Ha-Shilth-Sa Newspaper January 27, 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. 02—January 27, 2022 haas^i>sa Sales Agreement No. 40047776

‘We’re all in this toxic drug crisis together’ Supports and a mobile clinic are being called for along with decriminalization to stop the ongoing escalation of overdoses By Mike Youds Ha-Shilth-Sa Contributor Port Alberni, BC - A Port Alberni resident who routinely saves people from fatally overdosing feels governments need to do a lot more than decriminalize to prevent B.C.’s toxic drug crisis from growing worse. The city’s overdose rate jumped by 41 per cent in 2021, the biggest increase since a provincial health emergency was declared five years ago. Few could be as painfully aware of the severity of the crisis as Rob Bear Lind, who lives in a shared trailer along Fourth Avenue. Lind is a recovering addict who assists overdose victims in a place where help is too seldom available, behind closed trailer doors as they cling to life in a place he calls the Ghetto. “In my trailer, I’ve handled 53 overdoses,” he said. “We have Naloxone kits in the trailer.” Two days later the number had grown to 58. In one instance, four people overdosed at once. Lind knows addiction first-hand. He was prescribed morphine and Percodan to manage hip pain. Unable to cope with the pain through prescription, he substituted with street drugs. Many share the same tragedy: They didn’t choose addiction, they stumbled into a trap for health-related reasons. Indigenous populations are disproportionately affected by overdose and by incarceration related to drug use. They represent four percent of B.C.’s population but 23 per cent of toxic drug events, according to health data from the First Nations Health Authority (FNHA). In 2020, FNHA reported a fatality rate more than five times greater than the overall population and a 119 per cent increase in overdose deaths in just one year. Health advocates have long argued that decriminalizing possession of small amounts of drugs for personal use would more effectively address addiction by focusing public resources and attitudes on addiction as a health issue. They maintain prohibition has failed individuals and society as a whole, an argument long past dispute. More than 20,000 Canadians died of overdoses since 2016, when B.C. declared a public health emergency to rally resources against the crisis. The crisis has surged during the COVID pandemic, and paramedic overdose calls rose 31 per cent on Vancouver Island last year. The cities of Vancouver and Toronto, the B.C. government, the Senate and Courtenay-Alberni MP Gord Johns are all pursuing parallel paths to decriminal-

Photo by Karly Blats

Rob Bear Lind wants to see more supports for addiction, including a mobile clinic. “The whole Ghetto is getting an extra $2,000 a month,” he said. ize — not legalize — drug possession for decriminalization could be its potential personal use. Shortly before Christmas, to change entrenched social biases that Johns introduced a private member’s bill, stigmatize drug addiction, hindering pathlegislation to move Canada to a healthways to treatment and recovery. based approach. “I agree with it to a certain degree,” “While Canadians have been living Lind said, pointing out that good intenthrough, another pandemic has also been tions can backfire. impacting our communities,” he told The Canada Emergency Response Benthe House of Commons. “Despite what efit had unintended consequences. they say, the Liberals have continuously “Now there’s three times more drugs ignored calls from health experts, police than there used to be, and we have more chiefs and big Canadian cities to treat the drug sellers in the community, three times opioid crisis like a health crisis.” more crime and three times more overB.C. is the first province to apply for a doses,” added Lind. “I don’t know why Health CanadaHealth exemption under nobody is looking at that.” the Controlled Drugs and Substances He expects the pandemic spike in toxic Act. If approved, the exemption would drug overdoses will continue to climb as help reduce the fear and shame associated the benefit runs out and people turn to with substance use. crime to feed their addiction. “Substance use and addiction is a public “The whole Ghetto was getting an extra health issue, not a criminal one,” said $2,000 a month,” he said. “I think (deSheila Malcolmson, minister of Mental criminalization) benefits in some ways, Health and Addictions. “B.C. is adding but it depends on what you’re going to new health and substance-use care serdo with it. If there are more recovery opvices almost weekly, but we know shame tions, there I can see benefits.” prevents many people from accessing Dr. Nel Wieman, FNHA’s deputy medilife-saving care. That’s why it’s crucial to cal health officer, said the pandemic was decriminalize people who use drugs.” but one factor in a tumultuous year for With police already moving away from many First Nations. Anti-Indigenous strict enforcement, the critical test of racism in health care (sometimes referred

Inside this issue... Alaska overfishing salmon, says report..........................Page 2 Volcanic eruption sends waves to B.C. coast.................Page 4 Orca sightings indicate population health...................Page 8-9 Reigns loosen for prawn fishermen..............................Page 11 Opportunity in cannabis growing for First Nations.....Page 14

to as the “third epidemic”), wildfire, the publicizing of unmarked graves at former residential school sites, flooding and landslides have delayed FNHA’s harm reduction policy rollout to create a framework for action for B.C. First Nations. “From a First Nations point of view, we’re in support of decriminalization, but one thing we need to do we haven’t done, and that is to have engagement at the local level,” Wieman said. “The communities we’re talking with, they’re exhausted.” Work continues behind the scenes with virtual health services, clinical care, expansion of treatment centres and providing safe supply as an alternative to Fentanyl-laced drugs found on the street. With signs the pandemic may be waning, Wieman hopes more effort can be redirected at the drug crisis. Measurable progress was made in 2018-2019 before the pandemic, she noted. “The hope is we can start a discussion around decriminalization, recognizing there are going to be community differences,” Wieman said. Changing attitudes may be a bigger hurdle. If it passes, Johns’ decriminalization bill would enact a national strategy to address harm caused by problematic substance use. “I do really think, for a certain segment of the population anywhere, people still regard substance abuse disorder as a personal pandemic,” Wieman said. “One of the things about COVID is that we’re all affected in a certain way. ‘We’re all in this together.’ Around that same message, that baseline, that heart line messaging, across B.C. we’re all in this toxic drug crisis together as well.” Lind wants more resources going to treatment, training and employment options. For Indigenous people, Four Directions — a holistic belief in body, mind, heart and spirit — are often essential. He hopes to build support, including First Nations, for an approach used in Portugal, a mobile after-hours overdose clinic. “I saved 58 in my one little trailer, a trailer that doesn’t move. What could I do with a trailer that moves?” asked Lind. There are only a limited number of private member’s bills that can make it through Parliament in any given session, particularly in a minority parliament. Johns said his bill drew fourth among 338 votes and he expects it will be brought forward for debate soon. “But right now, people are dying as a result of government inaction,” Johns said. “It won’t be long before members of Parliament are forced to vote on this.”

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Page 2— Ha-Shilth-Sa— January 27, 2022

Photo submitted by Uu-a-thluk

Paul Sam handles sockeye that originated from the Fraser River on a T’aaq-wiihak boat on the west coast of Vancouver Island in 2018.

Report suggests Alaskan fisheries are overharvesting Some who watch the international management of salmon fear the Pacific Salmon Treaty is failing B.C.’s coast By Melissa Renwick Local Journalism Initiative Reporter As Canada closes and restricts its fisheries to protect plummeting wild salmon stocks, a new report suggests that boats in southeast Alaska may be intercepting salmon populations as they return to Canadian rivers to spawn. Commissioned by Watershed Watch Salmon Society and SkeenaWild Conservation Trust, the report was released in conjunction with the U.S. and Canada’s annual review of bilateral management under the Pacific Salmon Treaty. “Alaskan fisheries are now the biggest harvesters of a growing number of depleted Canadian salmon populations,” said Aaron Hill, executive director of Watershed Watch Salmon Society, in a release. This news comes as no surprise to Jessica Hutchinson, Central Westcoast Forest Society (CWFS) executive director and ecologist. CWFS is a non-profit organization that works to restore salmon habitat in and around the Clayoquot Sound. After receiving preliminary catch numbers from Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) based on coded wire tag information, Hutchinson said she’s happy to see the “critical state” of west coast Vancouver Island chinook salmon get the attention they deserve. In recent years, B.C. salmon numbers have hit record lows. Only two wild Chinook salmon returned to the upper Kennedy watershed in 2021, meaning the population has seen a 98 per cent decrease, said Hutchinson. “Our wild salmon stocks are absolutely on the verge of extinction,” she said. “This is a really, really sad state of affairs and something has got to give. Otherwise, we are going to see stock after stock expire and be extricated from this

region.” Both 2019 and 2020 saw two of the smallest Fraser River sockeye runs within the last 100 years, according to the Pacific Salmon Commission (PSC). These staggering numbers prompted former fisheries minister Bernadette Jordan to close 60 per cent of B.C.’s commercial salmon fisheries in June 2021. That same month, the $647-million Pacific Salmon Strategy Initiative was launched, which DFO described as “the largest, most transformative investment Canada has made in salmon.” But Hutchinson said the protection and rebuilding of B.C.’s wild salmon stocks needs to be more than a priority written on paper. “There needs to be follow through so that we have the protection, the policy measures, and the ability to actually sustain wild salmon in the Clayoquot Sound and along the entire coast of Vancouver Island,” she said. Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation Natural Resources Manager Saya Masso said the issue of Alaskan fisheries intercepting B.C.’s endangered populations is something that’s addressed “rather poorly” on Canada’s behalf at the Pacific Salmon Treaty. “We’ve been aware of this management issue for a while,” he said. “[The report] is not a surprise.” The PSC is employed by both the U.S. and Canada to assist in implementing the Pacific Salmon Treaty by convening meetings, publishing reports and relaying information between the countries. PSC Executive Secretary John Field said “Canada so far has not raised this as a concern.” “I’m assuming because they have not raised alarm or declared that they see Alaska as violating the treaty that they accept it as consistent with sustainable

harvests under the salmon commission process,” he added. Claire Teichman, press secretary for the federal fisheries minister, said “DFO officials are aware of the report and are reviewing it.” “We know how important it is to protect and restore the Pacific salmon population,” she said. Alaskan commercial fishing fleets just across the Canadian border logged over 3,000 boat-days and harvested almost 800,000 sockeye last summer, “most of which were of Canadian origin,” read a press release from the SkeenaWild Conservation Trust. “Canadian fishers and taxpayers are making incredible sacrifices to protect and rebuild our salmon runs, while the Alaskan interception fishery continues unchecked,” said Hill. “It is irresponsible of both countries to continue to allow this.” Doug Vincent-Lang, Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) commissioner, criticized the report saying that it was an “unfair and biased attack on Alaska salmon fisheries.” Management of southeast Alaska salmon fisheries by the ADF&G is consistent with the Pacific Salmon Treaty, he said. “I was disappointed by what I consider to be a targeted attack on southeast Alaska salmon fisheries by these special interest groups,” Vincent-Lang said. “I take our obligations to fulfill treaty commitments seriously.” Since the release of the report, the Tŝilhqot’in Nation has called on Canada to establish an independent review of the Pacific Salmon Treaty, citing the DFO has “failed” to meaningfully represent First Nation interests, including food, social and ceremonial fishing rights, at the international table. “We need to immediately review how

the Pacific Salmon Treaty is structured, and First Nations’ role at such an important international table,” said Joe Alphonse, Tŝilhqot’in National Government tribal chair. “This is what happens when others say they are looking after our interests.” The Pacific Salmon Treaty has been in place since 1985 and was written to manage fish interceptions between Canada and the U.S. fairly and sustainably. New agreements have been made every 10 years over the past three decades. The last one was made in 2019 and the treaty isn’t up for renewal until 2028. “We can’t wait until 2028 to fix it,” said Hill. The Pacific Salmon Treaty shouldn’t only focus on the number of fish that are allowed to be caught, but limit the catch size of females carrying eggs, said Masso. “We hope that our restoration efforts lead to a system of abundance, which hopefully goes hand-in-hand with good management that will lead to abundance returning home,” he said. Alaska could close the worst of its interception fisheries and reduce the impact on others by locating its fisheries closer to their own streams, the release from the SkeenaWild Conservation Trust suggested. “We work tirelessly to rebuild habitat for wild Pacific salmon, but we need salmon to return in order for our restoration to be effective,” said Hutchinson. “The health of the entire watershed relies on a large number of salmon returning and bringing those marine-derived nutrients that are the fertilizer and what really generate the biodiversity and the health of these watersheds. We need the salmon to get back home.”


January 27, 2022—Ha-Shilth-Sa—Page 3

Kennedy Hill project set for summer 2022 completion Highway straightening over Kennedy Lake set to be two years late, after blasting plans faced ‘repeated issues’ By Melissa Renwick Local Journalism Initiative Reporter Kennedy Lake, BC - Despite getting hit by record-breaking rainfall and cold, snowy conditions throughout the fall and winter, the Highway 4 Kennedy Hill Safety Improvement Project remains on track, according to the Ministry of Transportation. “The project is expected to be substantially completed by summer 2022, with finishing touches continuing throughout the fall,” the ministry said. After kicking off in 2018, the construction project was originally slated for completion in the summer of 2020. When rockfall from a blast compromised the road, a significant three-day road closure followed in January 2020. The event left Tofino, Ucluelet and the surrounding First Nations communities cut off from the rest of Vancouver Island. “Given that this project is dealing with the only route to and from the coast, it has been very challenging for everyone living and traveling here due to regular road closures as well as extended and unforeseen road closures,” said Laura McDonald, Tofino Long-Beach Chamber of Commerce president. “This has impacted businesses and residents in a variety of ways, including increased travel time, costs and inconvenience.” The project was placed on hold for three months in the spring of 2020 so the contractor could revisit their blasting plans, following “repeated issues” with operations, the ministry said. It was later announced that its completion date was pushed back to winter 2021, and that the budget had increased

Photo by Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure

The Kennedy Hill Safety Improvement Project has entailed removing over 150,000 cubic metres of rock along 1.5 kilometres of highway by blasting a cliffside more than 50 metres high, according to the B.C. Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure. from $38.1 million to $53.96 million. The uncertainty around unplanned and vehicles overnight because they couldn’t “This is a complex project that includes extended road closures has come at a catch a boat home,” he said. “It’s been a removing over 150,000 cubic metres of price, said Chisholm. struggle.” rock along 1.5 kilometres of highway by Many contractors hired by Tla-o-qui-aht Masso said the re-opening of the road blasting rock bluffs more than 50 metres travel from out town and bill the nation means a return to some normalcy and will high,” the ministry said. for the time they spend waiting at the “relieve a lot of pressure.” After years of delays, Tla-o-qui-aht First road closure, Chisholm added. “Once complete, the Highway 4 - KenNation (TFN) Tribal Administrator Jim “It’s had a huge impact on us,” he said. nedy Hill Safety Improvement Project Chisholm said he isn’t confident the projSince 2018, TFN Natural Resources will create a safer and more reliable ect will be complete by summer 2022. Manager Saya Masso said community connection between Port Alberni and “We’ll have to wait and see,” he said. members have had to plan their lives the west coast of Vancouver Island,” the “But I’m a little skeptical that they’ll get around the closures. ministry said. it done. “I know some people have slept in their

16-year-old arrested for murder of Clifton Johnston By Denise Titian Ha-Shilth-Sa Reporter

Submitted photo

Four people were airlifted to hospital in Victoria after a boat accident Jan. 25.

Four people injured as water taxi hits a reef By Denise Titian Ha-Shilth-Sa Reporter Clayoquot Sound, BC – A water taxi carrying six people hit a reef in waters between Tofino and Ahousaht Tuesday morning, injuring four of the six people aboard. Environment Canada issued a fog warning for areas all around Vancouver Island on the morning of Jan. 24. “Areas of dense fog are expected to lift by this afternoon. Visibility may be significantly and suddenly reduced to near zero,” they said in their public statement. The Canadian Coast Guard said the Ahousaht Auxiliary Coast Guard was notified at 9:27 a.m., Jan. 24, that a vessel had run aground in the area of Catface Range. The CCG dispatched the Cape Anne to the scene.

Other vessels in the area responded to the distress call. Al Titian, a vessel operator for Cermaq Canada said by the time he arrived on scene, the CCG Zodiac was already there along with two other boats. Fog was still thick in the area as people were being helped off of the stricken boat. “Rocky Pass was taking on water so the crew from the barge loaned them a pump,” said Titian. According to Pamela Hogan of the Canadian Coast Guard, the 25’ water taxi had six souls aboard with four of the six suffering injuries. “All passengers were transported to First Street Dock in Tofino where they were met by Emergency Health Services to be assessed and treated,” said Hogan. The CCG along with the RCMP towed the crippled water taxi to Tofino.

Port Alberni, BC – The Port Alberni RCMP have arrested a teen ten months after the murder of 20-year-old Clifton Johnston of Ahousaht. “On January 19, 2022, a charge of 2nd degree murder was sworn against a 16-year-old male for the murder of Clifton Johnston that occurred on March 27, 2021, on 4th Avenue in Port Alberni. An arrest warrant was issued,” the RCMP said in a statement. They went on to say that the male was arrested on Jan. 20, by Port Alberni RCMP members. His identity cannot be provided due to the Youth Criminal Justice Act. On March 29, 2021, Ha-Shilth-Sa reported that a young man was found deceased outside the Port Alberni Friendship Center on the morning of Saturday, March 27 by a passerby. The young man was identified as 20-year-old Clifton Johnson, from Ahousaht and former Port Alberni resident. Johnston had been living in Abbotsford with his mother and had come to Port Alberni for a visit that weekend. The day after Johnson’s body was discovered the RCMP confirmed that they were conducting a homicide investigation. The victim, they said, was located on the street with stab wounds to his chest and had succumbed to his injuries. The family and friends of Johnston gathered for a candlelight vigil on the steps

Clifton Johnson leading up to the Port Alberni Friendship Center. A sidewalk memorial remained there for several months. Johnston was described as a happy, funloving young man by people that knew him. His mother, Iris Clarke, said he dreamed of being a beekeeper. “Investigators have been working on this investigation continuously for nearly 10 months, awaiting forensic laboratory results and completing the significant disclosure these investigations require for charge approval. The investigation continues,” said the RCMP.


Page 4— Ha-Shilth-Sa— January 27, 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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DEADLINE: Please note that the deadline for submissions for our next issue is February 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.

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Volcano eruption spreads tsunami alerts Waves were seen on coastal Vancouver Island, 9,000 kilometres away from the blast By Denise Titian Ha-Shilth-Sa Reporter A massive undersea volcanic eruption triggered a weekend tsunami alert and sent surges of waves up Vancouver Island inlets on the morning of Jan. 16. Hunga-Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai is an undersea volcano located in the Tonga region of the South Pacific, more than 9,000 kilometres from Vancouver Island. According to reports, the volcano has been active in recent weeks, having previously erupted on Dec. 20 and Jan. 13. But the Jan. 15 eruption was massive. It is considered a once-in-a-thousand-year event for a volcano according to scientists. Its effects were felt as far away as Alaska, with US coastal locations reporting hearing the sonic boom. Satellite imagery shows a shock wave emanating from the undersee blast. Reports state that the sonic boom was heard in parts of New Zealand, which is more than 1,300 miles away, travelling as far as the United Kingdom. The eruption occurred at 4:10 GMT on the evening of Saturday, Jan. 15, triggering tsunami warnings in Pacific coastal communities. While islands in the Tonga suffered significant tsunami damage, regions further away, like coastal British Columbia. had their tsunami warnings downgraded to advisories. New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the following day that no deaths or injuries in the region had been reported, but full assessments were not possible because lines of communication were cut due to the eruption and subsequent tsunami. Damages to foreshore infrastructure and boats on islands near the volcano are significant. Across the Pacific in British Columbia, Mike Farnworth, minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General issued a statement. “Emergency Management BC immediately activated the Provincial Emergency Coordination Centre, and all provincial regional operation centres on the coast,” stated Farnworth. “The agency has also been supporting local governments and First Nations with updates and a series of coordination calls.” Closer to home, Nuu-chah-nulth communities responded to the tsunami

Photo by Darrell Williams

Yuquot resident Darrell Williams found a collection of plastic bottles with Asian writing washed up on his shore after a massive undersea volcano erupted in the Tonga region of the South Pacific on Jan. 15. warning by notifying residents. But by “The swell was a good sized one and the time the waves were predicted to hit we ran up the trail just in time,” Williams the west coast of Vancouver Island, the told Ha-Shilth-Sa, adding that his small tsunami warning had been downgraded dog almost got pulled into the ocean. to an advisory. People were told to stay The following day, Williams went for away from the shoreline and to watch for another walk along the beach. He norsurges in currents. mally walks the beach daily, collecting In Anacla, Huu-ay-aht citizen Rachel trash that has drifted ashore. Young captured remarkable video of a “I found a lot of plastic bottles,” he series of waves surging up Pachena River said, noticing that the beverage bottles on Sunday morning. had Asian labeling. “I only had one bag, Further north at Yuquot, Mowachaht/ but what I found I put up higher so I can Muchalaht resident Darrell Williams was pick them up when I get gas for ATV and walking with his dogs along the beach more garbage bags.” about 10:30 Sunday morning when he According to National Geographic, noticed larger-than-usual waves rolling there are more than 1,500 active volcain. noes around the world.

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January 27, 2022—Ha-Shilth-Sa—Page 5

Two people remain missing from Fairy Creek protest Bear Herny’s van was last seen Nov. 27 on a logging road, while Gerald ‘Smiley’ Kearney was last seen Oct. 13 By Denise Titian Ha-Shilth-Sa Reporter Port Renfrew, BC – The family of Kevin “Bear” Henry, 37, of Penelakut First Nation, continues to search the treacherous tangle of remote logging roads in hopes they will find their loved one, who hasn’t been seen or heard from since Nov. 27, 2021. Henry, a non-binary gender neutral (doesn’t identify as either male or female), was on their way to take part in the Fairy Creek blockade near Port Renfrew in late November. They were driving a 42-year-old camper van from Victoria to Lake Cowichan. Reports state that they had parked behind a Lordco Auto parts store in Lake Cowichan for the night but texted family that someone was banging on the sides of the van. On Nov. 27, a local man spotted the van at the start of Gordon River Road, just northwest of Honeymoon Bay. He took a photograph, which has been circulated on social media and missing posters. The man told officials that by the time he went back to the area, two days later, the van was gone. A search for Gordon River Road on Google Earth shows that there are many roads with that name in the area between Honeymoon Bay and Port Renfrew. There is one access point to Gordon River Road south of Honeymoon Bay and another north of the little town. The many logging roads in the area between Cowichan Lake, Nitinaht and Port Renfrew are intersected by both active and deactivated logging roads.

Submitted photo

Bear Henry’s van was last seen Nov. 27 on a logging road northwest of Honeymoon Bay. Two days later, the van he was living in was gone. Henry was reported missing to Victobuild. They have short brown hair and ria Police on Dec. 11, 2021, then, to the green eyes.” RCMP. Henry was driving a brown 1980 Dodge On Dec. 15 Vic PD issued a missing Royal camper van with BC license plate persons poster containing the following NB2 06H. It has black spray-painted information: “Kevin is described as a patches and logos. 37-year-old Indigenous person standing Vic PD went on to say that their invessix feet, three inches tall and weighing tigators believe that Kevin may have approximately 300 pounds, with a heavy travelled to the Fairy Creek area and that

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Gerald Kearney officers are working to locate Kevin to ensure that they are safe. According to RCMP Sergeant Chris Manseau, not long after Henry’s disappearance was reported to police there were statements that Henry may have been in the Lake Cowichan or Sooke areas, and RCMP investigators were made aware not long after. “Because of the nature of missing person files, the last confirmed location of the missing person is the police of jurisdiction who holds the file, which is why it was managed by Victoria Police, until we could conclusively prove that they had been last sighted in Lake Cowichan,” Manseau said in an email to Ha-ShilthSa. He went on to say that all RCMP detachments on Vancouver Island (and

likely all municipal police forces also) were aware of the missing person. Henry’s vehicle is on a shared police system as being associated to a missing person, and should any police officer come across it, they would investigate further. Manseau said RCMP members working in the Fairy Creek area immediately made numerous patrols and liaised with the Rainforest Flying Squad from the outset for possible contact. During their patrols of the area RCMP members looked specifically for the vehicle that Henry was believed to be in. “The RCMP helicopter made patrols in the area looking for signs of Henry’s vehicle, and officers on the ground spoke with many people who have traveled in the area to see if they may have encountered either Bear or had seen their vehicle,” said Manseau. In addition, Lake Cowichan RCMP members have liaised with family members, and conducted social media checks, banking checks, and contacted various hospitals. “The last contact I had with the Lake Cowichan RCMP on Henry, they were working with SAR for a possible search, however I don’t have any further details on that,” said Manseau. Friends of the family have stated that official search and rescue teams have not been deployed because the area is vast and police are waiting for a confirmed lead to focus their search. A crowd funding page has been set up by friends to assist private citizens with fuel and expenses to conduct their own searches. The search has been hampered by heavy snowfall and freezing conditions, making the hundreds of miles of interconnected logging roads even more treacherous. “Because of the nature of the area, and the season, some of the roads in the area may be impassable, or unsafe for travel,” Manseau warned. Also missing from the Fairy Creek encampment is Gerald “Smiley” Kearney, 61, of Victoria. Kearney was last seen in the Fairy Creek encampment area Oct. 13, 2021 and was reported missing Oct. 21. Kearney was taking part in the Fairy Creek blockade and was walking from one encampment to another when he went missing in the Fairy Creek watershed. His backpack was found in the area. Exhaustive searches of the area conducted by police, dogs and drones have turned up nothing. Pacheedaht Chief Councillor Jeff Jones told Ha-Shilth-Sa that he is glad that the Rainforest Flying Squad are leaving the territory, albeit slowly. “It is way overdue for them to get back to their lives/ family,” he said, adding that the nation has repeatedly asked protestors to leave Pacheedaht territory. If you have any information about where Kevin “Bear” Henry may be, please call the Lake Cowichan RCMP at (250) 749-6668. To report what you know anonymously, please call Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477. The Lake Cowichan RCMP requests that anyone who may have had contact with Henry to please contact them. Information could be of paramount importance if it is in regards to the last known location of Henry. A GoFundMe has been organized by Tareem Sangha to support private searches. In addition, a Facebook page has been set up to help organize searches.


Page 6— Ha-Shilth-Sa— January 27, 2022

Will nations be shut out, or lead the ‘blue economy’? Shu•ing down fish farms, increasing protected areas while growing jobs make up a recent directive to DFO By Eric Plummer Ha-Shilth-Sa Editor The prime minister’s recent mandate letter to the new DFO minister speaks of the need to “advance consistent, sustainable and collaborative fisheries arrangements” with First Nations, but some Nuu-chahnulth leaders believe that the federal department has a long way to go until the relationship is a partnership. On Dec. 16 Justin Trudeau issued the formal directive document to Joyce Murray, who was appointed minister of Fisheries and Oceans Canada after the Liberals’ minority government win in the fall. The mandate letter sets out an ambitious combination of goals, including protecting 25 per cent of Canada’s oceans and transitioning away from net-pen fish farms in three years, while growing the country’s ocean-based economy and working in partnership with Indigenous peoples. The mandate given to Murray in her new role includes the priority to “Advance consistent, sustainable and collaborative fisheries arrangements with Indigenous and non-Indigenous harvesters.” Representatives with the Tseshaht First Nation met with Murray in December at a Vancouver DFO office to discuss this issue as it relates to Somass River fisheries. While the Tseshaht and Hupacasath have had Economic Opportunity agreements with DFO for most of the last three decades, stalled negotiations in in the summer of 2020 led to an estimated $1.25 million in lost revenue when the Tseshaht were not permitted to catch and commercially sell chinook salmon caught from the Somass. “We were just looking for the mandate to get an agreement again this year,” said Tseshaht Chief Councillor Ken Watts, who is hopeful of how discussions will progress, given that Murray is a West Coast MP from Vancouver. “I’m excited that the minister is from B.C., I think it helps to have a better understanding.” While the Tseshaht had Economic Opportunity agreements with DFO last year, negotiations with other Nuu-chah-nulth nations collapsed to the point that hereditary chiefs issued a call for their people to fish according to their First Nations’ own plans – not what was assigned by Fisheries and Oceans Canada. This affected the fisheries of Ahousaht, Hesquiaht, Ehattesaht, Tla-o-qui-aht and Mowachaht/ Muchalaht. “I have been continually shocked with the various allocations of fish species that the federal government has deemed appropriate,” said Hasheukumiss (Richard George), a hereditary chief with the Ahousaht First Nation, in press release issued in early August 2021. “The DFO and the rest of Canada need to understand that our traditional territories, and the resources within, are ours to manage.” With allocations yet to be assigned, Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council President Judith Sayers expects that continued advocacy will be required until the federal department better recognizes territorial jurisdiction on the west coast of Vancouver Island. “I think we’re just going to have to keep pushing,” she said. “If the chiefs again have to authorize another fishery, then I think they need to do that until we actually get people to the table talking seriously to us about our rights.” A sticking point remains the proposed Tang.ɢwan-ḥačxʷiqak-Tsig̱is Marine Protected Area, also known as the Pacific

Photo submitted by Uu-a-thluk

A commercial fishing boat with the Nuu-chah-nulth T’aaq-wiihak fishery sails the west coast of Vancouver Island. Offshore Area of Interest. Four times the size of Vancouver Island along the western edge of Nuu-chah-nulth territory, this massive area is being prioritized by the federal government to help meet the Liberals’ goals of protecting 25 per cent of Canada’s oceans by 2015, and 30 per cent by 2030. If approved, the MPA would help protect biodiversity in the offshore region by restricting activities like bottom trawling, oil and gas exploration, as well as seabed mining. “This marine protected area is very important to her to fulfill her mandate,” said Sayers, after having a meeting with Murray regarding the proposed MPA on Jan. 20. “I’m kind of concerned.” This concern comes from the fear that First Nations will be left out of the consultation process while the federal government pushes ahead with the MPA plan. Sayers noted that the DFO minster said that Nuu-chah-nulth jurisdiction is limited to a distance of nine miles offshore, thereby not crossing into the Offshore Area of Interest. Highly contested within Nuu-chah-nulth communities, the nine-mile limit is a stipulation set in the Ahousaht et al. court case, most recently upheld by the B.C. Court of Appeal last April. “If you want a Marine Protected Area, we want a joint management, collaborative management structure,” Sayers said, adding that the Haida Nation already have this in another agreement they made with DFO. “It’s already out there, and they don’t want to allow it. It’s really important for us to protect Nuu-chahnulth’s portion of that territory and make sure that there aren’t any ecosystems that are destroyed.” The prime minister’s mandate letter to Murray also mentions transitioning from “open net-pen salmon farming in coastal British Columbia waters by 2025”. Each year this industry contributes $1.5 billion to B.C.’s economy, supporting approximately 7,000 jobs in coastal communities, according to the BC Salmon Farmers Association. It’s yet to be clarified how the government plans to accommodate for the

economic shortfall of transitioning away from this growing industry. But despite the threatened state of many salmon stocks on the West Coast and the risk of commercial fisheries closures - as was implemented last summer – expectations remain to “support the long-term sustainable growth of Canada’s fish and seafood sector,” according to Trudeau’s mandate letter. “I would be very cautious about that,” Sayers commented. “The new Pacific Salmon Strategy Initiative is also talking about shutting down commercial fisheries – and at the same time they’re talking about the ‘blue economy’. I don’t know exactly how they intend to do a blue economy.” The blue economy represents a growing international concept that business potential lies in the ocean, and can be tapped in an environmentally responsible manner. “Growing a sustainable blue economy requires a strategy to create jobs in coastal communities while ensuring our oceans remain healthy,” states the DFO on its website. “First Nations can lead the blue economy,” said Watts. “Our First Nation is a prime example of that. We bring in $1-5 million into local economies through

individual fisheries and families.” The Tseshaht’s elected chief sees other opportunity beyond what the nation harvests each year from the Somass. “That’s just salmon, think about if First Nations led the way in other fisheries as well in their economic opportunities,” he said. “I think the opportunities are endless.” Trudeau’s letter notes that each of his ministers are being directed to implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, while working in partnership with First Nations. Although Fisheries and Oceans Canada is far away from attaining this, there has been some progress, said Watts. Over the last year he has seen support from the federal department for beach cleanups in Tseshaht territory. “I have to be hopeful that things will continue to get better with DFO - but make no mistake about it, its an uphill battle, I think for all nations,” he said. “I do feel like things are changing slowly. Are they as fast as they could be in terms of respecting Indigenous title and rights? Probably not, but progress is progress.”


January 27, 2022—Ha-Shilth-Sa—Page 7

MV Zim Kingston’s shipping containers still missing The coast guard reported 47,650 kilograms of debris has been removed from Vancouver Island’s northern coast By Melissa Renwick Local Journalism Initiative Reporter It’s been over three months since 109 shipping containers were knocked from a cargo ship traveling through rough seas off the west coast of Vancouver Island, yet the location of all but four remain unknown. Ashley Tapp, co-founder of Epic Exeo, said her initial optimism that the ship’s owner would be held accountable for the missing containers has begun to fade. “I’m starting to get pretty discouraged,” she said. Epic Exeo is a non-profit organization based out of Port McNeill that focuses on beach clean-ups along the north coast, where four of the containers were located on Oct. 29. Despite specializing in the area, Tapp said it took at least a week before she was asked to coordinate clean-ups in the Cape Scott area, south of Palmerston Beach and Raft Cove, which were executed by volunteers. Contractors hired by the ship’s owner to organize beach clean-ups were not local and were unfamiliar with the geography of the area, said Alys Hoyland, Surfrider Pacific Rim beach clean coordinator. “It was more than a week before any kind of clean-up effort started,” she said. “And the longer it took for the clean-up to start, the worse it got.” Currently, the delegation of authority falls in the lap of the shipping company, who doesn’t have local ties to the area, said Courtenay-Alberni MP Gord Johns. Johns said he tried to reach out to Fisheries Minister Joyce Murray to help “provide guidance and connections to coastal communities and resources to help with the clean-up,” but she never responded. Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council (NTC) President Judith Sayers raised similar concerns over the lack of communication with the 14 Nuu-chah-nulth nations along the coast who may be impacted by the

Photo by Melissa Renwick

In late October debris was scattered over a beach near Raft Cove, south of Cape Scott on Vancouver Island’s west coast. More than two months later, debris is still being found on the remote beach. spill for years to come. started washing up near Tofino in Flor“The ongoing incident involving the encia Bay and in the Hesquiaht Harbour. container ship Zim Kingston has brought She hasn’t received any further reports of to light numerous shortcomings in the container debris in Clayoquot or Barkley overall marine emergency response Sound, but said “there’s quite a bit being capacity for the west coast of Vancouver reported up in Haida Gwaii.” Island,” Sayers wrote in a letter addressed According to Ray Williams of the to to Transport Minister Omar Alghabra in Mowachaht/Muchalaht First Nation, large mid-November after the incident occhunks of Styrofoam began populating curred Oct. 22. the beaches around Yuquot in December. Hazardous chemicals are in at least two The problem has persisted, said Williams, of the 105 missing 40-foot containers. who worries about the fish as the material Other contents include Christmas decora- breaks down into small pellets. tions, metal car parts, clothing, toys, as Nicole Gervais also reported that chunks well as industrial parts. of Styrofoam started washing ashore on In early-December, Hoyland said grey the northern end of Long Beach, near the rubber mats linked to the cargo spill Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation community of Esowista, in early-December. Unlike the Styrofoam used for docking floats, Gervais’ daughter, Gisele Martin, said the pieces that littered the high-tide line all the way to Schooner Cove had edges carved into them. It’s packing material, she suggested. But without any way of tracking the Styrofoam, there’s no way of knowing where it came from. In response to Gervais’ report, Surfrider Pacific Rim organized a beach clean along the Esowista Peninsula and Combers Beach, where Hoyland said they removed a metal barrel, a large plastic buoy, a tire, a section of a boat, plastic fragments, as well as single-use items such as plastic bottles, aluminum cans, and plastic packaging. Beach clean-up organizations have not been given the full manifest, which identifies the contents of the overboard containers. Without it, Hoyland said it’ll be “incredibly hard” to prove the extent of the spread, or to hold the ship’s owner accountable. The coast guard said it is “not at liberty” to share the manifest because they don’t own the document, but that debris from the Zim Kingston is “distinct from regular marine debris.” “Typical marine debris tends to be plastic water bottles, fishing rope and nets, microplastics and hard plastic floats,” the coast guard said. “Debris from the Zim Kingston continues to be the same type of material that was originally seen

in November [and] December, including Christmas decorations, clothing, toys, gym mats, boots and shoes, refrigerator parts, and other everyday items.” It is required by law for the polluter to pay for any cleanup activities to the “satisfaction of the Government of Canada,” the coast guard said. As of early December, the coast guard said around 47,650 kilograms of debris had been removed from the beaches along the northern coast of Vancouver Island. By mid-December, the coast guard said the beaches where debris was reported were “considered to be clean.” Tapp returned to Cape Palmerston and Grant Bay on Dec. 14 and found a pink blow-up unicorn, baby oil containers, cologne bottles, Paw Patrol bike helmets with zip ties still attached, as well as intact Styrofoam and bubble wrap in the area south of Cape Scott. “[The government’s] definition of clean is completely different from ours,” she said. “You can’t just go and clean a beach and then wipe your hands of it. [Debris] keeps coming back.” Tapp said she made reports of her findings to the coast guard but “nothing has come of that.” Instead, she was asked to file future reports through their 1-800 number. The recent heavy snowfall has made it impossible for Tapp to return to the area since, but she’s gearing up to head back to Cape Palmerston on Feb. 12. No one has reached out to Tapp since she was originally contacted in earlyNovember. “We’re already past mid-January … and I’ve had nobody tell me any kind of plan as to what they’re going to do to move forward,” she said. “I’ve had no one reach out and ask if I’ve been out there again.” Every few months, the coast guard said the ship’s owner will check the known accumulation sites for debris “likely to be from the Zim Kingston.” “The Canadian Coast Guard will also monitor for debris when conducting overflights in the west coast Vancouver Island area and any reported debris believed to be from the Zim Kingston will be followed up on,” the coast guard added. Given that debris remained on the beaches after they were declared “clean,” Tapp said “I’d really love to know what their definition of ‘monitor the beaches’ actually is.” The coast guard said they continue to work with the ship’s owner to create a plan to conduct a sonar scan of the area where the containers went overboard, as well as an assessment of risk that the overboard containers could pose to the environment. “The vessel owner has hired a contractor to conduct the scan but they need to wait for an appropriate weather window to complete the work,” the coast guard said. Tapp said the weather likely isn’t going to change for another few months. “By then, I worry that if they’re finding shipping containers that are close to shore they’re going to be breaking open,” she said. Looking ahead, Tapp said she suspects the debris will likely become the responsibility of the coastal communities of where it washes ashore. “It’s going to add into our regular beach cleaning at this point,” she said. “That’s not what I want, but I can’t just leave it and we have to continue on.”


Page 8— Ha-Shilth-Sa— January 27, 2022

‘Like a pack of wolves’: Orca sighting indicates health of pop

While the endangered Southern Residents have grabbed headlines and driven government policy in recent years, two other ecoty By Eric Plummer Ha-Shilth-Sa Editor Yuquot, BC - The waters around Yuquot were teeming with life on Tuesday, Jan. 18, as residents Ray and Darrell Williams spotted about 100 eagles eyeing salmon, sea lions, humpback whales and a group of orcas with a newborn riding on one of their backs. “On the back beach we were with them for quite a while,” said Ray of the boat trip he took with his son, when they spotted a group of half a dozen killer whales. “When we got back out again, they were in front of the cove.” Some of the orcas were small, with a tiny one having a yellowish colour as it rode on the back of another killer whale. Based on Ray’s description it sounds like this is a newborn, said Gary Sutton, a whale research technician at Ocean Wise in Vancouver. “It’s got a yellowish or pinkish hue when they’re really, really young, in the first six months or so,” he said. Three types of killer whales traverse the West Coast’s waters: Northern Residents, the endangered Southern Residents and Bigg’s, or transient orcas. Northern and Southern residents feed on salmon, particularly chinook, while the Bigg’s hunts marine mammals, such as seals, sea lions and porpoises. The three ecotypes are not known to interbreed.

Steady population growth Ray and Darrell most likely spotted Bigg’s orcas, due to the size of the group that passed by their Nootka Island home. Northern and Southern residents usually travel in larger pods than the transient killer whales. “Most of the time these days when you’re seeing newborn killer whales, they’re usually Bigg’s,” noted Sutton. “It’s because that population, over the last decade, it’s been growing at an annual rate of just over four per cent.” This growth has occurred despite the ongoing threats of ocean contaminants that pass up the food chain to killer whales, as well as disruptions from vessel traffic. The population of Bigg’s orcas has grown to approximately 380 that travel throughout the B.C. coast, plus an unknown number of transients that can be found offshore, said Sutton. “They have become very common,”

Photo by DFO

Killer whales are at the top of the food chain in the Pacific, leading some to consider them the lions or tigers of the sea. observed Thomas Doniol-Valcroze, head of the cetacean research program with Fisheries and Oceans Canada. “We know that there’s hundreds and they have been increasing at the maximum possible rate for that species.” Meanwhile the number of Southern Resident killer whales has dropped to a near 30year low of 73 or 74, compared to when 95 migrated between southeastern Alaska and Washington State in 1995. The current state of this type of orca has grabbed headlines in recent years and pushed government

policy, resulting in fisheries closures in the Juan de Fuca Strait and Swiftsure Bank south of Barkley Sound. As executive director of the Georgia Strait Alliance, Christianne Wilhelmson closely watches the plight of this endangered orca. “The threats that Southern Residents encounter transients don’t,” she said. “The majority of sightings in the Salish Sea are not Southern Residents.”

The benefits of eating seals The disparity between the population health of the two types of killer whales is

Photo by US Forestry Service Alaska

A killer whale jumps from Alaskan waters. The animals have a large range, travelling Washington State to southeastern Alaska.

believed to be due to food availability. “Killer whales have no natural predators. In that sense they’re like tigers or lions,” said Doniol-Valcroze. “The only thing that controls the population is access to food.” Southern Residents rely on salmon, particularly chinook, a fish that has seen some stocks approach extinction in recent years. But Bigg’s killer whales mainly hunt seals and sea lions, animals that have grown to stable population levels. Sutton said this growth began in the 1970s when a government-mandated seal cull stopped. “They were thought to be part of the reason why the salmon were decreasing,” he explained. “In the ‘60s there were bounties on seals’ heads. You could kill one and get rewarded for it.” But the pinnipeds rebounded, and by 1995 the West Coast harbour seal population


January 27, 2022—Ha-Shilth-Sa—Page 9

health of populations that pass Vancouver Island’s northwest ears, two other ecotypes of killer whales that travel waters off the West Coast have seen a steady growth since the early 1970s

Photo by DFO

d availability. natural predators. tigers or lions,” The only thing that s access to food.” y on salmon, parthat has seen some on in recent years. mainly hunt seals at have grown to

began in the 1970s ndated seal cull

be part of the reae decreasing,” he here were bounties ld kill one and get

unded, and by 1995 seal population

grew to about 105,000, a level that has remained stable since. “The Bigg’s killer whale population has been recovering along with these seals and keeping them in check in this ecological equilibrium,” added Sutton. Interference from vessels is also considered a factor in the ability of orcas to get their food. Killer whales use a natural form of sonar, making them particularly vulnerable to sudden disturbances in the environment caused by large boats, stressed Wilhelmson. “There is some research that shows even a kilometre away, noise from boats can change behaviour in orcas,” she said. “They could be in the middle of a foraging episode, and if a boat comes too close the foraging stops. That’s hugely problematic for a species that’s struggling to get enough food as it is. When boats and ships are changing their habitat and impeding their ability to communicate with each other and feed, that is a big threat.” But the various ecotypes are affected by vessel traffic differently, which might help to explain the differences in population health. While Southern and Northern Residents eco-locate and make noise all of the time to find fish, Bigg’s killer whales also rely on communication with others in the group. “That means that Bigg’s killer whales are a lot more silent,” said DoniolValcroze, adding that the transients are likely less sensitive to disruptions from vessel noise. “They need to coordinate, they need to speak to one another because they usually hunt as group like a pack of wolves.” “For a Bigg’s killer whale…they miss out on a seal because they couldn’t hear it over this container ship, they’re going to find another one about 100 metres down the road,” noted Sutton. “Whereas a resident killer whale could find a big juicy chinook and miss out on it because of an acoustic disturbance - that could be the difference between life and death for that animal.”

Toxins going up the food chain In recent weeks coastal residents have found an increase in man-made debris wash up on their shores – leaving some to wonder if any of this trash came from the 105 shipping containers that went missing from the MV Kingston near Victoria in late October. The presence of synthetic material on the ocean is an ongoing concern, as products like Styrofoam and plastic bottles continue to break down to a microscopic size, allowing it to be ingested by small organisms and make its way up the food

Photos by Miles Ritter

In 2009 this Southern Resident calf was photographed (top), a rare sight these days considering the ecotype’s endangered status. chain. “It becomes part of the zooplankton and then part of the salmon and then part of the whales,” said Wilhelmson. “Then you have the breakdown of those chemicals in their bodies, which impacts their ability to fight disease, their endocrine systems…the females pass it on to their babies.” The toxins are transferred from mother orcas to their young, an environmental hazard that some believe contributes to the fact that only about half of newborn orcas will survive. Bigg’s calves have a slightly higher survival rate than their Southern Resident counterparts, a phenomenon that Sutton believes is due to how the toxins can be stored in the animal’s fat. “If you’re a nice, fat, healthy whale like a Bigg’s killer whale, these toxins are stuck in your fat, it gives you an advantage because you’re not breaking those down,” he explained, noting that the result is different for the leaner Southern Residents. “They’re breaking down their fats using their fat stores, and these chemicals get introduced

into their bloodstreams and affect reproductive system, immune system.”

A fluid species with a flexible diet While it appears to be most likely that the orcas Ray and Darrell Williams spotted are from the growing Bigg’s population, Doniol-Valcroze believes they could also be Northern Residents, another type of killer whale that has seen healthy population growth in recent years. Since the early 1970s Fisheries and Oceans Canada has performed a census of the animals, showing a steady growth among all three Northern Resident clans to 325 in 2020 – an increase of almost four per cent from the previous year. Unlike the Southern Residents, the Northern orcas have been known to break off to travel in smaller groups. “It can be anywhere from two to three, to eight, nine, 10 - and sometimes these groups will meet with other groups and create bigger encounters,” said DoniolValcroze. “It’s quite fluid.” Although they also seek out chinook

salmon, the Northern Residents appear to be less particular in their diet than the Southern orcas, eating other kinds of salmon and even black cod. “Their range is larger and occupies most of northern B.C.,” said Doniol-Valcroze. “It could be that they have access to a wider number of salmon runs and salmon populations that gives them a little bit more flexibility. And it could be that they have a slightly more flexible diet too.” The continued growth of the three North Resident clans has made the west coast of Vancouver Island a necessary region for Canada’s federal fisheries department to survey, as sightings of the ecotype become more frequent. Whatever type the orcas belonged to, the recent sighting provided an opportunity Ray Williams hasn’t encountered in many years over his life on Nootka Island’s coast. “We haven’t seen that many orcas in a long time,” Ray recounted. “When we did see 30, 40 orcas, it was 40 years ago, but they were all big ones. I’ve never seen a whole bunch of young ones in a bunch.”


Page 10— Ha-Shilth-Sa— January 27, 2022

Model agency strives to broaden media depictions Hupacasath man joins Canada’s first all-Indigenous model agency, countering tokenism and misrepresentation By Melissa Renwick Local Journalism Initiative Reporter Port Alberni, BC - Ricky-Lee Watts struggled with his confidence as a boy growing up in the small, coastal town of Port Alberni. Like most teenagers, he was desperate to fit in and pretended the racial slurs his peers regularly used in conversation didn’t impact him. “Folks would reject my identity as a Nuu-chah-nulth Indigenous First Nations person, and all that pressure, or the influence of my environment, caused me to reject a part of myself,” Watts said. “It hindered my ability to have a voice.” Nowhere in mainstream media could he see himself reflected. The closest character he recalls relating to was Blade, who is half-vampire and half-human. “I identify with someone who is walking in two worlds,” he said. Instead, Watts described the media portraying Indigenous peoples as povertystricken drunks “without any value.” “And that’s also what I heard from my peers,” he said. “There were no positive stories or examples I gathered from school that spoke to the strengths, or the wonder and beauty of Indigenous perspectives.” A lot has changed for the now 28-yearold, who recently landed a contract with Supernaturals Modelling – Canada’s first all-Indigenous modeling agency. Watts uses modeling as a way to speak for his younger self by harnessing his Nuu-chah-nulth identity. “I strive to be the role model I needed when I was younger,” he said. “It’s so important for young people to feel that sense of belonging, connection, and possibility.” Supernaturals Modelling was launched less than a year ago by Joleen Mitton, a renowned Cree model and founder of Vancouver Indigenous Fashion Week, and Patrick Shannon, a Haida photographer and filmmaker. The agency was formed in response to persisting issues about the misrepresentation and “tokenism” of Indigenous peoples within the media, entertainment and fashion industries, described Shannon.

Photo submitted by Supernaturals Modelling

Ricky-Lee Watts is being represented by the Vancouver-based Supernaturals Modelling. “There’s few opportunities for us because it hasn’t been normalized for us to be seen as normal people,” said Shannon. “We’re always romanticized, if we aren’t being vilified.” The co-founders advocate for their models by thoroughly vetting their clients, turning down big names such as the Hudson’s Bay Company, whose beginnings are tied to the exploitation of Indigenous communities. “Many of our models are from remote communities, and a lot of our models are former youth-in-care, Sixties Scoop

descendants, descendants of residential school survivors, and Millennial Scoop [survivors],” said Shannon. “A lot of our models were taken away from their families and stripped away from their culture.” Those specific histories need to be considered and advocated for, he said. Indigenous peoples are more than background characters or a device for Leonardo DiCaprio, Shannon added. When Watts was only 13 years old, he lost his father. In the two subsequent years, both his uncle and grandmother

passed away. In a way, he said, he also lost his mother who coped with her traumas by turning to alcohol. “[Supernaturals] isn’t an agency of strangers,” said Watts. “It’s a community and family – we’re all working towards a similar vision and have similar stories.” Since Supernaturals launched last spring, Shannon said they’ve received nearly one thousand model applications from across North America, and several thousand more messages from Indigenous people saying “they’re seeing themselves for the first time.” Similar to Watts, Shannon said that outside of “cowboy and Indian movies,” the only other time he saw Indigenous peoples on TV while growing up was in the news. The stories were limited to Indigenous people protesting, or being shot by white men, he said. “When those are almost exclusively the narratives that you’re raised with, it does something to you,” said Shannon. “It really hits your confidence and doesn’t make you feel like you can succeed.” Supernaturals is helping to reshape that narrative by elevating Indigenous voices. By supporting their models spiritually, physically and mentally, Shannon said he hopes to equip them with the tools they need to feel more comfortable stepping into an industry that can be hostile and discriminatory. “Every single Indigenous person that we work with has the potential to really succeed and thrive,” he said. “But just like anyone, we need our supports – we need our communities. And for a lot of our models, Supernaturals is their only one.” Watts recently returned from a modeling trip to London, England where he served looks for Specsavers, a multinational optical retail chain. He’s not sure where modeling will take him next, but is comforted knowing that young people might see themselves in him and feel like “they’re part of the fabric of the world.” “I’m honouring [my parents], as well as my ancestors by making the most out of this life I’ve been gifted,” he said. “And part of that is challenging myself to stretch what I believe is possible, to experience new things and enjoy the splendour of life.”

Phrase of the week: %uh=%uk%itniš%a> %aa%iic^um h=aah=uupa +a@ikh=sa Pronounced Oohr it ish alth ahhichjum haa hoopa tlaah hirk nah ahh tuuput him wits sa qwa a ugh ee alth tiic, it means ‘Our Elders used to teach our young people life stories, to teach them how to live their lives’. Supplied by ciisma.

Illustration by Ivy Cargill-Martin


January 27, 2022—Ha-Shilth-Sa—Page 11

DFO backs away from spot prawn restrictions Decision brings relief to small-boat harvesters, who faced large equipment investments to stay in the industry By Mike Youds Ha-Shilth-Sa Contributor DFO has reversed a widely criticized spot prawn management regulation, a decision seen as a major victory for harvesters, coastal communities and all who appreciate the seafood delicacy. Spot prawn fishermen, including many in Nuu-chah-nulth waters, will be able to continue the customary practice of “tubbing” their catch at sea for the next year or two, a DFO concession that has many heaving a sigh of relief. “I think we’re all relieved,” said Courtenay-Alberni MP Gord Johns, who was NDP fisheries critic when the regulations were first proposed and continues as deputy fisheries critic. Fisheries Minister Joyce Murray released a draft of the 2022-2023 prawn and shrimp trap management plan Jan. 17, allowing 30 days for consultation. “Through our consultations, we heard the need for predictability and were able to reach a workable proposal that provides the industry certainty, while ensuring the fishery’s long-term sustainability,” Murray said. Last winter, ahead of the 2021 season, the department announced sale of spot prawns frozen in brine would no longer be permitted in order for on-board inspectors to measure catches for size compliance and ensure stock conservation. The restriction would have effectively killed the small-boat fishery in favour of larger company vessels equipped with flashfreeze equipment. “The phone was ringing off the hook throughout the riding and throughout the coast,” said Johns. All five T’aaq-wiihak nations fish for Pacific prawn. Three Nuu-chah-nulth nations (Ahousaht, Huu-ay-aht and Tseshaht) hold communal licences for catching prawns commercially. Titimakai (prawn and shrimp) are an important part of the nations’ collective vision for

Photo submittedby Uu-a-thluk

Freshly caught titimakai, or spot prawns. About one-quarter of commercial prawn and shrimp trap licences are held by First Nations along the coast. community-based commercial fisheries. The first T’aaq-wiihak commercial prawn fishery was held in 2019. DFO went back to the drawing board and in December 2021 released a revised version of the regulations considered no more workable than before. That proposal would have required use of 237-millilitre (eight-ounce) tubs in place of 710 ml (24-ounce) containers, driving up costs and plastic use. Again, the department insisted the size change would make it easier for inspectors to measure prawn tails. “It was just one bad idea after another,” Johns said. “In terms of trust and credibility, this hurt the department significantly.” Participation in B.C.’s prawn trap fishery has grown over the years and so has the market, enabling those who harvest multiple species to offset declines in salmon and herring opportunities. The prawn fishery alone is the fifth largest commercial fishery on the B.C. coast and is worth about $35 million annually. A

lull in the Japanese export market over the past two years due to the pandemic had harvesters selling more to local customers. Conservation was not at issue for the fishery, Johns said. Coast-wide, the fishery averaged only two violations per year, he noted. Spot prawns are classified biologically as “protandrous hermaphrodites,” starting life as males and transforming into females halfway through a four-year life cycle. The percentage of females available for spawning is the main factor in determining catch. Catch success varies from season to season with no average condition of abundance. Fisheries are closed when the number of spawning prawns reaches a pre-determined level. The fishery is ranked one of the more sustainable on the West Coast, recognized as a responsible consumer choice by the David Suzuki Foundation’s Seachoice program, Vancouver Aquarium’s Ocean Wise Program and Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch. Populations are considered healthy and the fishery has a low bycatch of other species. “It wasn’t about conservation; it was overreach locally by government. It would have basically wiped out rural fisheries, principally First Nations,” Johns said. Through the federal government’s allocation transfer program and the Pacific Integrated Commercial Fishery Initiative,

commercial licence eligibilities from fish harvesters were relinquished on a voluntary basis and re-issued to First Nation organizations as communal commercial licences. Currently, about one-quarter of commercial prawn and shrimp trap licences are held by First Nations along the coast. A total of 253 prawn licences are issued, each one allowed 300 traps per boat. Elmer Frank of Tla-oqui-aht First Nation has harvested prawns for the last three years. He may not have been able to continue had the proposed restrictions gone ahead. “It would have pretty much squeezed me out of the industry,” Frank said. “First of all, I don’t have the freezing equipment.” He estimates it would have required an investment of $20,000 to $25,000 for a fishboat flash freezer unit and other modifications, or purchase of a different boat. The First Nation’s commercial fishery began in 2019 with just 300 traps divided by three fishboats, Frank said. “It started off small,” he said. “That was another decision based on a lack of consultation.” Ultimately, they won out, convincing DFO to allow 300 traps per boat, the same rule applied to others in the commercial fishery. As it stands, Frank can start planning and readying his traps for the season, which takes place between May and July. “Yes, I’m absolutely relieved that they’ve changed it,” he said. For the 2023 season, DFO plans to update licence conditions for the commercial prawn fishery to include requirements for the use of transparent packaging and a maximum packaging volume of up to 710 ml – a size commonly used by industry– for packaging frozen prawn tails in liquid on-board vessels. Again, the regulation is designed to support fishery officers’ ability to readily determine species, number, weight and size of catch. The whole controversy was an unnecessary stressor for an already stressed industry and points to the need for DFO to rethink its approach to management decisions, Johns said. “They really do need to focus on the serious issues right now that are facing the department. They need to work much closer with coastal communities and fishery managers,” he said.

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 kelda.blackstone@nuuchahnulth.org or 250-724-5757 ext. 235 for more information.


Page 12— Ha-Shilth-Sa— January 27, 2022

President’s message to Nuu-chah-nulth-aht Hello Everyone. Hoping this new year that started with the Winter Solstice in December is treating you well. Much has already happened and again I send condolences to the loss of loved ones in our communities. The new variant they called Omicron is spreading all over our communities and I hope those of you who can, will get immunized including the booster. Our NTC nurses have been very busy holding clinics to get you immunized. Please be careful and keep wearing masks and social distancing. Doctors are saying that we are not yet at the peak of this wave of people with COVID and many are ending up in hospitals. Hospitals are reaching capacity if they haven’t already and many surgeries have been cancelled due to overcrowding. There has been much research done on the immunizations and conclusions are that it does not alter your DNA or stop women from getting pregnant. In fact women who are pregnant who get the immunizations are passing this immunity onto those babies. Take care of yourselves and your families. The past few months have included flooding, closures of highways due to flooding, atmospheric rivers of rain, snow in large amounts we are not used to, and I know our nations have been struggling to prevent flooding and dealing with snow. This week Ucluth has been without drinking water due to the breaking of the water line going into the community. Thoughts are that possibly the underwater earthquake in Tonga that sent tsunami waves to our coast could have loosened the fixtures that kept the pipe secured to the ocean floor. The pipe was floating when the barge ran into it and broke it. Our hearts and prayers are with Ucluth and all their people as they deal with bottled water and not running water. At the end of 2021, Canada and the AFN and the Child Caring Society announced they had reached agreements in principle to settle long-term reform on children and families and implementation of Jordan’s principle. Another agreement was reached on the compensation for children (and their families) unnecessarily taken into care from April 1991 March 31, 2022. These agreements are in principle, non-binding and hoping to be completed by March 31, 2022. The next step is for Canada and the parties to finalize the agreements. The non-binding agreement sets aside $20 billion for compensation and $20 billion for long-term reform of the onreserve child welfare system. The $20 billion dedicated to long-term reform of the child welfare system will be distributed over a period of five years. Compensation will be made available to First Nations children on-reserve and in the Yukon who were removed from their homes between April 1, 1991 and March 31, 2022. Compensation will also be made available to those affected by what the government called its “narrow definition” of Jordan’s Principle, used between December 12, 2007 and November 2, 2017. Compensation is also being extended to children who did not receive an essential public service or faced delays in accessing such services between April 1, 1991 and December 11, 2007. The federal government is to give $2,500 annually over five years to each member of all 630 First Nations for various services to prevent child apprehen-

sions, such as mental health and cultural supports, and to address multi-generational trauma lingering from residential schools and the on-reserve child welfare system. The money is to be given to their agencies, not to the individuals themselves. AFN, the Government of Canada and others will work toward a full compensation package in a final settlement agreement. The final settlement agreement will contain provisions on eligibility for compensation and the application process. We have not yet seen the AIPs and only have the information provided here. It is important for us to see these agreements so we can recommend changes as we see necessary for Nuu-chah-nulth people. I will update you as I find out more information on this. I have had meetings with many government officials. We had the annual Cabinet-First Nations leadership gathering. The vice-president and I met with the Attorney General David Eby to discuss justice and housing issues. We met Minister Dix on health issues. Met with the deputy minister on energy to lobby for more economic opportunities for our nations to sell power to the grid. The intention is also to revamp their integrated resource plan for the needs of electricity projects over the next 20 years to line up with their Clean BC Roadmap to 2030. It must reflect the electrification of B.C. in the future to get off non-renewable resources. We have to reduce more Greenhouse gases as soon as possible to try and slow down climate change. Had a meeting with the fisheries minister hoping we could conclude negotiations on the Marine Protected Area off Vancouver Island, but the Minister does not think she can because she says it is “international waters” and only Canada can make decisions on the area. First Nations would only “fetter” their decision making ability. Nuu-chah-nulth, Haida, Quatsino and Pacheedaht have been negotiating in good faith for several years now and to not have the new fisheries minister in sync with protection of this area that includes First Nations in their own ocean territories is a big step back. I also had a meeting with new RCMP Deputy Commissioner Dwayne McDonald and head of Vancouver Island Bruce Kirkpatrick and Indigenous policing John Brewer and Dee Stewart. It was to meet one another and introduce ourselves and to talk about our issues with policing and how we are working to conclude an MOU on how to work together. It has been a busy month and look forward to reporting more in the next month. ~ Cloy-e-iis, Judith Sayers

Photo submitted by Crystal Watts

A video shared online by Crystal Watts shows her truck driving through a flooded road to the Nitinaht Lake community on Jan. 12.

Ditidaht mother braves flooded road to get home By Denise Titian Ha-Shilth-Sa Reporter Nitinaht Lake, BC – It isn’t the first time, and it certainly won’t be the last, but residents of Nitinaht Lake face flooded road access to their community more often thanks to heavy snowfall and a trio of atmospheric weather events so far this winter. Nitinaht resident and mother of four, Crystal Watts, came home on the evening of Jan. 11 to find the road leading into the community flooded. Just after midnight on Jan. 12 she posted a video of her frightening ride through the flooded section of road. Terrified, Watts, was grateful that Matthew Edgar of the Ditidaht First Nation’s public works department came through the flooded road to guide people back to the village. “When I went through that flood, I was trying not to panic and stress,” Watts told Ha-Shilth-Sa. “I was so grateful Matthew helped guide me and my daughter through and encouraged me that we can do it.” “I could have probably reached that water with my hands from my window,” Watts, who drives a pick-up truck, recalled. She thanks Edgar for his help. “I appreciate Matthew for always being there to make sure our community members are cared for,” she added. Elected Chief Brian Tate says the floods have since subsided, but they know that, come the next rainstorm, it will flood again. There is a back access road to the village, but locals say it is not always open. Sometimes the forestry company locks the gates or downed trees block the road. The lack of reliable access worries Watts. “It’s scary knowing that we have elders and people who are high risk living here in our community. What if something were to happen when we have zero access in and out?” she asked. Watts says she is a single mother of four children, and some have asthma. “Now with COVID, that’s even more scary and urgent more than ever to be able to access medical services,” she added. The storms not only bring flooding, but also prolonged power failures due to the community’s remote location.

“We need that road not only for medical services, but we need it for food,” said Watts. It is becoming increasingly common for locals to be stranded for days without electricity or access in and out of the village. “Many of our members lose a lot of our traditional foods we have stocked away in our freezers,” said Watts, adding that it is hard to live at home. “You have to really love home and what you do for your people to endure the living conditions that we have here.” Watts is happy to work for her people, but she says it would be so much better if their road could be improved for the safety and well-being of her people. Watts points out that her words are not meant to criticize the Ditidaht First Nation’s chief and council – she is aware that road safety has been an issue for years and that the elected members have been working to find solutions. She worries that something terrible may happen before government finally takes action. She recalls the 2019 bus accident in which 45 University of Victoria students and staff rolled down an embankment on their way to Bamfield, in which two students lost their lives. “That wasn’t the first time that road has taken a life,” Watts noted. “If it’s one of us, nobody cares…we need people to care now and to care for everyone. Not wait for a non-member to get hurt before the government sees how dangerous our road access is,” Watts stated. “We need to be able to have access for emergency services to make it our way.” Chief Brian Tate told Ha-Shilth-Sa that his nation is working on a solution. “The roads are being graded, but (have) not reached our community yet,” he told Ha-Shilth-Sa. “As for possible upgrades, there are plans to create a side road that goes around the flooded area.” Watts said more than half a dozen local vehicles needed to be guided through the flooded section of road just outside of the village on the weekend of Jan. 12. It was impossible for smaller cars to get through until the flood waters subsided. “When I had to go through that flood to get back home to my children, I was terrified and wanted to cry,” Watts remembered. “As soon as I got home, I ran to my mom who lives next door, gave her a big hug and cried. I was that scared.”


January 27, 2022—Ha-Shilth-Sa—Page 13

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

More job postings at www.hashilthsa.com Correc•on In the Jan. 13, 2022 edi•on of Ha-Shilth-Sa, the page 14 ar•cle Squad s•ll eager to play at delayed All Na•ve Tourney noted that the Hesquiaht Descendants women’s basketball team have prac•ced with the all-female AV Thunder. The AV Thunder are, in fact, a men’s team, coached by Kevin Ti•an Sr. We apologize for any confusion this generated.

Position: Cost Accountant UTG is seeking a friendly and energetic individual to become part of the Finance Department team as a Cost Accountant. These duties include the development of a robust asset management plan to improve outcomes from investments in fleet, housing, buildings, and real property as well as maintaining books of accounts for multiple business entities and generating special reports to support management decision making.

Qualifications and Experience: • Completion or near completion of a recognized accounting program. • Minimum of 3 years relevant experience. • Full cycle accounting experience. • Demonstrated proficiency in Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, Outlook). • Ability to work as part of a team. Interested applicants are strongly encouraged to obtain a copy of the complete job description by contacting Lysa Ray, Executive Assistant, at lysa.ray@ uchucklesaht.ca Please submit a resume and cover letter no later than 4:30 pm on Feb 25, 2022 to: Attention: Lysa Ray, Executive Assistant In person/by mail: 5251 Argyle Street, Port Alberni, B.C. V9Y 1V1 Emailed to: Lysa.Ray@Uchucklesaht.ca (MS Word or PDF documents) We thank you for your interest, however, only candidates selected for an interview will be contacted.


Page 14— Ha-Shilth-Sa— January 27, 2022

Cellular service coming to Highway 4 dead zone Six towers being built for service from Sproat Lake to Ucluelet, with plans for improvements along Long Beach By Melissa Renwick Local Journalism Initiative Reporter The critical highway between Port Alberni and Tofino currently has limited cellular service, leaving travelers and commuters without any way of contacting family, friends or emergency services in the event of an accident. That’s about to change, as Rogers announced it will be expanding its coverage along the 85-kilometre stretch of highway by building six new cellular towers, and upgrading two existing towers between the coastal communities. The estimated $8-million project is expected to provide universal coverage between Port Alberni and Ucluelet, said Warren Fletcher, Access Networks (West) vice president. Plans are also underway to strengthen the spotty coverage between Ucluelet and Tofino if another tower permit for the area can proceed. “As evidenced during the recent B.C. flooding, the ability to make a call from your car, or to use GPS for directions, can be the difference between life and death,” Fletcher said. “This is especially true at night and during bad weather.” B.C. Citizens Services Minister Lisa Beare said the increased cell coverage will “significantly boost” the safety of people commuting along the winding stretch of Highway 4. “It’s great news,” said Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation Tribal Administrator Jim Chisholm. “An awful lot of our members travel that road for shopping, doctor’s appointments and medical services.” Right now, Chisholm said there’s

Photo by Melissa Renwick

Rogers has announced plans to build cellular towers along the section of Highway 4 that leads to west coast communities, filling a gap in cell coverage that often last for more than an hour along the route. Pictured is Highway 4 by Kennedy Lake. roughly one and a half hours of dead cell coverage along highways 14, 16, 95 and Chisholm said that not only will the service between the Tla-o-qui-aht com97. project improve safety, but convenience. munities of Ty-Histanis and Esowista and “For people traveling between Tofino With unexpected delays and road cloPort Alberni. and Port Alberni, whether they’re locals, sures at the Kennedy Hill construction “If people have breakdowns, or need people visiting family, or those here site, Chisholm said that Tla-o-qui-aht to communicate, they’re unable to do to enjoy the beauty of the West Coast, members often get stuck and miss apthat,” he said. “This is going to be a huge Highway 4 can be cause for concern,” pointments or meetings. improvement for our members.” said Josie Osborne, MLA for Mid Island“Our people deal with these things on Partnering with the province through the Pacific Rim. a constant basis, so we’re excited about Connecting British Columbia program, Osborne said the province has been [the announcement],” he said. Rogers said it aims to bring “world-class working to improve safety conditions A rollout plan has yet to be released, but connectivity to rural, remote and Indigalong the highway through the Kennedy Fletcher said the build may take anyenous communities across the country.” Hill Safety Improvement Project, and where from 18-months to a few years. The announcement was made in the that increased cellular coverage “means wake of Rogers committing to expanding people will be even safer.”

Province launches new Indigenous cannabis program By Sam Laskaris Ha-Shilth-Sa Contributor Victoria, BC – Provincial officials are lauding a new program that is geared at benefitting Indigenous cannabis producers in British Columbia. Though he believes the program can be viewed as a positive step, Ken Watts, the chief councillor of the Tseshaht First Nation, is still rather skeptical of how successful the B.C. Indigenous Cannabis Product (BCICP) program will be. The B.C. government announced it was launching the BCICP program on Jan. 18. The goal of the program is to put the spotlight on cannabis products. Those products, from British Columbia-based Indigenous producers, are in private retail stores, BC Cannabis Stores and also sold online. The hope of the new program is that cannabis users, who do make purchasing decisions, can more easily identify Indigenous products. The Tseshaht First Nation has owned Orange Bridge Cannabis, a dispensary located at 7583 Pacific Rim Highway in Port Alberni, for almost two years now. But the Nuu-chah-nulth First Nation does not cultivate its own cannabis products. Orange Bridge Cannabis, however, does sell other Indigenous-produced products. Watts believes some other First Nations could indeed end up benefitting from the province’s new BCICP program. But he feels that by launching a new Indigenousspotlighted program, B.C. officials are also doing some damage repair. “I think it is a sign of the province trying to repair a rollout that didn’t see a lot of success,” Watts said.

It has been legal to buy and sell cannabis products in British Columbia, and all of Canada, since 2018. Stores require provincial licenses to sell their wares. But Watts said black market and grey markets are still prevalent these days. “People are still growing and selling their own,” he said. As a result, Watts said many cannabis users continue to buy their products from their local dealers instead of visiting provincially-licensed stores. That in large part is because dealers can sell their products perhaps by as much as half the cost of what stores charge. “It’s not as successful as it should,” Watts said of the existing establishment of legal pot shops. “I think we’ve got a long way to go in Canada. I don’t want to just pick on B.C.” Watts said Orange Bridge Cannabis has had some mixed success since its opening. The facility has seen business increase throughout the summer months. “Over 1 million people drive through here to get to Tofino,” he said. Mike Farnworth, B.C.’s solicitor general who is also the minister of Public Safety, said the BCICP program will benefit Indigenous producers. “The launch of this new program demonstrates the province’s commitment to supporting Indigenous participation in B.C.’s cannabis sector,” Farnworth said. “With program registration opening, we look forward to seeing eligible products showcased in stores and online soon.” Selina Robinson, Minister of Finance, also believes the new program will be beneficial to Indigenous cannabis producers. “The legal cannabis sector in B.C. con-

Photo by Eric Plummer

The Tseshaht’s Orange Bridge Cannabis offers Indigenous-produced cannabis products, items that are soon be promoted in stores. Pictured are Manager Ron Kyle (centre), Assistant Manager Tammy Lucas and Tseshaht Chief Councillor Ken Watts when the store opened in September 2019. Those seeking to be part of the BCICP tinues to mature and the B.C. Indigenous program must already have appropriate Cannabis Product program is an imporand active cannabis licenses that have tant step to ensure Indigenous business been issued by Health Canada. owners are part of this growth and the And before applying to the BCICP proeconomic benefits,” she said. gram, products that wish to be included Robinson also believes the program is must be registered with the BC Liquor capable of having some non-business Distribution Branch. benefits as well. A program logo will be made available “Our commitment to a shared prosperso those keen on buying BCICP products ity with Indigenous Peoples is critical to will be easily able to identify them. the economic health of our province and Though Indigenous products part of to advancing lasting reconciliation,” she the BCICP program will be spotlighted, said. they are not guaranteed any special shelf The BCICP program is available to space in cannabis stores. And there is no federally licensed cannabis producers guarantee of how their sales will go. (either the cultivator or the processor) Private retailers, however, have no obthat have at least 51 per cent Indigenous ligation whatsoever to carry Indigenous ownership. cannabis products. The program will be In order to be eligible for the program, strictly on a voluntary basis. producers’ facilities must be located within British Columbia.


January 27, 2022—Ha-Shilth-Sa—Page 15

‘Spirit of the Wolf’: Elder reflects on time at Christie A sudden trip on a steamship led to the institution, but returning to Yuquot brought a lifetime of reconnection By Eric Plummer Ha-Shilth-Sa Editor Yuquot, BC - As a student at the Christie Indian Residential School, Ray Williams recalls the excitement of getting his monthly chocolate bar. He also remembers the joy of a film night in the institution. From the darkness of the girls’ gym, the flickering image acted as an introduction to the modern world for a child who had never seen a movie before. Such pleasures brought a critical light to the five-year-old’s world, after he had been taken from his Mowachaht village of Yuquot with other children. In 1946 hundreds still lived at the ancient settlement on Nootka Island, but when a steamship arrived one day to pick up the young ones an irreversible process was underway for the boy and his people. “While we were on that steamship, we didn’t know where we were going to,” recalls Williams. “The children were playing around on the deck, having fun, laughing, playing tag.”

No. 37 At the end of the journey lay Christie, a Catholic-run residential school on the shore of Meares Island, near Tofino. Williams’ boyhood Mowachaht name was discarded, as was his native tongue, and he became known as No. 37, learning to answer the brothers’ role-call each morning in Christie’s basement. To this day Williams dislikes the number. “It brings back terrible memories,” says Williams. “I knew it right away, because they told us it’s important to remember that number, we’ll be calling you by the number, not your name.” Within Christie’s walls the world took on a peculiar meaning. Williams recalls being led to believe the behaviour of the adults who ran the institution was normal – even if abuse went so far as sexual assault in the boys’ bathroom at the hands of two priests. “We all thought that was a normal thing for them to do to us,” he says. “I had actually seen one of the brothers doing that to a boy about my age in the bathroom. The bathroom was open…it had no door.” A bizarre series of other measures were imposed on the children, including some that still leave Williams wondering. “I got 30 shots on each arm, and 60 on the base of my spine. The needle holes are still there,” he recalls. “To this day, no one ever, ever told me what they were for.”

‘I feel the pain there again’ As it was the school’s responsibility to manage the grounds around Christie, children were often engaged in labour, like building roads. One accident at the age of 6 or 7 left a lifelong mark on Williams, when he was helping to move a trailer full of boulders up a hill. The rickety thing was being pulled by a tractor with the school’s maintenance worker at the wheel. “We just couldn’t get up the hill far enough to go over to the flat ground. He ordered some of us to help turn the wheel on the trailer,” Williams remembers. “Some of us were pushing from the back of the trailer, some of us were helping to turn the wheel to go up.” In the struggle the young boy stumbled, causing the back wheel of the trailer to run over his body. “I don’t remember when it rolled over,

National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation photo

Christie Indian Residential School (above) was run by the Catholic Church, operating on Meares Island 1900-1971. Ray Williams attended the school from 1946 to 1950, when he returned home to Yuquot to attend day school in an old church. I was already in shock,” says Williams. “It broke open two big cuts behind my knee, halfway up my ankle to my knee at the back of the leg, and it broke my right foot.” Two older boys, Earl Smith and Ralph Amos, carried the injured Williams to the school’s dormitory, where he would remain to heal. Medical treatment consisted of wrapping the broken limb in cloth. Despite never going to a hospital or seeing a doctor, the young boy healed, although he had to wear a shoe one size larger than the other to accommodate for the lump that resulted from his injury. As an adult while working as a logger he even stuffed one of his cork boots with cotton to accommodate. Now at the age of 80, Williams reflects on an active life. Yet as he looks over the bay from his Yuquot home, the elder has recently noticed the distinct pain from his early childhood return. “That lump that was on that broken foot, it slowly went down over time because of my age,” says Williams. “Now today I feel the pain there again.”

A change in trajectory The trajectory of his life was altered in 1950, when Williams and other children were sent back to their Yuquot home to attend an Indian day school that was to be run in the remote community. “Our school desks were the benches that were lined up in the church,” he says of this happy period. “We always looked forward to going to the lake over here. When I came home I was so happy, I wanted to run and jump into the lake, because that was our favourite playing grounds.” But as the nine-year-old reintegrated into his home, the mark of the residential school period remained evident. Williams was adept at handwriting, which he continues to use to this day, and spoke English to the other children. He recalls one boy laughing when Williams responded to Mowachaht in English. “I got kind of upset why he was laughing at me, talking English,” he says. But fluency in his ancestral language returned, as connection to his birthplace

fortified. At the age of 21 Ray married Terri, who had lived on Nootka Island for her whole life, thanks to her family hiding her in the woods as a child when the Indian agent arrived for a residential school collection. The memories from his early years at Christie festered for years, turning into disdain for the race of his oppressors that lasted well into adulthood. “For many, many, many years I just hated white people,” admits Williams. But over time this changed, thanks in a large part to an unexpected friendship with Bill Conconi, a Victoria-area teacher who started visiting Yuquot in 1975. “He came to me, about 40 years ago in a sailboat, and started talking to me about how I treated other white people,” says Williams. “He didn’t preach to me, he just talked to me. We talked about fishing, talked about hunting, about the things I wanted to talk about. A few years later it changed my thoughts about the white people. ‘Oh, they’re not all that bad,’ I said to myself after I met this man here.” The friendship matured, and two of Williams’ sons even lived with Conconi’s family for two years to attend Mount Douglas Secondary, where Conconi taught. Williams’ daughter stayed with

the Conconi’s for five years for her secondary schooling. “When the kids were staying here lots of times they were hiding in the driveway and they would surprise me,” recalls Conconi of coming home to the Williams teenagers. “I would go up there for the summer. Ray and I would go fishing, I’d make the coffee and he would drive the boat. We had a lot of fun with that.”

Ghoo-Noom-Tuk-Tomlth Although the Mowachaht/Muchalaht First Nation’s reserve community was moved to Gold River in 1967, the lure of new houses did not dissuade Ray and Terri, who kept their home in Yuquot for the nearly 60 years they were together. By the time Terri passed in September 2020, the family had been the only remaining household in the ancient village for many years. “We always told each other, ‘We belong here, we don’t belong elsewhere’,” says Ray. As a man, Ray took the name GhooNoom-Tuk-Tomlth. A far cry from No. 37, it means “Spirit of the Wolf” in Mowachaht. He even has it on his fishing licence. “It makes me proud of myself.”


Page 16— Ha-Shilth-Sa— January 27, 2022


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