Ha Shilth Sa Newspaper December 15, 2022

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Court dismisses mother’s appeal in smudging case

The B.C. Court of Appeal upholds a decision that Indigenous demonstrations in an elementary school did not go against stipulations in the Canadian Charter of Rights

Vancouver, BC – The mother of two former John Howitt Elementary students has lost her appeal of a January 2020 court ruling, which determined that a smudging ceremony held at the school did not infringe on her children’s right to freedom of religion.

Candice Servatius, a devout Christian and mother, took issue with Indigenous cultural demonstrations held at a public school attended by her children, claiming that the events were religious in nature and went against her own church’s teachings.

In September 2015 a Nuu-chah-nulth education worker arranged for a smudge ceremony at John Howitt Elementary School, as part of her work to support students and to introduce Indigenous culture to them. Student attendance at the ceremony, the court heard, was voluntary and some students chose not to take part.

Servatius’then 9-year-old daughter remained at the ceremony.

The following January, the school held an assembly in which an invited guest, a hoop dancer, said a prayer in an Indigenous language over the microphone before his performance. Servatius asserted that this prayer also infringed on her children’s right to freedom of religion.

Dissatisfied with the school’s response to her concerns, Servatius took the matter to court, alleging that the school infringed her Charter-guaranteed freedom of religion by compelling her children to participate in religious ceremonies contrary to their own faith. She also claimed that the demonstrations violated the principle of state neutrality.

She sought relief prohibiting School District 70 from allowing Indigenous cultural events in schools.

Represented byAlberta-based Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms (JCCF), the matter went to trial in November 2019, with testimony given by members of the Servatius family, her church, John Howitt teacher and staff of the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council.

The following January the B.C. Supreme Court released it’s ruling. The trial judge found that the students were observing the events as educational

experiences and not participating in them, and that their freedom of religion was not infringed.

The trial judge also found that the issues in the litigation were of general public interest and ordered the parties to pay their own costs.

In June 2022, Servatius filed an appeal and SD70 filed a cross appeal on the issue of court costs.

The B.C. Court ofAppeal issued its decision Dec. 12, 2022. Servatius’appeal was dismissed. The court found that neither school event breached the student’s freedom of religion nor the school’s duty of state neutrality.

“The Court ofAppeal ruled that the trial judge did not make an error in his findings of fact that the children did not participate in the smudging or the prayer and the school did not promote or favour a set of beliefs,” reads the ruling.

“The NTC is very happy that the B.C. Court ofAppeal ruled in the smudging case that there was no breach of the children’s freedom of religion by either the smudging demonstration or the hoop dancer’s prayer before he danced,” said NTC President, Cloy-e-iss, Judith Sayers.

She went on to say that the court agreed with the lower court that smudging is not a religious thing, nor can anyone define spirituality for Nuu-chah-nulth except Nuu-chah-nulth.

“It is a strong ruling that no child was forced to take part in smudging; in fact, they were told [they] could leave the classroom and only watched the smudging and did not participate in any way,” Sayers added. “The court clearly stated that smudging was not part of a belief system that would be used to convert other people from one religion to another.” Servatius’court costs were funded by a special interest group, Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms, a registered charity that is supported by public donations. She was ordered to pay SD70’s court costs in the recent B.C. Court of Appeal ruling.

“NTC seeks to teach about our culture within schools with the agreement of the School District so our children feel more comfortable in their schools and that non-Nuu-chah-nulth have a better understanding of our culture and way of life,” Sayers stated.

Inquiry held for fatal stabbing

PortAlberni, BC – The families of two Nuu-chah-nulth men have been gathering at the PortAlberni courthouse as the preliminary inquiry gets underway following the March 2021 murder of 20-year-old Clifton Johnston, anAhousaht member.

The accused is a Nuu-chah-nulth youth who was 16 years old when arrested in January 2022. He cannot be identified due the Youth Criminal JusticeAct.

Members of his family were in the courtroom to hear testimony on Dec. 13.

According to the federal Department of Justice, a preliminary inquiry is a judicial hearing that is used in serious criminal cases to determine whether the evidence assembled by the Crown against an accused person is sufficient to proceed to a trial.

“The preliminary inquiry is not a trial in the strict sense, although evidence is given under oath and the accused or the accused’s counsel is entitled to cross examine any witnesses summoned by the Crown,” stated the Department of Justice.

The court issued a publication ban in relation to the inquiry. Information gleaned during a preliminary inquiry is not usually released to the public. This is a measure to protect information in the event the matter goes to trial.

In the early morning hours of March 27, 2021, a pedestrian discovered the lifeless body of 20-year-old Clifton Johnston in front of the PortAlberni Friendship Center in the 3500 block of 4th Avenue.

According to the RCMP, he had suffered stab wounds to the chest.

Described has a happy, fun-loving boy byAhousaht elder Wally Samuel, Johnston, a former PortAlberni resident, was visiting town for the weekend. His mother, Iris Clarke, said they were on a trip from their home inAbbotsford, B.C., when she dropped him off for a visit in PortAlberni.

The preliminary inquiry is being held at the PortAlberni Courthouse at 2999 4th Ave from Dec. 13 to 15. If the judge determines that the Crown has met its burden of providing sufficient evidence against the accused, the matter can proceed to trial.

Canada’s Oldest First Nations Newspaper - Serving Nuu-chah-nulth-aht since 1974 Vol. 49 - No. 24—December 15, 2022 haas^i>sa Canadian Publications Mail Product Sales Agreement No. 40047776 INTERESTING NEWS If undeliverable, please return to: Ha-Shilth-Sa P.O. Box 1383, PortAlberni, B.C. V9Y 7M2 Inside this issue... Ahousaht schools back in session..................................Page 3 Murder raises housing urgency......................................Page 5 Exploring discarded timber...........................................Page 7 Indigenous traditions key to biodiversity......................Page 11 67th annual Totem basketball tournament....................Page 15
Photo by Eric Plummer On Dec. 12 the B.C. Court ofAppeal upheld a decision that Indigenous demonstrations, including smudging by the burning of sage, in a PortAlberni elementary school did not go against Charter rights.
Judge hears evidence related to 2021 murder of Clifton Johnson
Page 2— Ha-Shilth-Sa—December 15, 2022

Ahousaht schools are back in session after outbreak

After

a full week and a half of closures due to flu, students returned to class with 50 to 60 per cent aÅendance

Ahousaht, BC -After a week and a half of closure due to an influenza outbreak, bothAhousaht schools have welcomed their students and staff back for regular classes.

During the time of the closure both schools were deeply sanitized, and they continue to clean high-touch surfaces, explained RebeccaAtleo,Ahousaht’s education director.

On Monday, Dec. 5 the Maaqtusiis elementary and secondary schools reconvened, and presently have 50 to 60 per cent attendance, saidAtleo. On Nov. 28 attendance had dropped to 17 per cent, leading students and staff to be sent home until the outbreak died down.

Though some children and staff members are still at home sick and recovering from the flu, those who are healthy have been back at school and are excited to be there, she explained.

“We were hoping with COVID-19… we wouldn’t be going through this, but that flu bug was just horrible,” saidAtleo. “I think anytime there’s a closure… the kids get disappointed.”

During the time that students and staff were at home, virtual lessons were planned so that children weren’t behind on their teachings, continuedAtleo.

At the peak of the flu outbreak, of 238 students at both schools a total of 41 showed up on a Monday, Nov. 28, which prompted the closure.An additional 12 teachers were struck with the bug. The

schools were also closed on Nov. 24 due to high absenteeism.

“[The kids are] back into full swing of things, [including] activities for the Christmas holidays and such,” saidAtleo.

Though the flu is still circulating within the community, the schools are doing their best to keep everyone healthy, and

have schools open for students that are fit to attend, explainedAtleo.

Atleo cautions people to stay home when they are feeling under the weather to keep the community, students, and elders safe.

“We’ve dealt with it the best way we could, always keeping in mind the safety

of our children and the community,” said Atleo. “We do have some vulnerable community members as well as those children who have some health issues. And you know, we need to keep them safe as well.”

December 51, 2022—Ha-Shilth-Sa—Page 3
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5 the Maaqtusiis
28 attendance had dropped to 17 per cent,
Photo by Ahousaht First Nation
On Monday, Dec.
elementary and
secondary schools reconvened with 50 to 60 per cent attendance. On
Nov.
leading students and staff to be sent home until the influenza outbreak died
down.

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Standard aims to end health care racism

FNHA document targets disturbing revelations from In Plain Sight report in 2020

British Columbia – First Nations leaders and the provincial government have been working to eradicate racism directed at Indigenous people in public health care settings, after a report documenting disturbing incidents caught the attention of lawmakers in late 2020.

“In November 2020, the In Plain Sight (IPS) report was published which contained overwhelming evidence of Indigenous-specific systemic racism in the B.C. health system,” stated Health Minister Adrian Dix stated in a follow-up report last month.

In Plain Sight was prompted by allegations of an organized “Price is Right” game involving guessing the blood alcohol contents ofAboriginal patients in B.C. emergency rooms. Former judge Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond was appointed to investigate the allegations and recommend actions.

While Turpel-Lafond found no evidence of an organized game, she did find anecdotal signs of multiple activities that resembled the allegations, she said.

“I am afraid to go to any hospital,” said one Indigenous respondent in the 2020 report. “When I do have to, I dress up like I’m going to church.”

More than two-thirds of Indigenous respondents reported facing discrimination based on their ancestry. Meanwhile, more than one-third of non-Indigenous respondents reported witnessing interpersonal racism or discrimination againstAboriginal patients, their family or friends.

Among the top negative assumptions circulating in B.C.’s health care system is the idea that Indigenous patients are less worthy, that they’re alcoholics, that they’re drug seeking and that they are incapable of adhering to treatment and medical advice, said Turpel-Lafond when In Plain Sight was released.

In 2018 the First Nations Health Authority began work on its own set of standards to end racism in health care settings. They call their newly released Cultural Safety and Humility Standard a first-of-its-kind to end systemic racism in British Columbia’s healthcare system.

“The existence of Indigenous-specific racism in B.C.’s healthcare system is

long-standing and pervasive - and its ongoing presence continues to have harmful impacts on the overall health and well-being of B.C. First Nations people today,” said the FNHAin a statement.

The FNHAreceived more than 1,100 comments during the public consultation phase.

“This information provided crucial insight used to inform the standard,” state the health authority.

AFirst Nations-led technical committee was struck. With support from FNHA and input from Métis Nation BC and the Health Standards Organization, work began on drafting a new standard based on input from First Nations people, leaders and healthcare professionals across the province.

“What motivates me in this work is knowing that somewhere today in B.C., a First Nations person is seeking medical attention and is being treated in a racist, discriminatory manner,” said Dr. Nel Wieman, the FNHA’s deputy chief medical officer and part of the new standard’s technical committee. “This CSH standard is signaling to the B.C. health system that racism is no longer acceptable and there is a way forward to making the system safer for First Nations and other Indigenous people.”

Gerry Oleman, a St’at’imc Nation elder and co-chair of the health standard’s technical committee, said the Cultural Safety and Humility Standard will bring justice for all people in Canada.

“We set a high bar about dealing with cruelty and fairness,” he said of the

standard.

The Ministry of Health released its annual In Plain Sight progress report on Dec. 1. This follows up on the 24 recommendations to address Indigenous-specific racism and discrimination in the initial 2020 report.

Amedia release stated that eradicating Indigenous-specific racism in British Columbia remains a top priority. The progress report highlights work on recommendations from In Plain Sight.

“I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished in this short time but recognize much more needs to be done. I look forward to continuing this work with Indigenous leaders, health-system partners and health authorities throughout B.C.,” said Dix.

The Ministry of Health notes that significant developments have occurred in government to facilitate recommendations made in the IPS. Changes have been made to the Human Rights Code of B.C. to include Indigenous identity as a protected ground for individuals from discrimination.

In addition, a newAnti-Racism Data Act was introduced as a step to dismantle systemic discrimination faced by Indigenous, black individuals and people of colour. Data collected under the act will help identify gaps in programs and services and allow government to better meet the needs of racialized British Columbians. The act is the first of its kind in Canada to be co-developed with Indigenous peoples, according to the Ministry of Health.

In keeping with Recommendation 8, the ministry says the final stages of the development of the Cultural Safety and Humility Standard are complete.

“While B.C. has made important progress, there is much more work to do to eradicate Indigenous-specific racism, foster cultural humility and create cultural safety to support improved health outcomes for all Indigenous people in B.C.,” said Dix. “The province remains absolutely committed to implementing all 24 recommendations of In Plain Sight, and we will continue to work together with Indigenous Peoples, all orders of government, health-system partners, individuals, service providers, regulatory bodies and health-system leadership to make this commitment a reality.”

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Page 4— Ha-Shilth-Sa—December 15, 2022
Dr. Nel Wieman

Murder raises housing urgency for marginalized

A fatal stabbing occurred next to future site of the Tiny Home Village, offering safer option to illegal trailer park

PortAlberni, BC -Amurder in PortAlberni’s poorest neighbourhood has raised the urgency for an upcoming development that will house the city’s marginalized residents.

Just before 9 p.m. on Dec. 2 police found three people injured from knife wounds, with one person who was killed during the incident on PortAlberni’s lower 4th Avenue. Police tape was put up at a unit in the WintergreenApartments, a building next to an empty lot full of rundown trailers being rented for low rates.

“We don’t believe there is any risk to the general public, this is an isolated incident,” stated Const. Richard Johns of the PortAlberni RCMP. “Officers from our Major Crime Section spent the night investigating, and will continue until all of the details have been unearthed. All persons involved in the incident are identified and the investigation is under control.”

Charges have not been announced, nor has the identity of the victim, but reports indicate he was set to be moving from the trailer park to a collection of over 30 living units due to be assembled on an adjacent lot. The Tiny Home Village is now expected to be ready to house some of the trailer park residents in mid-February, said Cyndi Stevens, executive director of the PortAlberni Friendship Center, which is managing the development.

“It’s tragic, actually,” said Stevens. “It saddens me to think that this could potentially have been avoided if we had the opportunity to have opened earlier.”

The Tiny Home Village was originally expected to be ready by early October, but municipal code requirements, site planning, as well as construction and shipping delays have pushed back the development. The first two units arrived in early December.

Located just half a block from where the fatal stabbing took place, the PortAlberni Friendship Center has pushed forward the Tiny Home Village, which will offer 32 heated living units, each equipped with a bed, mini-fridge, desk and chair. Intended for those in the area who would otherwise be unhoused, tenants can access communal washrooms and showers on the site, with Wi-Fi and support services available that include referral to recovery supports.

Security will also be in place at the collection of modular living pods, as safety has long been a concern in the trailer park and WintergreenApartments.

“We’ve always seen it as an urgency

anyway, and knew that there were some safety issues in that community,” said Stevens. “There will be no weapons allowed on the property at all.”

She added that staff will be trained to monitor who enters the Tiny Home Village.

“People who are coming in, if they have a violent history, unfortunately will not be considered for the tiny home at that time,” said Stevens. “Safety is primary, and also is knowing that the people that are living there are going to feel safe, and that our staff are also going to feel safe.”

The WintergreenApartments and the next-door trailer park lot is owned by Randy Brown, who runs a local property management company. In 2020 Brown brought trailers to the lot next to the Wintergreen after seeing people sleeping outside in the area, charging $375 to $500 a month in rent for the accommodation.

The city has identified the trailer park as illegal, deeming the site unsafe and a violation of municipal bylaws. City council passed a remedial action requirement in November 2020 for Brown to remove them, but amid the reality that the residents will end up on the streets, the trailers remain on the site two years after the municipal order was voted through.

Now the Tiny Home Village appears to be the next option for those residing in the 4th Avenue trailer park, and Brown has stated that the RVs will be removed once there is a safer place for the tenants to go. The city has purchased the property for the Tiny Home Village, committing at least $140,000 for utilities, security and fencing, with the friendship centre leasing the site.AHousing Task Force has guided the development, composed of

In recent years Indigenous people have taken up a growing proportion of PortAlberni’s homeless population.Apoint-intime homeless count conducted in 2021 reported that 65 per cent of the city’s unhoused identified asAboriginal.

Wishing you good health, happiness and prosperity in the new year

December 51, 2022—Ha-Shilth-Sa—Page 5 3212 Kingsway Ave, Port Alberni (250)724-3351 Road Construction | Excavating | Drilling | Blasting www.roc-star.ca
representation from the friendship centre, the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council, the Tseshaht and Hupacasath First Nations, as well as other local agencies. Photos by Eric Plummer People gather outside the WintergreenApartments, where a murder occurred on Dec. 2. The fatal stabbing happened next to the future site of the Tiny Home Village (below), planned to offer a safer option than an adjacent illegal trailer park.

Carpentry students take pride in building tiny homes

Level 1 students earn work experience building a living site for Port Alberni’s marginalized population on 4th

PortAlberni, BC – Thirteen Level 1 Carpentry students graduated on Dec. 13, leaving a legacy of their work at the upcoming Tiny Home Village on lower 4th Avenue in PortAlberni.

In a unique partnership between the Port Alberni Friendship Center, North Island College and the Nuu-chah-nulth Employment Training Program (NETP), the students were able to complete their course load by sharpening their skills at the Tiny Home Village, still under construction.

The PAFC is the lead agency for the development and management of the Tiny Home Village being constructed on lower 4th Avenue. The village will have 32 small living spaces that will provide safe, clean, warm housing and support services to marginalized people that are unhoused or living in precarious conditions.

According to NETP Manager Cynthia Dick, the Carpentry Level 1 program was brought forward through a partnership with North Island College and Skilled Trades BC.

“Through our collaborative approach with North Island College, NETP has been able to adapt the standard sevenweek Carpentry Level 1 program to meet the needs of our clients and incorporate more traditional teachings,” she told HaShilth-Sa.

Construction of the Tiny Home Village helps the carpentry students achieve the 96 hours of work experience they need to graduate. The 13 enrolled students work onsite 24 hours a week for four weeks.

Under the guidance of NIC instructor Morgan Brown, student carpenters built timber bases for each of the prefab housing units, as well as the base and stairs for restroom facilities which were delivered in early December.

According to Brown, the class was to begin assembling tiny homes this December, but unforeseen shipping delays forced a change in plans. The carpentry students worked on other projects at the site, like staircases and planter boxes for the tiny homes.

Cyndi Stevens, PAFC executive director says the delays have pushed back the date for completion of the village to mid February 2023.

Brown is pleased with the progress of his students and the contributions they are making to the community through their work.

“This development incorporates community projects, which allows the apprentice carpenters to get the work experience hours they need to complete their programs,” he noted.

Brown says there are four levels to the carpentry program, and, after successful

completion of level one, graduates have the option of going out to look for jobs or go to the next level of training.

Student Cody Nielsen-Robinson, a 25-year-old member of the Tseshaht First Nation, said this program was four years in the making and he is grateful to be a part of the class. He has dreams and hopes to contribute to his nation with his skills.

“In 2018 I proposed to our band to build a tiny home village using eco-friendly resources,” he told Ha-Shilth-Sa.

Nielsen-Robinson said there is a critical housing shortage in his nation and he sees a tiny home village as an option for single people or couples wanting to get into something affordable.

“This project gives me experience,” he said.

Nielsen-Robinson plans to complete training in carpentry to earn his Red Seal ticket. He envisions a tiny home village of 20-25 units on concrete foundations on the Tseshaht reserve.

“I want to build them on my own – not prefab,” he said.

According to Building Trades BC, the Red Seal program is recognized as the interprovincial standard of excellence in the skilled trades. It is the highest standard of training in the country.

The Level 1 Carpentry program began in PortAlberni in September 2022. The 14week program trained 13 students, many of whom took part in NETP’s Trades Discovery Program which finished in Port Alberni in early 2022.

“We do our best at NETP to ensure our

programs are community driven,” said Dick.

She went on to say that students of the Trades Discovery Program built smokehouses for the Tseshaht First Nation as a legacy project.

“In this program we were able to partner with the initiative being led by the PortAlberni Friendship Center and our students were able to start the building of the tiny homes that will be going up in our PortAlberni community,” said Dick.

NETP delivers programming that not only readies adults for employment, but also includes a cultural component.

“Through our NETP programs we can include elder support, essential skills

training, traditional teachings, and more one-on-one support to our clients,” said Dick.

The students finished their on-site work on Dec. 9. They wrote their final exam the following week and finished with a graduation ceremony on Dec. 13.

“We are very proud of our NETP and PES (Pre Employment Supports) clients in the successful completion of the Carpentry Level 1 program and wish them the best in their future endeavors,” said Dick.

Successful graduates of the 14-week program earned training certificates from North Island College.

Page 6— Ha-Shilth-Sa—December 15, 2022
Helping Nuuchahnulth businesses since 1984 Photo by Denise Titian Vanessa Gallic and MalahkiAmos, first year carpentry students, build stairs for the restroom facilities at the Tiny Home Village on FourthAvenue in PortAlberni.

Exploring discarded timber for Indigenous companies

Program uses leftovers from logging and wildfire debris for essential oils, railway ties and building tiny homes

The provincial government announced last week that the Indigenous Forest Bioeconomy Program will be expanding, with the aim of funding projects that have yet to leave the pilot, commercialization, or scale-up phases.

Originally launched in 2019, the program aims to increase the participation of First Nations in forestry while also using waste from logging, wildfire debris, and damaged wood to make low-carbon forest-based products.According to the province, the forest bioeconomy “uses sustainably managed forest material (forest biomass) to make bioproducts like consumer goods and industrial products.” Forest biomass is essentially any forest material.

“We are taking action to build a sustainable, innovative forestry sector and create new opportunities for workers, communities and First Nations,” says former Minister of Forests Katrine Conroy in a press release. “By turning wood waste and dead trees into new, high-value and long-lived wood products, we can replace products made from non-renewable sources and boost the role of B.C.’s forests in helping to fight climate change.”

Since launching the program three years ago, 24 Indigenous communities have received funding for over 40 projects. These projects include Great Bear Rainforest Essential Oils, a social enterprise Coastal First Nations Great Bear Initiative. Great Bear Rainforest Essential Oils began extracting essential oils from conifer needles in the region, and have been able to expand their operation with

six new jobs being made available.

The program has also partnered with the Heiltsuk Tribal Council, FPInnovations, UBC and Mitacs to build a series of tiny homes in Bella Bella to address growing population and lack of housing issues.

Deadwood Innovations from Fort St. James and in partnership with the Nak’azdli Whut’en First Nation were the first to receive funding through the new accelerator stream. They work to transform wood damaged by mountain pine beetle and wildfire into products such as rail ties, rig mats and decking.

“Our partnership with Deadwood Innovations is one example of our Nation’s increasing participation in forestry on our traditional territories,” says ChiefAileen

Prince of the Nak’azdli Whut’en First Nation in a statement. “This is creating more economic opportunities in our community and finding new uses for waste, while protecting our forests and wildlife for generations to come.”

An application form for the program can be found online, under the Ministry of Forests web page.

Increasing the use of the timber that may have been discarded in the past could also help account for a slowly dropping amount of available timber in the province. Since December of 2019, the allowable annual cut of timber in the province has declined by 5.3 per cent,

with the number of cubic metres available dropping by more than 2.5 million.

“Strengthening B.C.’s forestry sector means tackling the challenges of today, while making sure we seize the opportunities of tomorrow,” explains Conroy.

“This will take all of us working together – the provincial government, First Nations and the forestry industry – to drive forward innovation and greater sustainability, support increased Indigenous participation and create more jobs for every tree harvested.”

The 2022 provincial budget has allocated a further $20.4 million to be provided to the program over the next three years.

Province announces youth help for substance abuse

Victoria, BC-As B.C. continues to struggle with an overdose crisis and its underlying contributing factors tied to mental health, the provincial government has announced a new focus on youth to “prevent small problems from turning into big ones.”

Minister of Mental Health andAddictions Sheila Malcolmson used those words on Dec.1, with the announcement of investing in young people through 33 new substance use programs and 130 additional healthcare workers to focus on substance use and mental health support. The additional healthcare workers include clinicians, social workers, harm-reduction personnel, nurses, outreach workers and Indigenous liaisons.

“We know that the earlier support is provided, the better the outcome,” noted Minister of Children and Family Development Mitzi Dean in a statement. “We know how important it is for youth to be able to get help when they need it, and this expansion of services and supports means that young people and their families will have increased access to vital substance-use care.”

Malcolmson spoke of challenges brought by the past few years, including the COVID-19 pandemic and the widely publicized confirmation of unmarked burials at residential school across western Canada.

“Every new challenge uproots young people’s lives, and it accelerates the increasing tide of demand for mental health and substance use services in British

Columbia,” she said at a press conference announcing the new supports for youth.

British Columbia’s opioid crisis worsened with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the elevated death toll continues. The Coroners Service’s latest data shows 179 deaths by illicit drug use in October – nearly six fatalities per day in B.C.

First Nations have died by illicit drug use at a rate of 4.8 times larger than other B.C. residents, according to data from the First Nations HealthAuthority from the first half of 2021.

CurrentlyAlberni-Clayoquot, which covers theAlberni Valley and Vancouver Island’s central west coast communities, ranks fourth in the province in the rate of death due to illicit drug use.

During the Dec.1 press conference it was noted that some young people struggling with drug addiction are reluctant to visit a hospital or clinic for help. The Youth Short TermAssessment and Response Team (YSTAR) was highlighted as a new service funded by the province to seek out and help youth before substance issues escalate. YSTAR teams are based in Campbell River, Nanaimo, Port Alberni, the Cowichan Valley and Mount Waddington.

Tenille Lindsay is the clinical coordinator for YSTAR’s team in PortAlberni.

“YSTAR is able to respond quickly, and go to where the youth are at. They don’t need to come to us, we go to them,” she said. “Our team has literally been in someone’s home, in their bedroom, or we’ve gone up to a treehouse to meet a youth.”

December 51, 2022—Ha-Shilth-Sa—Page 7
Photo by Melissa Renwick The Indigenous Forest Bioeconomy Program is expanding, seeking opportunity in what gets left behind in the forestry industry. Pictured is forest near Kyuquot on northwestern Vancouver Island.

‘Balance of harms approach’ to COVID-19 worked,

An external review of the government’s response to the pandemic notes First Nations were left out of major decisions in controlling

Vancouver Island, BC -Areview of the province’s handling of the pandemic has painted a positive picture, but the recent report also notes that relations with First Nations could have been better as the government dealt with COVID-19.

In early December the Final Report of the COVID-19 Lessons Learned Review was released, an assessment of the provincial government’s management of the two-year public health emergency that encompassed multiple waves of infections, lockdowns, vaccine mandates and a complex aftermath of societal damage. Compiled by three external consultants with decades of past experience in the provincial public service sector, the report drew upon surveys and over 15,000 responses to help inform recommendations to the B.C. Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General.

The review notes that public satisfaction in the government’s handling of COVID-19 remained relatively high, starting at 70 per cent of respondents in March 2020 when the pandemic was declared by the World Health Organization, rising to over 80 per cent the following July, and eventually levelling out at just over 60 per cent in the summer of 2022. The province’s “balance of harms approach” in offering services and imposing restrictions did eventually meet more resistance by the time COVID vaccines were mandated in certain sectors in September 2021, states the report, which “amplified a backlash to restrictions on personal freedom”. This backlash culminated in the Freedom Convoy protests and occupation in early 2022.

“Overall B.C. mounted a strong and generally successful response to the pandemic that bodes well for its ability to respond to the next province-wide events,” states the report.

Tla-o-qui-aht TribalAdministrator Jim Chisholm said that the First Nation looked to the regular updates and information from Provincial Health Officer Bonnie Henry as the “bellwether” for how the community would respond.

“The province certainly did a good job of keeping us aware of how severe COVID was,” said Chisholm. “Our people very quickly adapted to a difficult situation, made the most of it, and as a result we came out relatively unscathed.”

Abig part of the Tla-o-qui-aht’s response

nities to restrict entry and exit to control coronavirus infection. Grocery runs outside of the communities were limited as well, but in some cases this resulted in alcohol smuggling during the first few months of the pandemic. Reports came from Kyuquot of boxes of liquor bottles coming via the regular mail flights, and inAhousaht a tribal police force was established by the Ha’wiih to enforce the First Nation’s COVID response. This included confiscating incoming vodka atAhousaht’s main dock and enforcing a 10 p.m. curfew to discourage interactions outside of the immediate household.

“It went so much against our culture in having to stay in our own homes and not visit elders and family,” recalls Judith Sayers, president of the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council, of the hardship brought by the pandemic. “In not being able to go to funerals, that’s so integral to the things we do to support the family, be there, provide meals.”

Yet compliance with restrictions was mostly strong in coastal communities, as First Nations went a step beyond what the province recommended by restricting access to residents only.

“People complied with that because they were worried about bringing it in,” said Sayers. “I think that’s why most didn’t mind the lockdown in their communities, that they couldn’t go out.”

As of the end of November this year, B.C. has seen nearly 390,000 confirmed COVID-19 infections, with 4,642 deaths – a rate that puts the province below the national per capita average for contracting the virus, and well below Canada’s incidence of fatality. In B.C. there have been over 21,000 cases of First Nations people contracting COVID-19, with 258 deaths as ofApril 1, 2022, plus another 41 recently infected people who died from any cause after that date, according to the First Nations HealthAuthority. These infection and fatality statistics comprise just over five per cent of what occurred throughout the province over the pandemic, falling in line with the proportion of British Columbians that identify as Indigenous.

Strict measures throughout west coast

was restricting access to the west coast communities of Ty-Histanis, Esowista and Opitsaht. Like other Nuu-chah-nulth settlements in remote areas, only residents and essential service providers were allowed in.

“We did put up restrictions on Opitsaht, for example. We had people meeting the boats, making sure that it was necessary travel, that it was community members only,” said Chisholm. “We put out the word to our community: no unnecessary travel, no unnecessary meeting with outsidersand that included family members. We had people in our community who didn’t see their grandkids or family members for a year and a half.”

Measures were strict throughout the west coast of Vancouver Island, where blockades were manned outside of remote commu-

“There was a hardship on the community for sure, mentally and financially,” said Chisholm of the Tla-o-qui-aht settlements, which are located near Tofino. “It is expensive shopping here. I would say there is a financial impact to our community because we were trying to stop people from driving over toAlberni to buy groceries at Walmart.”

Information sharing dispute

As First Nations enacted their own measures to control infection, some became increasingly frustrated with the provincial government’s inability to understand the concerns of their respective communities. For over half a year the Nuu-chahnulth Tribal Council, Tsilhqot’in National Government and Heiltsuk Nation asked for

more specific information about cases. This appeal sought data on infections near their villages, whether the cases had travelled to the remote communities and the identity of those infected if they were members of the First Nations. Bonnie Henry argued that identifying infected individuals and communities risked them being “stigmatized because of perceptions that they are disease carriers”, and in December 2020 the Infor-

Page 8— Ha-Shilth-Sa—December 15, 2022
Submitted photo Nurses with the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council enterAhousaht on Jan. 6, 2021 loaded with hundreds of Moderna doses. Wally Thomas, Chief Hohomiius, anAhousaht Tribal Police confiscated bottle of vodka at the main dock inAhousaht. In gatherings and prevent the spread of COVID-19, Kyuquot arrival of booze during the early months of the cor Province of B.C. photo Updates from Dr. Bonnie Henry, B.C.’s provincial health officer, helped to guide First Nations in their response to COVID-19, says Tla-o-qui-aht’s tribal administrator.

COVID-19 worked, says report

major decisions in controlling the virus, not fulfilling elements of DRIPA

photo Moderna doses.

mation and Privacy Commissioner of B.C. rejected the nations’request. By the following February the province finally agreed to share more case data with the First Nations’ governments – with restrictions on what would be released to the greater public.

contact tracing. Fortunately there were no deaths, and by January 2021 Ehatis residents were among the first in B.C. to receive vaccination.

During the NTCAnnual General Meeting last fall Ehattesaht Councillor Ernie Smith reflected on the mental health issues brought about by the lockdowns, a strain that made him appreciate the online sharing of Nuuchah-nulth songs when gathering was prohibited.

“I was triple vaccinated and ended up getting COVID, but it was really mild,” said Smith. “So the vaccines did really help.”

‘Knowledge is power’

As the worst of COVID-19 appears to be in the rear-view mirror, the recent report cited the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous PeoplesAct. Passed in 2019, this legislation tasks the provincial government to undergo the long process of aligning laws with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

“While the government is committed to the principles of DRIPAand made early steps in theAct’s implementation during the pandemic, it was not fully prepared for the rapid onset of the pandemic and was initially uncertain about how to collaborate jointly on emergency measures,” states the COVID-19 report.

Sayers saw this when the province eased some restrictions for summer tourism, thereby opening up visitation to Nuu-chah-nulth territory on western Vancouver Island.

“When the province decided to open up for tourism, they didn’t talk to any First Nations people. They just did what they thought was important for the economy,” she said. “We wanted to do things like test people when they’re coming into the territories. On the highway coming into Tofino, take your temperature. We could never get agreement from the Ministry of Transportation.”

information about cases. This infections near their cases had travelled to and the identity of were members of the gued that individuals and combeing “stigmatized that they are disease December 2020 the Infor-

“It took us seven months to negotiate an information-sharing agreement. That’s far too long,” said Sayers. “They weren’t ready to work with remote communities, unfortunately.”

Submitted photo Hohomiius, anAhousaht Tribal Police officer, dumps out a vodka at the main dock inAhousaht. In a measure to discourage ead of COVID-19, Kyuquot andAhousaht blockd the the early months of the coronavirus lockdown in 2020.

Now the NTC has begun the COVID-19 Vaccine Project, an initiative from the tribal council to collect personal stories about the pandemic experience to determine how to improve service delivery, particularly during disease outbreaks. Dr. Roger Boyer was hired to lead the project, and he presented its aims to leaders during the tribal council’sAGM in September.

By the end of 2020, the Ehattesaht/Chinehkint community by Zeballos was hit with an outbreak that infected over one quarter of the village. Many suspected this wave started with a visitor to the Zeballos school, but a lack of timely information hindered

Tseshaht Chief Councillor Ken Watts stressed the value of the research after the presentation.

“Knowledge is power, and I really think at a Nuu-chah-nulth level, the data that we can bring together and see can benefit all of us,” he said.

December 51, 2022—Ha-Shilth-Sa—Page 9
Submitted Photo submitted by Ehattesaht First Nation Ehattesaht Councillor Ernie Smith receives the Moderna vaccine for COVID-19 on Jan. 4, 2021. His community of Ehatis saw 28 coronavirus infections out of the 100 onreserve residents in December 2020.

Vic friendship centre launches reconciliation program

New

program

creates a safe space for participants, before ge ing into the ‘heavy’ aspects of Indigenous history

Victoria, BC - The Victoria Native Friendship Centre (VNFC) has launched an Indigenous-led learning opportunity that supports reconciliation through community-based learning.

The Community Learning Program began inApril and runs for about four weeks, starting with a week of online learning. The program includes an eighthour session of in-person discussion each week for the remaining three weeks. It runs in cohorts of 15 to 20 people, with both Indigenous and non-Indigenous participants.

This program was developed as a direct result of the work done by the Victoria Urban Reconciliation Dialogue (VURD), where the community came together to understand the reconciliation needs of its residents. It supports the VURD Blueprint focus area of Education, for the development and promotion of learning

resources, anti-racism tools and crosscultural learning opportunities.

Participants first learn about key reconciliation documents such as UNDRIP, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls toAction, and the final report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.

Tanya Clarmont, VNFC’s community learning director and program facilitator, said before getting into some of the more ‘heavy’historical aspects of Indigenous history, she works with participants to create a safe space.

“One of the first foundational pieces we talk about is kindness and the importance of being kind to others and the value of that, and then we explore our emotions and how those influence the way we behave, how they influence our relationships with others because a lot of Indigenous spaces can be quite emotional spaces,” Clarmont said. “When we transition to learning about history and the impacts of colonization, we’ve already

created safety in the group.”

Clarmont said it’s important to balance the heavy subjects with joy and celebration.

“We do an activity called net/paddle which is an activity to help people understand colonization through the personal stories of others and then after we do that very hard, heavy work we celebrate Indigenous culture, communities and innovation,” Clarmont said. “I feel like [the program] is relevant to everybody in the whole community.”

Clarmont said the program was originally created for the friendship centre staff and volunteers, but has expanded to being offered to the general public. She believes the program is bridging a gap by offering not only online learning, but in-person learning that’s specific to the Victoria area.

According to a 2020 report by the Victoria Urban Reconciliation Dialogue, more than 17,000 Indigenous people from various cultural backgrounds across Canada

live within Greater Victoria.

Designing the framework for the program was a collaborative effort between the VNFC, representatives from local First Nations, elders from the Métis Nation and non-local nations.

“We do have someone Nuu-chah-nulth that advised and contributed on the design team,” Clarmont said. “In the local learning we talk about Vancouver Island…we talk about the three groups that live on the Island, so Nuu-chah-nulth included.”

Clarmont said those looking to sign up for the course can visit the VNFC website and that dates for 2023 will open up in January.

“The response from community has been overwhelmingly positive and the request for access is growing,” Clarmont said. “I’m sure by the time we come back in January we will have a waitlist. Expansion is a big priority for us and that’s the next piece of work we will do.”

It means ‘Alot of us suffer from the pain of the weather when it get’s cold, lots of stuff gets frozen.’Pronounced ‘Ohhsh

kooh sloth’Supplied by ciisma.

Page 10— Ha-Shilth-Sa—December 15, 2022
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Illustration by Ivy Cargill-Martin
ya ish alth aya ma c lee cha alth koo hee shook
Photo submitted by Victoria Native Friendship Centre The Community Learning Program is being offered by the Victoria Native Friendship Centre and runs for about four weeks, starting with a week of online learning. It runs in cohorts of 15 to 20 people, with both Indigenous and non-Indigenous participants.

Indigenous traditions ‘key’ to biodiversity at COP 15

Montreal, QC - Dec. 7 marks the beginning of the United Nations Biodiversity Conference.

COP 15, Conference of the Parties, is being held in Montreal, the unceded territory of Kahnawake Mohawk First Nation. Governments from countries around the world will come together to negotiate and create a new framework of goals and strategies, known as the Post2020 Global Biodiversity Framework, to minimize biodiversity loss and preserve nature. These goals will then be carried into the next decade of conservation work throughout the 196 countries involved.

According to Global Risks Report 2022, the top three threats for the next decade on a global scale are climate action failure, extreme weather, and biodiversity loss.

The document indicates that 10 per cent of biodiversity risk mitigation efforts have not started, 67 per cent are in early stages, 21 per cent are established, and only two per cent are considered effective.

It defines “biodiversity loss and ecosystem collapse” as “irreversible consequences for the environment, humankind, and economic activity, and a permanent destruction of natural capital, as a result of species extinction and/or reduction,” the document reads.

As the convention begins Montreal, Aboriginal voices take the forefront at the International Indigenous Forum on Biodiversity press conference, discussing the intertwined connection of biodiversity conservation and Indigenous ways of being.

Lakpa Nuri Sherpa, co-chair of International Indigenous Forum of Biodiversity and program lead atAsia Indigenous Peoples Pact, said it’s important “to look [at] Indigenous peoples as rights holders, as leaders, and also as partners to conservation of all the discussions that we are having.”

“It’s very important for the Post 2020-Global Biodiversity Framework to really enhance this relational value of nature and peoples together with the culture,” he said. “There are so many… good practices [and] the customary traditional values that Indigenous peoples are doing all over the world that are the very key to the problem we are discussing in the [Convention of Biodiversity].”

Canada’s conservation efforts continue to align with conserving 30 per cent of

land and ocean by 2030.

“Again, the science here is clear, 30 per cent is the minimum necessary to address the biodiversity and climate crisis. It’s a floor, it’s not a ceiling,” said Steven Guilbeault, Canada’s minister of Environment and Climate Change, in his opening remarks. “The world’s largest countries, geographically, such as Canada, are critical in this effort, and we are committed to play our part.”

In the closing remarks of the International Indigenous forum for Biodiversity Press Conference, Chrissy Grant spoke about Indigenous peoples around the globe who are concerned about the 30 by 30 framework.

“I think we need to be really clear about what that 30 by 30 is about, what it means when we say 30 per cent protection of land and waters,” she said. “It needs to have careful consideration by parties at this meeting to identify and define what that 30 per cent means.”

The post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework draft indicates a number of goals, including protecting 30 per cent of land and water globally. With biodiversity and climate change so deeply interlinked, the framework is an effort to combat the challenges faced with climate change, while preserving rare ecosystems with significant biodiversity. Once final-

ized, the post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework will replaceAichi Biodiversity targets.

Attending the conference is the West Coast Youth Collective with delegates from Tla’amin, Homalco, Gixstan, Dene, Musqueam, and Huu-ay-aht.

Aya Clappis of Huu-ay-aht First Nations is part of the collective. They have been involved in youth-based activism that advocates for Indigenous rights, land, and water.

“I will be attending meetings, marching in demonstrations, building art, and connecting with international as well as local Kahnawake youth,” wrote Clappis in an email to Ha-Shilth-Sa.

Clappis said that members of the West Coast Youth Collective are at the conference advocating for Indigenous rights, a livable future, for forests, and water. These are all important because they are tied together by salmon, which is presently at risk due to industry and climate change, Clappis said.

“It was really important for us to come as a delegation because Indigenous people are traditionally excluded from these spaces, or have been historically,” said Clappis.

Clappis said that the collective’s delegates are bringing issues that are happening on their territories to politicians,

policymakers, and scientists at COP 15. They stand for solutions to issues regarding biodiversity loss and climate change that are far more than policy, naturebased solutions, and frameworks, they continued.

“These nature-based solutions, which are rooted in the commodification of our lands, are not the answer and policy can’t simply be the answer,” said Clappis.

“Our response as a delegation is, the answer is rooted in our ways of life as… West Coast Indigenous people,” said Clappis. “The answer needs to be placebased, the answer needs to be rooted in Indigenous law, in our ways of being, [and] our ways of relating to the land.”

The West Coast Youth Collective will be participating in two panels: Biodiversity = Land Back: Reawakening Indigenous Sovereignty for Biodiverse Futures, and Our Forests are the Frontline: Indigenous Youth Resistance to Industrial Forestry Along the West Coast.

Clappis said they are looking forward to the youth demonstrating, “that we don’t necessarily need Western science to tell us what’s going on in our land because our people have been in relation to the land for so long that we understand it just by living with the land.”

December 51, 2022—Ha-Shilth-Sa—Page 11
Wishing you a joyous Holiday Season and a New Year filled with happiness and prosperity!
www.papa-appa.ca
Answer is a deeply rooted way of living with the land, says Huu-ay-aht member of West Coast Youth Collective Photo submitted by Aya Clappis While Justin Trudeau addresses COP15 at the opening ceremony, members of the West Coast Youth Collective hold a sign reading, “Indigenous genocide equal ecocide, to save biodiversity stop invading our lands, colonialism can’t save you”.

President’s message to Nuu-chah-nulth-aht

I would like to extend my condolences to all those who have lost a loved one in the past few months.

I would also like to thank Mariah Charleson for her years of hard work as vice-president of the NTC. I have enjoyed working with her in the past three years. She was hard working, cared for the people, and was a good spokesperson and advocate for our rights. I will miss working with her.

The B.C. Court ofAppeal ruled on what we are calling the “smudging case”, where one our education workers had an elder demonstrate smudging. They did not smudge any of the children, only showed how to smudge. One of the mother’s whose child was in the classroom brought a lawsuit to say her child’s right to religion was breached. The court dismissed the appeal. The Court stated that “Neither event breached the appellant’s freedom of religion or the duty of state neutrality. The trial judge did not make an error in his findings of fact that the children did not participate in the smudging or the prayer and the school did not promote or favour a set of beliefs. The judge considered all the evidence from people present at the events.” I am happy with this result and that we can continue to be teaching our culture in schools.

This has been a very busy month. We had a couple days of meetings with the provincial cabinet ministers. This was the fifth year of the First Nations Leadership Gathering. There are plenary sessions on various subjects, such as the alignment of laws and the Heritage Conservation Act Transformation project. There are also opportunities to meet with cabinet ministers, deputy ministers and assistant deputy ministers. Over 900 short meetings happened. Meetings are only 15 minutes long and you have to be concise and to the point to make sure your meeting is worthwhile. I met with many ministers in the two days of meetings. Strangely enough, the meetings were on November 29th and 30th, and on December 7th the new Premier, David Eby, made major changes to his cabinet. So we met with ministers whose portfolios changed a couple of days later. They promised us that any promises made would be kept by the next minister.

Will the new premier make a difference in what Nuu-chah-nulth are trying to accomplish? Only time will tell, but he did for the first time ever have a swearing in at Musqueam and not at the usual Government House. He also appointed Doug White of Snuneymuxw and Hupacasath to be his legal advisor on reconciliation. There are no Indigenous ministers in his cabinet. Josie Osborne Is now the minister Energy, Mines and Low Carbon Innovation. We are hoping that she will work with First Nations to create economic opportunities for clean energy. There haven’t been any clean energy economic opportunities since 2019 despite then-premier John Horgan’s promised to do so.

I also attended virtually theAssembly of First Nations Special ChiefsAssembly for three days. Changes were made to theAFN charter and constitution regarding adding Newfoundland as a region, and trying to make things more gender equitable for women and LGBTQQ2L. Conflict of interest guidelines were also added.

The $40-billion package from Canada

regarding compensation for children who had been in care, and reform for children in care going home, was approved. Getting to common ground took some doing but in the end a motion was arrived at to accept the package.

There were over 80 motions proposed but it is likely we only got through 20.

We need to find another way of doing business so we can get through all of the business. I had put forward a motion to get theAFN executive to lobby for DFO cooperation in the upcoming International Marine ProtectedAreas Congress in February 2023. This will be one of the bigger gatherings regarding marine protected areas for Indigenous peoples. I will be speaking at it in Vancouver.

The financial agreement calledARFA for eight of our Nuu-chah-nulth Nations will expire at the end of March 2023 and must be re-negotiated, so we have been having internal meeting with the eight Nations and staff as well as meetings with Indigenous Services Canada.

For 12 of our nations, our health agreement is also ending March 31, 2023. We have been working on preparing for negotiations with the FNHA.

I was asked to be an expert witness at the Public Order Emergency Commission that was reviewing the Ottawa convoy incident. Experts were asked to speak about various subjects, not particularly about the Ottawa incident, but to help the commissioner make recommendations on specific issues around protests and emergencies. I was on the roundtable on interjurisdictional responses on protests and emergencies. I was the only Indigenous expert in the weeklong hearing of experts, which comprised 10 sessions. I tried to address as much as I could on the other subjects, including defining emergencies, critical infrastructure and services.Also including First Nations in the EmergenciesAct and Emergency ManagementAct, as right now we are not.

I have also been working on asking First Nations about the health governance structure we have now with the First Nations HealthAuthority and the health committee and asking how the structure could be more accountable to First Nations.

I would like to wish all of you a very happy solstice, merry Christmas and a happy new year for 2023. Hope the new year will bring good change for your families, communities and for all Nuuchah-nulth. Enjoy your time away from work, if you have that, and rejuvenate your spirits for January 2023.

Page 12— Ha-Shilth-Sa—December 15, 2022

Employment and Training

Ka:’yu:’k’t’h’/Che:k’tles7et’h’First Nations

Job Posting - KCFN HR Manager

Summary: The HR Manager maintains and enhances the organization’s human resources by planning, implementing, and evaluating employee relations and human resources policies, programs, and practices. The HR Manager will report to the Director of Operations. Must be willing to travel between the Campbell River and Houpsitas office.

View full job description at ww.hashilthsa.com/careers-training

Deadline toApply: Jan 23, 2023 at 4:00pm Please send your cover letter and resume to Tracy Moulaison, Director of Operations at tracym@kcfirstnations.com or mail or drop off: KCFN Office 1250 C Ironwood St., Campbell River V9W 6H5 More job postings at www.hashilthsa.com

December 51, 2022—Ha-Shilth-Sa—Page 13

Tseshaht athlete competes in world-class rugby

Women’s Sevens team

competed in Dubai and Cape Town this month as part of an Olympic qualifying season

Cape Town, SouthAfrica – Shalaya Valenzuela, 23, is a busy, young Tseshaht woman, pursuing a university degree while competing on Canada’s Women’s Rugby Sevens team in Cape Town, South Africa on the weekend of Dec 9 to 11.

She is part of an ensemble with members from across the nation representing the Canadian National Rugby Sevens senior women’s team. They first competed in Dubai early this month and wore the red and white in Cape Town, South Africa last weekend.

According to Rugby Canada, rugby sevens is a stripped-down version of the sport with just seven players, instead of 15, on each team playing on a full-sized pitch.

“With fewer bodies and extra space on the pitch, games are fast-paced, full of breakaway sprints and exciting tries,” states Rugby Canada.

There are two seven-minute halves with a one-minute half-time break.

Shalaya plays center for the team in a contact sport that can be brutal. For father Richard Valenzuela, it can be hard to watch a game.

“One time she got knocked out and another time she lost her front teeth…I just cringe,” he said.

He is, however, very proud of his daughter who just finished playing in a tournament in Dubai earlier this month.

According to the Canadian Rugby website, Canada’s Women’s Sevens placed 9th in Dubai. They travelled to Cape Town, SouthAfrica for their next tournament.

“I’m excited and grateful for this opportunity,” said Shalaya. “I’ve been playing rugby for 10 years and spent the last two years training full-time with Maple Leaf Academy.”

According to Rugby Canada, the Maple LeafAcademy (MLA) is a program that supports up-and-coming female players who aspire to be selected to Canada’s Women’s Sevens team and compete at the Olympic Games and on the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series.

They go on to say that the MLAis a full-time commitment for these players who train Monday to Friday for five hours per day. These athletes receive the

added benefit of training alongside the senior women’s sevens team for many of their sessions.

“After years of hard work, I got called up to the senior national team this summer,” Shalaya shared. “This season is important for our team as it’s an Olympic qualifying season.”

According toAbbey News, anAbbotsford publication, the women’s team earned a total of four points in Dubai and sit in ninth place in the 13-team series.

In SouthAfrica, the women’s team tied with France but lost to the US on Dec. 9. They placed 8th in the tournament.

“I’m proud to be in this position as an Indigenous athlete and be able to be a role model for other Indigenous athletes with big dream,” said Valenzuela.

“It’s a surreal feeling playing alongside the women I watched and looked up to as a child. I’ve taken it all in and now its time to become that person for another kid,” continued Shalaya, adding that

she is proof that if you pursue and fight for what you are passionate about, your dreams can become a reality.

When she’s not playing rugby, Shalaya studies as a third-year Criminal Justice student.

“I don’t know what I want to do yet but I could use it (her degree) to get into law

or something in youth crime prevention,” she shared.

“As her father I am so proud of her for not only the successes, but for her determination despite the struggles along the way,” said Richard. “Rugby brings her joy and all I ever want is for my daughter to be happy.”

josie.osborne.mla@leg.bc.ca 250.720.4515 michele.babchuk.mla@leg.bc.ca 250.287.5100

Page 14— Ha-Shilth-Sa—December 15, 2022
Submitted photo Shalaya Valenzuela, 23, is currently competing internationally with the Canada’s Women’s Rugby Sevens team. They played in Cape Town, SouthAfrica on the weekend of Dec 9 to 11.

Alberni Girls aim for a consecutive Totem title

The 67th annual basketball tournament begins Jan. 5

PortAlberni, BC -AsAlberni District Secondary School gears up for their 67th annual Totem Tournament, set to begin Jan. 5, the senior girl’s basketball team are preparing to make this season the most memorable of their career.

Natalie Clappis of Huu-ay-aht First Nations is a Grade 12 student atADSS and captain of the senior girl’s basketball team.As Totem approaches, this will be Clappis’final year playing in the tournament.

This year theADSS senior girl’s team are going into Totem carrying the winning title from last year.

“I think if we push ourselves and if we have confidence, we can do it again this year,” said Clappis.

ADSS, Belmont, Kwalikum, Pacific Christian, Ballenas, and Nanaimo District Secondary School (NDSS), will be the participating senior girls teams this year.

With crowds of over 500, Clappis said that the support and energy that the community brings to the tournament is her favorite part of participating in Totem.

“I think having the whole school and the community come out and cheer for you,” said Clappis, “the intensity of everything and the environment… it’s just loud and it’s encouraging.And I think that’s my favorite part.”

Clappis is looking forward to bringing her team into the tournament, especially with the girls that are playing in their first Totem, and for the support they will give each other throughout their games.

“I’m feeling really excited for this year’s team. I think we have a lot of potential and we have a lot of new girls,” said Clappis. “I’m excited to see what we can bring.”

is a Grade 12 student atADSS and plays point guard on the senior girl’s basketball team.

Lucas’favorite part of playing basketball is building connection with the team.

“It’s fun and all playing actual basketball. But when you play with a good team and good teammates, who make it fun [and] who make it worth going, I think that’s the best part,” said Lucas.

Lucas said she feels both nervous and excited with the approaching the Totem tournament.

“Last year we did so well. But this is a new year and I think we can do better,” she said.

For both Lucas and Clappis, among other seniors, this will be their final year playing in the Totem tournament.

“With just this last year I think all of us seniors are just wanting to have fun,” said Lucas. “We just want to have fun and do well this season.”

Steve Sperger, coach of theADSS senior girl’s basketball team, said that the process leading up to Totem has been about becoming whole as a team. This is Sperger’s first year as coach of theADSS senior girls, and since the beginning of their time together, they have focused on getting to know each other and learning how to work together for the upcoming season, said Sperger.

Sperger is also excited about theADSS and broader community cheering for the senior girls in the tournament.

“Totem tournament is such a big event, and this means so much to everyone here,” said Sperger. “For me as the coach, I want to give the girls every opportunity to shine and show who they are and present themselves in front of their community.”

“I think it’s really exciting, and we got to make the best of it…for mine, and other senior’s last year,” said Clappis.

Senior boys team approach tournament with a spark

With Totem 67 around the corner, the team is harnessing lost opportunities and already winning in 2022

PortAlberni, BC - TheAlberni District Secondary School senior boys’basketball team is jumping into Totem 67 revived after two years of cancellations and postponing of the tournament due to the pandemic.

The team is bringing a new spark with them to this season and Totem 67.

“I think the biggest thing is just the return to the full experience,” said coach Craig Brooks, the senior boys’basketball coach of approximately six years. “We have some players returning this year that didn’t get a chance to experience the band and a full packed house, and all the energy that comes with that,”

After Totem 66 was cancelled in 2021 due to the pandemic, it was once again postponed the following year. Due to a public health order last year’s Totem, originally scheduled for Jan. 6. 2022, was postponed to March.

“This will be the authentic thing.And there isn’t a player on the team that’s had that,” said Brooks reflecting on the upcoming tournament, scheduled for Jan. 5. Brooklyn Doiron of Tseshaht and Ahousaht is a Grade 11 student atADSS, as well as a point guard and shooting guard for the senior boys’basketball team. For Doiron, this will be his first time playing in Totem.

“It’s my first Totem so I’m pretty excited for it,” said Doiron. “Totem’s always been a great thing to watch. So,

it’s pretty exciting now that I’m going to be playing in it.”

Doiron has watched the last two Totems, he said.

Doiron began playing basketball because of his shared love of the National BasketballAssociation (NBA) with his father. He has been playing the sport for five years.

There are many layers to the meaning of Totem, said Brooks. There’s school pride, the extent that the community is involved, and the depth that the players are involved in their community, he explained.

“The boys are constantly aware of how we’re connected to the community,” said Brooks.

Brooks said that in his years of coaching he’s always had hard-working players. With this team, they have been preparing all summer for this upcoming season, he said.

“Part of that is because of the girls success last year, going to provincials, [and] winning Islands, and that sort of sparked a fire.” said Brooks. “We’ve got some really talented players this year as well.”

“This year, the guys won. They see those lost opportunities [due to COVID-19] because again, it’s out of our control.And I think they want to make a name for themselves and for the school,” said Brooks.

The team is already on a roll with a firstplace finish at the Gravel Pit Classic and third-place at Isfeld Ice Invitational.

December 51, 2022—Ha-Shilth-Sa—Page 15
Photo submited by Jennifer Anderson Alberni District Secondary School senior boys basketball team.
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