INTERESTING NEWS Canada’s Oldest First Nations Newspaper - Serving Nuu-chah-nulth-aht since 1974 Canadian Publications Mail Product Vol. 49 - No. 01—January 13, 2022 haas^i>sa Sales Agreement No. 40047776
Rapid tests sent to communties By Melissa Renwick Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Photo by Eric Plummer
Tseshaht Chief Councillor Ken Watts is urging people to follow provincial health guidelines and stay positive, after he tested positive for COVID-19 in early January.
Nations brace for spread of Omicron Visitors are still permi!ed in communities, but provincial health orders are being enforced as infections surge to the highest numbers yet in the COVID-19 pandemic By Denise Titian Ha-Shilth-Sa Reporter Port Alberni, BC – A Nuu-chah-nulth leader is urging people to follow provincial health guidelines after contracting COVID-19. Ken Watts, Tseshaht elected chief, said in a social media post that he started feeling rough on the evening of Thursday, Jan. 6. “I had my COVID-19 test yesterday and today my results came back positive for COVID-19,” he wrote. Watts said that he considers himself a healthy person and is fully vaccinated except for the booster. “I exercise regularly, I don’t go into many people’s homes and haven’t been around many people indoors at all in the last week or prior - and wear a mask when I am supposed to,” he shared. The new year has gotten oﬀ to an unstable start as the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic regains strength with the latest variant, Omicron, which is considered more transmissible than previous version of the virus. Omicron was classiﬁed as a variant of concern by the World Health Organization (WHO) on Nov. 26, 2021. They go
on to say that the Omicron variant has a large number of mutations, which means that the variant will act diﬀerently from previous COVID-19 variants. “Currently, the Delta variant is dominant worldwide and COVID-19 vaccines are highly eﬀective at protecting you from serious illness and death, including from infection with Delta,” stated the WHO in an Dec. 4 update. “Researchers will assess the performance of current vaccines against Omicron and will communicate these ﬁndings as soon as they become available.” Both the Ahousaht and Ka:’yu:’k’t’h’/ Che:k’tles7et’h’ First Nations say they are following community safety protocols that align with provincial health orders. Ahousaht last updated their published safety protocol on Nov. 19, 2021. At that time all people over the age of ﬁve are required to wear masks in public buildings. School opening after the holiday season was delayed to Jan. 10, 2022, allowing administrators to develop safety plans. Deputy Chief Melinda Swan said that Ahousaht leaders have been meeting regularly and will soon update the safety procedures. Steinar Våge, director of Com-
Inside this issue... Snow storm brings power outages..................................Page 3 Forestry beneﬁts for Tseshaht.........................................Page 7 Raising the alarm on ocean debris..................................Page 8 Connecting to Nuu-chah-nulth art in the city...............Page 10 COVID pushes back All-Native tournament................Page 14
munity Services for Ka:yu:’k’t’h’ / Che:k’tles7et’h’ First Nations, said that they are following provincial restrictions, including the requirement that masks or face coverings are used at indoor public places, frequent handwashing/sanitizing and the requirement that everyone over the age of twelve be vaccinated to attend public events. At the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council, staﬀ were asked to do their part to reduce the risk of exposure to COVID-19. In order to mitigate hazards, staﬀ are being asked to work from home where possible. Watts said that Tseshaht is following suit and will ask staﬀ to work remotely for the rest of January. He said meetings will be conducted online via Zoom unless members require hands-on service delivery. “COVID-19 is real, friends and family, and the variant appears to be spreading quickly - not just in our communities, on the island, or in B.C., but across Canada and the world,” Watts wrote. He asked people to do their part to protect themselves and their families. “Take care, be safe, follow the guidelines, get vaccinated, support one another, check in on your loved ones, and stay positive,” said Watts.
British Columbia has plans to expand its inventory and distribution of rapid COVID-19 tests that can be used at home by those with symptoms of the virus. Case rates from the latest variant, Omicron, have risen to the highest levels seen during the pandemic. The BC COVID-19 Modelling Group, which works on rapid response modelling of the pandemic, estimates that prior to Christmas, Omicron cases in B.C. were growing 21 to 26 per cent each day, doubling every three to 3.6 days. “With testing limitations, current growth rate is unknown,” read their Jan. 6 COVID Model Projections report. In light of the Omicron surge, B.C. health oﬃcials announced that the province ordered a large shipment of rapid antigen test kits in late-December that are expected to be distributed this month. According to the First Nations Health Authority, around 700,000 kits will go to testing sites across B.C. for people who have COVID symptoms. The remaining tests will be given to people in places that have a higher risk of infection and transmission, including rural and remote Indigenous communities. All Nuu-chah-nulth communities will receive rapid tests for at-home self-testing, which will be distributed the FNHA. “Currently, there is a limited supply, so factors such as remoteness, current access to in-community testing services and population size will contribute to allocation decisions,” the FNHA said. Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council VicePresident Mariah Charleson is happy to hear Vancouver Island’s First Nation communities continue to be prioritized. “We know that in our rural and remote communities, it can be extremely diﬃcult to travel in-and-out, making testing even more diﬃcult,” said Charleson. “This is just another way to protect our people.” By providing at-home solutions for testing, Charleson said residents don’t have to risk their lives to leave the community. It also keeps NTC nurses safe, eliminating the risks of traveling to remote communities during the stormy winter season. While rapid tests are less accurate at detecting COVID-19 infection than standard testing, the FNHA said the at-home antigen tests “can be used to support early diagnosis of COVID-19 and to detect growing clusters in communities.”
If undeliverable, please return to: Ha-Shilth-Sa P.O. Box 1383, Port Alberni, B.C. V9Y 7M2
Page 2— Ha-Shilth-Sa— January 13, 2022
Remote First Nations undertake clean-energy projects Uchucklesaht and Ka:’yu:’k’t’h’/Che:k:tles7et’h’ are exploring hydro power and underground electricity cables By Melissa Renwick Local Journalism Initiative Reporter Two Nuu-chah-nulth nations have received funding to advance clean-energy projects within their communities. Through the British Columbia Indigenous Clean Energy Initiative (BCICEI), as well as provincial support through Clean BC, the Uchucklesaht Tribe Government was given $299,975 and Ka:’yu:’k’t’h’/Che:k:tles7et’h’ First Nations received $112,500. The Uchucklesaht Tribe is using the funding towards a feasibility study that will determine if a hydropower facility can be built at Uchuck Creek. Currently, the village of Ehthlateese relies solely on diesel energy that’s barged into the community by BC Hydro. Tucked in the Uchucklesaht Inlet oﬀ the west coast of Vancouver Island, Ehthlateese’s current diesel generation is at capacity. Rather than upgrading the existing generators with larger units, Ryan Anaka, Uchucklesaht director of Lands and Resources, said the nation is exploring clean-energy alternatives. Hydro energy would reduce the nation’s fossil fuel consumption and carbon production, he said. “Diesel generation is costly – ﬁnancially and environmentally – and is highly inefﬁcient,” Anaka added. Many of the nation’s members have fond memories of growing up in Ehthlateese and living oﬀ the land. “When the tide was out, your table was set,” said Uchucklesaht Elected Chief Charlie Cootes. “It was one of the best
places to live [and] best place to grow up as a child.” All of that changed when the children living in the remote village were picked up by boat to go to residential school. “[The government] was successful in their mandate to strip us from our culture, our traditions, our language and to alienate [us] from our families,” said Cootes. “It takes a long time to come back from that.” In 2020, only three members remained living in the village full-time. Without access to health care, formal education and a lack of economic opportunities, many were forced to relocate. As a way to try and re-establish the village, Uchucklesaht Chief Administrative Oﬃcer Scott Coulson acquired federal funding through Aboriginal Aﬀairs and Northern Development Canada to replace the existing homes in Ehthlateese. When Indigenous Northern Aﬀairs Canada redeveloped the village around 40 years ago, they built individual septic tanks for each home in the ﬂoodplain, explained Coulson. “[The septic tanks] were all decomposed and useless,” he said. “They were actually falling into the ground, so we had to redevelop a septic system for the entire village.” With the funding, six new homes were constructed in 2020 for community members who traditionally lived in the village. In 2021, an additional eight energy efﬁcient homes were built. “When we have conversations with our citizens, one of the biggest items at the annual meetings or biannual meetings is
Photo supplied by Uchucklesaht Tribe
A crew works to build six new homes at the Uchucklesaht village of Ethlateese. that they want to go home,” said Anaka. “Our goal as a nation is to provide opportunities and infrastructure to allow residences in the village.”
As the nation plans for future residential growth within Ehthlateese, Anaka said renewal energy is a priority. Meanwhile, Ka:’yu:’k’t’h’/ Che:k:tles7et’h’ First Nations (KCFN) will use the funding for a feasibility study that will look at replacing the existing above-ground power lines and infrastructure with an underground distribution line throughout the community of Houpsitas. KCFN will be covering the remaining $12,500 needed to complete the study. Cynthia Blackstone, Ka:yu:’k’t’h’/ Che:k’tles7et’h’ First Nations chief administrative oﬃcer, said that many of the power poles have deteriorated over time. “[They] are near the end of their useful life,” she said. “The study will determine the general design and cost to bury the power lines.” By burying the lines and removing them from the elements, Blackstone said they will ultimately last longer than the current infrastructure that’s in place. The nation already has plans to replace the water and sewer distribution system, said Blackstone. If they’re able to bury the power lines at the same time, the project would become much more cost eﬀective, she added. In total, 10 First Nation communities are receiving nearly $3-million from the BCICEI, which targets energy-eﬃciency projects and energy storage. “By investing in clean energy in remote Indigenous communities, we’re helping replace diesel power, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and increase energy independence for First Nations,” said George Heyman, Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy. The BCICEI has funded 67 projects totalling nearly $12 million, many of which are in remote, oﬀ-grid or dieseldependent communities, according to a joint release from the Ministry of Energy and The Ministry of Environment. While the hydropower project is still in the early stages, Anaka said the Uchucklesaht has plans to move forward. “We’re getting close,” he said.
January 13, 2022—Ha-Shilth-Sa—Page 3
Snow storm brings power outages across west coast Residents of remote communities struggle through over a foot of snow after a Jan. 5 downfall, cu•ing oﬀ access By Eric Plummer Ha-Shilth-Sa Editor The extent of an early January snowfall was clear to see on the morning of Jan. 6 in Tsaxana, where the top of an upright baseball ball was all that could be seen from the feet that had amassed overnight. Like many places in British Columbia, the Mowachaht/Muchalaht community near Gold River was buried under more than two feet of snow, forcing the First Nation to close its oﬃces as residents struggled to get out from the heaviest dump they had seen in years. Snowfall that began in the afternoon of Jan. 5, extending into the next morning, resulted in multiple power outages throughout Nuu-chah-nulth territory along the west coast of Vancouver Island. By the morning of Thursday, Jan. 6, 402 people in Nitinaht Lake, Bamﬁeld and Anacla were without power due to a tree that fell under the heavy snow accumulation. The power was still out by mid afternoon on Jan. 6, since electricity ceased at 9:44 p.m. the previous evening, said Nitinaht resident Crystal Amos. “The power is still out, and it’s about the third time this week,” said Amos, who lives in the community with her four children. “I do have a generator, but I don’t have a wood stove, so it gets pretty cold. It can only heat up the front living room area with a small little space heater.” Power outages are regular occurrences for the Ditidaht First Nation community each winter, said Amos. “We also deal with ﬂoods quite frequently, sometimes both,” she said. “Usually each family takes care of the elders within their family, but I do believe the elders should be looked in a little more often.” The storm also caused a transmission circuit failure for 517 people in the Ucluelet First Nation, plus another 1,745 in and around the town of Ucluelet. Another circuit failure cut electricity to homes along Long Beach and in Toﬁno, aﬀecting 1,983 hydro customers. In Ahousaht a transformer blew at 8
Photo by Eva James
A snow storm dumped over two feet of snow on the Mowachaht/Muchalaht community of Tsaxana near Gold River. a.m., leaving the Flores Island commuturned to ice,” he said, noting that many nity without power until noon, while 711 locals are hesitant to use drive logging in Zeballos, the neighbouring community road out of the community. “The roads of Ehatis and the nearby Nuchatlaht com- are one lane currently. Before yesterday it munity of Oclujce were without power on was essential travel only, for ambulances the morning of Jan. 6. and emergency vehicles.” Snowfall that began in late December The power ﬁrst went out on Jan. 2, had already compromised the power lines lasting for eight hours. Then early on serving Zeballos, according to an update Tuesday, Jan. 4 electricity went out again, issued during the ﬁrst few hours of the and by midday on Jan. 7 John was hoping Jan. 5 storm. it would return shortly. “The continued heavy snowfall has During these outages people relied on caused extensive damage to the line generators. Thankfully 800 litres of fuel serving customers in Tahsis and Zebalwas delivered by Grieg Seafood, and a los,” announced BC Hydro. “We assessed boat from the community ventured to Esdamage using a helicopter yesterday (Jan. peranza to acquire diesel for generators. 4), and we began work in areas where it “The majority of people do have generawas safe to do so. As more heavy snowtors,” said of the community in Zeballos fall is expected, work progress will be and Ehatis. “It’s hard to do your day-todependent on the weather conditions and day stuﬀ without utilizing electricity.” crews’ ability to safely access damaged During the winter, the major cause of areas. As a result, we expect these cuspower outages is trees falling on power tomers will be without power for at least lines, says Ted Olynyk of BC Hydro another day.” media relations. As much as half a foot of snow was on “Very heavy West Coast snow bringing the ground in Zeballos, said Ehattesaht trees down, that’s a problem,” he said, Chief Councillor Simon John, but by Fri- noting that when this occurs during a day, Jan. 7 much of it had turned to ice. storm crews are sometimes forced to wait “The snow is slowly melting, and it all for conditions to ease before assessing
damages. “The sad coincidence is that when you’re dealing with a storm event, the storm causes the outage, but you can’t ﬂy up and do the inspection you want because the storm event prevents ﬂying.” Personnel regularly conduct surveys of power lines by helicopter and ATV to cite any potential hazards. “Each year we deal with anything that looks like it could come in contact with our lines. Any time a tree could fail, we deal with that,” added Olynyk. “Unfortunately, a lot of times stuﬀ that does come in contact with the lines is something that wouldn’t be identiﬁed. You can have big trees come down that cause us grief.” The snowfall has also challenged access in and out of remote communities. Amos had to sleep in her truck earlier in the week during Nitinaht’s second power outage, as snow made the road to Lake Cowichan impassable for a grocery run. By the afternoon of Jan. 6 she managed to get a ride to Port Alberni with her brother. “The roads are plowed but they are not salted, so it’s slippery and they only have a single lane plowed,” Amos said, adding that the more than a foot of snow that amassed in Nitinaht is the most she’s seen over her 12 years in the village. “Right now it’s been a struggle to get out of the community to get groceries because we just have a tiny little general store that’s open four days a week.” Electricity usage had already broken records before the Jan. 5 storm brought power outages. On Dec. 27, between 5 and 6 p.m. demand across B.C. reached 10,902 megawatts, breaking a record of 10,577 from the previous year. It was during this cold snap that temperatures dropped remarkably low levels, including -17 Celsius in Port Alberni. “BC Hydro has enough supply options in place to meet increasing electricity demand,” said BC Hydro spokes person Simi Heer in a press release. “However, if British Columbians want to help ease some of the demand on the system during peak times, we encourage shifting activities like doing laundry or running dishwashers to earlier in the day or later in the evening.”
2022 starts with a mysterious search and rescue eﬀort By Denise Titian Ha-Shilth-Sa Reporter Ahousaht, BC – A late-night search and rescue operation on the water near Flores Island on Wednesday, Jan. 5 was called oﬀ just before midnight, sending searchers from Tla-o-qui-aht, Ahousaht and the Canadian Coast Guard home. The evening of Jan. 5 was dark, and snow was drifting down steadily on the ocean southeast of Flores Island (Ahousaht). An Ahousaht man went out on his boat to rendezvous with a ﬁsh farm company vessel just before 9 p.m. As the two boats pulled up, side-by-side, the men running the crafts met out back to exchange a set of keys. According to people that heard the exchanges on the VHF radio, at least two of the men heard whistles and a man’s voice calling for help. Nothing could be seen in the dark and the men estimated that the calls were coming from the direction of Monks Island, which is a small islet located southeast of Flores Island near Cat Face reef. The Canadian Coast Guard was notiﬁed, and volunteer searchers immediately
left from Ahousaht and Toﬁno. Searchers from both Tla-o-qui-aht and Ahousaht ventured out into the snowy night to search the area where the voice was heard, but nothing was found. Jamie McNab of the Canadian Coast Guard Search and Rescue conﬁrmed that that they received the call at 8:45 p.m. and the Toﬁno Lifeboat joined the search. She said several locals were on the water searching until 11:45 when the eﬀort was called down. “There was no distress ﬂare or radio call, no debris and no one was reported overdue,” she told Ha-Shilth-Sa. RCMP Sergeant Chris Manseau said the police were notiﬁed at 9:10 p.m. of a possible person in distress near Monks Island. He noted that twelve boats joined in the search. McNab said the area was thoroughly searched and, with no outstanding missing persons, the search was stood down. According to information on an Ahousaht emergency social media page, members of the Ahousaht Coast Guard Auxiliary and other volunteers were acknowledged for their eﬀorts in the search. The post indicated that the area near Monks Island was searched for three and
Google satellite image
On the evening of Jan. 5 whistles and a man’s voice calling for help were heard from the direction of Monks Island, which is a small islet located southeast of Flores Island near Cat Face reef. is, we encourage people to please, while a half hours. boating…please make travel plans and alHarbours in the area were checked and ways do your best to check in when posall boats were accounted for. Sgt. Manseau said the matter was investigated and sible,” wrote Curtis Dick on Ahousaht’s emergency social media page. the Canadian Coast Guard concluded the It is unknown if locals would continue ﬁle. the search during daylight hours. “With the winter weather being what it
Page 4— Ha-Shilth-Sa— January 13, 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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Photo by Denise Titian
Eric Rochette, oﬃcer in charge at the Port Alberni RCMP, and NTC President Judith Sayers signed an agreement on Dec. 15 pledging for the police to work collaboratively with Teechuktl Mental Health.
RCMP signs agreement with Teechuktl Police renew a pledge to direct referrals to the NTC’s mental health department By Denise Titian Ha-Shilth-Sa Reporter Port Alberni, BC – As homelessness and addiction continues to be a problem that plagues Port Alberni, the Nuu-chahnulth Tribal Council’s Teechuktl (Mental Health) department and the Port Alberni RCMP have pledged to work together to bring support to Nuu-chah-nulth people that have come into contact with police but don’t necessarily belong in cells. RCMP Corporal Jay Donahue of Indigenous Policing Services said the MOU signed Dec. 15 with NTC President Judith Sayers will allow the RCMP, with permission from the client, to directly refer them to workers in Teechuktl’s Quu’asa program, where they can access that extra level of support. The NTC’s Teechuktl department pro-
vides mental health, cultural and traditional support to Nuu-chah-nulth people. Having access to culturally-sensitive supports could improve the health and well-being of the client. “Some people are placed in cells for non-criminal matters…it may be mental health or addiction,” said Donahue. By referring these people to Quu’asa, they have access to support and resources that are not available at the local RCMP detachment. Sayers praised the Quu’asa team and the eﬀorts of the RCMP. “We have an awesome team that want to help our people and the police hopefully ﬁnd better solutions – help people move forward in a good way,” she said. In the MOU, called Referral Process Agreement, the RCMP acknowledge that they are not experts on cultural counsel-
COVERAGE: Although we would like to be able to cover all stories and events, we will only do so subject to: - Suﬃcient advance notice addressed speciﬁcally to Ha-Shilth-Sa. - Reporter availability at the time of the event. - Editorial space available in the paper. - Editorial deadlines being adhered to by contributors.
ling and First Nations client care. “The RCMP is committed to reducing the number of First Nations clients that are apprehended, involved in criminal activity or suﬀering with non-criminal mental wellness issues,” states the MOU. The agreement allows the RCMP to refer First Nations clients, with their consent, to Teechuktl where they they will receive support. The goal, said Donahue, is to reduce rates of First Nations peoples’ interactions with police. “This will bring them that extra level of after care,” he said. Donahue noted that little support exists for people re-entering society from institutions. “This is not a ﬁx-all but it is a step in the right direction,” he added.
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January 13, 2022—Ha-Shilth-Sa—Page 5
‘New approach is needed’ for Fourth Avenue trailers The city has concerns over a cluster of RVs, but an alternative has yet to materialize for Port Alberni’s homeless By Melissa Renwick Local Journalism Initiative Reporter Port Alberni, BC - The controversial trailers located at the Wintergreen Apartments on Fourth Avenue in Port Alberni will be removed from the property, said owner Randy Brown. Brown brought the trailers to an empty lot he owns after seeing a spike of people sleeping outside on sidewalks within the lower Fourth Avenue corridor in 2020. “I have a big heart,” he said. “I can’t handle seeing these people out in the cold.” His solution was to move around nine trailers onto his property to provide a housing solution for the homeless. “I sent the letter to the city and said what I was going to do,” recounted Brown. “I didn’t get a response, but I told them, either we can do it together, or I was going to do it on my own. And I did what I said I was going to do – I did it on my own.” The move was opposed by the city and on Nov. 23, 2020, council passed a remedial action requirement for the property owner to remove all trailers, as they were deemed unsafe and violated city bylaws. “We are absolutely not okay with the trailers being there because the condition people are living in puts those people at signiﬁcant risk,” said Port Alberni Mayor Sharie Minions. “There’s extension cords powering the trailers, there’s not proper sewage, there’s garbage everywhere. The property is not being taken care of.” Without alternative housing solutions, Minions said the city is not going to displace anyone from the trailers, especially in the middle of winter, but that “it’s not ok if [Brown] keeps the trailers.” It’s a complex issue, she admitted. Since 1999, Brown has been running a property management business and currently oversees more than 20 commercial and residential properties in Port Alberni. He is charging the Fourth Avenue trailer residents rent but said he’s not making nearly enough for his daily troubles. Minions said she feels the residents are being taken advantage of. “We hear reports frequently from social workers and diﬀerent service providers in that area of three or four people living in tiny little trailers that are not properly heated, and yet paying rent,” she said. “It’s just not acceptable. It’s exploiting the people in our community who are
Photo by Eric Plummer
Teechuktl Harm Reduction Worker Jaimey Richmond delivers a Christmas meal to one of nearly a dozen trailers that ﬁll an empty lot on Fourth Avenue in Port Alberni. most vulnerable.” “It’s been quite a rollercoaster ride “Our relatives are struggling day-in and After several site visits at the beginning taking care of all of these people,” said day-out to just ﬁnd a warm place to lay of 2021, Gaylene Thorogood, manager of Brown. “I’m not a social worker.” their head at night,” said Charleson. “We community safety with the City of Port Garbage has been increasingly diﬃcult can’t just leave these people homeless, Alberni, said “three of the units are tied to stay on top of, as Brown said it’s been because we know that we already have a into the property’s sewer system without hard to ﬁnd anyone willing to work at the crisis in Port Alberni.” inspection or permits and refuse continproperty. Without access to services that are ues to accumulate.” “It’s a nightmare,” he said. “I want to culturally appropriate or safe, Charleson “The present condition of the building move on.” said many Indigenous people don’t feel and the use of the property contravenes For the past 61 years, Brown has called comfortable seeking help. city bylaw and compromises the safety Port Alberni home and said the issue of Following the success of the sleeping of both the occupants and emergency homelessness continues to get worse. pod model in Duncan, the task team is personnel who respond to the calls at this “It breaks my heart that we can’t ﬁnd a considering implementing a similar syslocation,” she added. simple solution,” he said. tem in Port Alberni. The pods are small, Thorogood said service calls to site A task force was created by the city to insulated sleeping units with lighting and nearly doubled since the trailers moved develop an immediate solution for the heating that provide the homeless with a onto the property in 2020 and RCMP residents living in the Fourth Avenue safe and dry place to rest their heads at were making nearly daily visits. trailers, in collaboration with the Nuunight. Several months ago, Minions said she chah-nulth Tribal Council (NTC), the It would act as an immediate solution, sat down with Brown to discuss options Port Alberni Friendship Centre, as well as until a permanent, long-term option is that would improve the safety of the Tseshaht and Hupacasath First Nations. identiﬁed, said Minions. people living in the trailers. “The people [living] on Fourth Avenue “This is not a permanent option for “We gave him some really speciﬁc opseek personal space,” said NTC Vicepeople to live in, but until a permanent tions on what he could bring forward, and President Mariah Charleson. “Something option is created, we feel that there needs he never took any action,” she said. that belongs to them – a place where they to be a safer, immediate alternative,” she While she has yet to see any improvecan keep their belongings safe.” added. ments, Minions said she’s “happy” to A no-barrier, non-discriminatory housThe task team has only met once. Anhear that Brown intends to clean the ing solution is critical, she said. other meeting is anticipated to take place property up. Port Alberni’s 2021 homeless count in a week or two. Brown said it has become clear that a indicated a signiﬁcant increase in the As soon as a housing solution is prenew approach is needed. number of people who identiﬁed as sented and there is somewhere safe for “Clearly the trailers need to go,” he said Indigenous, rising to 65 per cent from 48 the Fourth Avenue residents to go, Brown in a release, adding that he agrees a safe per cent in 2018. Only 17 per cent of Port said the trailers will be removed “immealternative housing option must be availAlberni’s general population are Indigdiately.” able before the occupants are displaced. enous, according to the 2016 census.
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Page 6— Ha-Shilth-Sa— January 13, 2022
ITAC president is conﬁdent NCN tourism can thrive Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada oﬃcials are now optimistic of a sooner-than-predicted recovery By Sam Laskaris Ha-Shilth-Sa Contributor Keith Henry is much more upbeat now than he was just a few months ago. Henry, who is the president and CEO of the Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada (ITAC), was rather gloomy this past September. At the time he said research indicated it would take until 2028, and possibly even 2030, for the country’s Indigenous tourism industry to recover to pre-pandemic levels. But on Monday of this week, ITAC oﬃcials put out a press release updating their forecasts. They now believe if they can get federal representatives to buy into and fund their latest strategy and plans, then the Indigenous tourism sector across the country can fully rebound from the pandemic by 2025. While that is positive news for all those in the industry, Henry, who works and lives in Vancouver, said that should especially be great for Nuu-chah-nulth business tourism operators. That’s because Henry is conﬁdent Nuu-chah-nulth tourism businesses are capable of thriving again in the near future. “They’re beautiful communities,” Henry said of the tourism oﬀerings available on Nuu-chah-nulth lands. “There’s amazing wildlife viewing, there’s of course sportﬁshing, there’s adventure tourism. There’s such a large market for that particular kind of visitor, whether its within other eastern parts of Canada or the US or somewhere else.”
Photo by Eric Plummer
The ancient Huu-ay-aht village site of Kiixin is among the many destinations in Nuu-chah-nulth territory that tourism experts believe will help the industry’s recovery. Henry is conﬁdent Nuu-chah-nulth busi- a world-class Indigenous tourism desnesses will play a vital role in the Indigtination. We’ll continue to support that enous tourism recovery. development.” “These are beautiful landscapes, beautiThe industry recovery plan ITAC offul areas and beautiful territories,” he ﬁcials released on Monday requires a $65 added. “And I think they have so much million investment over the next three more potential to oﬀer to make Canada years.
Henry is hoping the majority of that funding will come from the federal government. ITAC oﬃcials are now waiting to see how much funding they will receive when the 2022 federal budget is unveiled, likely in April. ITAC is also hoping to secure funding from other sources, including the private sector. Prior to the pandemic, the fact Indigenous tourism was increasing substantially across the country was evident by the fact its GDP increased from $1.4 billion in 2014 to almost $1.9 billion in 2019. But in less than two years since the pandemic started having an impact across the country, almost 70 per cent of Indigenous tourism GDP was lost. Henry believes with ITAC’s latest strategy, and if all requested funding is indeed secured from various sources during the next three years, a full industry recovery by 2025 is feasible. Henry said the fact his association has a much rosier outlook now than it did last September should be encouraging to all, including Nuu-chah-nulth businesses. “People see it as reason not to give up,” he said. “I think the sentiment is there. They see there is hope for the future and that there is a national body trying its best to continue to stabilize. “I remain conﬁdent that despite these challenges we see a strong future right now. I think we’ll get past this ﬁfth wave and whatever wave comes ahead of us. I think it gives everyone the long-term vision that we can rebuild by 2025.” Henry is obviously ecstatic an industry recovery will not take as long as 2030, which was feared just a few months ago. “We weren’t saying that a year ago,” he said. “We believe that now, after more research, watching the results of what happened in the summer of 2021 when we could really push and market Indigenous and sell Indigenous tourism businesses that were open. “And then to our pleasant surprise, many nations have acquired new companies and new businesses in tourism, so we know we’re in a diﬀerent position this year for sure.” Henry added he is conﬁdent that with federal funding, the Indigenous tourism industry can once again be a booming one. “We believe we are really going to be able to market aggressively domestically and back into the U.S. and back internationally, which is very important for British Columbia and especially coastal Indigenous tourism businesses,” he said. “This strategy lays out a clear plan of actions. The tactics in marketing and development will be very important for business development for the nations that will be looking to increase or for the entrepreneurs looking to rebuild as fast as possible.” As was the case in 2021, Henry said ITAC will continue to waive membership and marketing fees for its members this year. “Those businesses that are on the coast that are up and running can really participate in, for example, Canada’s largest marketing show,” Henry said. “That’s how you’re building those customers for the future. And I really feel strongly that this plan will give people a lot of marketing and development support in ways that they hadn’t thought about before. “We’re really providing a lot of on the ground support, to make it as supportive for those businesses as possible.”
January 13, 2022—Ha-Shilth-Sa—Page 7
Photo by Eric Plummer
In December, Alberni Valley truck loggers blocked traﬃc around the oﬃce of Mid-Island Paciﬁc Rim MLA Josie Osborne to protest the provincial government’s twoyear deferral of old-growth logging.
Cedar sale brings help in tough times for Tseshaht As others face an industry in crisis, Tseshaht sends share of forestry proﬁts to all members with $350 cheques By Mike Youds Ha-Shilth-Sa Contributor Port Alberni, BC - Christmas arrived a week early for Tseshaht First Nation with a $350 speciﬁc payment to each member, a dispersal of forestry revenues the likes of which hasn’t been seen since the 1950s. “We had a good, successful year this year and we were able to give a bit of what we earned,” said Tseshaht Chief Councillor Ken Watts. Some extra cash — a modest sum in relation to the soaring cost of groceries — would go a long way to easing ﬁnancial constraints and hardships, but there was more behind the speciﬁc payment than earnings alone, Watts explained. Last year was an exceptionally tough one for a lot of members, and not only due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The deaths of several important Tseshaht citizens, record-breaking summer heat and continued social isolation, preventing large gatherings such as potlatches, all took a toll on people. “I think it’s a bit of everything,” Watts said. “Our community needed support.” The dispersal was made possible through a 50/50 partnership with Interfor and proceeds from a log sale, said Dwayne Hearn, Tseshaht forestry manager. They did well with cedar prices at an all-time high. “Tseshaht is very lucky to have a forest industry partner that is a true partner,” Hearn said, noting the company’s respectful approach to trees of cultural importance. Tseshaht have always been loggers since pre-contact times, so they tapped into a common resource in a time of need.
Tseshaht. Forty per cent of their funding comes from earnings generated through enterprises such as commercial ﬁshing and Tseshaht Market. Forestry remains the largest source of Tseshaht sales revenue with annual earnings of more than $1.8 million reported in March 2020. Apart from the bottom line, there is direct and indirect employment in the forest industry, supporting incomes for dozens of Tseshaht families. “Sometimes we forget about how interconnected it is,” Watts said. “It’s not just people cutting down trees in the bush.” Tseshaht Forestry Corporation has four other corporations/ LLPs (limited liability partnerships, a hybrid form of business enterprise) and a limited company under its wing. These include Cisaa Forestry, Omoah Forestry, Ekoolthaht Marine and Equis Forest Products Ltd. Cisaa holds two forest tenures and works with several logging and roadbuilding contractors around the Alberni Valley. Omoah manages forest tenure established through an agreement with Western Forest Products (Western), giving Tseshaht the right to harvest and sell timber from WFP-owned TFL 44. Equis, formed in the late 1990s, has operations on Barkley Sound’s north shore. More recently, Tseshaht has concluded memorandums of understanding with San Group and Catalyst/Paper Excellence, which operate several mills in Port Alberni. Those partnerships and others expected to follow will be key to developing forestry opportunities while diversifying, Watts said. As well, Tseshaht holds a First Nation woodlot licence, provided by the province for economic opportunities, though community woodlot licences held by municipalities receive a more favourable stumpage rate, Watts noted.
Forestry a mainstay An industry in crisis Most B.C. First Nations have forestry operations and enterprises, but the business of growing and harvesting trees is a going concern, a primary industry for
These are also tough times for many in the forest industry. The industry is braced
for fallout from the province’s old growth strategy and tenure reforms, severe by any measure. Already, companies are grappling with steep price declines and risking log costs as they recalibrate for a resulting drop in the annual allowable cut. Forests Minister Katrine Conroy estimated as many as 4,500 jobs could be lost if all old growth deferrals become permanent, yet the industry has forecast much greater losses: More than a dozen sawmills and two pulp mills, totalling 18,000 lost jobs and $400 million in lost revenues for government. In December, Alberni Valley truck loggers blocked traﬃc around the oﬃce of Mid-Island Paciﬁc Rim MLA Josie Osborne to protest the provincial government’s two-year deferral of old-growth logging. WFP’s Alberni Paciﬁc Division (APD) sawmill is idled for the third time since July 2021. The shutdowns came only a year after operations resumed following a year-long strike. While old-growth deferrals may not be a factor in the shutdown at this point, the industry is bracing for the impact to come, said Glen Cheetham, business agent in Port Alberni for United Steelworkers Local 1-1937 “APD is going to be the one they take out of operation when they run low on logs,” he said. The union local lost 80 members when Western closed its Somass sawmill ﬁve years ago. San Group’s new specialty mill operations picked up some of the displaced workers. “There’s no certainty for jobs here,” Cheetham said, adding that WFP is struggling to attract new workers, particularly to the Alberni Valley. Western said the APD curtailment is due to log supply challenges driven by a number of factors, including challenging weather. They intend to restart the mill Jan. 17. “We are working to mitigate the impact of this temporary curtailment on our
people by oﬀering opportunities to work at other Western locations where we can during this down time,” said spokeswoman Babita Khunkhun. APD is integral to Western’s manufacturing and they continue to seek an adequate log supply to resume operations. At this time, employee availability matches operational needs, she added.
‘Box-ticking exercise’ “We know it’s been a tough time,” Watts acknowledged. “Some may even see it as bleak.” Some may see forestry as a sunset industry, but baby boomers are still retiring, allowing opportunities for young First Nations workers to gain employment and move into management, he said. He sometimes wonders, though, if the provincial government is truly committed to implementing DRIPA. “We’re no strangers to asserting ourselves; that’s why we have an economic future in our community,” Watts said. “With some of the things the province is putting forward — modernization and old growth deferrals in particular — at the end of the day, it’s going to be up to Tseshaht what happens in Tseshaht territory. We’re going to decide what’s best for our people. The legal landscape has changed and the world needs to catch up.” His words were echoed Jan. 5 by the First Nations Forestry Council, calling again for an immediate reset to the process used by the province to engage with nations on forest policy reforms. “This seems like a box-ticking exercise by government,” said Chief Bill Williams, council president. “B.C. rammed through signiﬁcant changes to forest legislation, through Bills 23 and 28, without any meaningful First Nation participation. Nations need to have real input into changes to modernize forest policy that impact their land and rights, including drafting of legislation.”
Page 8— Ha-Shilth-Sa— January 13, 2022
Coastal communities ‘raise the alarm’ of ocean debris Pink plastic unicorns, green dinosaurs, cologne bo•les, grey rubber mats, and Styrofoam wash up on beaches By Melissa Renwick Local Journalism Initiative Reporter Toﬁno, BC - In early December, Nicole Gervais said chunks of Styrofoam started washing ashore on the northern end of Long Beach, near the Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation community of Esowista on Vancouver Island. That section of beach, entitled T̓ ayus, has been closed to non-residents since 2020 to keep community members safe from COVID-19. Free from the disturbances of visitors and dogs, Gervais said large ﬂocks of birds have returned to the beach to feed on bloodworms and sand ﬂeas. But as the Styrofoam breaks down into smaller pellets after each high tide, Gervais said she’s increasingly worried about the Sandpipers and Oystercatchers. “They eat the broken bits of Styrofoam and it kills them,” she said. Gervais has been living on the edge of Long Beach since 1987 and said that she’s used to seeing plastic water bottles wash ashore, but she’s never seen this amount of Styrofoam. Unlike the Styrofoam used for docking ﬂoats, Gervais’ daughter, Gisele Martin, said the pieces that now litter the hightide line all the way to Schooner Cove have edges carved into them. It’s packing material, she suggested. Parks Canada said it’s aware of the Styrofoam and other materials coming ashore, which are typical at this time of year due to higher tides. But some coastal peoples, like Gervais, are concerned that the Styrofoam is a consequence of the Zim Kingston container spill from Oct. 22. Only four of the 109 shipping containers that were knocked from the cargo ship oﬀ the coast of Vancouver Island have been located. The Canadian Coast Guard believes the rest have sunk. During a media brieﬁng after the spill, Canadian Coast Guard Deputy Federal Incident Commander Mariah McCooey said the watertight integrity of the overboard containers is “not that great.” It’s only a matter of time before the 105 missing 40-foot shipping containers rupture, said Alys Hoyland, Surfrider Paciﬁc Rim beach clean coordinator. “The stuﬀ that’s inside of those containers will start washing up on beaches,” she said. But without any way of tracking the Styrofoam, there’s no way of knowing where it came from. It’s “diﬃcult” to identify the source of Styrofoam or packing materials, the coast guard said, adding that packing materials were not included in the ship’s manifest. The manifest, which identiﬁes the contents of the overboard containers, has not been made public, and none of the local clean-up organizations, such as Epic Exeo, Ocean Legacy, Rugged Coast or Surfrider, have received a copy. Hoyland said that without knowing what’s inside the shipping containers, it’ll be “incredibly hard to prove the extent of the spread,” or to hold the ship’s owner accountable. Clean-up eﬀorts have been ongoing on the north coast of Vancouver Island, where the four of the shipping containers were found. “To date, approximately 27,360 kilograms of debris has been removed from northern Vancouver Island beaches by the contractor, First Nations, and volunteers,” the coast guard said.
Photo by Melissa Renwick
Styrofoam is entangled in the kelp and driftwood along the high tide line on the north end of Long Beach, near Toﬁno, on December 16, 2021. “And the longer it took for the clean-up “There are more cargo ships to start, the worse it got.” Contents from the four containers “were traveling through the Strait spreading further and further with every of Juan de Fuca than ever tide,” Hoyland said. Despite having extensive knowledge of before. And with the frethe area, Tapp said it took at least a week quency of extreme weather before she was asked to coordinate cleanevents rising, we know more ups south of Palmerston Beach and Raft Cove. While accommodation, food and incidents are going to hapfuel were covered, wages were not. pen.” Moving forward, Hoyland said emergency response plans need to be developed in consultation with the First ~ Gord Johns, Nations whose territories are being Gord Johns impacted, as well as with the “environCourtenay-Alberni MP said. mental non-proﬁts that have been leading Jurassic Point is in the ﬁnal stages of “This is not just a case of some missclean-up eﬀorts like this for decades on being cleared and the beaches where ing goods,” said Hoyland. “This is an these coasts.” debris was reported are now “considered environmental catastrophe that’s playing “We’re living in a changing climate,” to be clean,” the coast guard added. out on our shorelines right now.” she said. “We really need to start looking “The ship’s owner will continue to The coast guard said it continues to at these big picture changes that we can check the known accumulation sites for work with the ship’s owner and that make in order to keep the environment debris every few months and remove they’re taking “all measures considered and the ocean safe for future generaany debris likely to be from the MV Zim proportionate to the hazard posed by the tions.” Kingston,” the coast guard said. overboard containers.” The coast guard said that Quatsino, Ashley Tapp is the co-founder of Epic “The owner is working on a plan to con- Ehattesaht, Kwakiutl and Tlatasikwala Exeo, a non-proﬁt organization based out duct a sonar scan of the area where the First Nations were all brought on by the of Port McNeill that focuses on clean-ups containers went overboard, around Cape ship’s owner to assist with beach cleanalong the north coast, where the containFlattery, and an assessment of risk that up eﬀorts and to identify resources at risk ers were found. the overboard containers could pose to in the impacted areas. “We’re a little upset that they think the environment,” the coast guard said. Back on Long Beach, Gervais said she they’re done,” she said. As shipping supply demands increase, picks up what she can, but the amount On Dec. 14, Tapp returned to Cape Courtenay-Alberni MP Gord Johns said of Styrofoam that’s tangled in kelp and Palmerston and Grant Bay, where cleanthere are more cargo ships traveling driftwood is too big of a job for one ups were held. Pink plastic unicorns, through the Strait of Juan de Fuca than person. plastic green dinosaurs, cologne bottles, ever before. And with the frequency of As the Styrofoam breaks apart and bebaby oil, grey rubber mats, Styrofoam extreme weather events rising, “we know comes more diﬃcult to remove from the and packing materials remained on the more incidents are going to happen,” he ecosystem, Martin questions its impact beaches, she said. said. on the intertidal food and medicine her “You can’t just go and clean a beach The federal government needs to create nation relies on. and then wipe your hands of it,” Tapp a tactical response plan so that compaPeople travel from all over the world to said. “[Debris] keeps coming back.” nies are held accountable, said Johns. look at the scenery outside Gervais’ livGrey rubber mats linked to the cargo Currently, the delegation of authority ing room window. spill have also started washing up in falls in the lap of the shipping company, It’s beautiful, she admits, but it’s also a Florencia Bay and in the Hesquiaht Harwho often doesn’t have local ties to the responsibility. bour, said Hoyland. area, he said. “The ocean is alive,” she said. “It’s got By December Ray Williams reported Indeed, contractors hired by the owner a life of its own and we need to respect it. that large chunks of Styrofoam started of Zim Kingston to organize beach clean- It’s a responsibility to notice what’s hapwashing onto the beaches around Yuquot. ups on the north coast were not local and pening and raise the alarm.” Similar reports are being made from were unfamiliar with the geography of The public is asked to report any sightHaida Gwaii, said Hoyland. the area, said Hoyland. ings of marine debris they believe is from It’s “troubling” that this isn’t being “It was more than a week before any the MV Zim Kingston to the coast guard considered an environmental disaster, she kind of clean-up eﬀort started,” she said. by calling 1-800-889-8852.
January 13, 2022—Ha-Shilth-Sa—Page 9
Salmon survival hinges on controlling climate change Early forecast expects lean returns for most ﬁsheries, with exceptions for chinook on some of island’s west coast By Eric Plummer Ha-Shilth-Sa Editor The future of paciﬁc salmon will depend on how eﬀectively global greenhouse gas emissions can be controlled, according to a 2022 forecast on West Coast returns delivered by Fisheries and Oceans Canada. With an emphasis on the continued eﬀects of global warming - including higher ocean temperatures, drier streams, increased forest ﬁres and heavy ﬂooding - this year’s overall returns are expected to be below the historical average. However, some exceptions are expected from this bleak outlook, including a nearaverage chinook run for parts of the west coast of Vancouver Island, including the Somass River. Delivered on Dec. 16, the DFO’s Preliminary Salmon Outlook serves as an initial forecast to inform harvest management plans that will be issued by the federal department. A more detailed outlook of expected returns across British Columbia will follow in April. During her presentation on environmental conditions that inﬂuence salmon migration, Sue Grant, head of the DFO’s State of the Salmon Program, pointed to events from the previous six months that created widespread eﬀects: a recordbreaking early summer heat wave, large forest ﬁres in parts of the B.C. interior, followed by heavy rainfall and extensive ﬂooding in November. “All these events just drive home the fact that climate change is happening, it’s with us, we’re seeing things we’ve never seen or experienced before on this scale - especially all at once in the last six months,” said Grant. “We should expect more of this to occur in the future, more surprises and things we didn’t expect to see.” The presentation pointed to the continued eﬀects of forests ﬁres on salmon habitat. Recent years have brought some of the worst seasons on record in B.C., including 2017 and 2018, which entailed over 120,000 and 130,000 hectares of forest burning respectively. “Loss of forest canopy due to ﬁre, pine beetle and logging has pushed a number of streams over the ‘tipping point’ and there is considerable loss of stability,” stated Richard E. Bailey, head of the DFO’s Chinook/Coho program. On Vancouver Island low snowpacks have been a factor in contributing to more shallow, warmer streams for salmon to migrate through. From 201820 the region recorded less than 50 per cent of the average snow basin in the island’s mountains. This has resulted in stream temperatures sometimes reaching 20 C by the summer. Warmer, shallow streams can pose a risk to the survival of salmon, said Grant. “Times where you can see very dry conditions can, in worst case scenarios, lead to dewatering events that can strand juveniles and eggs,” she said. “That’s one of the consequences of having very dry conditions for our salmon.” Warmer conditions have also been seen in the ocean, which absorbs 90 per cent of the earth’s excess heat as temperatures rise around the world, stated the DFO presentation. This heat is retained for a long time, and by the second half of 2013 scientists began noticing an area west of B.C.’s coast where temperatures where 3 to 5 C above normal. What became known as “the blob” extends approximately 200 metres down from the
Photos by Eric Plummer
Tseshaht boats ﬁsh on the Somass River in September 2021 (above). By late summer one can easily walk halfway across the Somass River at low tide without getting wet (below). Shallow streams are an ongoing concern for those who monitor salmon habitat. Warming ocean temperatures have reduced the size of zooplankton (bottom), which Paciﬁc salmon feed on, according to a recent presentation by Fisheries and Oceans Canada. ocean’s surface, changing the food chain and the organisms salmon feed on as they migrate. “Normally in the northeast Paciﬁc in cooler ocean years we see these larger zooplankton species, and they’re considered quite nutritious for salmon,” noted Grant. “What happens in these warm marine heat wave years is these southern zooplankton move in from California, and they’re considered less nutritious for salmon, so they reduce growth rates and reduce survival for these animals.” These environmental conditions have resulted in severe reductions in the harvesting of Paciﬁc salmon over the last century. An annual average of 24 million salmon were once caught in the 1920s and 1930s, but over the last decade this has declined to 4 million. “We’re seeing coastwide salmon deVancouver Island their home. based on scientiﬁc knowledge.” clines, and this is from Washington all “[W]e urge you and your oﬃcials to The letter points to the need for colthe way up to Alaska,” said Grant. listen to our Ha’wiih (Hereditary Chiefs) laboration on managing the harvesting But after generations of stock declines and our knowledge holders when they of herring, which are a keystone species and ﬁshery closures, those who tradispeak to you about the crisis in Paciﬁc in the food chain that Paciﬁc salmon tionally rely on salmon for subsistence Salmon,” reads the letter signed by Nuusurvive on. are warning that the DFO’s science will chah-nulth Tribal Council President “For many years now, we have been not be enough to adequately manage the Judith Sayers and Cliﬀord Atleo Sr., telling your departmental oﬃcials that species in the future. On Nov. 10 a letter chair of the Council of Ha’wiih Forum our herring stocks cannot be ﬁshed until was sent to Joyce Murray, the newly apon Fisheries. “Nuu-chah-nulth have lived they have recovered,” wrote Sayers and pointed minister of Fisheries and Oceans in harmony with salmon for thousands Atleo. “Each year in the herring planning Canada, urging her department to better of years. The collapse of salmon stocks process, the possibility of a commercial incorporate traditional knowledge from in recent decades is a challenge that your herring ﬁshery on the west coast of VanFirst Nations that call the west coast of department cannot address on its own couver Island is put up for consideration. We have told previous DFO ministers and staﬀ, and we are telling you, that our herring stocks are not ready for that.” As Nuu-chah-nulth nations work on their ﬁshing plans for 2022, below average returns are expected when sockeye salmon reach the west coast of Vancouver Island and the Somass River, according to the DFO’s Preliminary Salmon Outlook. Chinook are expected to be at a wellbelow-average, “critical” level in Nootka and Kyuquot sounds, but the DFO forecast is most optimistic for when the large salmon reach coastal areas in the central and southwest of Vancouver Island. Returns are forecast to be near average in the Somass, Burman and Sarita rivers. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration/Wikimedia Commons photo
Page 10— Ha-Shilth-Sa— January 13, 2022
Connecting to Nuu-chah-nulth culture in the city Joslyn Williams is carving out her own artistic practice from a small working space in her Victoria apartment By Melissa Renwick Local Journalism Initiative Reporter Victoria, BC - Growing up in the city, away from her Nuu-chah-nulth and Kwakwaka’wakw homelands, Joslyn Williams struggled to understand her own identity. Without anyone around to teach her about her culture, she felt disconnected from herself. “I always felt like there was something missing,” she said. “It’s so hard to connect back to your roots when there’s no one there to teach you.” Williams’ mother, Rodrina Peter, shared what she knew by teaching Williams the basics of the Nuu-chah-nulth language. As just a teenager, Peter dealt with the loss of her own mother, who was her link to her culture. Although Peter was raised by “amazing” foster parents, Williams said they weren’t Nuu-chah-nulth and were unable to “teach her anything about her culture.” In high school, Williams said there were no Indigenous teachers at Mount Douglas Secondary. She recalled applying for a class about the history of First Nations peoples on Vancouver Island in Grade 12, but it was cancelled. “There wasn’t enough interest in that class,” she said. “Which really sucked.” In an attempt to learn more about her culture, Williams became involved with the Victoria Native Friendship Centre, where she was introduced to the Eagle Project in 2015. Along with being provided with career counseling, First Aid training, and business development programs, the Eagle Project led youth through the process of carving a totem pole under the instruction of master carver Moy Sutherland Jr. It was the ﬁrst time Williams was exposed to the Nuu-chah-nulth style of carving, and from that moment on, she was hooked. “I didn’t want to stop carving after that,” Williams said. The project led to a two-year long apprenticeship with Sutherland, who taught her how to create her own designs and carve paddles. But more than carving itself, he taught her how to distinguish the Nuu-chah-nulth aesthetic from other West Coast nations, as well as stories about the animals commonly referenced in Nuuchah-nulth art. Art, she said, is used to share these stories.
Photo submitted by Joslyn Williams
Williams holds an eagle panel she carved from red cedar. Despite having Kwakwaka’wakw ancestry, Williams chose to develop a Nuu-chah-nulth aesthetic because she said there’s only a handful of people that continue to carve in the style. “There’s not a lot of representation of Nuu-chah-nulth carvings,” she said. It’s a sentiment echoed by Sutherland, who said “there’s only a handful of masters” who are represented in the commercial-art world. After Sutherland’s mother landed a teaching job in Alert Bay when he was 13 years old, his family moved to the remote Cormorant Island, near Port McNeill. There, he was exposed to cooperative carving spaces where community members could access bandsaws, chainsaws, wood, and teachers. “If you didn’t know how to make something, someone would be there to show you,” he said. But when he moved back to Port Alberni in the mid-90s, no spaces like it existed. It took him around ﬁve years to ﬁnd someone willing to teach him how to carve, he recalled. Then, along came Art Thompson. Sutherland met Thompson at the Royal
BC Museum during an exhibition in 1999. Soon after, he started a three-year long apprenticeship that ended when Thompson passed away in 2003. On his deathbed, Sutherland recalled Thompson telling him to continue passing down his teachings. “I learned a lot from that man,” said Sutherland. “And it wasn’t just about the artwork and art. It was about how to be a better dad and a better community member.” He attributes the “revival” of Nuu-chahnulth art in the 1970s to Thompson, Tim Paul and Ron Hamilton. “Those were the three guys that retained so much of our artistic knowledge that was handed down through the generations,” he said. “And now, we need to keep on with that struggle so that more people become empowered [to pass it on].” For the last 18 years, Sutherland has been working with apprentices to share Thompson’s teachings. It’s a sense of duty he takes seriously. “It’s one of the coolest things to see somebody teaching someone else the things that you taught them,” he said.
“That’s empowerment. The more people that we can empower to have their own voice and have their own opinion – that’s how you change lives.” Williams stepped out on her own as an artist in 2019, using Instagram as a way to share and sell her pieces. On any day of the week you can ﬁnd wood shavings covering the dining room carpet inside her Victoria apartment, where she has created a makeshift studio. Nuu-chah-nulth art was the missing link that connected Williams back to her culture, and to herself. The shapes and patterns found in Williams’ designs often come to her in her dreams. “I love designing birds,” she said. “Any type of bird.” Ravens, eagles and the thunderbird are commonly found throughout her work. The birds are free, much like her designs. “Living in the city, you can easily forget your heritage,” she said. “It’s almost like you forget that you are native. It’s something that I don’t want [to forget] because I want to be able to pass down our language and our stories and our artwork to my children. It’s important not to let it go.” At seven months pregnant, Williams said she’s ﬁnding it increasingly diﬃcult to lean over the panels she’s carving. Soon, she will be packing up her tools and doesn’t know when she’ll be able to pull them out again. “I wonder if I’m going to carve less, or if I’m going to carve more,” she contemplated. “I deﬁnitely wonder if my designs will change.” The 23-year-old isn’t putting any pressure on herself. She is letting the future of her art be steered by her heart. Williams often thinks about sharing her knowledge with her unborn daughter, and how her designs might morph from free birds into mother bears with their cubs. Now having found her place within the city, Williams said she has no plans to leave Victoria. “Art helped me to remember who I am and where I come from, and where my family comes from,” she said. “I don’t want our language to become so rare that people forget how to speak [it], or our stories to become so rare that people forget them. I don’t want my culture to disappear. I want to make sure that it stays alive for the younger generations.”
Phrase of the week: N’aac^amit%is%a+ %aa%ic^um@aqkin hi>%a+i qwiis nuuc^i Pronounced ‘Nah caa mit ish alth, Aah ii gym agk kin hilt alt ee qwis, He lah ii New gee’, it means our ancestors used to look at the mountains, to know where the snow line was, how it was out there. Supplied by ciisma.
Illustration by Ivy Cargill-Martin
January 13, 2022—Ha-Shilth-Sa—Page 11
Trades program brings smokehouses to Tseshaht Nuu-chah-nulth students learn carpentry, plumbing and electrical, while contributing to the local First Nation By Denise Titian Ha-Shilth-Sa Reporter Port Alberni, BC – An innovative trades education program is bringing muchneeded infrastructure to Nuu-chah-nulth communities, while delivering trades skills to students. The Trades Sampler Course, operating out of Port Alberni, is a partnership with the Nuu-chah-nulth Education Training Program, North Island College and the Industry Training Authority. It works like a launching pad, bringing together people interested in learning trades, who work on community projects to build their work skills. If the work appeals to them, they may enrol in North Island College’s carpentry program to further enhance their training and skills. This program brings together just over a dozen Nuu-chah-nulth learners who take in-class training along with hands-on experience in carpentry, plumbing and electrical. It is already in progress and will run until Feb. 17, 2022. “We hope that the students develop a passion for trades and move forward into taking technical training,” writes ITA. The students are working in space rented from the Port Alberni Shelter Society, on lower Third Avenue. Bob Haugen, director of Continuing Education and Contract Training for North Island College, said Carpentry Pathway students need projects to work on. In this case, the project has partnered with Tseshaht First Nation, who provided some of the funding to have three com-
Photo by Denise Titian
Instructor Brian Walker (far left) stands with students Sharon Fred, Ralph Lucas, David Prest and Mercedes Brown, as Cody Neilsen-Robinson sits in front. munity smokehouses built. course, like Level 1 Carpentry at North “This program is designed to get Island College. students introduced to the trades,” said Haugen said similar projects were carHaugen. ried out in the past in Kyuquot and Gold In the sampler course, students spend River. Haugen said past trades sampler one week learning plumbing, another projects saw students construct storweek on electrical training and the rest on age facilities for Kyuquot’s ﬁre ﬁghting carpentry. equipment. In Gold River, students built a Students that develop a passion for the community smokehouse near their house trades can then go onto registering for a of gathering.
In this year’s Trades Sampler course, student will have the option of joining a local contractor as an apprentice after ﬁnishing the sampler course. “This is a fantastic opportunity,” said Haugen, adding that this arrangement will allow the students to have a paying job while they get hands-on learning. By taking part in the construction of much-needed facilities in their home communities, Haugen says the students ﬁnd extra motivation because the projects are meaningful to them. In fact, student Cody Nielsen-Robinson said he would love to see similar smokehouses built for Haahuupayak School, which is located on the Tseshaht First Nation. Haugen mentioned that another project in Anacla brought students together with Huu-ay-aht’s red seal carpenter Charlie Clappis, who teaches carpentry. Together, the class renovated an old, abandoned house, making it liveable again. Haugen says 18 students signed up for the sampler course and about a dozen of those remain active. The students meet in a leased space next to the Overdose Prevention Site. A portion of the space is set up for classroom learning while the back of the room is being used for construction. Haugen says the components of the smokehouses will be built at the space on Third Avenue. Later this spring a foundation will be laid in an area behind Maht Mahs. The students will then assemble the smokehouses at their permanent home.
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This winter, we all have had challenges and stresses. How people eat when they are stressed is diﬀerent for everyone. Whether you eat more, eat less, or eat junk food when stressed, here are some food tips to feel better and take care of yourself. •
Eat regular meals or snacks to keep your blood sugars even. High or low sugars can make us grumpy and feel unwell. o Eat breakfast o Instead of eating a large lunch and dinner, try eating smaller meals or snacks every 3-4 hours during the day. o Avoid foods which make your blood sugar rise and fall rapidly, such as sweets, biscuits, sugary drinks, and alcohol. Cut down on caﬀeine: Caﬀeine is found in coﬀee, tea, chocolate, energy drinks, and cola soft drinks. Caﬀeine disrupts sleep and makes stress worse. Choose water, herbal teas, decaﬀeinated coﬀee, or low fat milk. Share tea or a meal with friends or family: Sharing over food is a traditional way to give and receive teachings, a time to talk with others that can help reduce stress in our lives Keep healthy snacks handy: Enjoy cut-up veggies, fruit and other high ﬁbre snacks like whole grain crackers or popcorn.
There are lots of ways to eat well. If you have questions email firstname.lastname@example.org. I’ll get back to you as soon as I can!
TSESHAHT MARKET GATEWAY TO THE PACIFIC RIM
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
Hours of operation - 7:00 am - 10:30 pm Phone: 724-3944 E-mail: email@example.com Find us on Facebook
January 13, 2022—Ha-Shilth-Sa—Page 13
In loving memory
NTC’s Child and Youth Services has a new manager My full name is Sebastien Francois Michel Titone. As you probably already can tell from those names, I am French. I was born and raised in France. My family on my paternal side is from Sicily, hence my Italian last name. I moved to B.C. in 2001 to get married and start a family. I studied Child and Youth Care at the University of Victoria and shortly after moved to Duncan for work and to raise our three kids who still reside there. I moved to Port Alberni almost two years ago for work. I have a master’s in public administration, and I have almost 15 years’ experience in social and health services, in both managerial and non-managerial roles. I am very excited and grateful to be working for NTC. My team is lovely, and I am looking forward to learning from them and supporting them in the very important services they provide your communities. I hope to deepen my knowledge in Nuu-chah-nulth language, culture and practices.
Nessie “Mama” Watts The world changes from year to year Our lives from day to day But the love and memory of you Shall never go away We love you, Always missed by all her children.
Outside of work I like to play as much soccer as I can. I also enjoy hiking, camping, exploring the west coast, travelling and spending time with friends and family. Thank you all.
Receptionist/Front Desk Full-time and part-time casual work is available in our Gold River NTC administrative oﬃce. The Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council is building a casual list of casual workers (to do daytime reception or evening oﬃce cleaning/custodial work). If you are good on the phone and like greeting people, send your resume to us for casual work in reception. If you are good at keeping things clean and orderly, give us your resume and we may call you into work tomorrow. Casual Receptionist Responsibilities include: • Operating a multi-line phone system • Multi-program reception • Welcome waiting visitors with good hospitality • Copying and ﬁling • Maintaining conﬁdentiality Casual Custodian Responsibilities include: • General clean-up of building work areas • Empty garbage bins • Sanitize reception areas • Clean bathrooms • Sweep and mop ﬂoors when needed • Remove rubbish from building Qualiﬁcations that will get you to work: • • • • •
Grade 12/GED graduation, plus a strong interest in working and earning a paycheck Good communicator over the phone and like greeting people Reliable with good interpersonal and organization skills Willing to provide criminal record check to secure a spot on the on-call list Living within a First Nations community would be considered an asset
For further information contact: Lisa Sam at (250) 724-5757 or send us your resume to: Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council P.O. Box 1383 Port Alberni, BC V9Y 7M2 Attn.: Human Resource Manager Fax: (250) 723-0463 Open till ﬁlled
More job postings at www.hashilthsa.com
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Squad still eager to play at delayed All Native tourney The All Native Basketball Tournament, originally scheduled for February, has been pushed back to early April By Sam Laskaris Ha-Shilth-Sa Contributor Nanaimo, BC – Mariah Charleson is disappointed she won’t be showcasing her basketball skills in Prince Rupert next month. But Charleson, who founded the Hesquiaht Descendants women’s basketball squad in 2015, is hoping she will indeed have the opportunity to travel with her teammates to the British Columbia city this spring. The Descendants had registered to compete in this year’s All Native Basketball Tournament (ANBT), which had originally been scheduled to commence on Feb. 13. Due to the ongoing pandemic and various restrictions in place across B.C., ANBT oﬃcials announced last week they were postponing the event until late March. The plan at that point was to hopefully commence the tourney on Mar. 27 and continue until Apr. 2. But on Tuesday, Jan. 11, tournament oﬃcials put out another Facebook post indicating the tourney is now scheduled to begin either on Apr. 2 or Apr. 3, depending on how many squads will be taking part. “Obviously it sucks we can’t compete (in February) because of what is going on,” said Charleson, who still plays for the Descendants. However, Charleson is pleased to see organizers are making the safety of all a priority. Back in the fall Charleson said she felt her club had the potential to have a Top 3 ﬁnish in the women’s category at the 2022 ANBT. The Hesquiaht club registered its best ﬁnish, fourth place, at the 2015 tournament. Besides dealing with the ABNT postponement, the Descendants are also affected by local health restrictions, which
Photo submitted by Mariah Charleson
The Hesquiaht Descendants women’s team is still hoping to compete at the 2022 All Native Basketball Tournament. are preventing the team from practicing year, a month before COVID-19 became 2022 event. together in Port Alberni. common in our vocabulary and lockA record 64 clubs competed at the 50th Charleson said several team members downs and cancellations started occuranniversary of the tournament in 2010. had gathered for various shootarounds ring, including for sports events around Organizers were also anticipating a posin November and December. At times the world. sible record number of participants bethey were joined by members of the AV Besides the women’s division, the cause some clubs were no longer forced Thunder, a new women’s squad. ANBT also features divisions for interto take part in a November qualifying But those get-togethers are on pause mediate men’s (21 and under), men’s and tournament to get into the ANBT. now. masters (35 and over). The qualifying event was cancelled “Everything is day-to-day now,” CharleSquads traditionally travel from every because organizers were unsure of what son said. “We are just waiting.” corner of the province to take part in the capacity limits would be at the time. Though it remains to be seen what direc- tournament. Haugan felt registering directly for the tion the pandemic will take in the coming ANBT chair Peter Haugen previously ANBT could contribute to record particiweeks, Charleson believes tournament said organizers had discussed whether to pation. organizers are indeed keen to stage the try to have an event in 2021. But now it remains to be seen if this 2022 tourney. Oﬃcials would have been required to year’s event will indeed happen and if so, “From sensing of the language they are follow the guidelines of health authoriwhether that number will be surpassed. putting out, it does sound like they really ties, who were limiting the number of Comments on the ANTB Facebook page want it to happen,” Charleson said of people for gatherings. have been mixed since Tuesday’s antournament organizers. But since paying spectators play a nouncement of the new proposed dates The ANBT is one of the most presticrucial role at tournaments to help cover for the 2022 tourney. gious Indigenous hoops events on the costs, Haugan said the decision was made While some are pleased organizers are B.C. basketball calendar. The event, to cancel last year’s event. still planning to stage the event, others which is always held in Prince Rupert, Coupled with last year’s cancellation, believe it is unwise to do so considering has been running since 1960. Haugan felt the basketball-hungry comthe high number of COVID cases still in The pandemic, however, did force the munity in B.C. could witness the largest the province. cancellation of the 2021 tournament. The number of participating clubs for the 2020 tourney was held in February of that
TOTEM tournament put oﬀ due to Omicron wave By Eric Plummer Ha-Shilth-Sa Editor Port Alberni, BC - British Columbia’s longest running high school basketball tournament will not be held as planned this month in Port Alberni – but organizers haven’t ruled out the possibility that TOTEM could be rescheduled to a later date. The announcement came on Dec. 30 from the TOTEM Committee that the event will not be held on Jan. 7 and 8, after new measures were announced from the provincial health oﬃcer and B.C. Ministry of Education the previous day. Amid a surge of COVID-19 infections that have been as high as 4,000 a day since late December, the resumption of classes after the Christmas break in elementary and secondary schools was delayed by a week until Monday, Jan. 10. This would have been the ﬁrst time the basketball tournament was held in two years, after TOTEM’s cancellation in 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Crowds of up to 500 were expected at the Alberni District Secondary School and the Alberni Athletic Hall, where eight girls and eight boys teams were to com-
pete. The local high school had male and female squads ready for the event, including several Nuu-chah-nulth athletes. “We continue to feel it is important to provide the TOTEM experience for our students and community at large, but must be able to do so in a safe, and responsible manner, while following all public health orders,” reads a statement from the tournament’s organizing committee. “The TOTEM Committee will meet again to discuss any options they may have.” The province’s announcement came after a push from the BC Teachers Federation for a delay in the restart of schools. School staﬀ were directed to return on Jan. 3 and 4 without students, giving them time to implement safety measures in preparation for more exposure to the highly contagious Omicron variant of COVID-19. The new implementations include maximizing available space within schools to allow more distance between people and removing gatherings from school plans when possible. Assemblies are to be replaced with virtual events or gatherings within schools are to be held at half capacity.
January 13, 2022—Ha-Shilth-Sa—Page 15
Underwater cameras improve ﬁsh farm monitoring Aquaculture company hones operational eﬃciency as the global demand for ﬁsh is expected to double by 2050 By Melissa Renwick Local Journalism Initiative Reporter Grieg Seafood BC Ltd. is introducing nine camera sensor units to its ﬁsh farm operations along the east and west coast of Vancouver Island. Designed by OptoScale, a Norwegian technology company, the sensors and software enable real-time analysis of ﬁsh biomass and welfare. Up until now, Grieg Seafood said the only way to acquire accurate data about farmed salmon populations’ growth and performance was through harvesting. The cameras provide a new ability to measure the size of a ﬁsh with up to 98 per cent accuracy, enabling “better decision making by our farmers in regard to feeding, harvest schedules and biomass estimation,” said Grieg Seafood BC Managing Director Rocky Boschman. “Overfeeding can have environmental impacts, but also aﬀects our sustainability targets as the production of feed is one of the largest contributors to our overall carbon footprint,” he said. “By feeding more eﬃciently, we will help to reduce accidental overfeeding, lower our carbon footprint and help to support the growth and performance of our ﬁsh.” Grieg Seafood BC is part of the Norwegian multinational Grieg Group and operates 22 ﬁsh farms within the province. Licensed to produce 23,400 tonnes of salmon annually to North American and Asian markets, Grieg has 49 employees working at their farms on the west coast of Vancouver Island. While six farms are located in Nootka Sound and four in Esperanza Inlet, only six are currently active. The cameras have been shipped from Norway and will be installed as soon as they arrive in Canada, said Grieg Seafood BC Communications Director Amy Jonsson. Out of the nine units, two of them will be geared towards assessing the condition of ﬁsh populations. These Welfare Modules will allow farmers to identify and monitor wounds, ﬁsh maturation, ﬁn damage and scale-loss on individual
Photo by Eric Plummer
Grieg Seafood operates multiple salmon farms in Nootka Sound. ﬁsh within the farm systems. They will be used at the farms within the Nootka region on a trial basis as farmers get familiarized with the technology and realtime data analysis, said Jonsson. The other seven cameras will help anticipate harvest schedules by allowing farmers to read ﬁsh biomass. Traveling together as one unit between all 22 farms, Jonsson said the cameras will determine the weight of the ﬁsh, while also providing farmers with a sense whether more or less feed is needed. “We are constantly looking at ways we can improve our operations, reduce our impacts and support the overall health and performance of both wild and farmed populations,” said Boschman. According to OptoScale, the global demand for ﬁsh is expected to nearly double by 2050, which will be met primarily through increased aquaculture. “All industries have an environmental footprint, and the aquaculture industry could be in the driver’s seat of sustainable food production in the future,” a company spokesperson said. Open-pen ﬁsh farms are criticized by some scientists who claim they transfer dangerous amounts of sea lice to wild populations, contributing to the collapse
of B.C.’s wild stocks. As wild juvenile salmon migrate past ﬁsh farms, many fear they are especially vulnerable to the parasites that wreak havoc on their immune systems, increasing their risk of disease. In 2020, the First Nations Leadership Council called for an end to all open-net pen salmon farming in the province. “We have known for years that open-net pen salmon farming is one of the main contributors to the massive decline in wild salmon stocks in this province,” said British Columbia Assembly of First Nations Regional Chief Terry Teegee. “The federal and provincial governments have been taking a piecemeal approach to this problem, with long timeframes for transition to closed containment pens, and only in a few places. We need to end salmon farming in our open oceans now to protect both wild salmon and Indigenous ways of being from extinction.” In late-December, Grieg announced an additional investment of $11-million per year to reduce sea lice counts at its farms around Vancouver Island and the Sunshine Coast. The company entered into a three-year contract with Njord Marine Service Ltd. for the use of a 24-metre all-purpose vessel which has been outﬁtted with a
mechanical delousing system. “Sea lice remains one of the biggest issues, and the new vessel and SkaMik 1.5 system are a welcome addition to our toolbox,” said Boschman. “Not only does the system remove over 97 per cent of sea lice in all lifecycle stages, it uses no medication or chemicals. It captures the removed lice for disposal on land – reducing the overall lice population in the region.” In a recent mandate letter, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called for new Fisheries Minister Joyce Murray to continue to work with B.C. and Indigenous communities on a plan to transition from open net-pen salmon farming by 2025. While Boschman said Grieg does not have any immediate plans to transition to land-based ﬁsh farming in B.C., operational shifts towards working with improved innovation and technologies will “minimize, mitigate and address possible impacts” to both farmed and wild populations. “BC’s wild salmon are facing many challenges, as we see ocean ecosystems continue to change due to the impacts of climate change, rising ocean temperatures, urbanization, old logging practices, micro-plastics and ocean-based industry,” said Boschman. “There are also concerns with a growing global demand for seafood, and the ability of wild stocks to be able to meet this increase as many commercial ﬁsheries, like salmon, are at or over sustainable limits.” To address these challenges and support the return of wild salmon populations, Boschman said “we will all need to work together.” “It will take everyone working together, sharing knowledge and pushing for improvements in order for us to see the change required,” he added. Salmon farming is still a young industry, said Boschman. “We are continuing to learn, adapt and improve as we go,” he said. “The farms of tomorrow will continue to innovate and make what is currently unfeasible or impossible, very possible.”
SAVE THE DATE!
YOU ARE INVITED TO ATTEND Nuu-chah-nulth Council of Ha’wiih Forum on Fisheries February 9 & 10, 2022 Online, via Zoom We encourage young Nuu-chah-nulth-aht to attend the meeting to learn more about pressing ﬁsheries issues and to represent future generations. Limited ﬁnancial support is available for youth (aged 30 and under) interested in attending. Please contact Kelda Blackstone at firstname.lastname@example.org or 250-724-5757 ext. 235 for more information.
NTC Board of Director’s Meeting Tuesday January 25, 2022 NTC Main Boardroom, Port Alberni Watch all day – live streamed at www.hashilthsa.com
Les Sam Construction Residential . Commercial & Architectural Structures Construction Management & Consulting Forming & Framing Ph/Txt: 250.720.7334
Page 16— Ha-Shilth-Sa— January 13, 2022