach Suicide Peer Support Group

May 16

First Thursday, Monthly

Lake Cowichan

Port Alberni The Memorial Potlach for our Father and Hereditary Chief Sha e’ Lum, Cyril Edward Livingstone has currently been postponed. Contact Lake Cowichan First Nation at (250) 749-3301 for information.

sures to prevent the spread of COVID-19. For Nuu-chah-nulth living off reserve, check into getting help with rent, reduce hydro bills, employee assistance and other financial relief. Different sectors of the economy have been provided with funds to help businesses struggling, such as Indigenous Tourism. Keep yourself updated and informed. Mariah Charleson, our new VP, and I had a call with Minister Scott Fraser this week and will do so weekly as we update him on Nuu-chah-nulth needs. He will update us on any provincial initiatives we can access. I had a call with the fisheries minister and she wanted to know what Nuu-chahnulth needed. I said continued access to fish and all our sea resources that are available at this time of the year, as well as money to send out to our fisherman. We have a rich ocean that can supply us with food and we need to use that as much as we can. NTC offices are closed until further notice so that we can protect our employees, their families and communities from exposure to the virus. We continue to do our work from home, essentials services continue to operate in different ways, and we continue to advance the interests of Nuu-chah-nulth. We felt it important to heed the Prime Minister and health officers and stay home. Let me know if there is anything politically I or our VP can intervene on. I wanted to thank all those that are working in our Nuu-chah-nulth communities to help our members, to provide services and information. We need to stay informed and not allow fear to take hold. We will do everything we can to stop the spread of the virus and look after those who need it. I also want to extend my thanks to those leaders across the country that are working for First Nations people. Thanks to the people at grocery stores, pharmacies, gas stations, collecting garbage and providing essential services. A really big heartfelt thanks to those doctors, nurses, care workers, administrators, janitors that are working in hospitals and other care facilities to look after those who have been affected with the virus and are working to ramp up services if they are needed. We cannot thank you enough for your time, your labours, your caring, and putting yourselves at risk for us. The Nuu-chah-nulth say a big Klecko, Klecko. Take good care of yourselves and your families. Every one of you is important to our Nation. With lots of caring and respect, Kekinusuqs

The KUU-US Crisis Line Society holds a Suicide Peer Support Group Meeting on the first Thursday of each month at the KUU-US Office location. 4589 Adelaide St, Port Alberni.

henna artist By Aleesha Sharma Book your henna session for community events, weddings, birthday parties, school events or any special event.

Phone: 250-730-1262 or 250-720-3096 E-mail: aleesha_sharma1@hotmail.com


April 9, 2020—Ha-Shilth-Sa—Page 11

‘Virtual Doctor’ pressed into service amid pandemic New telehealth program could prove vital for First Nations as patients are advised to avoid in-person contact By Mike Youds Ha-Shilth-Sa Contributor Vancouver, BC - A telehealth program newly available in Nuu-chah-nulth communities may prove invaluable during the COVID-19 pandemic. First Nations Health Authority has developed the First Nations Virtual Doctor of the Day program over the last seven years with the primary aim of providing medical advice to residents in remote areas of the province. With many people self-isolating or quarantining to prevent spread of the virus and only the most essential visits allowed to Island Health facilities, video conferencing technology that enables remote consultation could be indispensable to rural and urban residents alike. “We’re almost in equal circumstances,” said Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council President Judith Sayers, who has been self-isolating at home since NTC offices were closed March 20. Telehealth is the delivery of health-care service through live, interactive videoconferencing. Sayers said FNHA has been working on the program, which has been gradually rolled out in B.C. communities since 2015. “Getting advice over a computer or a phone is not ideal, but when you don’t have anything else? I think it’s very important,” Sayers said. “In the new normal, we have to try to be innovative.” Megan Hunt, FNHA director of primary care, outlined the program to NTC directors and leadership last week. “As you all know, the COVID-19 situ-

FNHA photo

First Nations Health Authority staff put the telehealth program to use. Clients can book an appointment by calling 1-855-344-3800 any day of the week, 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. a health care provider can have better ation has meant an interruption to many access to the First Nations Doctor of the health services operations, meaning Day program.” community members may not be able to receive or deliver the primary health Even in larger coastal communities, care that is needed,” Hunt wrote. “The isolation from physician services is an goal of the First Nations Virtual Doctor everyday reality. Anyone in Ahousaht in of the Day program is to provide virtual need of a doctor takes a water taxi to Toprimary health care support to First Nafino “and hopefully the weather is good,” tions citizens and communities, as well as Sayers said. If it’s an emergency requirhealth care providers.” ing Medivac services, they have to hope Clients can book an appointment by the weather allows a helicopter flight. calling 1-855-344-3800 any day of the If someone in Nuchalaht needs to visit week, 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. a doctor, it means a two- to three-hour Virtual Doctor is not meant to replace a drive to Campbell River. client’s existing pathway to a family doc“I think a lot of it is wishful thinking tor or community nurse practitioner, Hunt with doctors in a community,” Saystressed. ers said. “Medical service is definitely “We strongly encourage people who do limited.” have an existing relationship with a docHealth care during the COVID-19 tor or nurse practitioner to contact their pandemic has had to adapt as the novel provider first,” Hunt said. “This practice coronavirus spread, knowledge grew of will help ensure those patients without its characteristics and responses evolved.

On March 20, Island Health announced it would allow only essential visits to its facilities, specifically limiting it to patients who are critically ill, patients receiving end-of-life care or frail patients who need an escort or family member for safety. Even those who fit the categories must pass screening criteria. They cannot have travelled outside of Canada in the last 14 days and must not have a cough, runny nose, fever, sore throat or shortness of breath. Containment of the highly communicable virus is the goal. It’s equally critical that it not be spread to health care providers. “They don’t want people turning up at hospital emergency rooms wondering about symptoms and risking exposure of others to the virus,” Sayers said. Telehealth appointments are generally held at local health centres, although that may change due to COVID-19 precautions. Virtual Doctor uses a software application called Zoom. Anyone who has used Skype or FaceTime — software that allows video chats and voice calls between computers — will find the program similar. Virtual Doctor of the Day obviously can’t do a physical examination, but the health practitioner at the other end can engage the client in conversation and dispense with helpful and supportive advice. A friend, family member or community health representative can attend the video chat. Privacy is assured. Telehealth appointments are held in rooms designed for visits with health practitioners. The consultations are not recorded.

Does a mask protect you from catching COVID-19? By Eric Plummer Ha-Shilth-Sa Editor Port Alberni, BC - Wearing a mask will not protect you from getting the new coronavirus while out in public, says an NTC nurse in her message for Nuu-chahnulth communities. Francine Gascoyne, NTC community health nurse clinical leader, cited guidance from the World Health Organization and the B.C. Centre for Disease Control for those concerned about contracting the virus that leads to COVID-19. “We do see a lot of people who are out at the grocery store and they’re wearing masks; it isn’t recommended that you do need a mask,” she said in a video recently posted online. “If you’re not wearing the mask properly, then if you’re going to adjust the mask and you’re still touching your face, that is how the virus can then enter our body.” Gascoyne referenced the advice of the WHO, which states that masks are only recommended if one has symptoms of a fever and cough. There is no evidence a mask can protect someone who isn’t sick with COVID-19, according to the WHO. “If you are healthy, you only need to wear a mask if you are taking care of a person with suspected [coronavirus] infection,” stated the organization’s website. “It may be less effective to wear a mask in the community when a person is not sick themselves,” states the B.C. Centre for Disease Control. “Masks may give a person a false sense of security and are likely to increase the number of times a person will touch their own face (e.g., to

adjust the mask).” These health authorities recommend that only those with symptoms wear a mask, or someone who is in the same room as person with COVID-19. “Gloves are not recommended to be used while you’re out grocery shopping as well,” added Gascoyne. “When you’re wearing the gloves, you’re still touching all of the surfaces…and then you go touch your face.Tthat is how the virus can still enter the body through our mucous membranes, such as our eyes, our nose, our mouth.” The novel coronavirus is transmitted by tiny droplets emitted when an infected person coughs, sneezes or speaks. These particles can live on surfaces for as long as a few days, and infect someone by entering the mouth, eyes or nose. To stop transmission of the highly contagious virus, health authorities stress frequent hand washing and keeping a six-foot distance from others while out in public. With the pandemic continuing to spread around the world, people are urged to stay at home whenever possible. As information on the new coronavirus evolves, so is the messaging coming from public health officials. On Monday, April 6 Canada’s Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam stated that handmade face covers could be an additional measure to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. This can help protect others from contracting the virus, but a mask does not protect the person wearing it, said the top doctor. This guidance is based on emerging studies indicating that the coronavirus could be spread by those who have not yet shown symptoms – or by infected

peremen.com/Wikimedia Commons photo

Health authorities are not recommending people wear masks in public to protect from contracting COVID-19, but Canada’s top medical health officer said that homemade masks can be used as an additional measure to decline transmission. er their mouths and nose while in public individuals who will never become sick. - but such a practice is permissible as an “Wearing a non-medical mask can reduce the chance of your respiratory additional measure. With Canada facing shortages of medical-grade masks, such droplets coming into contact with others equipment must be reserved for those on or landing on surfaces,” said Tam during a press conference in Ontario. “The Spethe front lines of health care, said Henry. “Medical masks and respirators need to cial Advisory Committee on COVID-19 be reserved for our health care settings has come to a consensus that wearing a and health care workers,” she said. non-medical mask even if you have no symptoms is an additional measure that As of April 6, British Columbia has reyou can take to protect others around you ported 1,266 confirmed COVID-19 cases, including 79 on Vancouver Island, but in situations where physical distancing is difficult to maintain, such as in public 783 of those infected have fully recovered and are cleared to leave isolation. transit or maybe at the grocery store.” Dr. Bonny Henry, B.C’s provincial There were 26 additional cases tracked by health officer, is on the COVID-19 advithe province on Sunday, April 5, followed by another 37 on Monday. One more sory committee guiding Canada’s stance COVID-related death has been reported: on masks. Unlike a recommendation a man in his 40s who succumbed to illto wear homemade masks that recently came from the US Centre for Disease ness at home. He was known to health Control and Prevention, Henry said that authorities as a positive case. the province isn’t advising people to cov-


Page 12— Ha-Shilth-Sa—April 9, 2020

Nations encouraged by progress at Big Bar landslide Channel work continues to improve Fraser River flows, with safeguards adopted during COVID-19 pandemic By Mike Youds Ha-Shilth-Sa Contributor Lillooet, BC - A race against time to save Fraser River salmon hasn’t slowed despite the global pandemic. With the river sure to rise in coming days, efforts to clear the channel at Big Bar Slide will be put to the test as early spring chinook head upstream in April. Blasting and rockwork have been going full tilt for the past two months. Crews working for primary contractor Peter Kiewit Sons (Kiewit) are making the most of low water levels, a narrow winter window for channel remediation in the aftermath of last year’s Big Bar landslide north of Lillooet. DFO met with representatives of the Upper Fraser Fisheries Conservation Alliance in early March to discuss options and proposed plans. “I think the progress so far has been remarkable considering they didn’t get at it until mid-January,” said Gord Sterritt, UFFCA’s executive director. “I think it’s going reasonably well.” Project staff also met to review plans in early March with Chief Roy Fletcher and co-ordinator Dennis Fletcher from High Bar First Nation and with Chief Patrick Harry and co-ordinator Catlin Duncan from Stswecem’c Xgat’tem First Nation. “We’re confident the work that’s been done will be successful,” Sterritt said. Amid the obvious engineering challenges of the remediation — removing tonnes of submerged rock from river rapids — the COVID-19 pandemic developed as another logistical factor. Kiewit adopted additional health and safety measures, including restricted site access to limit risk of viral exposure to workers. Non-essential site visits were halted and protocols were adopted to minimize larger gatherings in enclosed spaces. “We are reviewing all planned activities on the Big Bar site to ensure we can meet public health requirements while still moving forward with this necessary work,” DFO stated in mid-March. In recent days, workers have continued making steady progress, blasting submerged boulders from the slide, shaping a riverside bench for a “nature-like” fishway and preparing for a second blast of the east toe of the rock face in April. Workers were able to reach channel debris through construction of riprap “fingers” on the west side of the river. The debris since been blasted away and a safety canopy constructed on the river’s west bank. North of the east toe, crews reached additional boulders exposed by low water levels and have been drilling in preparation for blasting. On the east toe itself, a heavy lift helicopter has delivered drilling equipment to prepare the toe for more blasting in April. Fish monitoring within the blast area is carried out before the detonation of explosives in boulders slated for removal. To date, no fish have been detected prior to blasts and no impact on fish was observed. Sterritt said it’s important to remember that the weather is changing and they’re running out of time. That holds true not only for the channel engineering work but for contingency planning as well. There are places along the rapids that may pose a challenge for migrating salmon at certain water levels, Sterritt explained. Recent modelling done at low water revealed a mass of slide debris

DFO photos

Detonation of an explosive removes river rock at the Big Bar landslide (above), as crews drill boulders in preparation for blasting. Installation of the rock fall protection canopy was completed in late March on the west side of the Fraser River.

“I think the progress so far has been remarkable considering they didn’t get at it until midJanuary” ~ Gord Sterritt, UFFCA’s executive director situated elsewhere in the channel could cause heavy flows at high water, stopping fish passage. A monitoring program will be implemented throughout the salmon migration period to gather as much information as possible and to aid with contingencies should the need arise. “We know from last year we can’t play catch-up,” Sterritt said. “We need to be ahead of the situation.” A team of experts has been developing the plans and designing alternative fish passage systems to move fish during high water, when passage will not be possible for an extended period of time. Plans include constructing a “nature-like” fishway, installing a pneumatic fish lift system, and developing a trap-and-transport option to collect salmon below the slide for release up river. A First Nations leadership panel, established during last summer’s emergency response phase, re-engages this month. The panel will resume its focus on consensus decision-making on critical project milestones including mitigation of fish passage. Panel members include leadership or delegates from First Nations impacted by the landslide or those with interests in Fraser River salmon stocks. “We want the First Nations leadership panel members from B.C. marine areas to help make those decisions and endorse the work,” said Sterritt, who will chair the panel.


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