INTERESTING NEWS Canada’s Oldest First Nations Newspaper - Serving Nuu-chah-nulth-aht since 1974 Canadian Publications Mail Product Vol. 47 - No. 15—August 13, 2020 haas^i>sa Sales Agreement No. 40047776
Photo by Melissa Renwick
Joe Martin cuts up the lower jaw bone of a grey whale outside his workshop in Toﬁno on Aug. 6, part of a project to carve a traditional war club. Story on Page 10.
Rapid COVID-19 testing planned for Toﬁno By Eric Plummer Ha-Shilth-Sa Editor Testing equipment that can conﬁrm COVID-19 cases within an hour will soon be available for Nuu-chah-nulth communities on the west coast of Vancouver Island, according to a pledge recently made by the First Nations Health Authority. The FNHA has procured three GeneXpert machines, which can detect the novel coronavirus in nasopharyngeal swabs specimens taken from the nasal cavity. One of these devices is destined for Toﬁno to provide improved testing for remote coastal communities, as determined during recent meetings between provincial health oﬃcials, the FNHA and Nuuchah-nulth Tribal Council leaders. Once the machine is prepared and specimens are ready, the GeneXpert model destined for Toﬁno can test two samples at a time, producing results within an hour. “Nasopharyngeal swab specimens can be stored at room temperature (15–30 °C) for up to eight hours,” stated the FNHA in an email to Ha-Shilth-Sa. Plans are to have the machine operat-
ing at the NTC Toﬁno oﬃce by the end of September, but only those speciﬁcally trained in specimen handling, quality controls equipment operation and maintenance will be able to run the GeneXpert. “Clinical oversight and on-going training will also be provided,” wrote the FNHA. Currently samples from Toﬁno are sent to Victoria for COVID-19 testing, but if the machine is situated at the NTC oﬃce – where it will be available speciﬁcally for Nuu-chah-nulth members - it will be serving a diﬀerent demographic than swabs that are currently being sent from the Toﬁno General Hospital. Half of the nasopharyngeal swabs coming from Toﬁno are from Tourists, while 40 per cent are non- Aboriginal and 10 per cent are from Indigenous people, according to the NTC’s nursing department. The GeneXpert availability represents an improvement in support provided to Nuu-chah-nulth communities, after frustration grew over the summer due to the province’s lack of attention to a motion passed by the NTC on June 9. That decision demanded quicker COVID-19
Inside this issue... Investigator looks into death of James Williams........Page 3 Parking shortage in Toﬁno rattles locals.....................Page 5 Collection of residential school work found..........Pages 8-9 Carving whale bone into a war club.........................Page 10 Family loses home to house ﬁre...............................Page 15
testing for Nuu-chah-nulth communities, support to screen those who enter the territories, better local contact tracing resources if any COVID cases are announced and improved communication with the province. Concerns have arisen during recent meetings between West Coast First Nations leaders and the province on the unwillingness of health authorities to disclose more information about conﬁrmed COVID-19 cases. The “pathway for disclosure” that the FNHA currently follows entails notifying a First Nation’s elected chief and community health director that a case has been detected in their community, but the identity and exact location of the person will not be disclosed. “Many of our members have to travel vast distances via logging road or water taxi to get essential services,” said NTC Vice-president Mariah Charleson. “Because of this, we ask that we not be told the identity of a positive COVID test, but where the positive test is so that our travelling members can alter their travelling arrangements accordingly to limit their risk – especially because they will
be returning to community.” But during recent meetings the province responded that disclosure of speciﬁc information about any one individual is not in the interest of protecting public health, and violates B.C.’s Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act. No COVID-19 outbreaks have been declared in Nuu-chah-nulth communities, but on the other side of Vancouver Island dozens of cases swept through Alert Bay, leading to the death of one elder. The GeneXpert machine is intended to be in place before the anticipated second wave of the coronavirus hits B.C. But with 472 active cases on Aug. 11, the number of people conﬁrmed with the respiratory illness has already tripled this summer, since dropping to a low of 153 on June 30. Despite this increase, hospitalizations have remained low, with eight people in medical facilities on Aug. 11. Deaths have also not increased. B.C.’s Provincial Health Oﬃcer Bonnie Henry attributes this summertime disparity to more infections among young people, who have a lower risk of becoming severely ill with COVID-19.
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Page 2— Ha-Shilth-Sa—August 13, 2020
Photo by Melissa Renwick
Carol Curley and Lance Tom are two of the four youth guardians who are patrolling Long Beach in front of Esowista to keep their community of Tla-o-qui-aht safe.
Youth guardian program launched on busy west coast Tribal Parks guardians block entry to Tla-o-qui-aht communties as nearby Long Beach is ﬂooded with tourists By Melissa Renwick Local Journalism Initiative Reporter Toﬁno, BC - Dressed in black uniforms, Carol Curley and Lance Tom patrolled the empty stretch of Long Beach in front Esowista. The words “Tribal Parks Guardian” were embroidered in white on their sleeves, which stood out against the muted blanket of fog that danced through the trees towards Incinerator Rock. They are two of the four teenagers who joined the youth guardian program, which was launched by Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation at the beginning of June. “It’s important to teach our youth how to monitor and look after our Ha’houlthee,” said Iris Frank, Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation education manager. “This is a really good beginning for them and a very good experience to understand our relationship with Parks Canada reserve.” Working in shifts seven days a week, the youth are helping to monitor and keep non-residents oﬀ the community’s beachfront, while also learning about their traditional territories, stream restoration and language. “We see it as a way to empower our youth to know the world around them – where they come from, to learn the language, to learn our histories, to learn more about the environment,” said Terry Dorward, Tlao-qui-aht Tribal Parks project coordinator. “That’s something that our people have traditionally done, so we feel that we are taking that responsibility on for future generations.” Curley said that her position as a youth guardian has opened her to new ways of communicating with non-residents, or visitors that can’t speak English. By learning to use body language or drawing in the sand, the 18-year-old has come to value interacting with diﬀerent people every day.
“I’ve been learning about how important it is to keep [our community] safe and to keep our elders safe,” she said. “Because our elders are so precious to all of us.” By giving the youth a uniform and providing them with new tools on how to approach people, Dorward said the program aims to lift them up. “It deﬁnitely empowers them to ﬁnd
a voice in these diﬃcult times of COVID-19,” he said. “[Pandemics] are something that our people have historically had to deal with. We’ve had to isolate ourselves in the past. The youth are feeling proud about being the front line workers for the Tla-o-qui-aht.” The program will continue until the end of August, as the youth prepare to return
to school. Tom will be entering his ﬁnal year of high school. While his future remains unknown, he said that working as a Tribal Parks Guardian or within Parks Canada is not out of the question. “It’s our goal to give them training,” said Frank. “We want to open them up to the possibilities.”
Tla-o-qui-aht re-thinks opening territory By Melissa Renwick Local Journalism Initiative Reporter As the BC Day long weekend approached, the Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation re-shaped their stance on the re-opening of their territory. “At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation received funding to support our [emergency operations centre],” said Moses Martin, Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation chief, in a release. “We [used] this funding to operate our health information checkpoints at the entrance of the villages of Ty-Histanis, Esowita and Opitshat. The funds are nearly exhausted. As larger numbers of visitors [grow] increasingly complacent about physical distancing measures [who] come to enjoy our Tribal Parks, the need for adequately funded community services are more important that ever.” Since 2018, Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation has been developing the Tribal Parks Allies Certiﬁcation Standard. By recruiting local businesses, they have been aiming to establish a tourism economy. “We don’t know what donations and contributions are coming from our current allies – which are only a small handful of businesses,” said Saya Masso, Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation tribal administrator.
Photo by Melissa Renwick
The shore in front of Esowista is blocked for tourists who have ﬁlled Long Beach. Aside from the Best Western Tin Wis, adequate funding is provided to support which is owned by the Tla-o-qui-aht First their “precautionary measures.” Nation and Hotel Zed Toﬁno, “there are “We’re kind of in limbo as we wait to still all of the major hotels that need to see more funding,” said Masso. sign on,” he said. If the Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation is unIn spite of the declaration from the Nuu- able to fund their measures to protect chah-nulth Tribal Council on June 9, Tla- their elders, they will “have to rethink the o-qui-aht First Nation decided to support number of visitors that are permitted into a soft opening with Toﬁno in accordance their territory,” said Martin. with the B.C. Emergency Operations “It’s everyone’s ﬁrst time going through Centre. this,” said Masso. “Tla-o-qui-aht is here, The nation recently released that its rewanting to rise with the tides of what’s opening is conditional based on whether going on here.”
August 13, 2020—Ha-Shilth-Sa—Page 3
Police investigator tasked with ﬁnding answers The Independent Investigations Oﬃce is looking into the death of James Williams after his release from custody By Eric Plummer Ha-Shilth-Sa Editor Duncan, BC - In the weeks following the sudden death of James Williams, his family remains in the dark as to what caused the tragedy 14 hours after he was released from police custody. Kevin Touchie still knows very little about the passing of his younger brother, who was found deceased in his room at Warmland House, a shelter and transitional residence in Duncan, on July 16. Williams was released from the local RCMP detachment at 1:30 a.m. that morning, after a 13-hour stint in police custody. The Duncan RCMP reported that the Tla-o-qui-aht member was arrested for public intoxication on Alexander Street the previous afternoon. For the family of the 52-year-old father of ﬁve, “justice for what has happened to him” is critical, said Touchie. Now any further actions hinge on ﬁndings from the Independent Investigations Oﬃce, which currently has members in Duncan interviewing witnesses and looking for evidence that could illuminate the case of Williams passing. As required by B.C.’s Police Act, the IIO becomes involved when serious harm or death could have occurred due to police actions or inactions. The BC Coroners Service is also investigating to determine cause of death. In a press release issued today, the Nuuchah-nulth Tribal Council stressed its commitment to stand with the family as they seek answers. “We implore the IIO and BC Coroners Service to conduct a thorough investigation, so that the family will be able to obtain the answers they deserve,” stated the NTC. Functioning as an oversight agency
Province of BC photo
Ron MacDonald, Chief Civilian Director with the Independent Investigations Oﬃce, speaks about the IIO with Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth (left) and B.C. Attorney General David Eby. separate from the police, the IIO could ing an investigation into an incident in make recommendations for Crown coun- Surry last January that resulted in serious sel to consider charges against police. In injuries to a driver whose car ﬂipped oﬀ a the case of someone who is incarcerated road during police pursuit. The driver had due to intoxication, such a charge might failed to obey a police traﬃc stop. be warranted if an oﬃcer fails to “protect MacDonald said that most investigations life,” according to Ron MacDonald, the soon indicate police should not be held IIO’s Chief Civilian Director. accountable for harm. “The police have a duty to do certain “Well over half determine relatively things, usually to protect life, and their early on in many of those investigations failure to do that duty might be well an that, in fact, the actions didn’t play any oﬀence,” he said. “If the person needs role in serious harm or death,” said Macmedical attention, [police] have a duty to Donald. make sure that they get it.” Four years ago, the IIO became involved But considering the number of cases the in the case of Jocelyn George even before IIO takes on, recommendations for the her heart failed at 7:20 p.m. on June 24, Crown to consider charges are rare. Over 2016. The young Tla-o-qui-aht mother the last ﬁscal year 193 investigations was taken to hospital in a critical condibrought 6 referrals. Since April this year tion that morning after a night in jail at three referrals came from the IIO, includ- the Port Alberni RCMP detachment. The
day before George was arrested at 7 a.m. for public intoxication, released at 4:23 p.m., then taken into custody again after it was reported that she was hallucinating and hadn’t eaten for two days. She ended up dying from heart inﬂammation due to the toxic eﬀects of methamphetamine and cocaine, according to an IIO report on the case. The IIO found that an oﬃcer failed in the duty to personally check on George during her time in jail, but this wasn’t enough for consideration of charges. “Although Oﬃcer 1 did not comply with policy requiring him to personally check on prisoners, there is no evidence to suggest that inaction on his part caused or otherwise contributed to [George]’s medical condition and death,” reads the report. “Unfortunately, her death was caused by the impact of drugs on her heart. Even when medical attention was received, it was unable to reverse her condition.” “The test for criminality is very stringent,” said MacDonald of the criteria for laying charges. “Typically, in our criminal law we only punish people for intentional acts that are criminal in nature. We typically don’t punish people for negligence in our criminal law.” IIO investigations usually take several months, as they rely on witness accounts and evidence collected, but also coroner and toxicology reports. The oﬃce includes 41 investigators, most of whom have not gone through formal police training. The Independent Investigations Ofﬁce asks that anyone who saw or spoke to James Williams on July 16, 2020 to contact the IIO Witness Line at 1-855446-8477 or via the contact form on the its iiobc.ca website.
Visitors entering territories, despite COVID closures By Melissa Renwick Local Journalism Initiative Reporter Hot Springs Cove, BC - As Haida Gwaii grapples with a COVID-19 outbreak, some Nuu-chah-nulth communities fear a similar fate. Despite closing their borders to visitors, Hesquiaht community members living in Hot Springs Cove have witnessed a steady ﬂow of non-residents entering the Nuu-chah-nulth territory by their village on private boats. “They are here on a daily basis – from day break to evening,” said Bernard Charleson, Hesquiaht emergency coordinator. “It’s just another way that the virus is going to get into the community. They do come to the village and they do tie up at the dock. On occasion, they will walk into the village when there’s nobody around to stop them.” With limited resources, Charleson said that he doesn’t have any authority or power to enforce the closures. “We have very limited man-power and we don’t have anything on paper,” he said. There is a massive gap in funding for First Nations communities to continue their battle against the coronavirus, said Mariah Charleson, Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council vice-president. “To date, our First Nations communities have far exceeded the money that they were provided by Indigenous Services Canada (ISC) in response to COVID-19,” she said. “There’s no money at all available to support these check points and
monitoring which have been instrumental in keeping our communities safe.” According to Mariah, each Nuu-chahnulth nation received $50,000 in funding, which was adjusted for remoteness and community well-being index scores. The initial funding provided to the nations did not take into account the total number of band members, but rather, only those living on-reserve based on the 2016 census, said Mariah. It was up to each nation to decide how they would spend their funding based on their own unique circumstances. “For some nations, they didn’t care that it was only based on on-reserve numbers,” said Mariah. “Some nations sent out their ﬁshermen immediately and they distributed food to all of their members.” ISC said that they are aware of the ongoing concerns of First Nations about the inﬂux of visitors entering their territories. “Our role is to support communities in doing what best suits their needs,” ISC said in an email statement. “That is why we provided immediate support through the distinctions-based Indigenous Community Support Fund so First Nation, Inuit and Métis communities can address their speciﬁc needs as they prepare for and react to the spread of COVID-19.” ISC recently updated the funding guidelines for COVID-related public health response funding, which now includes perimeter security to control the risk of transmission and PPE for essential workers outside of health functions. Mariah’s father, Stephen, lives in Hesquiaht Harbour. Every few days, he
approaches boat operators to inform them that the territory is closed. With each encounter, he is met with a mixed response. “My father went to respectfully let a boat operator and his wife know that our Hesquiaht Ḥahuułi was entirely closed to non-residents,” Mariah recounted over email. “One of them stated to my father that that only applied to the land and not the water. That couldn’t be farther from the truth and who we are as Nuu-chahnulth people. The ocean has always been our highway and source of livelihood – since time immemorial.” As frustrations mount over the lack of monitoring support from BC Parks, Mariah said that visitors are showing no sign of slowing down. “BC Parks staﬀ have a large geographical area of responsibility that covers over two dozen provincial parks and protected areas,” wrote BC Parks in an email. “The frequency of patrols of parks and protected areas within Hesquiaht territory varies, but observations from park ranger staﬀ over the past several weeks indicates general compliance with the current park [and] protected area closures and lower levels of recreational use in the Clayoquot Sound area.” As non-residents travel into the closed territories, Mariah said they are not considering the possibility of an accident. “When people are traveling out, they think that they’re all safe and they’re far from any communities,” she said. “If anything is to happen, like a motor breaking down or somebody injuring themselves on the boat, it takes up a huge
Mariah Charleson chunk of our resources, which are already very limited on the west coast.” Scott Fraser, Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation, said he recently met with senior health oﬃcials and community leaders from the First Nations on the west coast of Vancouver Island to discuss solutions to these issues. “We agreed to continue to work collaboratively to build conﬁdence and ensure protections for vulnerable community members as we move forward with the restart plan,” he stated in an email. “For all of us, people’s health and safety is our top priority, and we continue to believe the best way forward is through dialogue.” As the number of active COVID-19 cases has grown to over 400, “the threat of the second wave is becoming more and more real every day,” said Mariah. Lisa Sabbas, Hesquiaht council secretary, echoed that sentiment by saying, “it’s not if it’s going to come, it’s when it’s going to come.”
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Funding helps plan land development Tseshaht’s grant of $100,000 moves forward plans to improve private, reserve land By Sam Laskaris Ha-Shilth-Sa Contributor Port Alberni, BC - It took some time but ﬁlling out a grant application last year ﬁnally paid oﬀ for the Tseshaht First Nation. In 2019 Tseshaht Executive Director, Darren Mead-Miller, who worked in partnership with Urban Systems, sent in an application to the Rural Dividend Fund, seeking some money from the program for the First Nation. That marked the sixth time oﬃcials from the British Columbia government had put out the call for applications for its program. Provincial oﬃcials had a change of heart, though, last year and opted to take money that was available through this program and assist struggling forestry and mill workers. But many of those that had sent in applications in 2019 received some unexpected good news recently, including the Tseshaht. In its eﬀorts to boost economic development and recreational opportunities for those in rural B.C. communities, the provincial government announced it would provide a special one-time granting of about $14 million to 153 projects. Four Nuu-chah-nulth groups are among those who received the funding. Tseshaht First Nation had requested $100,000 and that’s what it received recently. Funding will go towards furthering development of some private land that the Nuu-chah-nulth First Nation has acquired, as well as parts of its reserve. “It’s still a meanwhile project,” said Tseshaht Councillor Wawmeesh, Ken Watts. And Watts wasn’t surprised provincial oﬃcials decided his First Nation would be one of the recently announced grant recipients. “We weren’t asking for a lot,” he said. Watts, who is the elected councillor with Tseshaht’s economic development portfolio, said grant funds will be partly utilized to improve upon on a 2018 market assessment on how to best use land, including some that has been acquired oﬀ the First Nation’s reserve. “It’s a totally diﬀerent experience than developing on reserve,” he said. Watts added possible rezoning of various pieces of land might be required to
Photo by Eric Plummer
A provincial grant of $100,000 has recently been awarded to the Tseshaht First Nation, which plans to improve upon a 2018 market assessment. develop them. To accommodate its anticipated future growth and possible economic development ventures, Tseshaht has bought up some land just south of its main community, along Mission and Rowe roads. Potential opportunities that were identiﬁed include port-related projects, indoor and outdoor self-storage for items such as boats and RVs , forestry, fabrication facilities and small warehousing, logistics as well as distribution centres. With the provincial grant, Tseshaht oﬃcials are hoping to use some of the funding for geotechnical work, assessing soil conditions to determine if any issues arise during development. Environmental work will also be done, again to see if any possible problems might pop up. Tseshaht First Nation was one of the 114 projects that collectively received about $9 million to boost rural community development. Another Nuu-chah-nulth project that received funding was the Bamﬁeld Huu-ayaht Community Forest Society (BHCFS). It received a $32,450 grant. The BHCFS had applied for funding in order to support the planning, initial layout of trails and the eventual construction of a trail loop within the Bamﬁeld Huuay-aht Community Forest. This 360-hectare forest is, adjacent to the communities of Ancala and Bamﬁeld, is located within
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the Huu-ay-aht First Nations territory. Meanwhile, the Hupacasath First Nation received just under $100,000 in order to expand its Kleekhoot Gold Bigleaf Maple Syrup Farm. Funding will go towards increasing tree inventory as well as ﬁnding an additional site for sap production. And the Nuu-chah-nulth Seafood Limited Partnership received $170,784 in funding. This money will be used to analyze all aspects of capacities of communities on Vancouver Island’s west coast to deliver the farming of seaweed. A total of 39 trail and recreation projects also received a total of about $5 million. All of these projects were selected from three categories. They were First Nations, municipalities and not-for-proﬁt organizations. Priority was also given to those projects who have the potential to create new jobs. Ravi Kahlon, the Parliamentary Secretary of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development, is pleased the province was able to provide funding for numerous projects. “Our government has been listening to rural B.C., and we’ve got your back,” he said. “We know the pandemic has caused challenges for people living in smaller communities. And we are hopeful that funding these projects will help rural B.C. come back strong.”
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Ahousaht locals frustrated by Toﬁno parking shortage COVID-19 has not slowed down visitors to Toﬁno’s streets, challenging those who rely on the town for supplies By Melissa Renwick Local Journalism Initiative Reporter Toﬁno, BC - Every two weeks, Amy Jack travels from her home on Flores Island to Toﬁno for groceries. With fewer boats running and less passengers allowed onboard due to COVID-19 restrictions, the 40-minute commute has become more stressful than usual. “We rely on Toﬁno for essential services,” said Jack. “We go there to grocery shop, we go there to get our gas [and for] our hospital visits – the list goes on.” On a recent trip into town, Jack returned to her parked vehicle on Main Street. A $50 ticket sat beneath her windshield wiper. With the increase of tourists in Toﬁno during the summer months, residents from the surrounding communities, such as Ahousaht, are struggling to ﬁnd open oﬀ-shore parking stalls. In a race to catch their boats home, some are forced to leave their vehicles in the four-hour parking designations, said Mariah Charleson, Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council vicepresident. “There are many families who can only go to Toﬁno once a month – young families, young mothers with three or four children,” said Charleson. “It’s much more diﬃcult to get the essential services that you need when there’s that many more people in the town of Toﬁno with all of the tourists.” Ahousaht residents, like Jack, have
TSESHAHT MARKET GATEWAY TO
Photo by Melissa Renwick
Oﬀ-shore parking stalls located on Main Street near the First Street dock in Toﬁno were packed on July 31. started sharing their parking tickets on they’re targeted but there’s nothing like oﬀshore parking in Toﬁno, said Bob social media in eﬀort to bring light to the that that happens.” Macpherson, District of Toﬁno chief issue. While the amount of oﬀshore parking administration oﬃcer. “This ticket is a $50 ticket, which now “We did increase it a few years ago,” he stalls in Toﬁno may not be changing anycosts me $90 because I have to pay $20 time soon, Macpherson said the municisaid. “There’s nothing that we’re looking each way in-and-out of Ahousaht,” said pality is trying to ﬁnd ways to accommoat now to increase the number.” Jack. “And if I can’t get a boat, I have to date the local communities. Due to how the municipality budgeted charter a boat, which is $150 to $200.” Due to COVID-19, oﬀshore residents back in March – at the beginning of the Despite mounting frustrations, there pandemic – there are fewer bylaw oﬃcers are staying in their communities and are no plans to increase the amount of getting ticketed because they haven’t working this summer than what there renewed their permits. typically would be, said Macpherson. “We’re trying to ﬁnd a way to work on “We hear from Toﬁno community memthat,” said Macpherson. bers that they feel they’re singled out In the meantime, Jack is ﬁghting her for parking tickets,” he said. “We hear THE PACIFIC RIM ticket and has ﬁled a complaint with the from visitors that they’re singled out for district. parking tickets and we hear from permit “It’s kind of irritating that we have to holders who feel like they’re singled out deal with this every single year,” she said. for parking tickets. Everyone feels like
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Page 6— Ha-Shilth-Sa—August 13, 2020
T’aaq-wiihak ﬁshermen adapt to a changing industry COVID-19 pandemic lowers ﬁsh prices, creating further challenges for those ﬁghting to keep a tradition alive By Melissa Renwick Local Journalism Initiative Reporter Toﬁno, BC - A thick fog engulfed the coast as Elmer Frank drove his commercial ﬁshing boat out of the Toﬁno harbour. His expectations were low. A 7.8 magnitude earthquake had struck oﬀ the southern Alaskan coast late the night before. “Fish get spooked after an earthquake,” he said. Undeterred, Frank continued west in search of chinook salmon and halibut, which opened to the T’aaq-wiihak Fisheries on July 15. Alongside his deckhands, Frank stayed close to Toﬁno, where the ﬁsh are smaller and subsequently more aﬀordable. It was his way of trying to provide for the local community. “It’s much more rewarding to give it to someone you know,” said deckhand, Terry Crosina, who has been ﬁshing with Frank since 2012. Over the years, Frank noticed that the T’aaq-wiihak Fisheries had “lost some steam.” Some found the ﬁshery unsustainable and became discouraged by the low numbers of allowable catch set by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO). This year, the chinook salmon allocation for the T’aaq-wiihak ﬁshery is 7,724 pieces of chinook. Others became fed up with the short ﬁsh openings and market price ﬂuctuations, described Frank. Typically, chinook salmon would sell for $10 to $12 per pound – COVID-19 brought that average down to $5 to $7 a pound, said Frank. In response to the changing industry, Frank has tailored his marketing to engage in dialogue with potential buyers over social media, making his ﬁsh more accessible.
Photo by Melissa Renwick
Elmer Frank works as the skipper of his boat while troll ﬁshing in Tlookchitah and Portland Point, near Toﬁno. “You have to really think of ﬁshing as speedboat. It’s a skill that was passed being a business,” he said. “You have down from his late-father, Shorty, which to make it work for yourself, you have he’s been honing his entire life. to make it work for the market and the “We were born to do it,” he said. clientele.” Throughout his lifetime, the industry Instead of specializing in one species, has experienced some big transformaFrank became a Jack-of-all-trades – ﬁshtions. Of the thirteen wild Fraser River ing for crabs, prawns, halibut, salmon and chinook salmon populations assessed by lingcod. the Committee on the Status of EndanWith the opening of each ﬁshery, he regered Wildlife in Canada, only one is not equips his boat to target each species. at risk, according to the DFO. “It’s a lifestyle choice,” he said. “You With the declining ﬁsh stocks and hefty have to adapt.” initial ﬁnancial investment, most youth Frank got his start as a commercial are opting to pursue more stable career ﬁsherman in 2010 from the back of his paths.
“I have two sons and they want to ﬁsh, but they only want to ﬁsh on their days oﬀ,” said Frank. “They have their daytime jobs and I think they’re looking at those as more secure for them.” Laurence Curley is a rarity. The 17-yearold said he is one of the few youth within Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation who can’t imagine working as anything but a commercial ﬁsherman. After insistently asking Frank to work as a deckhand, Curley was brought onboard for his ﬁrst season at the beginning of June. “It’s encouraging to see that I can pass on what knowledge I have about this industry,” said Frank. “We all come from bloodlines of ﬁshing. Those are still the things we need to uphold and uplift.” For Crosina, there’s nothing like being out on the water. Hailing from Esketemc First Nation, near Williams Lake, he moved to the coast to be able to ﬁsh on the open ocean. While the work doesn’t aﬀord him luxuries like holidays or being able to spoil his children, he takes comfort knowing that “they prefer to have a salmon on the table,” he said. As the morning turned to afternoon, Frank had given up. Just like he predicted, the earthquake had seemingly scared oﬀ the ﬁsh. He made the call and the crew began to pack it in. They had only caught three ﬁsh – one lingcod, one chinook salmon and one coho salmon. It was the slowest day of ﬁshing Frank had ever seen for that time of year. “It’s probably days like this that make people lose interest,” he said. But as he pulled back into the harbour, the crew plotted their next trip up to Esperanza, where they would soon be heading. “We’re not as busy,” said Frank. “But we’re out there.
Five nations call on feds to redirect chinook surplus By Melissa Renwick Local Journalism Initiative Reporter Toﬁno, BC - All Cliﬀord Atleo ever dreamed of becoming was a ﬁsherman. From the age of ﬁve, he was out on the water, working with his father who was a commercial ﬁsherman. As a young boy growing up in Ahousaht, he remembers when the harbour was full of ﬁshing vessels. “Just about every family had a vessel,” he said. “We want to return it that way to our people.” In a bid to call on the federal government to redirect a surplus of chinook salmon from the recreational ﬁshery on the west coast of Vancouver Island (WCVI), the ﬁve Nuu-chah-nulth First Nations that comprise the T’aaq-wiihak Fisheries issued a statement. “When we were pushed out of the ﬁshery, we went to court to try to save our ﬁshing communities,” read the release. “We won. But that victory still seems hollow as we yet again face disregard and a refusal to move by the federal government.” It has been 11 years since the BC Supreme Court recognized the Indigenous rights of Ahousaht, Ehattesaht/ Chinehkint, Hesquiaht, Tla-o-qui-aht and Mowachaht/Muchalaht First Nations to catch and sell species harvested within
their territories. Negotiations between T’aaq-wiihak and the federal government are ongoing, but tensions continue due to the disparity in allocations. This year, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) allocated the T’aaq-wiihak Fisheries 7,724 pieces of chinook salmon. In comparison, the recreational ﬁshery was allocated 50,000, which has a surplus of 20,000 pieces of chinook salmon, said Lauren Dean, communication specialist with Ha’oom Fisheries Society. “This year, as in all past years, DFO will continue to provide most of the ﬁsh to the recreational and regular commercial ﬁshery,” read the release. “But this year, given less tourism and conservation measures, there will be less catch by the recreational sector. This made an easy opportunity for DFO to give more ﬁsh to our Nations so that we could exercise our right and help support our remote communities, which are in economic crisis.” Atleo said the lack of response from the federal government shines light on its “racist attitude” against the Nuu-chahnulth ﬂeet. It is a sentiment echoed by Gord Johns, NDP Member of Parliament for Courtenay-Alberni, within the release. “When the courts direct that DFO take a more generous approach in fulﬁlling the
Photo by Melissa Renwick
Terry Crosina, 47, works as a deckhand aboard Elmer Frank’s troller ﬁshing boat, part of the T’aaq-wiihak ﬂeet. Indigenous rights of these ﬁve Nations to subject to change,” she said. Since the ﬁshery opened on July 15, an catch and sell ﬁsh in their waters and the result is they are shut out by bureaucratic average of 16 vessels have been operating, with a suspected steady increase in decisions like this, it is diﬃcult not to participation, said Dean. conclude that institutional racism is at While Atleo no longer works as a complay,” he said. “It is beyond frustrating mercial ﬁsherman, he continues to ﬁght for these Nations to do everything required of them in following Canadian law for it as a way of life for his people. “We feel very strongly that we’re not to be faced with the opposite behaviour being allocated suﬃciently at all,” he by the federal government.” said. “It’s not even close to being reasonOf the allocated pieces of chinook salmon, the T’aaq-wiihak ﬂeet has caught able and we’re pushing almost 11 years since the court decision. All we’re after is 2,300 to date, said Dean. “But they’re landing every day, so it’s a sustainable way of life.”
August 13, 2020—Ha-Shilth-Sa—Page 7
Tseshaht proceeds with sockeye ﬁshery this summer Despite no agreement with DFO, First Nation harvests from the Somass, requests urgent meeting with minister By Eric Plummer Ha-Shilth-Sa Editor Port Alberni, BC - The Tseshaht ended up with a sockeye ﬁshery this year, but did so without signing an agreement with DFO to catch and sell salmon from the Somass River. For most of the last 20 years the First Nation has made an economic opportunity agreement with Fisheries and Oceans Canada, enabling the Tseshaht to catch according to a predetermined quota and sell sockeye from their territorial river to commercial buyers. This year the sockeye run initially looked bleak with just 168,788 reaching the Somass River from the Paciﬁc – not nearly enough to sustain any ﬁsheries. Tseshaht agreed to closures based on this pre-season forcast. But the return was adjusted to 250,000 on June 25, allowing First Nations, recreation and commercial ﬁsheries to open by Canada Day. The expected sockeye run was further upgraded to 300,000 by midJuly in the last days of ﬁshing. Under DFO’s management plan, this brought an allocation of 13,000 sockeye for the sports ﬁshery, while the Tseshaht and Hupacasath First Nations shared an allotment of 20,800. The Tseshaht never agreed to these allocations, according to Hugh Braker, a councillor for the First Nation who is responsible for ﬁsheries negotiations, as it amounts to less than 15 sockeye per member for the year. “We are strongly of the view that such an allocation does not reﬂect the importance of salmon to the Tseshaht, the needs of the Tseshaht or the Aboriginal title and rights of the Tseshaht,” wrote Braker to Bernadette Jordan, Canada’s minster of Fisheries and Oceans. “We believe that in times of low returns, our access to salmon is compromised and our rights are placed second to the commercial and recreational ﬁsheries.” In his July 14 letter Braker requests a
Photo by Eric Plummer
Tseshaht members give out sockeye during the First Nation’s community distribution on Friday, July 17. To follow COVID-19 physical distancing protocol, this year members have received ﬁsh while in their cars. meeting with either Jordan or the DFO’s regional director general for the Paciﬁc region to discuss Tseshaht ﬁsheries “as soon as possible to avoid further conﬂicts in our relationship.” Conﬂict became apparent in correspondence the First Nation received from Peter Hall, a salmon and herring coordinator with Fisheries and Oceans, who stressed the importance of cooperation with First Nations as ﬁsheries prepare for the chinook harvest in mid August. “[Economic opportunity] agreements are meant to be for several salmon species and be in place for the whole salmon
season, and the decision-making process considers each nation separately,” wrote Hall to the Tseshaht. “This means that an agreement may be entered with only one nation if that is required to manage the ﬁsheries.” This suggestion that the Tseshaht could be left out of future agreements is “paternalistic, patronizing, condescending and colonial,” stated Braker. “Mr. Hall is (and by implication DFO) we believe saying, in eﬀect, ‘be good First Nations, or else DFO will take away your right to ﬁsh for sale and earn income’,” he wrote to the ﬁsheries minister. “Tseshaht ﬁnds it impossible to sit at a table with DFO oﬃcials who practice paternalism towards Aboriginal people.” Instead of operating under an economic opportunity agreement, the Tseshaht ﬁshed according to their Aboriginal right, which is protected by the Canada’s Constitution. Sockeye were sold by members on the side of the road, activity that is technically legal under Canadian law, said Tseshaht Fisheries Manager Dave Rolston. He points to the Marshall decision from 1999, when the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that First Nations ﬁshing for food, social and ceremonial purposes includes the “right to a moderate livelihood” by selling this harvest. “The economic opportunity agreement is somewhat problematic in a number of ways,” explained Rolston. “When they sign an economic opportunity agreement, DFO rolls [food, social
and ceremonial] and EO ﬁsh - or commercial ﬁsh - together under one quota, and then we basically have to share that quota with the Hupacasath First Nation, who are considerably smaller,” he continued. “That doesn’t address FSC needs for this community.” Case law has ruled that First Nations food, social and ceremonial ﬁshing has priority above other groups, and is second only to conservation of the stocks. By following this priority access, the Tseshaht harvested over 25,000 adult sockeye this summer, with 11,000-12,000 jacks. Rolston said the Tseshaht have continued to contribute to the tracking of the sockeye run size, which is calculated through a combination of data, including test ﬁshing boats, catch records and ﬁsh counting at designated locations. “We’re not holding back reporting our numbers, but if there is a conservation concern, you’ve got to shut down sport and commercial before you shut down First Nations FSC ﬁsheries,” said Rolston. “That hasn’t happened, therefore there is no conservation concern yet.” The sockeye were harvested through a widespread community involvement in the ﬁshery, a participation that is only expected to increase when the chinook reach the Somass in August. At least 100 Tseshaht members ﬁnancially subsist on ﬁshing, while another 150 supplement their main source of income by harvesting from the river they have lived oﬀ of for thousands of years.
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Collection of residential school work uncovered in belongings Artwork and poetry discovered in forgo•en ﬁles give a glimpse into the thoughts and world of students at the Alberni Indian By Denise Titian Ha-Shilth-Sa Reporter Port Alberni, BC – “The children were drinking water from toilet bowls,” said former school nurse Phyllis Ursel in letter written to Ellen Fairchild, then federal minister of Indian Aﬀairs in 1960. At the time she had been working at the residential school in Alert Bay and was ﬁred shortly afterward. Phyllis Ursel was married with a family of her own. She worked in residential schools and was known for her kindness towards the little girls she was in charge of. Ursel moved on to Alberni Indian Residential School, where she worked as a matron for more than 30 years. While at Alert Bay, Ursel witnessed disturbing incidents. In her letter to the minister she wrote, “the older boys came to the dispensary at night for Aspirins because they had hunger-induced headaches. Because of a shortage of drinking fountains throughout the building, children were drinking water from toilet bowls.” She went on to complain that there were only three bathtubs for 110 girls and that 57 staﬀ members left the school in just over two years. Shortly afterward, she was ﬁred, “for not being loyal to the school” according to Ursel. Anglican oﬃcial Henry Cook said Ursel was let go because she misrepresented her qualiﬁcations and had been disruptive.
Manila folder discovered After a 30-year career as matron, or house mother, as granddaughter Rhonda Ursel called it, Phyllis passed away in a senior’s home in Port Alberni in 1998 at the age of 86. Phyllis’ husband Frederick had passed away years before; their belongings went to their son Frank Frank Ursel, founder of the Clam Bucket restaurant in Port Alberni, stored his parents’ belongings in boxes in his basement until his passing in late 2019. A few months later, Frank’s daughter Rhonda took on the daunting task of sorting through two generations of items. As she looked through boxes of her late grandmother’s eﬀects, Rhonda came across a manila folder containing children’s poetry
Details are not known about this drawing or the artist, found in Mrs. Ursel’s collection. It is signed A. Tait, Grade 6 in 1959. and drawings. They were the works of former Alberni Indian Residential School students dating back to 1958. Rhonda said that she was told that her grandmother Phyllis felt compassion toward her young charges. She saved some of the works, which are now coming out of storage. So far, only one manila folder of work has been found. Rhonda turned it over to her co-worker Rowena Cootes, who, in turn, contacted Ha-Shilth-Sa. Rhonda was at ﬁrst reluctant to make the ﬁnd public, fearing that the negative connotations associated with Indian residential schools might bring pain and anxiety for
people. “I was afraid dragging up memories may be hurtful,” she told Ha-Shilth-Sa. The folder contains a black and white photograph of a group of AIRS girls taken in 1959 at Cathedral Grove. Although beautiful, the photograph only shows the backs of the girls who are leaning over a railing looking into a creek. The back of the photo reads, “Some of our girls on a bridge. Cathedral Grove. Alberni Indian Residential School. Summer /59.” The folder also contained signed drawings, along with a collection of poetry and other artwork. According to Cootes, Rhonda believed that her grandmother
A group of girls captured in a photograph, their identities unknown. Written in pen on the back of the image: “Some of our girls on bridge Cathedral Grove. Alberni Indian Res. School. Summer /59.”
Phyllis felt sorry for the children who suﬀered from depression and loneliness. She would pay them a little money for their art and writings.
Writing under the holly tree The booklet of poetry is signed by Deborah Morrison of Kitamaat Village. The poems, compiled in June, 1972, speak to the loneliness she felt and her views on racism. Others are reﬂections of what she was dealing with in the moment, like her ﬁnal days in Port Alberni or her feelings about her family and her culture. There are other poems in the booklet that were not written by Deborah, but they are unsigned. Ha-Shilth-Sa located Deborah, now married and going by the last name Hayward. She shared her memories of Phyllis Ursel. “I remember her fondly,” said Deborah. “I could go to her room anytime and tell her when I was afraid and she would sit down and listen.” “We felt so comfortable around her, she was nice, she was fair to us,” she shared Of her poetry, Deborah said she started writing because of the loneliness caused by being away from family. AIRS survivors were given chores to do, but even then, there was still a lot of time on their hands. “I would go for walks and ﬁnd time alone. I’d take a book, ﬁnd a trail nearby and write, or I’d go under the holly tree to write,” she said. Deborah didn’t quite understand why she was sent away to AIRS and, as children will do, blamed her weak grades as the cause. She was determined to do better so she could go back home. “I tried really hard in school because I thought that’s why I was sent away; I worked on projects, committees, played basketball and other sports, I would be
August 13, 2020—Ha-Shilth-Sa—Page 9
belongings of former employee
at the Alberni Indian Residential School
did return to the family that she was so lonesome for. “By then, the family had broken up, everyone was blaming each other for the kids being taken away to residential school,” said Hayward. She went into foster care in Duncan and then another one in Kitamaat. She graduated with excellent grades in 1974 at her home village. Now age 64, Hayward is living back home in Kitamaat Village. “I’ve done a lot of healing, counselling and working on our native language,” she shared. She remembered other AIRS workers who were kind to the children. There was Hortense the cook who found out kids were breaking into the kitchen at night because they were so hungry. According to Hayward, Hortense got permission to come to AIRS on the weekends to teach the kids how to make small snacks for themselves. And then there was Penny. She would take the girls on ﬁeld trips and picnics. “I don’t remember her last name but she was young and had a boyfriend, so she’s probably married,” said Hayward. Penny was so well-liked that Hayward named her daughter after her. Rhonda Ursel is delighted to know that her grandmother left a positive impression of the children of AIRS. She has given the collection of work to Ha-Shilth-Sa in the hopes that they can be returned to the original artists or kept in archives. AIRS matron Phyllis Ursel is fondly remembered by survivor Deborah Morrison.
Photos by Denise Titian
de 6 in 1959. called out of class to teach other kids how to make fried bread,” she recalled.
Bright voice during a dark time Deborah believes she was at AIRS from 1969-72. The booklet of poetry was a class project and about 100 copies were made. Deborah gave a few copies away to very special people, including Phyllis Ursel. She didn’t save one for herself. Deborah said that Ursel was known to give and receive little gifts from some of the girls. She gave Deborah a cross necklace. “I treasured it and took good care of it,” she said. But with all her hard work, Deborah never
Deborah Morrison 1970
Deborah Morrison 2020
Page 10— Ha-Shilth-Sa—August 13, 2020
Photos by Melissa Renwick
Joe Martin prepares to cut up the lower jaw bone of a grey whale outside his workshop in Toﬁno.
Carving whale bone into a Nuu-chah-nulth war club By Melissa Renwick Local Journalism Initiative Reporter Toﬁno, BC - During a hike down to Radar Beach, Tsimka Martin stumbled upon the bones of an adult grey whale. Upon her return, she informed her father, Joe, of what she had found. He immediately began to dream up a way that he could make use of them. Over a month ago, Martin brought her father back to the site where she found the bones. Caked in sand and weighed down by water and oil that was trapped in the pores of the bones, the pair loaded their ﬁndings into Joe’s boat. For weeks, oil seeped from the skeletal pieces onto the ﬂoor inside Joe’s workshop garage in Toﬁno, until he was ready to transform them into a Nuu-chah-nulth
war club. Cutting into the thickest part of the lower right jawbone with a chainsaw, he pondered, “how the heck did they do this without metal?” What would have taken his ancestors an entire day, took him mere seconds. The outer layer of bone is harder than wood, he remarked. It was the master carver’s ﬁrst attempt at making a war club, which Nuu-chahnulth peoples used to ﬁght in battle until the late 1800s, he said. The ﬁnal result is reminiscent of a sword, marked with carvings of family crests. While it may not be perfect, it’s important for Joe to continue practicing the ways of his ancestors – with the help of a chainsaw.
Martin maps out where he will cut into the lower jaw bone of a grey whale.
Phrase of the week: %uh=saas t’ucup %u%uum@ik %u%uu%iih= t’ucup h=aayic^i+quu +aaks+ Pronounced ‘Oohor sa sis to sup oo om hirk oo oo ee rh har yii chilt koo tlak silt’, this means ‘I am craving sea urchin, may you pick some for me when the tide goes out?’ Supplied by ciisma.
Illustration by Ivy Cargill-Martin
August 13, 2020—Ha-Shilth-Sa—Page 11
Ahousaht man once again cycling for childhood cancer Funds raised from initiative go to SickKids Foundation for cancer treatment, research and eﬀorts towards a cure By Sam Laskaris Ha-Shilth-Sa Contributor Nanaimo, BC – Roy Jack had some serious doubts whether he would continue his annual cycling fundraising tradition. But now Jack, an Ahousaht First Nation member, has not only begun his monthlong quest to cycle and raise money for the Great Cycle Challenge, but he’s already surpassed his original fundraising goal and is now looking to double that. The Great Cycle Challenge sees cyclists from across Canada, the United Stated and Australia set a goal of how far they wish to cycle in a given month. Participants then raise funds during their monthlong challenge. Proceeds go towards childhood cancer research. Jack set a goal of cycling 1,500 kilometres this month. He wanted to raise $2,500, surpassing the $1,800 he raised in 2019. But he has already surpassed his fundraising goal this year and has a new goal he’s aiming for now - $5,000. This marks the fourth straight year that Jack has taken part in the Great Cycle Challenge. The 45-year-old wasn’t sure whether he would participate in the 2020 event. “It’s usually in June,” he said. “But they changed it over to August because of (COVID-19).” Early on during the pandemic Jack was not cycling or training as much as he usually does. Jack was laid oﬀ from his job as a supervisor for a regional recycling plant in Nanaimo this past March. He was recalled to work three weeks later. But even during his time oﬀ work Jack did not venture out too often. “It made it a little bit more diﬃcult to train,” he said. “I was concerned, not knowing how severe (the virus) was when it ﬁrst came out. The three weeks I was laid oﬀ I think I only went out on the bike twice.” Besides dealing with the pandemic, Jack has also faced a number of personal hardships this year. His older brother Reg died in April. An
Photo by Norm Jacob
Ahousaht First Nation member Roy Jack is participating in the Great Cycle Challenge for the fourth consecutive year. uncle and a niece have also died recently. and then back home again. almost forced into cars or not let out of Needless to say, cycling was not top of Though those kilometres did not count vehicles,” he said. “It scared me to think Jack’s mind. But that changed in the past towards his challenge totals for August, how close to home stuﬀ like this fremonth and his interest in cycling was rethat ride did generate quite a few sponquently happened.” newed when family members purchased sors for his event this year after he posted Jack is adding to his challenge totals some equipment for him, including a about it on Facebook. by biking to work and back home each hydration pack and some new cycling “It did raise awareness,” he said. “My workday. With a few extra turns here and shoes. post got shared a few hundred times.” there to make the journeys a tad further, “There were so many gestures that made Jack said it’s not just people from he estimates he travels 20 kilometres to me feel good about what I do,” he said. Ahousaht First Nation that are contributwork and back. As a result, Jack once again signed up ing to his ride. And then in the evenings, when time for the Great Cycle Challenge. As part of “It’s mostly from First Nations through- permits, Jack plans on cycling 30-50 kilohis training, Jack completed an unoﬃcial out the Nuu-chah-nulth communities,” he metres per day to bump up his mileage ride in July, cycling from his hometown said. “The community all over Vancouver this month. of Nanaimo to Port Renfrew to Victoria Island is very supportive.” Jack is also hoping to complete another Jack reached his original goal of raislengthy ride, possibly 36 hours long, at ing $2,500 this year on the August long the end of this month. weekend, after completing a 24-hour, But at this point that is up in the air. His 330-kilometre ride. family, which includes his wife, daughter He started in Victoria at noon on the and step-daughter, have their lease expirSaturday and pedaled his way through ing at the end of August and need to ﬁnd Parksville and Port Alberni before ending a new place to live starting Sept. 1. up in Toﬁno on Sunday, Aug. 2. “We’re in the process of trying to ﬁnd a While he cycled alone, Jack’s parents place,” Jack said of his family’s impendFaith and Norm drove a van behind him ing move. for support. Jack completed that ride Those looking to make a donation to while wearing face paint in support of the Jack’s ride can through https://greatcymissing and murdered Indigenous women clechallenge.ca/Riders/RoyJack and girls’ movement. Donations will be accepted until the end “I’ve been compelled by stories of a of September. couple young family members who were
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The president’s message to Nuu-chah-nulth-aht Hello Nuu-chah-nulth-aht. Sending heartfelt condolence to all those Nuuchah-nulth families who lost a member in the past month. My heart is with you, your family and communities. A big congratulations to our grads and scholarship winners. I hope you have all had a chance to watch the videos so you can honour the big accomplishments they have all achieved. Our thanks to Mike Watts for pulling the videos together. This past month and ongoing, I have been trying to get the province to honour First Nation’s consent to open their territories to the general public. It is up to each First Nation to give their consent. On June 9th, Nuu-chah-nulth announced four requirements we wanted met before the province was opened to everyone. These are the issues our communities have been struggling with in dealing with COVID. On June 29th, the premier announced the opening of the province without ensuring that our 4 requirements were met. He did not obtain each of our nations consent. These requirements were to protect our people. On June 29th, NTC teamed up with Heiltsuk and Tsilhqot’in to demand that B.C. live up to these conditions before he opened up the province. They also wanted the same conditions. B.C. should have made sure our four requirements had been addressed before risking our people to exposure to the virus as more people come into our territories. First Nations that live in more remote communities are not the same as people who live in towns and cities. As a result of the opening of the province, traﬃc into our territories has increased and in the case of Toﬁno, numbers of people have increased dramatically. In some cases, people are entering into First Nations territories without their consent. In one case, going by a closed checkpoint in the middle of the night so they could go in and set up camp. The exposure to the virus increases a lot as more people come into the stores, gas stations and other services. We want to retain the goal of no COVID cases in our reserves. For Nuu-chah-nulth, travel for testing or hospitals means travelling by ﬂoat plane, boats or logging roads for hours. Small centers like Tahsis or Toﬁno have few hospital beds, fewer respirators and couldn’t handle an outbreak.. NTC has been asking health authorities for testing machines. FNHA has promised us a testing machine, but one machine for all our territories is not good enough as our territories are spread far from each other. Meeting the requirements to get a machine has been far too lengthy. We needed these machines as soon as the pandemic started. Getting tested at home means swabs have to be sent out to a centre which can test them, again meaning more time and travel. We have yet to ﬁnd solutions on getting test swabs to a location to be tested. We would also like to screen people who come into our territories so we know they are not sick and could spread the virus. Some of our communities have had checkpoints into our communities so only members who live on reserve could come in. It is one of the reasons that
Klecko’s - +ekoo I would like to thank all the (there were so many) people who gave so generously on the sudden death of my beloved son Randy Johnston. He will be so dearly missed by us all. I would also like to say a special thank you to Wally and Donna Samuel for the hospitality and wonderful meals provided. Again, in much appreciation tleekoo tleekoo for all the fresh bread, fresh ﬁsh, prawns, clams and all the good pastries. This generosity uplifted my family spirit and eased our pain immensely. With love for all of you čuu. - Betty Keitlah
UCHUCKLESAHT PEOPLES ASSEMBLY Date: Saturday August 22, 2020
we have been able to keep the virus out. While ISC gave us money at the beginning of COVID, this has not lasted and communities cannot aﬀord to keep these checkpoints up and pay the people manning them. We need money to continue to man these checkpoints. We have been working with FNHA and the B.C. health oﬃcials to train or members on contact tracing to support our nursing team if we ever needed more capacity. Contact tracing is asking questions of our members who get COVID, where they have been and who they were in contact with so we can contact people to let them know they were exposed to the virus. We also need money to do this training. We have started a health table to work on these issues with the Heiltsuk and Tsilhqot’in and the province. One of our thorniest issues is that B.C. won’t tell us when there is a COVID case in the area around us. We only want to know where the case is, not who, so we do not believe this violates privacy concerns. Haida Gwaii has been asserting from the beginning of the virus that Haida Gwaii is closed to non-residents. When B.C. opened up the province, they did not seek the consent of the Haida. Soon after opening, there was an outbreak of the virus and B.C. then closed Haida Gwaii to non-residents. I am very happy they did this for the Haida. Now the Nuu-chah-nulth, Heiltsuk and Tsilhqot’in want their four conditions met so we do not face outbreaks in our communities. If B.C. wants to have an outbreak in order to change their policies, then that is not good enough. The lives of our people must be valued; obtain our consent before we open up our territories. The next big issue is schools opening in September. If there are schools on reserve, you can say yes or not to that. As a parent, you have a right to choose if you want to send your children to school or keep them at home and go internet classes. Or if available, use a tutor. Our director of education is working on these issues at this time to try and help parents and First Nations on how to continue the learning of our students. B.C. and those that live and visit in our territories must respect the individual First Nations wishes about whether or not they can come into our lands. Keep safe and remember to take all the precautions so we don’t bring the virus into our homes. Thanks, Kekinusuqs, Judith Sayers
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August 13, 2020—Ha-Shilth-Sa—Page 13
First Nations doctor joins ER team in Port Alberni Anaesthesiologist from the Yukon’s Kwanlin Dün First Nation brings experience from rural practices in Alberta By Eric Plummer Ha-Shilth-Sa Editor Port Alberni, BC - Dr. James Williams joins the ER team at the West Coast General Hospital this month, continuing a healing tradition ﬁrst introduced to him by his grandmother while growing up in the Yukon. The 28-year-old member of the Kwanlin Dün First Nation began his post at the Port Alberni hospital in early August, specialising as an anaesthesiologist. Anaesthesia enables the painless performance of critical medical procedures by suppressing the central nervous system either through sedation, local aesthesia to a speciﬁc part of the body or by making the patient totally unconscious. Cases can vary widely, from a hip fracture to emergency surgery during labour, and can be unpredictable for those who work behind the emergency department doors, said Williams. “It’s completely random,” he said. This new post follows two-years at rural practices in Alberta, where the young doctor regularly moved among small communities. “Doing rural medicine in a small community there’s not a whole lot of support sometimes – especially in emergency if you’re the only guy on,” commented Williams, who witnessed the importance of anaesthesia in many of these rural locations. “Some very sick people can come in, [and] the ones that are quite critical, the ones that need immediate interven-
Dr. James Williams began working as an anaesthesiologist at the West Coast General Hospital in early August. The 28-year-old member of the Kwanlin Dün First Nation grew up in the Yukon. tion otherwise they pass away, require the human body, but also received an anaesthetic skills.” introduction to Indigenous medicine from Williams also worked for six months in his grandmother. Whitehorse, where he grew up as a mem“She was one of the traditional healers, ber of the Yukon’s largest First Nation. one of the respected elders in that area,” “It was a good transition for some of said Williams, who later found that some the community members to see me as not of these traditional remedies were part of a trouble maker anymore, a help to the modern medicine. “She used to always community,” he chuckled. share diﬀerent teachings and show us As a child he was fascinated with the diﬀerent herbal remedies for medicinal natural sciences and inner workings of properties. In my future studies I’ve
noticed the speciﬁc extracts for speciﬁc medications.” With thousands of First Nations people living in the Alberni Valley, Williams brings his medical expertise to an urban hub for Nuu-chah-nulth-aht. Yet, as a doctor with First Nations heritage, he’s also progressing through a profession with relatively few Indigenous physicians. According to the 2016 Statistics Canada Census, less than one per cent of the 93,985 general practitioners and specialists identiﬁed as Aboriginal. Indigenous people make up almost ﬁve per cent of Canada’s population. A provincial investigation is currently trying to determine how to better serve British Columbia’s Indigenous patients, after a discriminatory game was reported from at least one hospital where staﬀ guessed the blood-alcohol level of patients who arrived. Former judge and provincial child advocate Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond leads the investigation. “Our task is to address the speciﬁc incidents that have bee reported, as well as to gauge the levels of systemic and individual racism that Indigenous peoples face when using the health care system in general,” stated Turpel-Lafond in July. Williams noted that sometimes healthcare providers are “not super well-educated to the First Nations communities and the cultural aspect of things.” “Locally I will be helpful in providing that perspective,” he added.
NTC President Sayers appointed to be VIU chancellor By Denise Titian Ha-Shilth-Sa Reporter Nanaimo, BC – Prominent Hupacasath leader and NTC President Kekinusuqs, Dr. Judith Sayers, has accepted a threeyear term as VIU chancellor beginning October 2020. She is the second Nuuchah-nulth person to be oﬀered the prestigious role, following A-in-chut, Shawn Atleo of Ahousaht. Sayers will be installed as VIU’s third chancellor. Atleo served as VIU’s ﬁrst chancellor from 2008 to 2014. He was followed by Louise Mandell, one of Canada’s foremost Indigenous rights lawyers. Mandell ﬁnishes her term this fall. According to VIU, those who serve as chancellor do so on a voluntary basis. “The chancellor acts as an ambassador for and a champion of the University. The chancellor is the titular head of the university, presiding over convocation ceremonies, conferring degrees and providing advice to the president. The chancellor is a member of the Board of Governors and the Senate,” states the VIU website. Sayers says the new appointment will not interfere with her job at the NTC. “I got consent of the NTC directors many months ago,” she told Ha-ShilthSa. Her duties will include presiding over commencement ceremonies, which will take four to nine days a year. In addition, she will have an honorary seat on the VIU Board who meet ﬁve days each year. In their news release VIU describes Sayers as a prominent local Indigenous leader, sustainable development advocate and passionate educator. “Sayers holds a business and law degree, as well as an honorary Doctor of Laws from Queen’s University. She practiced law for 18 years in both Alberta and
British Columbia, working in international forums and lobbying governments and other agencies for the promotion and protection of First Nations rights and title,” reads the VIU media release. Sayers served her nation for 14 years as Hupacasath elected chief and was instrumental in the development of a run-of-river hydro project, which was an economic development project for the Hupacasath. Sayers also served as Hupacasath’s chief negotiator during the Nuu-chah-nulth treaty dealings with both the federal and provincial governments. “One of the reasons I am attracted to VIU and to this position is how closely the university has worked with the Snuneymuxw First Nation and other nations,” said Sayers. “I would like to see those kinds of partnerships continue to grow and ﬂourish. VIU takes its commitment to reconciliation seriously, and I am excited to work with President Dr. Deb Saucier, who is also Indigenous, to continue implementing Indigenous ways of knowing and being.” While she says she is there to represent all students, Sayers sees this as an opportunity help more Indigenous people get into post-secondary institutions. “I think with TRC (Truth and Reconciliation Commission) and UNDRIP (United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples) there is an opportunity to remove those barriers to allow Indigenous people to have a voice and to have access to university,” Sayers said. She is excited to be part of a trend that sees other Indigenous people being offered these positions in other places. “Steven Point was appointed chancellor at UBC and Kim Baird was appointed at Kwantlen Polytechnic University,” Sayers noted. “Dr. Sayers’ accomplishments in ad-
Kekinusuqs, Dr. Judith Sayers, has accepted a three-year term as VIU chancellor. vancing Indigenous rights and promoting innovative ideas and better understanding capacity-building sustainable developthrough education.” ment projects set an example for our Sayers became a member of the Order students and community members about of Canada in 2019, was awarded the what is possible when you put your pasLifetime Achievement Award by Clean sion and education to work,” Dr. Saucier Energy BC and was named to Canada’s stated. “I’m looking forward to working 2016 Clean50 for being an outstanding with Dr. Sayers to further advance the contributor to clean capitalism. She has Indigenization of VIU and I am excited been inducted into the Aboriginal Busito watch the inspiring eﬀect she will have ness Hall of Fame. on students.” Sayers says her family is very excited Sayers has said that she intends to make about her new role. Both she and her the university a more inviting place for brother earned university degrees while Indigenous students. her daughter is working on a doctorate “I would like VIU to be leading the degree at UVic. charge to eradicate racism in any form “My son is working at NRT (New Relaand make the University a safe place – tionship Trust) on clean energy projects; one where all students and employees see he hopes to go back to do masters or law themselves reﬂected and respected and degree,” she shared. feel they belong.” Sayers says there are many Indigenous “A lot of my life has been spent in advo- students at VIU, including a large number of Nuu-chah-nulth-aht. Their numbers cacy, ﬁghting on the front lines for many make up 10 per cent of the student popudiﬀerent causes,” she continued. “Higher lations at the university. Sayers hopes to education is my next area of focus. I’d see that number grow. like to take on a major role in promoting
Page 14— Ha-Shilth-Sa—August 13, 2020
Ahousaht mourns loss of Hugh Clarke A well-known and respected member of the community died peacefully in his Ahousaht home at the age of 83 By Denise Titian Ha-Shilth-Sa Reporter Ahousaht, BC – He has been there for as long as most Ahousaht residents remember so it came as a shock to learn that the long-time resident owner of Ahousaht General Store, Hugh Clarke passed away on the morning of July 21. Hugh Clarke was born Dec. 4, 1936 to Ivan and Mabel Clarke. His family has a long history in Clayoquot Sound beginning in 1933 when Ivan began building on pre-empted land in Hot Springs Cove. Pre-emption was a method by which colonial or provincial Crown land in British Columbia could be acquired by claiming it for settlement. It was designed to encourage settlement in remote areas of the province. Then known as Refuge Cove, Ivan built a home and general store, moving his growing family to the cove. He expanded his business and operated the ﬁrst post oﬃce in Hot Springs Cove. According to Michael Kaehn’s book, The Hot Springs Cove Story, Ivan Clarke, who was Kaehn’s grandfather, helped Hugh Clarke purchase the land and assets that make up Ahousaht General Store. It started out as a branch of Ivan’s general store in Hot Springs Cove. “Ivan had helped arrange the purchase for Hugh of the store, all the outbuildings and 12 acres of property in Ahousaht for $25,000 in 1958, from his very good friend Gordon Gibson Sr…,” wrote Kaehn in his book. Kaehn also hints at how his uncle Hugh met his wife, Maggie Campbell of Ahousaht. Back when Hugh and his siblings were young children, there was a settlement across the cove where Angus Campbell of Ahousaht lived. “Hugh was about eight years old when he borrowed a seine skiﬀ from the Campbells to start ﬁshing in Hot Springs Cove,” Kaehn writes. Hugh’s mother Mabel Clarke hired Maggie’s older sister Nora Campbell to help care for the children at Hot Springs Cove. According to Kaehn, Hugh quit school in grade 9. By that time, he had already been building boats, ﬁshing outside the cove and selling his catch at his father’s ﬁsh camp. He built a troller that he used to travel from Ahousaht to visit Maggie who was working as a nurse at Toﬁno General Hospital. Hugh and Maggie were married in Ahousaht on Nov. 20, 1964. They raised their three children, Keith, Iris and Stephen at their property in Ahousaht. Following in his father’s footsteps, Hugh launched his own general store in Matilda Inlet that eventually expanded to oﬀer postal services, marine fuel service,
Photo by Curt McLeod
Hughie Clarke in front of his General Store in Ahoushaht, BC, an operation he ran since 1958. a motel and hostel and even a restaurant. “He liked helping people ﬁx motors and just helping people in general, met a lot of people from all over the world,” said the family. Hugh and Maggie’s daughter Iris married and moved to Toﬁno where she took on the job of Toﬁno Post Master. In later years, Hugh’s granddaughter Shelby took over mail service in Ahousaht after he suﬀered a stroke; making four generations of Clarkes that worked in postal services in Clayoquot Sound. Hugh Clarke was predeceased by his wife Maggie and son Stephen. He will be lovingly missed by his daughter Iris and son Keith, along with his sister Patsy (and Peter) Moseley, sister in-laws Gloria Clarke, Julia Eaton, Nora Simpson, his grandchildren, nieces and nephews. He will also be missed by his lifelong friend Louie Frank Sr., Kalle and Alec Erickson and many more. “There is so much more on Hugh’s life, you could write many books,” said the Clarke family. Hugh was remembered at a memorial service held in Toﬁno on July 25. The family held a private service in Ahousaht in early August. Rebecca Martin continues to run the Canada Post services in Ahousaht while other family members run the general store.
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UCHUCKLESAHT JOB POSTING Building Maintenance Worker Uchucklesaht Tribe Government is currently accepting applications for a Part Time Building Maintenance Worker employment opportunity. Job Summary: Performs maintenance and repairs related to buildings, Grounds and equipment, in one or more areas such as electrical, plumbing, painting and grounds-keeping. Key Duties and Responsibilities 1. Establishes, monitors, and carries out preventative maintenance procedures and schedules for buildings, equipment and grounds. Ensures building and equipment meet all safety, security and ﬁre regulations and policies. Makes recommendations for major repairs and purchases to supervisor. 2. Performs carpentry, electrical, painting, mechanical and plumbing maintenance and repairs such as repairing furniture, constructing shelves, installing switches, replacing plugs and other basic appliance repairs, applying paint and other ﬁnishes, repairing drywall, disassembling and reassembling equipment, replacing sinks and toilets and applying ﬁnishing material such as linoleum. 3. Monitors work performed by contractors, prepares estimates of labour and material costs, contacts external contractors and trades people to obtain quotes and arranges for major repairs and maintenance work. 4. Collects and removes garbage and recyclable materials and ensures the safe disposal of hazardous waste. 5. Cleans external areas such as entranceways, sidewalks and parking lots using manual and power brooms, rakes, shovels and other equipment to remove dirt, leaves, snow and other refuse. Performs minor gardening and lawn maintenance tasks such as mowing, weeding, pruning and watering. Cleans internal areas of the building such as hallways, building ﬂoors and windows, stairwells, washrooms and oﬃce areas. 6. Completes and maintains related records such as maintenance logs and security incident reports. 7. Transports equipment, furniture and supplies manually and/or using aides such as dollies and carts. Operates a motor vehicle to pick up and move goods and supplies. Arranges furniture for special events. 8. Performs other related duties as required. Required Qualiﬁcations, Education and Knowledge: • Grade 10, plus related vocational training such as building maintenance course. Training and Experience: • Two (2) years recent related experience. • Or and Equivalent combination of education, training and experience • Criminal Record Check Required Applications Deadline: Please forward a resume and cover letter by August 21, 2020 to: Lysa.Ray@Uchucklesaht.ca Uchucklesaht Tribe Government 5251 Argyle St. Port Alberni, BC V9Y 1V1 Fax: 250-724-1806 Attention: Lysa Ray
August 13, 2020—Ha-Shilth-Sa—Page 15
Community supports Huu-ay-aht family in need Fire department determines cause of blaze to be unknown, lack of insurance limits investigation into incident By Denise Titian Ha-Shilth-Sa Reporter Port Alberni, BC – As a summer afternoon ﬁre raged through their townhouse, James and Annette Nookemus could only watch helplessly as 10 years of belongings and cherished mementos went up in ﬂames. The ﬁre occurred on July 25 in a M’akola low income townhouse complex on Gertrude Street in Port Alberni. According to Annette, the upper ﬂoor of their unit was completely destroyed by ﬁre. Neighbors on each side of the Nookemus unit also sustained damage. Nookemus said that ﬁre investigators could not determine the cause of the blaze and informed the family that the ﬁle is now closed. Fire Prevention Oﬃcer Rick Newberry of the Port Alberni Fire Department conﬁrmed that the cause was undetermined, which is common in uninsured house ﬁres. “We just do a general investigation; we don’t have the resources to spend two days investigating,” he added. He went on to say that when insurance companies are involved, they are the ones that usually send private investigators to take a closer look at the scene. The Nookemus’ unit is a rental and they didn’t have content insurance. They have two children; a son aged 13 and daughter age 10. “There is nothing to be saved upstairs; belongings downstairs have smoke and water damage,” said James. Annette is taking online courses with Discovery College to complete a Health Care Assistant certiﬁcation program while James works at Walmart. The family is staying at a local motel for at least the next two weeks. They say they paid half the cost of the room rental while Huu-ay-aht First Nation contributed the other half. Annette says that they could be home-
Photo by Denise Titian
Kim Rai of Khalsa Aid and MP Gord Johns present gifts to Nookemus family outside of the motel where they are currently staying in Port Alberni, after the family of four was displaced by a house ﬁre. less for another two months, depending on if they can get another unit in one of the M’akola complexes in Port Alberni, or if they have to wait until their unit is restored. Since the ﬁre, friends and family have held several fundraising activities to provide support to the Nookemuses A family member has set up a GoFundMe page with a $5,000 goal. To date, nearly half the funds have been raised. Family friend and MP Gord Johns has been checking in with the family since the ﬁre and has made some personal donations to help them out. He said that there is no federal role when it comes to families that face this type of disaster. “With COVID-19 sometimes we need to step outside of our traditional roles,” he said, noting that the GoFundMe account isn’t doing very well, likely due to people struggling ﬁnancially during the pandemic. “We are looking for support from the community to ﬁll the gap,” said Johns.
By chance, Johns ran into long-time friend Kim Rai of Khalsa Aid Canada. Khalsa Aid is an international nongovernment organization that provides humanitarian aid in disaster areas and civil conﬂict zones around the world. In 2018 Khalsa Aid donated $200,000 to Ahousaht in memory of Maggie Sutlej, a little Ahousaht girl who was taken from beneath her mother’s dead body during an attack on the village by the Royal Navy. The funds go toward supporting the community, such as child or youth programs or search and rescue equipment. Rai, along with his friend Johns, arrived at the Redford Motel on Aug. 4 to present the Nookemus family with equipment they will need to further their education. The children were given iPads and headphones for their return to school while Annette was given a laptop computer to help her complete her program in December. Annette says that she has been working
on her assignments through her phone, but it’s hard. “Sometimes I feel like throwing my phone,” she said. “We are so proud of you, what you are doing to become a nurse and serve the community,” said Johns to Annette. Rai told the family that they have learned some Nuu-chah-nulth values which are shared by Khalsa Aid. “We hope people listening to us will help you rebuild,” Rai said to the family. Captain Ramsay of the Salvation Army and Lovpreet Singh, owner of the local Dairy Queen, were on hand to make contributions to the family. Singh presented the family with gift cards allowing them to have some meals at Dairy Queen. “I am here to support the family and thank Kahlsa Aid Society and the Salvation Army,” said Johns. Johns said that neighbors on either side of the Nookemuses were also displaced for a short time but are back in their units.
Hesquiaht man boasts best poutine in Port Alberni By Denise Titian Ha-Shilth-Sa Reporter Port Alberni, BC – He’s worked in pretty much every restaurant in Port Alberni and now William Ambrose III is living his dream; he has opened up his own food truck. Ambrose began working in a ﬁsh plant at the age of 16 and didn’t like it. However, he did like cooking with his father, William Ambrose II. “I was about 12 when my father started teaching me to cook,” Ambrose recalled. “He told me women love a good cook.” He began working as a dishwasher and prep cook in many diﬀerent restaurants in Port Alberni, including Golden Dragon and Swale Rock Cafe. He went on to complete a one-year culinary arts program at North Island College while raising a family of ﬁve with his wife. “I’ve always wanted to do something on my own,” he said, “not necessarily to provide for them (his children) but to give them something to look up to.” Ambrose says his sister Christina Williams wanted to help him for a couple of reasons. Besides enjoying her brother’s food, she wanted to have something set aside for her daughter. Ambrose gratefully accepted an investment from his sister and used it to lease a food trailer from a resort in Qualicum
Beach. “This is a stepping stone toward buying one next year,” said Ambrose, who said NEDC will be assisting him in making the purchase. His menu is limited, featuring various types of poutine. “My top sellers are chili cheese fries and classic poutine,” said Ambrose. He has a couple of secrets to his successful food, including a nice crispy chip and a personal recipe for delicious gravy. Ambrose shared that he perfected his gravy recipe after experimenting at the many family dinners that he prepared. “I didn’t forget that recipe when they told me it was the best,” he said. “I have been getting nothing but good reviews and they say I have the best gravy in town.” Mr. Chips had a soft opening in early July at its temporary location on 5th Avenue just oﬀ of Redford Street. But there were issues with the location and the trailer had to be moved. “There’s city bylaws and only a handful of places that a food truck can go in Port Alberni,” said Ambrose. After a few weeks of down time he managed to reach an agreement with the City of Port Alberni and opened Mr. Chips at the Clutesi Haven Marina on River Road July 31 for the remainder of the summer.
Photo by Denise Titian
This summer William Ambrose III opened his own food trailer in Port Alberni.
Page 16— Ha-Shilth-Sa—August 13, 2020