Ha-Shilth-Sa Newspaper February 24, 2022

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INTERESTING NEWS Canada’s Oldest First Nations Newspaper - Serving Nuu-chah-nulth-aht since 1974 Canadian Publications Mail Product Vol. 49 - No. 04—February 24 2022 haas^i>sa Sales Agreement No. 40047776

Housing demand in Bamfield expected to skyrocket Prices rose 50 to 75 per cent after the road announcement, now some expect an influx comparable to Tofino By Denise Titian Ha-Shilth-Sa Reporter Bamfield, BC – It has been a quiet, picturesque village for as long as anyone can remember, but with road improvements set to begin later this year, Anacla and its neighbor Bamfield are seeing a dramatically increasing demand for housing. Chief Councillor Robert Dennis says the Huu-ay-aht village of Anacla has maintained a steady population of about 85 to 90 residents up to the year 2020. But the following year saw a dramatic increase to 156, and he expects that number to grow even more by this time next year when the chip sealing and paving of the road to Port Alberni is complete. In 2020 the provincial government announced it would contribute $25.7 million in funding for the road improvement with Huu-ay-aht paying $5 million to cover the $30.7 million project. About 75 kilometres of the route between Bamfield and Port Alberni is an unpaved industrial road that takes locals anywhere from 90 minutes to more than two hours to travel, depending on weather and road conditions. Road work will begin in the spring of 2022 with three sets of contractors working on approximately 25-kilmetre sections of road. By March 2023, the chip sealed road will be ready for the finishing touches of paving over the seal coat at steep hills, major intersections and bridge approaches. Chief Dennis says, when finished, the newly improved roads will likely cut travel time down to an hour. Craig Filipchuk of Remax Mid Island Realty noticed major increases in demand for housing in Bamfield once the announcement about road improvements were made. “There were major increases in housing prices of about 50 to 75 per cent once the road announcement was made in 2020,” he told Ha-Shilth-Sa. Up until 2020, Filipchuk said he was selling one lot per year, but that is about to change. “There’s not much supply and when demand is greater than supply, the prices go sky high,” he said. Over in Anacla, which is included in Huu-ay-aht treaty settlement lands, construction has begun on 25 housing units, and they have preliminary approval from BC Housing to build eight more two-to-three-bedroom units scheduled for completion in 2023. Chief Dennis says that all 25 newly built housing units are full. In addition to rental units, Huu-ay-aht

Photo by Eric Plummer

A view across the Bamfield Inlet, a small Barkley Sound settlement that, like the neighbouring Huu-ay-aht village of Anacla, is bracing for continued population growth in the near future. citizens can purchase their own homes at Chief Dennis predicts that the increased The RHR establishes rules for allocation upper Anacla, where nine building lots population will translate to a greater of units and the responsibilities of both are being prepared. Huu-ay-aht Counciltenants and the landlord (Huu-ay-aht First demand for services, which means more lor Ed Johnson says the land is already jobs. Councillor Johnson says that he has Nations). In addition, an independent cleared and they will soon bring in the been delivering training opportunities for housing authority will be established to sewer, water and electrical services. citizens in forestry most recently. They manage HFN rental units. Dennis says the nation has made arare considering future training opportuThe news of the improved road has rangements with their bank that allow nities like heavy machinery operator or sparked activity in the real estate market eligible citizens to apply for mortgages service industry work. just down the road in Bamfield. AcJohnson said he has had meetings with cording to MLS Home Price Index, the using land leases as equity. provincial government officials about inaverage cost of a home in Bamfield was “Each lot is valued at $60,000 to creasing the capacity of the local school. $261,391 a decade ago. In 2022, the $90,000, depending on where they average home price is now $644,300 with The Bamfield Community School webchoose to build,” said Dennis. Citizens who are homeowners sign 99site says it offers education for students an rise of 14.5 per cent in the past year. year leases with Huu-ay-aht for $1/year, from K-12, but Johnson says that most Filipchuk predicts the increase will be giving them use of the land ownership of even more dramatic once the road work is Huu-ay-aht high school students stay in the home. The homeowners are responsi- complete. a larger urban area for their schooling. ble for the costs of their home repair and With more people moving to both Anacla “There will be a big influx of people maintenance as per the lease agreement. and Bamfield, it is expected that more here once the road is complete – I’d say high school students will live there yearit will be comparable to Tofino,” he told Whether seeking to rent or own, Huuay-aht citizens are invited to visit the round. Ha-Shilth-Sa. Huu-ay-aht website to fill out on-line Huu-ay-aht owns several businesses and A look at available listings in Bamfield applications for housing. building lots. Chief Dennis says he envireveals four houses for sale. Three of the According to their website, renters must houses range from $500,000 to $699,000. sions citizens buying and running local meet CMHC requirements to be eligible businesses in the future. The lone waterfront property with two for housing, as required in the funding “We have a motel, we have a store…I small one-bedroom houses is listed for arrangement. The nation is set to replace $1.25 million. see our citizens being entrepreneurs,” he their Huu-ay-aht Social Housing ReguA quarter-acre vacant lot in Bamfield said. lation with their new Rental Housing is listed for $229,000, while a 1.59-acre Regulation. waterfront lot is priced at $799,000.

Inside this issue... Tseshaht to scan former residential school site...............Page 2 Record tally of fatal overdoses in 2021..........................Page 4 Indigenous experience a different Canada......................Page 6 Transition from net pen fish farms..................................Page 9 Kyuquot senior boys basketball team...........................Page 15

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


Page 2— Ha-Shilth-Sa— February 24, 2022

Tseshaht announces plans to scan former school site Over spring and summer locals expect more people on the grounds and drones performing LiDAR scanning By Karly Blats Ha-Shilth-Sa Contributor Port Alberni, BC - Tseshaht First Nation has begun work to locate unmarked graves at the Alberni Indian Residential School (AIRS) site, reclaiming lost souls by connecting with ancestors of those who did not return home. The creation of its project team, ʔuuʔatumin yaqckwiimitqin (Doing it for our Ancestors), is grounded in values and lead by culture. Led by Tseshaht member, Melissa Gus, the team has begun gathering the knowledge needed to prepare the community and site for ground penetrating radar scanning. The team has also been working toward providing wellness-focused support to survivors who share their stories and experiences. Ken Watts, Tseshaht’s elected chief councillor, said the project is a fourphased approach, beginning with research gathering through the National Truth and Reconciliation Centre, United Church records and information from AIRS survivors. Watts said there’s roughy 100 hectares of land that will need to be researched. Survivors will be engaged to determine general locations that will be considered for scanning with ground penetrating radar. “We are acutely aware of the large task at hand,” Watts said. “This is not work we take lightly. As we ask survivors to share their knowledge and experiences with our research and investigation team, we are fully committed to providing cultural support to them through every stage of this process.” Survivors have guided this project since

the beginning and have been meeting regularly to help shape the way forward. An announcement will be made when scanning begins - which won’t happen until soil conditions are ideal - and the project team will ensure steps are taken to secure the area throughout the entire scanning process to maintain a high-level of protection and privacy. “Over the next few months, our members and the public can potentially expect to see more people at the site and drones doing LiDAR scanning,” Watts said. “Communication is key throughout this project. Survivors, youth and the public will receive updates either in person, in print or on our website. We hope to undertake the first phase scanning of ground penetrating radar (GPR) in spring or summer of this year.” Watts said announcing this project has opened old wounds with survivors and the community. “We’re really cautious of how we proceed, we want to make sure people are supported” he said. “We have a working group of survivors that we check in with…we’ve also provided cultural and mental health supports. It’s a tough time for people not just because of residential schools but because of COVID 19 and other things, but I’d say we need to remind ourselves we’re also in the middle of an opioid crisis.” Watts added he doesn’t like to make predictions about what could be uncovered during the scanning process and that it’s best to let the professionals and researchers do their work. “We’ll cross that bridge when we get there,” he said. As part of the research process, Survivors and their families will have the

Tla-o-qui-aht funded for unmarked grave search By Denise Titian Ha-Shilth-Sa Reporter Clayoquot Sound, BC – The Government of Canada has announced that it has provided funding to support Tla-o-quiaht First Nation’s efforts to locate and commemorate missing children who may have attended residential schools in their traditional territories. Elected Tla-o-qui-aht Chief Moses Martin was not available for comment, however, Thomas George of Tla-o-quiaht stated on behalf of the nation, “this funding support is an important first step in helping our nation identify the atrocities and harm done to our children and facilitate the healing of our members who endured the pain and suffering in Canadian Residential Schools.” According to a federal government statement released on Feb. 16, the Tla-oqui-aht First Nation is conducting ongoing research and addressing the location of potential unmarked burial sites using ground-penetrating radar. “The First Nation will work with elders and knowledge keepers to respond to family wishes to memorialize their losses and the children’s final resting place at two former Christie Residential School sites on Meares Island and in Tofino in British Columbia,” reads the statement. The federal government is providing funding to the tune of $543,180 over three years to support Tla-o-qui-aht’s search and commemoration of the children who attended Christie.

“The First Nation will also create lasting historical resources to tell the story of survivors, their families and the community, sharing their stories with local schools and organizations to increase awareness and support ongoing healing and reconciliation,” states the media release. The Government of Canada says it is working with Indigenous people address historical wrongs and the lasting physical, emotional, mental and spiritual harms related to the legacy of residential schools. “Our hearts are with Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation as they undertake this painful but important work to locate and memorialize missing children from Christie Residential School sites. We acknowledge Canada’s failure in protecting the rights of Indigenous children - taken away from their families and cultures - and we remain committed to supporting your work as you uncover the truth and work toward healing,” said Marc Miller, minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations. The national Indian Residential School Crisis Line is available to provide support to former residential school students who can access emotional and crisis referral services by calling the 24-hour line at 1-866-925-4419. Indigenous peoples can also access the Hope for Wellness Help Line by phone at 1-855-242-3310 or by online chat through the website 222.hopeforwellness. ca.

Ken Watts opportunity to submit a statement online at the project website page (coming soon), as well as hybrid in-person/online statement gathering events in the coming months. Once information gathering and scanning is complete, Tseshaht will provide an update on how the announcement of the results will be released. “The Alberni Indian Residential School was located on our traditional territory, and we feel a sacred obligation to lead this project, with culture and healing at the forefront for our people. We are guided by survivors, ha’wiih (hereditary chiefs), council and our people to give this project the honour, respect and dignity it deserves,” Watts said. “From a community perspective having it in your

backyard… it’s been really triggering for a lot of our survivors and community members, who’s [relatives] went to the school. I think this is all going to help get the answers that everybody needs and deserves.” Williams Lake First Nation recently announced the discovery of 93 potential graves of lost souls who attended the St. Joseph Mission Residential School. “This pain is felt by all Indigenous people and Tseshaht First Nation stands with this Nation and all Nations who are being called to do this important work for their communities,” Watts said. Resources are available for those in need through the KUU-US Crisis Line Society, Quu’asa and the provincial Indian Residential School Survivor Society. In addition to these efforts, the c̓ išaaʔatḥ (Tseshaht) First Nation has begun fundraising for a memorial to honour all those who attended the Alberni Indian Residential School. To date, the Nation has raised more $60,000 in donations. For the latest information, or to contribute to the memorial, please visit www. tseshaht.com/airs-team. “Our intent, once we get a final list of names, is to really develop that place where people can go if they’re a survivor, child of a survivor or grandchild. A place that you can come to year-round under a covered area and have that memory and share that love for that person that attended,” Watts said. “We still want to tear down the school one day and we’ve been having conversations with Canada about it. I’m hopeful it will happen, it’s just a matter of when.


February 24, 2022—Ha-Shilth-Sa—Page 3

Bamfield road resurfacing to be complete by the fall Chip sealing to be undertaken this year before the fall, then in 2023 steep sections of the road to be fully paved By Eric Plummer Ha-Shilth-Sa Editor Anacla, BC - Despite a stormy winter that brought disastrous rains in various parts of the province and heavy snowfall for Vancouver Island, work on the Bamfield road is on schedule, with an improved surface due for completion by the fall. In October the physical work to improve the 76-kilometre stretch of road south of Port Alberni began with the collection of gravel to build shoulders and ditches. So far 250,000 cubic metres of gravel has been packed, as well as culvert repairs and the installation of new roadside barriers and signs. In mid November a series of atmospheric rivers hit British Columbia, causing floods that put the province in a state of emergency and cut off supply channels. Then in early January a snowstorm caused power outages across much of the west coast of Vancouver Island, cutting off communication lines to remote communities like Bamfield and the neighbouring Huu-ay-aht village of Anacla. It’s a winter that makes Huu-ay-aht Chief Councillor Robert Dennis thankful the nation’s government decided to put off all of the chip sealing to 2022. “We were going to start some of it last year, but we decided to delay and try getting all done,” he said. “There was no delays,” said Huu-ay-aht Councillor Edward Johnson of the work undertaken in the winter. “We’re just identifying quarries to get the aggregates to get the gravel for the road.” Three gravel pits have so far been identified to supply the project, with one of these awaiting a final mining permit. Now the First Nation has issued tenders to undertake the road surfacing and construction. Most of the road is planned to be widened to eight metres, and construction is expected to begin in late March, progressing into July when the seal coating begins. This process entails coating

Photo by Eric Plummer

Huu-ay-aht Chief Councillor Robert Dennis speaks at a gravel pit to be used for improvements to Bamfield Main on Oct. 18, 2021. Behind him are local ACRD Director Bob Beckett, MLA Josie Osborne, Tseshaht Chief Councillor Ken Watts and Huu-ay-aht Tayii Ḥaw̓ił ƛiišin (Head Hereditary Chief Derek Peters). the dirt and gravel road with a one-andthere.” Premier John Horgan soon travelled the a-half-inch combination of liquid asphalt Vulnerable to deep ruts and washouts road to meet with Huu-ay-aht representaand rock chip. The seal coat is expected in the rainy season and thick clouds of tives, and by September 2020 the provto be completed by the end of September. dust in the summer, the road to Bamfield ince had committed $25.7 million to fund After the following winter steep porand Anacla has long been considered a improvements to Bamfield Main, adding tions of the road are planned to be fully treacherous part of life for those who live to the Huu-ay-aht’s pledge of $5 million. paved, creating a harder surface where in the remote communities. Since the But this would not end tragedy on the the most wear occurs. This is set to be road opened to regular traffic in the early dangerous route. On Oct. 24, 2021 a completed by fall 2023. 1970s the Huu-ay-aht have lobbied for a vehicle left the road to hit a tree shortly “All of the big hills will be paved,” said safer land passage from Port Alberni to before 1:30 a.m., claiming the life of Dennis. its ancestral homeland. Huu-ay-aht member Tim Manson. The “It’s exciting to think about. Next year it Over the years eight Huu-ay-aht citizens RCMP stated that alcohol was not a facwill be a smooth road,” added Johnson. died on the road, then on Sept. 13, 2019 tor in the crash, although road conditions, Artistic designed have also been selecta bus full of 45 University of Victoria stu- poor weather and limited communication ed to illustrate the signs showing distance dents and two teaching assistants slid off to the remote section of the road chalmarkers on the road. the road down an embankment during an lenged first responders to come to the “A citizen put a design forward and it annual trip to the Bamfield Marine Sciscene. was picked,” said Johnson. “The kilomeences Centre. Two students were killed in tre signs will have First Nations art on the accident.

Daily Highway 4 closures to come to an end March 11 By Denise Titian Ha-Shilth-Sa Reporter Kennedy Lake, BC – After more than three years of long travel delays on Highway 4 to the west coast communities, residents will be pleased to know the end is in sight for the Kennedy Hill road improvement zone. The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure made the announcement Feb. 16, saying the Kennedy Hill project has reached a milestone as extended daytime closures will end on March 11. The new traffic schedule, beginning March 11, will look like this: * On weekdays, traffic queues will be released at the top of the hour between 5 a.m. and 11 p.m. * On weekends, the road will be open to single-lane alternating traffic during the day from 5 a.m. to 8 p.m. * On weekends, from 8-11 p.m., traffic queues will be released at the top of the hour. * Nightly closures will take place from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m., with a release to clear queued traffic at 2 a.m. The new schedule will be welcome news to west coast residents and businesses, shortening travel time between Port Alberni and the coast just in time for spring break.

The road improvement project began in September 2018 and was supposed to be finished by the summer of 2020. But several factors, including blasting mishaps and revamping plans, delayed the project, causing inconvenience for locals that rely on Highway 4, which is the only route that connects that part of the west coast to the rest of Vancouver Island. “This new schedule is designed to make trip planning easier for families, business owners, tour operators and other travellers, especially heading into spring break,” said the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure in their statement. “On weekends, single-lane alternating traffic during the day will limit wait times for drivers to about 15 minutes.” The section of highway encompassed by the project is a notoriously narrow, windy section that hugs the cliff above Kennedy Lake. The improvements are possible from extensive rock blasting that allowed the road to be widened and made safer for travellers. “The bluff-blasting portion of the project removed more than 150,000 cubic metres of rock to widen and straighten 1.5 kilometres of highway along the bluffs over Kennedy Lake. With this stage of the project completed, the contractor will shift focus to road alignment and grade lowering, which includes building sup-

Photo supplied by Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure

With the bluff-blasting portion of the Kennedy Hill project completed, the contractor can focus to road alignment and grade lowering, which includes building support structures, states the B.C. Ministry of Transportation and Instructure. struction, call toll-free: 1 855 451-7152. port structures,” said the ministry. General project information is available The project is expected to be substanonline: www.gov.bc.ca/highway4kentially completed by summer 2022 with nedyhill finishing touches continuing throughout Visit the project page on Facebook: the fall. Once complete, the Highway 4 - Kenne- https://www.facebook.com/eac.bc.ca. kennedy.hill/ dy Hill Safety Improvement Project will For the most up-to-date information on create a safer, more reliable connection road conditions, drivers are encouraged between Port Alberni and the west coast to check: www.DriveBC.ca (http://www. of Vancouver Island. drivebc.ca/) and follow @DriveBC and To listen to the travel information hot#BCHwy4 on Twitter. line message, updated daily during con-


Page 4— Ha-Shilth-Sa— February 24, 2022 Ha-Shilth-Sa newspaper is published by the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council for distribution to the members of the NTC-member First Nations, as well as other interested groups and individuals. Information and original work contained in this newspaper is protected by copyright and may not be reproduced without written permission from: Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council P.O. Box 1383, Port Alberni, B.C. V9Y 7M2. Telephone: (250) 724-5757 Fax: (250) 723-0463 Web page: www.hashilthsa.com facebook: Hashilthsa Ntc

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

Photo submitted by Monica Patsy Jones

Kevin ‘Bear’ Henry was found on a logging road Feb. 9 after being missing for over two months. Bear is pictured shortly after being picked up by two forestry workers on a logging road.

Audio / Video Technician Mike Watts (Ext. 238) (250) 724-5757 Fax: (250) 723-0463 mike.watts@nuuchahnulth.org Editorial Assistant Holly Stocking (Ext. 302) (250) 724-5757 Fax: (250) 723-0463 holly.stocking@nuuchahnulth.org

DEADLINE: Please note that the deadline for submissions for our next issue is March 4, 2022 After that date, material submitted and judged appropriate cannot be guaranteed placement but, if material is still relevant, will be included in the following issue. In an ideal world, submissions would be typed rather than hand-written. Articles can be sent by e-mail to holly.stocking@nuuchahnulth.org (Windows PC). Submitted pictures must include a brief description of subject(s) and a return address. Pictures with no return address will remain on file. Allow two - four weeks for return. Photocopied or faxed photographs cannot be accepted.

Bear Henry found alive after two months Kevin ‘Bear’ Henry was reported missing Nov. 26, 2021 from the Fairy Creek area By Denise Titian Ha-Shilth-Sa Reporter Lake Cowichan, BC – Missing since Nov. 26, 2021, Bear Henry walked into the arms of thrilled family members in Lake Cowichan on the afternoon of Feb. 9. Kevin ‘Bear’ Henry, a two-spirited individual (doesn’t identify as male or female) spent over two months missing in the mountains around Port Renfrew. Bear survived in a broken-down van with a sleeping bag, a pile of blankets, a few cans of expired beans, some peanut butter and jam. Bear was last seen in Lake Cowichan Nov. 26. The individual had been living in the van in Victoria and was headed to the Fairy Creek encampment near Port Renfrew. A retired logger took a photograph of the van parked at the entrance to Gordon River Main near Honeymoon Bay on Nov. 27. Described as a 37-year-old Indigenous person standing six feet, three inches tall

and weighing approximately 300 pounds with a heavy build, Bear proved hard to find. Several searchers went out in vehicles and there were helicopter searches, but nothing was ever found. Bear spoke to Ha-Shilth-Sa, saying that it still doesn’t feel real. Bear hasn’t been in contact with another human for three months. Bear said the van broke down at Fairy Creek. Bear stayed warm inside the broken-down vehicle with a sleeping bag. “I’m Indigenous so I have lots of blankets,” laughed the person. And even though there was some food to eat, Bear lost a lot of weight. On the morning of Feb. 9, 2022, Henry made the decision to leave the safety of the van. “It was hard because it was my home, it kept me safe,” said Henry. Not only scared of wild animals, Henry was also afraid of loggers, whom they’ve been in conflict with over the Fairy Creek logging protests. Ironically, after seven hours of walking

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a forestry road, Henry was picked up by a pair of Gemini loggers. “They picked me up and I told them my name is Kevin, then they asked if I’m Bear Henry, and I asked them, ‘How did you know?’” Henry was incredulous that people were looking and that the missing posters were everywhere. “Then I asked what day it is and they told me Tuesday,” said Bear. “’No, I mean what month is it?’” Henry said the loggers were friendly and gave him water and cigarettes. “They stopped to pick up money and gave me $40 so that I could get donuts from Tim’s,” said Henry. “I should have gotten their names.” Grateful family members arrived in Lake Cowichan Tim Horton’s restaurant to welcome Bear back after receiving Facebook private messages from Henry. “I should go get checked at the hospital but I just want to get back to my friend’s in Victoria and rest,” said Henry.

Ha-Shilth-Sa belongs to every Nuu-chah-nulth person including those who have passed on, and those who are not yet born. A community newspaper cannot exist without community involvement. If you have any great pictures you’ve taken, stories or poems you’ve written, or artwork you have done, please let us know so we can include it in your newspaper. E-mail holly.stocking@nuuchahnulth.org. This year is Ha-Shilth-Sa’s 48th year of serving the Nuu-chah-nulth First Nations. We look forward to your continued input and support. Kleco! Kleco!

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February 24, 2022—Ha-Shilth-Sa—Page 5

Six people died each day in 2021 from overdose in BC ‘Addiction is not a choice, it’s a health condition,’ says officials after last year saw a 26 per cent rise in fatalities By Melissa Renwick Local Journalism Initiative Reporter More than 2,200 people lost their lives to the toxic illicit drug supply in 2021, according to preliminary data from the BC Coroners Service. Six more people die every day that decision-makers fail to respond to the crisis with “the urgency it demands,” British Columbia’s Chief Coroner Lisa LaPointe said. “COVID-19 has shown what is possible when governments act decisively to save lives,” she said in a release. “And in order to save lives in this public-health emergency, we need to provide people with access to the substances they need, where and when they need them.” Since being declared a public health emergency in April 2016, deaths due to the toxic illicit drug supply have increased by 400 per cent. Last year saw the largest number of suspected illicit drug deaths ever recorded in British Columbia, with a 26 per cent increase in the number of deaths since 2020. Drug toxicity is now only second to cancer for potential years of life lost in B.C. “We cannot simply hope that things will improve,” said LaPointe. “It is long past time to end the chaos and devastation in our communities resulting from the flourishing illicit drug market.” British Columbia is the first province in Canada to expand access to a prescribed safer drug supply. It is also the first to apply to the federal government to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of illicit drugs for personal use, asserting that “drug use is a healthcare issue and not a criminal justice issue,” Sheila Malcolmson, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions, said during a media briefing on Feb. 9. “We are learning as we go,” she said. “We’re continuing to add new medications, for example – fentanyl patches can now be prescribed as a way to separate

Photo supplied by Province of B.C.

B.C. Chief Coroner Lisa LaPointe speaks to media with Dr. Bonnie Henry, provincial health officer, standing by. LaPointe is stressing the need for drug users to get access to a safer supply in order to repeat the death toll that amassed in 2021. people from the toxic drug supply.” Despite these moves, the BC Association of Social Workers is calling for the province to “redouble” their efforts in addressing the crisis. Lapointe’s call for a massive increase in resources, and to ensure a safe, reliable, regulated drug supply is available “must be heeded,” said Michael Crawford, president of the BC Association of Social Workers. In a joint-release, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Malcolmson agreed that the number of deaths is “unacceptable.” “We must reduce the fear and shame that leads so many to hide their drug use, avoid services and use deadly drugs

alone,” the joint-release read. “Addiction is not a choice, it’s a health condition.” Over the past two years, Malcolmson said over 15,000 people have been prescribed a safe supply, and yet, “it’s not enough.” “We’re determined to do more,” she said. “We all feel the urgency of this.” The province will continue to make “systemic changes to our health-care system to build a comprehensive system of care for those experiencing substance use and mental health challenges,” said Malcolmson. “The continued and terrible and unacceptable loss of life tells us that we need to do more,” she said. Vancouver Coastal Health Peer Clinical Adviser Guy Felicella criticized the province’s approach, saying it “is killing and continues to kill people.” “Every one of these deaths was preventable and represents a failure to act, a failure to learn from mistakes,” said Felicella. “Change nothing and nothing changes. That’s been the story now for years as the approach throughout this crisis has been to meet policies where they’re at, rather than meeting people who use drugs where they’re at.” Echoing Felicella, Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council (NTC) Vice-President Mariah Charleson said she hasn’t seen any “substantial” moves made by decision-makers and political leaders. “It’s been over six years since B.C. has declared this a public health emergency,” she said. “You’d think there would be some type of urgency in response to this public health emergency, but we’re not seeing the numbers decline.” First Nations people have been disproportionately impacted by the toxic-drug poisoning. According to the First Nations Health Authority, First Nations people died at 5.3 times the rate of other B.C. residents in 2020. While Charleson said a safe drug supply

is critical, “the reality is there’s really few people who are actually benefiting from the few programs that are operating.” People living in rural Nuu-chah-nulth communities “definitely don’t have access to safe supply,” she said. In its final report, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission made 94 Calls to Action to address the legacy of residential schools. Similarly, the In Plain Sight summary report made 24 recommendations to eliminate Indigenous-specific racism within B.C.’s health care system. “We need to really look at these documents and start responding,” said Charleson. “We know that trauma is the root cause for a lot of this self-medication. We know that the Indian Residential School System has had lasting effects. We’re all still affected. And that trauma is real – it’s still living within each and every one of us.” The provincial and federal governments need to respond to these calls to action with “urgency,” she said. “We really need to begin to look at prevention from the day a child is born,” she said. “We need to meet people where they’re at. We need to be on the ground. We need to have the same amount of resources and money available that we’ve seen in response to other big, urgent crises such as COVID-19.” Malcolmson said the province is now spending $2.7 billion every year “to respond to the overdose crisis and to attend to people’s mental health.” “Fighting COVID-19 on the foundation of an intact healthcare system is very different from fighting the overdose public health emergency, while building a system of care at the same time,” she said. But as every health authority in B.C. experienced a record loss of lives last year, LaPointe said enough is enough. “Time has run out for research and discussion,” she said. “It is time to take action.”

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Page 6— Ha-Shilth-Sa— February 24, 2022

Indigenous people experience a very different Canada Wide gap remains between Indigenous and non-Indigenous experiences, according to new university research By Karly Blats Ha-Shilth-Sa Contributor Victoria, BC - A recently released University of Victoria report of the Canadian Reconciliation Barometer shows that Canada’s Indigenous and non-Indigenous people continue to have significantly different experiences, with areas of disagreement around reconciliation. The first report was developed by a team of Indigenous and non-Indigenous researchers in response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s (TRC) Calls to Action. The project team hopes the findings will inform public policy. “The barometer is an effort to measure the social distance between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people in the country,” Said Ry Moran, co-investigator of the project and UVic’s associate university librarian on the topic of reconciliation. “The TRC itself is quite clear across multiple calls to action that on-going monitoring, assessment and production of data is vital to understand whether or not we are succeeding in achieving reconciliation. This particular report was one aspect of some of that work and there’s still a lot more to do.” Research for the report included careful analysis of what residential school survivors said themselves about what reconciliation is and is not, focus groups from across the country and surveys from around 3,600 people. Moran said a key finding in the report shows Indigenous and non-Indigenous people feel they’re living in quite a different Canada. One example of this gap is the difference in understanding the harms inflicted by residential schools. Findings suggests that despite the clear gains in education, much more needs to be done to inform Canadians about the impact of residential schools, as well as Indigenous peoples’ experiences more broadly. “How we understand history, how we understand equality, how we have trust in our institutions, how we really feel is showing up as being quite different,” Moran said. “The report shows there’s relatively not a lot of trust yet either… and I think there’s very good historical reasons for that. Indigenous people have long been promised many things and have heard all of the great promises and often have not seen those come to fruition.” Another key takeaway from the report, Moran said, is that as a whole, Canada is quite aware of the fact that Indigenous people face structural and personal inequality.

Photo by Karly Blats

Reuben Thomas, left, Wally Samuel, centre, and Roman Frank sing and drum a Nuu-chah-nulth song on National Indigenous Peoples Day. “So the question is, if we know this then should see trust building, we should see “They talk about land and resources and why are we not doing that much about decreased disparity in terms of our under- I say, ‘Us people live in the city, we don’t it? The action component is so critically standing of past present and future.” have land and resources here. We need important,” Moran said. Ahousaht member Wally Samuel, who housing, we need employment, we need On a positive note, Moran said the lives in Port Alberni, says where he sees a health services,’” Samuel said. “A lot report shows there’s a mutual understand- gap in working towards reconciliation is of us can’t get to our villages where the ing between Indigenous and non-Indigfor First Nations members who don’t live programs are.” enous people about the importance and on their reserves. Samuel, who attended the Alberni Invitality of the First Nation’s art sector in “Many of us live in the cities and many dian Residential School for seven years, the country. of us are survivors of the residential said that there’s a lack of understanding “This repot is quite clear that Indigenous school who never had a home to go home around Indigenous people’s experiences art at large is playing a very, very importo and ended up in the city. So there are at residential schools. tant role in helping build better relationdifferent things that have to be reconciled “Most of my friends are Alberni Resiships and helping be essential in deepenwith for people who do not live in their dential School survivors and most of ing Canadian’s understanding of what villages or reserves and don’t have access us live in the city here,” Samuel said. this country really is,” Moran said. to some of the things because of gov“I do talks at the high schools about Moran pointed out the report shows ernment policy,” Samuel said. “We fall our governments and residential school where Canada is at today, and more rethrough the cracks because of policies experience…where some of us are at. search will need to be done in the future and when things do happen they’re not There’s a lot of misinformation, or lack to see what changes have been made and accessible to us. Our reserves are isoof knowledge, of exactly the situations of whether trust amongst Indigenous people lated, hard to get at and that’s where the the majority of our Indigenous people.” is improving or worsening. administration is.” In working towards reconciliation, “We’re not the same country everySamuel added that there’s around 500 Samuel hopes the provincial and federal where and some specific solutions and Ahousaht members living in Port Algovernments will talk to Indigenous approaches need to be adopted in specific berni, but when it comes to negotiations people where they live and not just those regions,” he said. “If we are doing our with the government around policy for who live on reserve when creating policy. collective work of reconciliation then their members, it’s done on reserve, so The full report on the Canadian Reconwe should see inequalities lessening, we those living in the city aren’t typically ciliation Barometer project can be found involved. at reconciliationbarometer.ca.

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February 24, 2022—Ha-Shilth-Sa—Page 7

Encouraging signs in Huu-ay-aht’s salmon rivers Recent data shows wild salmon migrating from rivers are approaching the numbers of hatchery-raised smolts By Eric Plummer Ha-Shilth-Sa Editor Anacla, BC - Observations this year from Huu-ay-aht territory see that volume of herring may finally be improving, as the First Nation is reporting a growing number of wild salmon migrating through its rivers. Amid widespread Pacific salmon declines throughout the West Coast, the reports could be seen as encouraging news for those who subsist off the watershed. Each year the First Nation usually releases approximately 200,000 hatchery-raised smolts, two-year-old salmon that are ready to migrate to the sea, according to the Huu-ay-aht’s Lands and Natural Resources department. But in 2021 wild salmon travelling out to the sea was counted at about 170,000, a number that appears to be approaching the smolts raised in more artificial conditions. So far this year Chief Councillor Robert Dennis Sr. is seeing a different situation unfold on the water. “This is the first year that I’ve noticed I caught more wild chinook salmon than hatchery salmon, and even the same thing with coho,” he said, adding that while fishing this month he saw more schools of herring than in many years. “I’m seeing a lot of needlefish for a change in our territory, I’m seeing a lot of squid again, which was really surprising for me,” continued Dennis. “The smallest fish that I’ve caught this year has maybe been around four pounds, but before that would be the average for this time of the year because there was no food around for the fish. Now when I cut open my salmon they’ve got herring in the stom-

achs.” These observations could be seen as encouraging news, as the First Nation is nearly five years into a large-scale initiative to enhance the Sarita and Pachena watersheds. Largely funded by money set aside for every cubic metre of timber harvested from Huu-ay-aht treaty settlement land, the watershed enhancement project is being supported by the industry that was historically responsible for much of the degradation of the First Nation’s rivers and streams. During an online presentation hosted by the Bamfield Marine Sciences Centre in January, Huu-ay-aht member Larry Johnson addressed how the First Nation has taken a greater role in managing its natural resources. “For years when I was on council we sat on the outside of forestry watching as forestry development happened within our traditional territory,” reflected Johnson, who currently serves as president of the Nuu-chah-nulth Seafood Development Corporation and chair of the Maa-nulth Treaty Fisheries Committee. “There was around a million cubic metres being harvested, and there we were, we had only four people working in the forest industry.” A significant shift occurred in 2017, when the First Nation launched more than 20 projects to gain a closer look into the condition of its territory, with enhanced monitoring of salmon, assessments of the habitat they rely on and examinations of the condition of logging roads. “We knew we had 35 salmon rivers and streams, but only four had salmon left,” said Johnson. “It was a real good opportunity, from my perspective, to

Robert Dennis bring Indigenous knowledge and combine it with science, because we look at the world today, and the world is based around science, a lot of science. There needs to be some on the ground values attached to it.” As a biologist with LGL Limited, Bob Bocking has brought his scientific expertise to the Huu-ay-aht’s enhancement project. In a video released by the First Nation detailing recent watershed renewal work, he points out piles of cut timber that have sat on the Pachena River for over half a century. “He sorted through all these logs, and chose the nice ones,” he said of the past forestry activity. “This is all cedar that’s been lying in the creek for 50, 60 years.” In other parts of the river gaps in reforestation are evident. “A lot of areas, they were not replanted,” said Bocking, who is chair of the Huu-ay-aht’s technical working group on

watershed renewal. “They were cut 50 years ago, and all you have is alder growing there.” To improve fish habitat, approximately a dozen wooden debris structures were installed in the Pachena River in 2021, an ongoing effort to reverse the buildup of gravel in streams when banks are affected by logging. Using big pieces of timber collected from cutblocks combined with boulders and cables anchoring them in place, these structures offer shade and shelter for fish, creating a diversity of pools in an otherwise shallow stream. Dennis believes that the watershed enhancement project wouldn’t be possible without the Maa-nulth treaty. “It was our decision under the treaty process that enables us to provide the funding from any harvesting on treaty land,” he said of using a portion of the forestry revenue. “If we didn’t have the treaty land, we wouldn’t be able to allocate dollars to enhancement.” But it will take more than the First Nation’s enhancement efforts to reverse the effects on its watershed, cautioned Huuay-aht Councillor Edward Johnson. “It’s going to take more than just us to enhance these rivers and bring them back,” he said. “Logging happened all throughout the coast and the Sarita River was our heart and soul. We had great wars about our Sarita River, it was the provider.” “Who we are and what we value is founded in our connection to our lands and our resources,” said Larry Johnson. “If you understand how everything is interconnected, and you learn how to respect it, and you take care of it, you know what it means to me to be a Huu-ay-aht.”


Page 8— Ha-Shilth-Sa— February 24, 2022

DFO salmon strategy aims to ‘stem historic declines’ More fishery closures expected this year, as the federal department works to further thin the commercial fleet By Eric Plummer Ha-Shilth-Sa Editor More closures are expected this year to commercial salmon fisheries, while the DFO ramps up a program encouraging fishers to leave the industry – part of an effort to thin out the fleet of boats licenced to harvest dwindling Pacific salmon stocks. This also applies to First Nations, as Fisheries and Oceans Canada is preparing to offer money for the retirement of commercial licences, with opportunity to acquire access to non-salmon industries. The buy-back program is set to start in the spring, an integral part of Canada’s $647-million Pacific Salmon Strategy Initiative that aims to “stem historic declines in key Pacific salmon stocks and rebuild these species to a sustainable level,” according to the DFO. Last summer the federal department closed 60 per cent of commercial salmon fisheries on the B.C. coast, one month after former Fisheries Minister Bernadette Jordan announced the strategy in June 2021. Now longer-term closures are expected, according to information recently provided to the Nuu-chah-nulth Council of Ha’wiih Forum on Fisheries. “There will be no additional opportunities provided to a different commercial gear group or the recreational sector due to these closures,” states the PSSI document. The DFO paper notes that many commercial salmon licences are not being used under the current conditions, and that cutting down on harvesting through voluntary “licence retirement” could help where there is a high risk of boats impacting “stocks of concern”. “Part of that is also creating more viable, more sustainable fishing opportunities too,” said Sarah Murdoch, PSSI senior director, on the topic of thinning out the fleet of commercial boats. “We also want to work with individual fishers who may choose to leave the industry given the forecast around the future and make sure that they can retire with dignity.” The salmon strategy paper notes that this voluntary licence retirement approach has been used since 1996, cutting the commercial fleet by almost 50 per cent. “Among the options to be explored are shifting to more selective fishing gear (to avoid stocks of concern), or, where available, to other non-salmon species,” notes the PSSI document. “The department will consult with First Nations on opportunities to transition to more selective fishing approaches and gear, or exchanging their salmon access for access to non-salmon species and licences, where feasible.” In response to an invitation from DFO, the Council of Ha’wiih issued its own priorities to help save the salmon stocks that Nuu-chah-nulth communities have subsisted on for countless generations. This list includes the increased use of genetic tools to better understand how young salmon survive across the West Coast, improved information that monitors adult escapement, and identifying offshore areas where opportunity exists for Nuu-chah-nulth rights-based fisheries. “There’s opportunities for coho offshore,” said Jim Lane, Uu-a-thluk’s deputy program manager. “Canada does have a lot of access to them, but the department has been reluctant to put any effort into finding out what those potential fisheries could be…these things are swimming by and you’re losing oppor-

Photos by Melissa Renwick

Terry Crosina cleans the Nellie Mona, near the fourth street dock in Tofino, on July 23, 2020. tunity.” The council also pushed for better monitoring of recreational fisheries, which still allow anglers to throw adult salmon back after they’ve been hooked, instead of applying these catches to a sports fisher’s quota. Lane noted that this is the only fishery that permits this practice. “Right now, they can throw back as many fish as they want,” he said. “The amount of discarding in the recreational fishery - even the data that we have, which is self-reported - it’s pretty significant, and it leads to a lot of mortalities.” For this reason, the Council of Ha’wiih agreed that sports fishers should be required to retain all legal-size salmon that they catch. “It’s not trying to stop anybody from fishing; it’s to manage what we have left better, because if we don’t, my grandchildren won’t have anything,” stressed Nuchatlaht Councillor Archie Little. “We know there needs to be a focus on monitoring and more conversations around that,” agreed Murdoch. “How we manage individual anglers the same way as charters and lodges is just out of date.” Enhancing the production of salmon in hatcheries is another goal of the Pacific Salmon Strategy Initiative, which Murdoch called “conservation-based enhancement”. “That will include actually building new capacity and new hatchery facilities,” she said. “Right now we’ve identified a big gap in chinook and sockeye in the upper Fraser.” But these fish need to be marked to differentiate them from salmon raised in a natural environment, emphasized Lane, as Uu-a-thluk works to better understand threats to wild stocks. “If they’re not marked and you can’t separate them from wild, it becomes more of a problem,” he said. “It is mostly hatchery fish that people are catching.” The lack of a major hatchery in Clayoquot Sound has further threatened fisheries in the region, said Andrew Jackson, fisheries manager for the Tla-o-qui-aht. “For us in Clayoquot Sound, it’s the collapse of the fishery,” he said. “It’s not a decline.”

Laurence Curley, 17, works his first season as a commercial fisherman aboard the Nellie Mona, on July 22, 2020. First Nations can help out the resource Jackson believes his First Nation’s terthat we feel in our history, [that] in our ritory needs better recognized protection lifetime was in abundance.” to preserve what salmon are left for the Huu-ay-aht Chief Councillor Robert community. “We need to have a special management Dennis spoke of a story he heard from his nation’s late Chief Louie Nookemis zone,” he said. “That’s the only way in 1964. It speaks of the traditional pracwe’re going to keep our food security.” tice of bringing salmon back to the sea While the federal department has reiterated its commitment to working collabor- for regeneration. “’Oh mother, when you eat the salmon, atively with First Nations, representatives don’t you ever throw its bones back into on the Council of Ha’wiih pointed to the gap that remains between the science that the fire and burn it’,” recalled Dennis. ‘You must never burn the fish bones; if DFO specializes in and the traditional you do, the salmon will become no more, knowledge that guided Nuu-chah-nulth they will not come back to the rivers.’” tribes for thousands of years. Part of the problem is the separation of “What we want to do is have some Nuu-chah-nulth people from their territoof our First Nations knowledge implerial resources, he explained. mented into these ideas and plans,” said “Because Nuu-chah-nulth people have Mike Maquinna, Tyee Ha’wilth of the moved away from the land, we are no Mowachaht/Muchalaht First Nation. “I longer fulfilling our responsibility to would hope that, in all fairness, once we ensure the salmon become plentiful,” get down to discussions the department of fisheries and oceans started to see how said Dennis.


February 24, 2022—Ha-Shilth-Sa—Page 9

Transition from net pen fish farms proves challenging Opposition to the ocean-based practice continues, but First Nations have different ideas on the industry’s future By Eric Plummer Ha-Shilth-Sa Editor Getting open net-pen fish farms out of the ocean appears to be more complicated than it sounded when this plan was promised by the Liberals in last fall’s federal election. This year Fisheries and Oceans Canada is consulting with First Nations across B.C., a mosaic of coastal communities with diverse connections to the controversial industry. In the 2021 federal election Justin Trudeau’s Liberals retained its minority government under a platform that included a pledge to remove the commonly used net pens out of the Pacific by 2025. In December Trudeau’s mandate letter to newly appointed Fisheries Minister Joyce Murray specified the assignment to work with the provincial government and First Nations to hammer out “a responsible plan to transition from open net-pen salmon farming in coastal British Columbia by 2025”. But now it appears that only a plan could be in place by 2025, and movement can come later, explained Jared Dick, a Southern Region biologist with Uu-a-thluk who also sits on an aquaculture committee with the First Nations Fisheries Council. “In all seriousness, this could be a plan they present in 2025 that may be a 10plus year phase-out plan,” said Dick on Feb. 9 to the Nuu-chah-nulth Council of Ha’wiih Forum on Fisheries. “Right now they’re just starting to engage First Nations.” For years many have called for salmon farms to be removed from the ocean out of concern that sea lice and other pathogens are transferring from net pens to the threatened wild stocks that migrate by. But at stake is a growing industry that contributes $1.5 billion to B.C.’s economy annually, supported by an estimated 7,000 jobs that are directly or indirectly connected to salmon farming, according to the B.C. Salmon Farmers Association. The organization has reported that three quarters of the salmon harvested in the province come from fish farms. As commercial fisheries continue to thin amid collapsing salmon stocks, many First Nations have taken a stake in fish farming through agreements with the companies that operate in their territories. Now some of these Indigenous communities aren’t keen to have the game changed on them due to a federal directive, explained Dick. “Some nations have expressed that this DFO-mandated transition plan isn’t for the best of their nation,” he said. “That has been discussed at great length at these tables. There is discussion about maybe the nations have a right to keep these farms in their territories with existing or enhanced agreements.” Meanwhile an aquaculture act is being prepared for Parliament – legislation that many believe is long overdue for an industry that is expected to grow at a rate of 4.2 per cent a year. “When industry breaks rules there isn’t really very much penalty,” said Dick. “Some of the positives that can come from the aquaculture act are more clear direction, rules and policies. One example is there can be more severe repercussions, including financial repercussions, for the fish farm industry when they don’t follow their conditions of licences.” On the second day of the Council of Ha’wiih Forum a large contingent from

Photo by Eric Plummer

Like many areas in Nuu-chah-nulth territory, Nootka Sound has fish farms through an agreement with the local First Nation. DFO was available in the online meetRaising Sablefish – or black cod – is But this development in itself can be ing, including Stella Kim, the departanother approach that could help the problematic for certain First Nations that ment’s national manager of aquaculture rely on the migrating salmon that pass by transition from net-pen salmon farming. policy and regulatory affairs. She noted Currently Gindara Sablefish operates farms in another other nation’s territory. that in 2018 the Commissioner of the “Our salmon have to swim past all those farms in Kyuquot Sound, territory of Environment and Sustainable Developthe Ka:’yu:’k’t’h’/Che:k’tles7et’h’ First farms, and they’re impacting us,” said ment found that DFO failed to assess Nations. Andrew Jackson, fisheries manager for the effectiveness of its rules on giving “There is discussion about transitioning the Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation. “They’re drugs and pesticides to farmed salmon - a not in our territory, but they have an to open net-pen farming of sablefish,” shortcoming that could miss how these impact on our salmon.” said Dick. “That alleviates a lot of the treatments are affecting wild stocks. concerns about the pathogens spreading How exactly the industry will be able Currently the DFO is developing new to our wild salmon.” to transition from the current practice monitoring guidelines for drugs, pesAs the consultation process unfolds, of ocean-based salmon farming remains ticides, antibiotics and disinfectants, a Amy Marr, DFO’s regional manager with to be seen. This winter Grieg Seafood framework that will fall under the new the net pen transition team, admitted that introduced semi-closed containment fisheries act. meeting the needs of each individual systems to all three of its farms in Espe“Industry will have to seek permission First Nation will be challenging. ranza Inlet. This technology allows pen prior to the deposit of any drugs and, or barriers to be lowered during periods of “It’s going to be tricky discussions bepesticides,” said Kim. salmon migration, control that drastically cause of the diversity of views, but that’s A big point of contention has been the something we’ll have to go through in reduces the risk of transferring sea lice prevalence of sea lice in farmed fish. In the next few months,” she said. between farmed and wild stocks, states 2018 Dick found high numbers of lice the company. in wild salmon as outbreaks occurred at nearby fish farms in Clayoquot Sound. “We captured the wild juvenile salmon, they had lots of sea lice,” said Dick. “There is a direct link to these negative sorts of interactions.” Some nations have been involved in imposing tighter restrictions beyond the current industry standard. For example, Ahousaht and Cermaq have lowered the regulated threshold of three lice per salmon to 1.5 for farms in the First Nation’s territory. This applies to the period of salmon outmigration, running from February to the end of July. During the forum Ahousaht’s fisheries manager Luke Swan noted the challenge of keeping a stake in the industry while meeting the needs of his community. “Wild salmon is our No. 1 priority; it’s our way of life,” said Swan. “I hear it in Ahousaht too from our people. We’re trying to make two things work together. It’s hard.” In the near future, 109 marine finfish licences in B.C. are due to expire this year, most running out on June 30. As of July, all of these tenures require approval of the local First Nation to continue to operate in its territory and gain a licence from provincial regulators. “This has gone from the word that we all hate, consultation, to consent,” said Map supplied by DFO Dick. “The province and industry now This map of Vancouver Island shows active licensed fish farms in dark blue and require the nations’ consent to operate in inactive farms in light blue. their territory.”


Page 10— Ha-Shilth-Sa— February 24, 2022

First Nation honours missing and murdered women Mowachaht/Muchalaht hosts a gathering for those who were taken away too soon as families hope for answers By Melissa Renwick Local Journalism Initiative Reporter Tsaxana, BC - Paul Johnson was only eight years old when his mother, Pauline, was murdered in Vancouver. It’s been 38 years since her body was found, but to this day, her murder remains unsolved. With only a short time together, Johnson holds onto memories of his mother through the stories his grandparents, aunts and uncles have shared with him over the years. That, and through the old photos that he keeps of her stored in his cell phone. “It hurts every day that I can’t say, ‘I love you, mom’,” he said. “Part of me is lost.” Because her case remains open, Johnson said his mother’s spirit is still out there “wandering around.” He remains hopeful that it will soon be closed so “she can rest in peace,” he said. On Valentine’s Day, Johnson and his brother, Sam Mayer, gathered with family and friends to honour the Nuu-chah-nulth women and girls who have gone missing or been murdered. Inside the House of Unity, in Tsaxana, on the traditional territory of the Mowachaht/Muchalaht First Nation, community members held space for each other to grieve the loss of their loved ones. The event was organized by Brian Lucas, Quu’asa wellness worker, and the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council (NTC) Teechuktl/Mental Health Program team, in response to community requests. “We want to hold you up,” Lucas said. “And hold up the ladies who have gone before us. It’s always important that we nourish our women – if it weren’t for our women, our men wouldn’t be here.” Lisa Watts, the tribal council’s MMIWG family support worker, said that 53 murders or suspicious deaths have been reported by Nuu-chah-nulth families, and that two Nuu-chah-nulth women remain missing. There are over 10,200 registered Nuu-chah-nulth members, according to the NTC. The Assembly of First Nations, a national advocacy organization representing First Nation citizens in Canada, stated that Indigenous women make up 16 per

Photo by Melissa Renwick

The group marched through the streets of Tsaxana in honour of the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, and the families who grieve their loss, on Feb. 14, 2022, in the traditional territory of the Mowachaht/Muchalaht First Nation. cent of all female homicide victims and speak about their loved ones to the intiAfter two years of not being able to 11 per cent of missing females, despite mate crowd that listened unblinkingly. gather due to pandemic restrictions, Watts Indigenous people accounting for only Yunicum Howard was among the first said it felt good just being together again. 4.3 per cent of Canada’s population. step up. “This is what healing is,” she said. “BeIndigenous women are also roughly Fearful of stirring old memories, he said ing together.” seven times more likely than non-Indighe was hesitant to attend the event at all. Towards the end of the day, a blanket enous women to be murdered by serial In 1979, two of his sisters, Helena ceremony was held and each grieving killers, read the 2017 National Inquiry and Christina, were murdered while family member was tenderly wrapped in into Missing and Murdered Indigenous hitchhiking along the Island Highway just a red blanket. Women and Girls. outside of Gold River. Christine was 26 “You are cared for,” Watts said, as a Speaking to the dozens of community at the time, while Helena was only 16. blanket was gently placed around Johnmembers gathered at the House of Unity, “I’ve never ever let go of what hapson’s shoulders. “And you are loved.” Watts said “we’re making the best of it pened to my sisters,” he said, holding Having grown up without his mother, the way we know how.” back tears. “You think you get over it, but Johnson said he regularly reminds his “Every one of these women’s lives mat- it keeps coming back. And I was scared seven children to be thankful they have tered,” she said. “It’s so apparent today to come here because I didn’t want that parents. how much they are loved.” feeling to come back. I want to let it go, “I tell my kids that you have to appreciThe occasion marked the first time but I don’t want to let them go.” ate what you have in front of you,” he Pauline’s family gathered together to All these years later, Howard said he said. “I never got that opportunity.” commemorate her, said Margaret Amos, still feels out of breath when he thinks For Amos, the ceremony wasn’t cloPauline’s eldest sister. about what happened to his sisters. sure – it was an opportunity to remember Because of the tragedy surrounding her “I go back to how they must have been Pauline “for who she was, not how she death, Pauline’s father asked his famfeeling – what they must have been going left us,” she said. ily not to hold a celebration, described through,” he said. “I don’t think you ever “It’s a really, really good feeling being Amos. get over anything like that.” here today,” she added. But now that Johnson, Mayer, and their Now, Howard’s wife, Beaulah, calls Despite it being nearly four decades sister, Chrystal, are adults with children them her highway protectors. since Pauline passed, Amos still believes of their own, Amos said it’s “time to “When I’m on the road, I pray to that her murderer will be brought to honour her and show the respect that we [them],” she said. “Because they were justice. had for her.” taken when they were on the road, I “I’m always hopeful,” she said. “You In between drumming, singing and really believe they are protecting our always have to have hope.” dancing, family members were invited to people.”

Phrase of the week: c^ac^takniš%a> hiinin%a+quu +ismit %inisqh= %umah=sa qwakmis caštakniš%a> hinin%a+quu +usmit %inisqh= %umah=sa qwakmis Pronounced ‘Cha tuck nis alth he nin alt koo clue s mit In nis ask ooh mah sa quk mis’, it means, ‘We are excited when the herring come to shore, anxiously waiting for the herring eggs’. Supplied by ciisma.

Illustration by Ivy Cargill-Martin


February 24, 2022—Ha-Shilth-Sa—Page 11

Nuu-chan-nulth women included in cancer screening Pilot project entails 67,000 B.C. women being mailed at-home screening tests to detect human papillomavirus By Sam Laskaris Ha-Shilth-Sa Contributor Port Alberni, BC – Nuu-chah-nulth women in Port Alberni are among those who are being mailed at-home cervical screening kits as part of a pilot project. BC Cancer officials started mailing out kits this past December. During the pilot project, which will run for approximately 12 months, about 67,000 kits will be mailed to women in central Vancouver Island as well as the Sunshine Coast on the province’s mainland. The easy-to-use kits will have everything women require to self-screen for the high-risk human papillomavirus (HPV). After collecting a sample, participants in the pilot project will simply mail it back. Officials will send kits to women included in the database for the BC Cancer Cervix Screening Program. Only those who are invited to participate in the pilot project can do so. Individuals cannot request that their names be added to the list of invitees. Dr. Gina Ogilvie, an affiliate scientist with BC Cancer and one of Canada’s leading experts on HPV, said she is uncertain how many Nuu-chah-nulth or Indigenous women have already received kits or how many will be included in the pilot project. Since labelling kits and then mailing them out are time-consuming processes, Ogilvie said kits will be mailed out in various phases throughout the year. “We don’t want to flood the labs with all the tests at once,” Ogilvie said. Besides Port Alberni, other communities in central Vancouver Island that are being targeted in the pilot project are Parksville, Qualicum Beach, Lighthouse Country, Coombs, Errington and Nanoose Bay. Meanwhile, some women from the following Sunshine Coast communities will also be mailed kits: Earl’s Cove, Langdale, Madeira Park, Pender Harbour, Sechelt, Robert’s Creek and Gibsons. Ogilvie said Indigenous women have a greater tendency to not visit health centres in order to be screened for cervical cancer. “There’s a lot of reasons why historically they would be under-screened,” she said. Ogilvie said many Indigenous women live in isolated and remote communities. Many would have to overcome travel and other obstacles just to get to a health centre. Ogilvie believes past discrimination could also potentially be one of the reasons some Indigenous women do not get tested. “Maybe there is legitimate reticence about going to a health centre because of the discrimination they’ve faced in the past,” she said. This pilot project eliminates the need to travel to a health centre for testing. And it can be done in the convenience of one’s home. Participants are encouraged to do the test shortly after it arrives and mail it back in short order. “The kits are very stable for several weeks,” Ogilvie said. “We’re hoping people use the kit and send it back to us as soon as possible.” There is a greater urgency to catch cancer early on among Indigenous women. The BC Cancer Agency had co-authored a study with the First Nations Healthy Authority in 2017. That study was published in the journal Cancer Causes & Control. The study

Photo courtesy of MediaNewsToday

There are many types of HPV. Most resolve on their own and are unlikely to cause health problems. However, some types are high risk if the infection remains in the body. showed a 92 per cent high incidence rate of cervical cancer observed among First Nations women when compared to nonIndigenous women. It should be noted, however, that data for that report, which was collected between 1993 to 2010, included only ‘Status Indian’ people and not all First Nations, Métis or Inuit women in B.C. Ogilvie has been involved with other cervical screening projects within the province in previous years. “Women by and large love it,” she said, adding they don’t have to arrange childcare to go to an appointment or be hindered by time or travel costs getting to a health facility. Ogilvie is hoping funding and the means will be available for all eligible women in the province to be mailed screening kits to their homes. “Ultimately that’s what we want to do,” she said. Funding for the pilot project was provided by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer. Ogilvie is also hoping one day cervical cancer will become a thing of the past. “We have everything we can to prevent this cancer,” she said. “We have a vaccine Submitted photo and we have screening.” Dr. Gina Ogilvie is hoping cervical cancer can one day be eliminated. The World Health Organization is among those who have put out a call to said. “We are hopeful that by bringtime off work or child care.” eliminate cervical cancer. Ogilvie being screening closer to home, this pilot Dr. Dirk van Niekerk, the medical direclieves this can be achieved by 2040. will help to increase cervical screening tor of cervix screening for BC Cancer, It is believed that about 190 women in participation amongst First Nations and also said cervical cancer can be avoided British Columbia were diagnosed with Métis peoples.” via regular screening. cervical cancer in 2021, a number that Adrian Dix, the Minister of Health, is “Cervical cancer is almost entirely Ogilvie said has been pretty steady in among those preaching that cervical canpreventable and regular screening is one recent years. cer is preventable. of the key ways you can prevent it,” van Warren Clarmont, the provincial director “Cancer impacts many lives, and we Niekerk said. “That is why it is important of Indigenous Cancer Control with BC are working to make sure services are in for BC Cancer to continue to find new, Cancer, speaks highly of the pilot project. place to help prevent this disease,” Dix innovative ways to reduce screening “This pilot opens the door to the potensaid. “With at-home screening, people in barriers for our patients. This pilot will tial of at-home screening, which will help need of cervix screening will face fewer help us fine-tune our patient communicareduce barriers to access for Indigenous barriers which may include cultural istions, provider engagement and internal people, particularly those residing in sues, trauma, inconvenient clinic hours, processes to better serve our patients.” more rural and remote areas,”” Clarmont transportation concerns, and the need for


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President’s message to Nuu-chah-nulth-aht Greetings to all. My heart is with all those families that have lost loved ones in the last month. I know these losses are a great impact on families, friends and communities. The past month has been, as always, with many issues affecting our communities. While some restrictions have been lifted for COVID, I hope all of you will continue to take precautions from the very contagious COVID variants. The biggest issue that has faced this country has been the so called “Freedom” protestors that took over downtown Ottawa, wanting restrictions to be lifted for COVID. Big trucks parked around the Parliament buildings in Ottawa and created a lot of noise and businesses had to stop operating due to the havoc created. I ask myself, what is freedom? Each of us has the freedom to chose to be vaccinated or not. If a vaccination can save lives, I say why not? Of course, some people do not believe that the vaccine works or that restrictions are necessary. Peaceful protests have always been a part of this country’s fabric but the freedom convoy went way beyond peaceful. First Nations have often held rallies to voice our opinions on various subjects. The truckers’ protest was finally ended with Prime Minister Trudeau invoking the Emergencies Act. It really is a shame that such extreme measures were needed. We see such a difference in the way First Nations people are treated as defenders of the land. For example, when the Wet’suwe’ten were defending their land against the Trans Mountain Pipeline, it didn’t take long for the RCMP to send in many officers to take down any blockades and arrest people, including women and elders. This didn’t happen with the truckers. The contrast between the truckers’ weeks long protests and Wet’suwe’ten treatment has been very stark and many Indigenous leaders are speaking out against this difference in treatment. I have been working on heritage conservation. A working group that is going to work with First Nations to change the Heritage Conservation Act to make it in line with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. (UNDRIP). We are looking at how to protect our cultural, sacred and burial sites and other important places that we have within our territories. Also looking at how First Nations can manage their sites in order to protect them. We also need better laws for enforcement of protection mechanisms for those that desecrate sacred/cultural sites. As you are aware, the province passed a law called the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act (DRIPA) a year and a half ago and in the law it requires the B.C. government to makes its law in line with UNDRIP. Since heritage conservation is so important to Nuu-chah-nulth and other First Nations in B.C., I think it is important that I put time and energy into this working group. What is most important for all First Nations is that they must have a say in how they want their sites protected, how they want to manage them and what mechanisms are needed to protect them. This group will be reaching out to First Nations to participate in dialogues about what they want to see changed to the Heritage Conservation Act. Over the years, we have seen burial sites disturbed, or sacred sites destroyed like on Bear Mountain. There is no protection for

Obituaries In Loving Memory of Lorraine Williams Born on July 5th 1947 at the Tacoma general hospital Tacoma Washington USA. Left to the spirit world on February 13, 2022. Predeceased by her daughter Shirley Smith and her son Norman Rus, her sister Linda Watts, brother Barry Williams, mother Agnes Williams and father Ken Jones, survived by her son, James Rush. Rest in peace my beautiful honey Lorraine from Corby George

First Nations burial sites and we need to figure out how this can happen. The settlement for children and families is continuing to be talked about. The agreement in principle is being reviewed by NTC and others to determine what is missing and what should be changed before the agreements are finalized. There have been several forums to talk about these agreements and it is easier now to understand them as we now have copies we can analyze. The First Nations Summit met his month and passed several resolutions. One of them was that the First Nations Summit Chiefs in Assembly call on the province and other levels of government to establish a mandate for recognizing, supporting and implementing Indigenous Protected and Conserved Areas (IPCAs) and Indigenous Guardians’ initiatives in B.C. When B.C. did its Land Use Plan many years ago, they did not include First Nations in those discussions and important areas were left out of protection. Another motion dealt with supporting continued development of the British Columbia First Nations Tripartite PostSecondary Education Model (“BC First Nations PSE Model”) by the First Nations Education Steering Committee and the Indigenous Adult and Higher Learning Association, recognizing that the BC First Nations PSE Model will evolve as further direction is received from First Nations. Education for our people is an important priority. For School District 70, the Local Education Agreement will end in June 2022. Our education manager Ian Caplette and myself will be working with affected First Nations to negotiate a new agreement. What has worked? What hasn’t worked? What do we still need? Hope to be in touch with all of you soon. Fisheries meetings have been ongoing. DFO is currently working on what they call the Pacific Salmon Strategy Initiative (PSSI). They have finally admitted that “Pacific salmon species are in decline in all areas, and urgent action is required to support conservation and sustainable fisheries.” Of course as Nuu-chah-nulth, we have been saying this for some time and have offered to jointly manage fisheries and habitat and climate mitigations. Their strategy has four pillars: conservation and stewardship, harvest transformation, enhanced hatchery production, as well as integration and collaboration. They are now having in-depth discussion with First Nations on how to do this. We can only hope they will listen to the wisdom of First Nations in the fishery, prioritize our right to the fishery including commercial fisheries and find ways collectively to rehabilitate stocks that are vital to us. -Cloy-e-iis, Judith Sayers


February 24, 2022—Ha-Shilth-Sa—Page 13

---Employment Opportunities--More job postings at www.hashilthsa.com Port Alberni Friendship Centre Volunteers Needed Need work experience? The Port Alberni Friendship Centre is looking for interested applicants for various positions. Call 250-723-8281

Have You Moved? If you should be getting a copy of the Ha-Shilth-Sa paper delivered to your home, please contact : Holly Stocking at 250-724-5757 or holly.stocking@nuuchahnulth.org


Page 14— Ha-Shilth-Sa— February 24, 2022

Do you recognize anyone in these photos? Call or email Holly at 250-724-5757 or holly.stocking@nuuchahnulth.org to help us identify these photos from our archive collection. You can also view more on our Flickr page at www.flickr.com/photos/157258270@N05/


February 24, 2022—Ha-Shilth-Sa—Page 15

Kyuquot overcomes obstacles to put team on the court For the first time in several years, the small school assembled a senior boys’ team by including younger players By Sam Laskaris Ha-Shilth-Sa Contributor Kyuquot, BC – A school from a remote Nuu-chah-nulth community certainly defied the odds this year and was able to experience some on-court success. Though Kyuquot Elementary Secondary School only has 40 enrolled students – that’s in Grades 1 through 12 – it was still able to have a senior boys’ basketball team this academic year. The Kyuquot squad did manage to win a handful of its regular season contests. And the club then registered a victory during its three games at the North Island high school senior boys’ A qualifying tournament held Feb. 11-12 in Nanaimo. Seven teams participated at the qualifying tourney. And the top four finishers advanced to the Island tournament, which begins Feb. 24 in Victoria. The Kyuquot squad, however, did not place in the top four. It was eliminated from the double-knockout tourney after its second loss. School officials though were thrilled that the team was simply able to hit the court this season. Although current school reps are unaware when Kyuquot last had a basketball club, it has not been in recent memory. “I have heard that in the past we did field teams,” said Marty Szetela, who is in his fifth year as principal at the Kyuquot school. “But it’s certainly the first time in a long time that we did.”

Photo by Marty Szetela

The 10-member senior boys’ basketball team makes up one quarter of the Kyuquot Elementary Secondary School. Back row, left to right: Eian John, Calvin Hansen, Adam John, Daylin George, Caleb Hansen, Coach Thompson. Front row, left to right: Blayke John, Kei-Shawn Charleson, Ei-Ra Atleo. Missing from photo: Ethan Blackstone, Desmond Bell. Kyuquot is an unincorporated settlement River and Comox. “They were playing against teams that located on northwestern Vancouver Island have been practicing five years straight,” in the territory of the Ka:’yu:’k’t’h’/ Thompson said of his charges. “And we Che:k’tles7et’h’ First Nations. put up a fight.” “It’s a feel-good story,” Szetela said. Thompson added the gym at the Kyu“It’s a small community that is isolated quot school does not even come close to and it has kids getting an opportunity to featuring a regulation-sized basketball play.” court. High school senior teams traditionally “That was a huge hurdle for us,” he said. feature students in Grades 11 and 12. “It was like a quarter gym.” Kyuquot’s 10-player roster this season The Kyuquot team also had some travel included two individuals in Grade 8, one challenges just to play their opponents. in Grade 9 and two others in Grade 10. “Even though they competed as a senior Their nearest rivals are from Zeballos. A trip to that school first required a high school basketball team, we allowed kids in the three other grades to be on the 35-minute ride via a water taxi. And that was followed by a 50-minute drive on a team,” Szetela said. “That was the only dirt road. way we could field a team.” Szetela himself got a taste of just how To get to Campbell River, the Kyuquot club had an extra two-hour drive after much the squad improved during the arriving in Zeballos. course of the season. Szetela and staff members were edged Thompson added despite all the obsta40-30 in a friendly game against the team cles they faced, his players were keen to continue and improve. early on during the year. “I was super proud of all of the kids,” he But when a rematch was staged later in said. “They practiced super hard all year the season, a blowout ensued. long. And we got better.” “I think the score was 107-46 (for the School officials are also hoping to have students),” Szetela said. “They definitely a senior boys’ team next season. And they improved.” might have some company. Szetela was also pleased to see the club “Our girls would like to have a basfare better against its peers as the season ketball team,” Szetela said. “And based progressed. During the team’s first touron the model this year, we may give it a nament of the season in Campbell River, whirl.” the Kyuquot team failed to win a game The two Grade 8 students on the Kyuand was defeated by more than 70 points quot roster this season were Eian John in each outing. and Blayke John. “I’ve never met people with more Caleb Hansen was the lone Grade 9 heart,” said the team’s coach Matthew student on the team while Calvin Hansen Thompson. and Ei-Rae Atleo were the two Grade 10 That’s because he said he never heard players. his players complain, even when they And among the actual senior students, were being convincingly defeated. Desmond Bell was the only Grade 11 on “We got rocked,” Thompson said of his the club. The Grade 12 students that were team’s early-season tournament losses. “But the players were saying ‘We’re here team members were Adam John, Daylin George, Kei-Shawn Charleson and Ethan to learn and we’re going to get better.’” Blackstone. At the North Island qualifying tournament, the Kyuquot club registered a victory against a Gold River team. And its losses were against teams from Campbell


Page 16— Ha-Shilth-Sa— February 24, 2022


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