Ha-Shilth-Sa Newspaper June 3, 2021

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INTERESTING NEWS Canada’s Oldest First Nations Newspaper - Serving Nuu-chah-nulth-aht since 1974 Canadian Publications Mail Product Vol. 48 - No. 11—June 3, 2021 haas^i>sa Sales Agreement No. 40047776

Photo by Eric Plummer

Two girls leave shoes on the Highway 4 bridge over the Somass River in Port Alberni on May 31, recognizing the recently discovered remains of 215 children who were buried at the former site of the Kamloops Indian Residential school. Vigils and gatherings are being held throughout B.C. to mark the news, Story on page 5.

No charges laid one year after Chantel Moore was shot News expected June 7 on possibility of changes, half a year after investigators’ recommendations sent to Crown By Denise Titian Ha-Shilth-Sa Reporter Edmundston, New Brunswick – It’s been nearly one year since the shooting death of Tla-o-qui-aht’s Chantel Moore during a wellness check in her Edmundston, NB apartment, and the family continues to wait for answers. Moore’s mother, Martha Martin, lives with her husband in Edmundston. The couple are raising their granddaughter, Gracie, who was the daughter of Chantel Moore. Born in Edmundston, Moore, age 26, lived most of her life on Vancouver Island and was a member of Tla-o-quiaht First Nation. A few months before her death, she returned to Edmundston to be closer to her mother and six-year-old daughter. In the weeks leading up to her death, Moore had moved into her own apartment. It was a second story walk-up behind a business front. In the early morning hours of June 4, 2020, Martha was woken from her sleep by a police officer knocking on her door. According to Martha, the lone police officer said he was looking for Chantel after receiving a call from the young woman’s

boyfriend. The boyfriend, who was in Montreal, is said to have told the police that he had been receiving troubling text messages from Chantel complaining that someone was bothering her and that she was scared. “He called New Brunswick police with his concerns and they went to Martha’s looking for her,” said Grace Frank, Martha’s mother. According to Martha, the Edmundston Police Force officer, whom she now knows was Jeremy Son, was performing a wellness check on Chantel. Chantel had just moved out of her mother’s home a few days before. Martha gave the officer her daughter’s new address – an apartment in downtown Edmundston, just a few minutes away. At nearly 3 a.m. police returned to Martha’s home, this time to deliver devastating news. They told Martha that her daughter had been shot and killed. “Around 2:30 a.m., the Edmundston Police Force received a request to check on the well-being of a woman at an apartment building on Hill Street in Edmundston. The responding police officer was confronted at the scene by a woman holding a knife who made threats,” reads a statement from the Edmundston Police

Inside this issue... Tla-o-qui-aht looks forward to reopening..................Page 3 Arrests continue at logging blockades....................Page 6-9 Students with learning barriers gain job skills.........Page 10 Stats show drug crisis deadlier for First Nations......Page 11 ‘Going the distance’ with a totem pole.....................Page 15

Force issued later that day. The family said she was shot five times. Within a few weeks, Const. Jeremy Son returned to work, having been placed on administrative leave. He remains on administrative duties pending a decision by the Public Prosecutions Services on whether to lay charges against him. The Bureau des enquêtes indépendantes was asked to investigate the incident since New Brunswick doesn’t have its own police watchdog agency. Its findings were completed late last year but were not released to the public. They were submitted to the Crown in December where they will be reviewed and prosecutors will decide whether or not to proceed with criminal charges against the officer. Tla-o-qui-aht Chief Councillor Moses Martin told Ha-Shilth-Sa that he expects to hear within the next few days what will happen with the case. “Whether or not he (Son) will be charged…probably not,” said Moses. Martha confirms that they are expecting news on June 7, when she will meet with Lawyer T.J. Burke, who is representing Moore’s family. Martha said these last few weeks have been absolutely chaotic. “I’ve been on phone all week,” she said.

Martha has spent the past year caring for her granddaughter Gracie, whom she says is traumatized by the loss of her mother and is need of constant reassurance. “She’s terrified of cops,” said Martha, adding that the child will visibly begin shaking, crouching down in her seat when she sees police officers. “I tell her that not all cops are bad.” Martin has also been working tirelessly advocating for justice not only for Chantel, but also for other Indigenous people across Canada. Following Chantel’s death, two other Tla-o-qui-aht people were shot by police. Julian Jones in February and Melinda Martin in May. Moses Martin stated that Melinda has had her spine operated on twice and remains in an induced coma. Martha has been helping to organize yellow shirt and dress campaigns across the country, keeping demands for justice in the forefront. The color yellow was chosen because one of Chantel’s favorite sayings was ‘stay golden’. “But I don’t want to make this just about my daughter,” said Martha, adding that she wants to use the publicity to help other cases that are not getting the attention they deserve.

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

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June 3, 2021—Ha-Shilth-Sa—Page 3

B.C. could be back to normal by September: Henry Now that more than 60 per cent have a first dose, the government gives a road map to province-wide recovery By Denise Titian Ha-shilth-Sa Reporter British Columbia – Circuit Breaker COVID-19 restrictions have been lifted. “We have been waiting for this day for a long time,” said Dr. Bonnie Henry, provincial health officer. She laid out the four-step restart plan in a televised statement on May 25. Now that more than 60 per cent of the province’s adult population have been immunized with at least one dose of vaccine. While COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations have stabilized, the province can move forward with the lifting of restrictions in a careful and gradual way, said Henry. Beginning May 25, the province eased restrictions and started Step One of BC’s Restart Plan designed to get people back together. This will mean that restaurants and bars may resume indoor service with physical distancing and mask requirements. Activities that are now allowed under Step One include: -Maximum of five visitors or one household allowed for indoor personal gatherings -Maximum of 10 people for outdoor personal gatherings -Maximum of 10 people for seated indoor organized gatherings with safety protocols -Maximum of 50 people for seated outdoor organized gatherings with safety protocols -Recreational travel only within designated health region -Indoor and outdoor dining for up to six people with safety protocols -Resume outdoor sports (games) with no spectators, low-intensity fitness with safety protocols -Continue a gradual return to workplac-

es towards pre-pandemic conditions -Provincewide mask mandate, business safety protocols and physical distancing measures remain in place -Return of indoor in-person faith-based gatherings (reduced capacity) based on consultation with public health Step Two could begin June 15 if conditions permit. Back in March 2021, when the third wave of COVID-19 cases began sweeping through the province, officials moved to prevent overwhelming the health care system with what they called “circuit breaker” measures. “Rising case levels, variants of concern, increased transmission and an increase in more severe cases are huge concerns,” said Adrian Dix, minister of Health, in March. “B.C. public health officials are making the tough choices now to break the chain and protect our communities.” They remind people that getting vaccinated is the most important tool to supporting the restart. Now that at least 60 per cent of the 18-plus population have received at least a first dose vaccination and case counts have been declining, the provincial health officials hope to see a complete return to a pre-COVID-19 world by as early as Sept. 7. In order for that to happen, more than 70 per cent of the adult population must be inoculated with at least the first dose of vaccine, along with low case counts and low COVID-19 hospitalizations. If we move to Step Four later this summer, normal social contact would be permitted and mask wearing would become a personal choice. For now, people can continue a gradual return to the workplace with COVID-19 safety plans in place. Indoor low-intensity group exercise with limited capacity is permitted. Outdoor games and practices for all ages is allowed, but spectators are

Bonnie Henry not permitted to any indoor or outdoor sports activities. It is hoped that Step Two can begin June 15 if at least 65 per cent of the adult population have received at least a first dose of vaccine with continued declining case counts and hospitalizations. Masks will continue to be required at indoor settings. In Step Two, outdoor personal gatherings will increase up to 50 people. This includes birthday parties, barbecues and block parties. Recreational travel within B.C. will be allowed. By Canada Day, July 1, Step Three will begin if 70 per cent of the 18-plus population have received a first dose of vaccine, along with low case counts and low numbers of COVID-19 hospitalizations. Premier John Horgan said that it is important to move forward in a thoughtful way. He said more than 1,600 lives have been lost since the pandemic began 15 months ago. He acknowledged the sacrifices British Columbians have made over that time.

“We will continue to ask you to make sacrifices over the next few weeks,” he said. He added that if things continue to go in the right direction, we could possibly see late graduation ceremonies. “We’re excited about our opening plan…but we don’t want to lurch forward only to have to lurch backward,” he said. An emotional Dr. Bonnie Henry said they have been waiting for this day for a long time. “The focus is to protect people and get them safely back to enjoying life,” she said. The key is the distribution of safe, effective vaccines. And Henry says the province has a safe, steady, reliable supply. Henry recalled that the restart plan that began in the summer of 2020 was derailed in October and November when the second wave of COVID-19 started. Back then, vaccine was not available. The first doses of vaccine were administered in British Columbia in December 2020, and since then, distribution has been widespread. “By February all long-term care residents were vaccinated – that is when we saw the value of vaccine,” said Henry. “Fewer people were getting sick and when they did they had milder symptoms.” In March 2021 the third wave of COVID-19 brought with it variants which increased pressure on the health care system. Henry says there has been a dramatic increase in vaccine supply and now people as young as age 12 can get vaccinated. “We have seen the case rates come down dramatically since the vaccines have arrived. Now we have the foundation for a new restart,” she said. If you or anyone in your family feels sick, the PHO advises that you stay home and get tested immediately.

Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation looks forward to re-opening By Melissa Renwick Local Journalism Initiative Reporter Tofino, BC - British Columbians can anticipate returning “to normal life” by early September, after B.C. officials launched a four-step plan to ease pandemic restrictions on Tuesday. Under the provincial restart plan, indoor dining and low-intensity indoor fitness classes can resume, a maximum of five visitors are allowed to gather indoors and 10 people are permitted for outdoor gatherings. The province continues to be divided into three regional zones, however Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry encouraged residents to explore their designated travel zone. “Go camping within the area that you live,” she said during a press conference. Over 60 per cent of adults within the province have received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, which has stabilized case counts and triggered a drop in hospitalizations and ICU patients, said Henry. “We will be adjusting our safety plans to make sure that businesses can continue to operate as restrictions are lifted in the coming weeks and months,” she said. “We’ll be staying flexible because we know this virus has some tricks up its sleeve still. We will be continuing to monitor what’s happening around the globe because we know that we’re not

all safe until everybody has been immunized. And that still is quite a challenge in many parts of the world.” Jared Beaton, Best Western Plus Tin Wis Resort general manager, said the phased approach allows the Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation-owned resort to ease into operating at maximum capacity. “This allows us to have a little bit of a softer open,” he said. “And [to] make sure that our staff are coming back gradually – being trained properly.” The earliest the province will move into Phase 2 of the restart plan is June 15. Phase 3 is anticipated to begin July 1 and Phase 4 will start Sept. 7, pending a continued rise in vaccination rates and a decline in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations. While the resort may not be able to operate at full capacity until September, Beaton said the “pent-up demand” is likely to make for a busy Fall. “The way occupancy is going in the books right now [indicates] we’re heading into a very strong fall,” he said. “I don’t see us going back into that rut again, where I’m having to lay staff off after them being trained. I’m very confident we’ll keep everybody gainfully employed, based on what I’m seeing right now.” With its stakes in the tourism industry, Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation tribal administrator Jim Chisholm said the nation has been financially impacted.

Photo by Melissa Renwick

Tourists flocked to Long Beach as B.C. transitioned into Phase 3 of its restart plan last summer. COVID-19 restrictions are once again opening up. orders and adopting a COVID-19 safety “Obviously we want to see things open plan, Beaton said he feels they are “doing up - everybody does,” he said. “But the the right thing.” health of our people is first and foremost Tin Wis is currently operating at around … We’re not going to put people into 35 per cent capacity, said Beaton. jeopardy, or our community’s at risk, for “We all want to be open at full capacfinancial rewards – that isn’t going to ity,” he said. “But at the end of the day, happen.” we have to be responsible, too.” Since the beginning of the pandemic, The next best thing, is the phased apTla-o-qui-aht has had a security gate proach outlined by the government, said to restrict access to their communities, Beaton. chief and council meetings subsequently “We’re really excited to start welcoming moved to Zoom and the band office repeople back to the hotel in a safe manner mains closed, said Chisholm. so that they can come out and enjoy the “We’ve done everything we can to ensure everybody’s health,” he said. “We’ve nature,” he said. “I think it’s really exciting that the prospect of being open for followed every precaution and recomtravel this summer is great.” mendation from the government.” By following the provincial health

Page 4— Ha-Shilth-Sa—June 3, 2021 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 June 11, 2021 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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Visitors welcomed back to Broken Group After a COVID closure in 2020, the Barkley Sound a•raction reopens until Sept. 30 By Karly Blats Ha-Shilth-Sa Contributor Nuu-chah-nulth nations have worked in partnership with Parks Canada to ensure the safe reopening of the Broken Group Islands for the 2021 visitor season. The Broken Group Islands, in the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve, will be open to overnight visitors from June 4 to Sept. 30, 2021, as provincial health guidelines allow. Parks Canada, in collaboration with the Tseshaht First Nation, Toquaht Nation, Hupačasath First Nation, and the Uchucklesaht Tribe have implemented safety measures to protect the health of remote communities, Indigenous guardians (beachkeepers), visitors, and Parks Canada employees. “Tseshaht Ha’wiih (hereditary Chiefs), council and members have a sacred responsibility to look after the hahoulthee (territory, and everything within it) of our Ha’wiih which includes the protection, safety, health and well-being of all those within it, including the Broken Group Islands,” said Ken Watts, elected chief council of the Tseshaht First Nation. “In alignment with our sacred responsibility of uu-a-thluk (taking care of), we worked hand-in-hand with Parks Canada to ensure appropriate conditions are put in place, including safe operating plans and other restrictions to ensure everyone is safe. COVID-19 is still here, and we must treat each other, the territory and the situation with iisaak (respect).” Reservations opened on May 31 and campers can book their adventure by visiting reservation.pc.gc.ca or by calling 1-877-RESERVE (1-877-737-3783). All visitors are encouraged to check B.C.’s provincial travel restrictions (in place until at least June 15) in advance of making reservations; those whose plans do not respect the current travel restrictions will be asked to cancel their reservations. Camping availability will be reduced in 2021, and advance reservations are required (no overnight guests without advanced reservations will be allowed). The Broken Group Islands are only accessible by boat or kayak. According to a press release by Parks Canada, visitors should not expect the same experience as in previous years,

Photo by Roy Luck/Wikimedia Commons

The Broken Group Islands, in the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve, will be open to overnight visitors from June 4 to Sept. 30, 2021. due to COVID-19 restrictions. Before of Macoah is currently closed to nonvisiting, visitors are asked to plan ahead residents. by researching the availability of access Within the Broken Group Islands, points, travel restrictions, and community Nettle, Keith, Effingham and Benson protocols. Visitors are also asked to learn islands are closed to visitors until further in advance whether First Nations villages notice, to protect the health and safety of are welcoming visitors prior to arrival. the local community. Visitors should note, Secret Beach Access by Lady Rose Marine Services Campground Marina and Kayak Launch, is not available to visitors until further in the Toquaht Nation Treaty Settlement notice. lands, will remain closed until further noDetailed information and future updates tice. Launching for trips into the Broken on overnight experiences in Pacific Rim Group Islands will not be possible from National Park Reserve can be found there. The Toquaht Nation community online at pc.gc.ca/PacificRim.

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Discovery of children’s remains opens old wounds Ground penetrating radar uncovers the remains of 215 children buried at Kamloops Indian Residential School By Denise Titian Ha-Shilth-Sa Reporter British Columbia – Tk’emlúps te SecwépemcKukpi7 First Nations reported the heartbreaking discovery of the remains of more than 200 children on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School. In a statement dated May 27, 2021, Chief Roseanne Casimer, said, “It is with a heavy heart that Tk’emlúps te SecwépemcKukpi7 confirms an unthinkable loss that was spoken about but never documented by the Kamloops Indian Residential School. This past weekend, with the help of a ground penetrating radar specialist, the stark truth of the preliminary findings came to light – the confirmation of the remains of 215 children who were students of the Kamloops Indian Residential School.” The Kamloops Indian Residential school was the largest in Canada, with up to 500 Indigenous children from all over the province forced to attend at times. The institution was part of the Canadian residential school system and one of the 130 schools for First Nations children that operated in Canada between 1874 and 1977. The school building still stands today. Residential Schools were typically run by Christian churches or the federal government from the 1840s to the 1990s. They were designed to strip children of their culture and assimilate them to the ways of the Euro-Canadian settlers. Indigenous children as young as five years old were removed from their families and forced to attend the schools, where many children say they suffered horrific physical abuse, rape, malnutrition and other atrocities. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and other federal leaders have apologized for the schools and compensation has been paid to thousands of Indigenous people who were affected. This announcement has re-opened wounds for some elderly survivors of residential schools.

Photo by Denise Titian

Organized by Wally and Donna Samuel, survivors of Alberni Indian Residential School, the May 28 vigil helped people to connect and share their grief. “It’s horrible,” said Tla-o-qui-aht elected chief Moses Martin, ading it’s proof that the things the survivors said really happened. “This is confirmation of what our people have been saying, I feel for the families.” NTC Vice-President Mariah Charleson never attended residential school, but her father, his siblings and parents did. “I only ever stepped foot at Old Christie grounds once,” she wrote in a social media post, saying she was there to hike a mountain a few years ago. Her uncle brought her to where Christie Indian Residential School once stood on Meares Island near Tofino. “He told me about how it was...girls on one side and boys on the other when they went to school there,” she wrote. “First thing I noticed was the graveyard. It’s not normal for a graveyard to be at a school people!!” Barney Williams, an 81-year-old Tla-oqui-aht elder, was one of several Nuuchah-nulth people who attended Kamloops Indian Residential school. He said he couldn’t remember the year but he was

there for Grades 9 to 11. Most of those he was there with are gone, but a few are still with us. “There was Wilson George, Steven David, Earl Smith, Eugene Leo, the Hayes sisters, Mary Rose, Odelia and Josephine,” he recalled. There was also Anna Joseph. Vi George (Amos), Felix Charleson and Howard Tom. Williams said they were completely unaware that there was a burial ground at the school. But he remembers stories. “There was a couple of people missing but they always attributed it to running away or getting killed on a train track,” he said. As to why he would go so far from home when there were residential schools on the island, Williams explained that he was raised Catholic so he had to go to a Catholic residential school like Christie, which also had its own cemetery. It was up to the authorities to decide which institution the children would be “shipped” to, as Barney recalled. Christie was an elementary school, only going from Grades 1 to 8. The Kamloops school encom-

passed Kindergarten to Grade 12. Williams was feeling emotionally drained after hearing news of the find in Kamloops. “It’s been a tough day, emotional,” he said. “It brings up a lot of emotion for a lot of us, it brings us back to that time and place. I know my brother Earl was upset about it,” he added. “We heard a lot of stuff and now there’s proof.” Racelle Kooy, media contact for Tk’emlúps te SecwépemcKukpi7, indicated that the 215 children’s remains found could change. These are preliminary findings and there will be an update in June, she told Ha-Shilth-Sa. “We had a knowing in our community that we were able to verify. To our knowledge, these missing children are undocumented deaths, some were as young as three years old,” stated Kukpi7 Rosanne Casimir. In the meantime, Tk’emlúps te SecwépemcKukpi7 has engaged the coroner and is reaching out to the communities that had children attending Kamloops Indian Residential School. The Secwépemc Museum Archivist is working with Royal British Columbia Museum and others to seek out any existing records of these deaths. “The Tk’emlúps te SecwépemcKukpi7 will continue to work with the ground penetrating radar specialist to complete the survey of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School grounds,” stated the First Nation. There was a vigil in honour of the 215 children buried in Kamloops at the Port Alberni Friendship Center. Organized by residential school survivors Wally and Donna Samuel, the vigil began at 6 p.m. The Indian Residential School Survivor Society has an Emergency Crisis Line that operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week. For help, call 1-800-721-0066. Or call the 24-hour Crisis Line at 1-866-9254419.

Judith Sayers to be installed as VIU chancellor By Melissa Renwick Local Journalism Initiative Reporter Nanaimo, BC - Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council President Kekinusuqs, Dr. Judith Sayers, will be installed as Vancouver Island University’s (VIU) third chancellor during a virtual ceremony on June 17. Sayers was appointed into the position in October 2020 for a three-year term. The installation is a ceremonial introduction that’s normally held within the first year of the new chancellor assuming office duties. A livestream of the event will begin at 10:45 a.m., with the installation at 11 a.m. “One of the reasons I am attracted to VIU and to this position is how closely the university has worked with the Snuneymuxw First Nation and other nations,” Sayers said in a release. “I would like to see those kinds of partnerships continue to grow and flourish. VIU takes its commitment to reconciliation seriously, and I am excited to work with President Dr. Deb Saucier, who is also Indigenous, to continue implementing Indigenous ways of knowing and being.” The installment precursors the university’s student graduation celebration on

June 24, where Sayers will offer a graduate oath and speech. Following in the footsteps of Louise Mandell Q.C., Indigenous rights lawyer, and Shawn (A-in-chut) Atleo, former chief of the Assembly of First Nations, Sayers said that she would like to help VIU become a leading voice in eradicating racism, as well as make the university a place where everyone sees themselves reflected. “We need to be more open to working with students to do the kind of research they want to do in their own way,” she said. “So much of Indigenous history has never been written properly. When you see our students going out and exploring these areas, for me, it’s very exciting. We need to tell our own stories.” Before Sayers became president of the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council in 2017, she was the elected chief of her nation, Hupacasath First Nation, for 14 years. Among several other accolades, Sayers became a member of the Order of Canada in 2019, and the Canadian Council of Aboriginal Business inducted her into the Aboriginal Business Hall of Fame in 2009. VIU President and Vice-Chancellor Deborah Saucier said she looked for-

Photo by Melody Charlie

Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council President Judith Sayers will be installed as Vancouver Island University’s third chancellor at a virtual ceremony on June 17. ward to working with Sayers to “further advance the Indigenization of VIU.” “Dr. Sayers’ accomplishments in advancing Indigenous rights and promoting capacity-building sustainable development projects sets an example for our students and community members about what is possible when you put your pas-

sion and education to work,” she said in a release. While much of Sayer’s life has centred on advocacy work, she said her next area of focus is “higher education.” “I’d like to take on a major role in promoting innovative ideas and better understanding through education,” she said.

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Arrests continue at the Caycuse blockade By June, 151 had been arrested at blockades near Fairy Creek, with nine who were taken away more than once By Melissa Renwick Local Journalism Initiative Reporter Port Renfrew, BC - Dozens of police officers descended upon the Caycuse camp near the Fairy Creek watershed, enforcing a court injunction against blockades preventing Teal-Jones from accessing several stands of old-growth forest. As of June 1, there have been 151 arrests made since the RCMP began enforcing the injunction on Tuesday, May 18. The Rainforest Flying Squad, an oldgrowth activist group, have been stationed at the blockades near Port Renfrew since last August to protect one of B.C.’s last remaining watersheds untouched by industrial logging. Despite the police presence, they are continuing to stand their ground. After the Fairy Creek watershed area along the McClure Forest Service Road was cleared of protestors on Wednesday, May 19 and deemed “closed” by the RCMP, several activists returned to the enforcement area and attached themselves to structures. Police efforts to remove the protestors resumed the following morning and seven arrests were made, according to an RCMP statement. Six of the arrests were for breaching the injunction and one person was escorted out of the blockade with no recommended charges. “The RCMP are also recommending that two individuals be charged with obstruction, two for possession of stolen property and one for obstruction and assaulting a police officer,” read the statement. Media was not permitted access beyond the “exclusion zone” to document the arrests until afternoon on May 20, owing to the RCMP’s “resource availability,” said RCMP spokesperson Cpl. Chris Manseau. The Rainforest Flying Squad accused the RCMP of assaulting an Indigenous woman that morning. “The violence enacted by the RCMP and industry directly suppresses Indigenous sovereignty, and the cultural and spiritual connection of Indigenous people to their

Photo by Melissa Renwick

A protestor is arrested at the Caycuse old-growth logging blockade established by the Rainforest Flying Squad, near Port Renfrew, on May 19. land,” a forest protector, who asked not to be identified, told the media. This is “genocide and ecocide,” she added. Meanwhile, the Pacheedaht First Nation have spoken in opposition of the blockades. The Fairy Creek watershed is within Pacheedaht territory. “We do not welcome or support unsolicited involvement or interference by others in our territory,” reads the letter, which is signed by Hereditary Chief Frank Queesto Jones and Chief Councillor Jeff Jones. Manseau said it’s too early to draw any conclusions about confrontations with police. “The RCMP uses a carefully measured response to civil disobedience and unlawful acts,” he said. “We will use only level


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of force necessary to ensure the safety of all citizens, enforce laws and to maintain peace, order and security.” Unless there is an ongoing investigation, more information will be shared publicly as it becomes available, he added. Eventually, media was escorted past the Caycuse blockade, which had already been cleared of protestors, to a site where one woman was suspended in a makeshift wooden structure high up in the trees on May 20. “I’m doing this because it’s the last stand for our ancient forests,” the woman, who identified herself as Pony, shouted.

“This is all a tactic to slow down the destruction of the forest.” The Caycuse blockade is the only camp where the injunction has been enforced thus far. Members of the Rainforest Flying Squad widely speculate it’s because there are felled trees on the ground in the area from logging operations that were underway before the blockade was established. It is also believed to be the place that Teal-Jones could resume work most quickly. Teal-Jones and the RCMP did not respond in time for publication.

June 3, 2021—Ha-Shilth-Sa—Page 7

Have the police gone too far at Fairy Creek? RCMP contends that public safety is driving its control over an area where logging opposition has intensified By Eric Plummer Ha-Shilth-Sa Editor Port Renfrew, BC - As the arrest toll grows at blockades around the Fairy Creek watershed, some wonder if police enforcement in the area is going beyond stipulations of a court order, while interfering with civil liberties. RCMP have so far arrested over 150 people in the area near Port Renfrew, including nine who have been taken away more than once. In mid May police moved into the area to enforce a court injunction against protestors who have been blocking forestry access into the Fairy Creek watershed since August, which is considered one of Vancouver Island’s few remaining old growth valleys untouched by industrial logging. On April 1 the B.C. Supreme Court gave an injunction to Teal-Cedar Products, prohibiting the interference of its harvesting or access to the watershed, an order which lasts until Sept. 26. The injunction covers a large area, extending from north of Port Renfrew to the Nitinaht River, covering both Pacheedaht and Ditidaht territory. When the order was issued eight blockades were identified, resistance held by the Rainforest Flying Squad, a loosely affiliated group of old-growth activists, for over nine months. “The purpose is to prevent a further escalation of efforts to block access contrary to the Supreme Court order, and to allow the RCMP to be accountable for the safety of all persons accessing this area given the remoteness and conditions,” reads an RCMP press release. The court order makes multiple mentions prohibiting the “obstructing, impeding or otherwise interfering” with Teal-Cedar Products’ forestry operations in the area. While the injunction does not bar access to the area, it does give RCMP authority to arrest anyone “who the police have reasonable and probable grounds to believe is contravening or has contravened any provision of this order.” As a result, entry into the injunction area has been tightly controlled, with checkpoints and a temporary access control area along the McClure Forest Service Road, which is located north of the Fairy Creek watershed. Since then protestors have been given the option to “abide by the terms of the injunction and leave the area, or relocate to the designated protest/ observation area set up by the enforcement team, or face arrest,” according to an RCMP release. Sgt. Chris Manseau of RCMP media relations said the police’s major concern is maintaining public safety. “A lot of these protestors have put themselves in situations that are extremely dangerous, climbing very high trees, chaining themselves to large objects that are unstable and staying out in the bush without proper food or medication for quite some time,” he said. “We understand that people in the area have the right to protest if they’re going to do it lawfully and safely. We just want to make sure that nobody gets injured in any of this.” While a growing audience is looking to Fairy Creek as an indication of how old growth is being managed in the province, journalists appear to be depending on police to be taken to places where they can observe and report on developments. The Ha-Shilth-Sa relied on police escort to be taken into the enforcement area, once waiting for hours to get a closer look at

Photos by Melissa Renwick

Dozens of RCMP members encircled the Cayuse old-growth logging blockade to arrest protestors on May 19.

“The purpose is to prevent a further escalation of efforts to block access contrary to the Supreme Court order, and to allow the RCMP to be accountable for the safety of all persons accessing this area given the remoteness and conditions” ~ RCMP press release the unfolding scene. Manseau said the escorts are needed to ensure public safety while industrial logging operations are underway. “I’ve been inviting journalists where enforcement is planned to take place,” he said. “There has been the odd time when somebody wasn’t allowed, however we have tried to remedy that as best we can with the resources that we have. There is no intention to not allow journalists access.” Such limits on freedom of the press go against the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, says Brent Jolly, president of the Canadian Association of Journalists. “Journalists have the right to report information freely. When you have an injunction like this that prevents people from doing that, I would argue that’s limitation of freedom of the press.” Jolly believes enforcement would be different in less remote setting with more people observing. “It seems like if this were going on in Stanley Park, or somewhere, the police reaction would be far different than what we’re seeing here,” said Jolly. “In this case, I really don’t see how restricting access in the way that they have is fair or reasonable. This is not a combat zone where journalists need to be sure that they’re off to the side.” Manseau admits that is has been a challenge to verify who is a journalist working for a reputable media outlet. He said the RCMP is exploring an accreditation process similar to what the BC Supreme Court uses to allow reporters into the courtroom. “Unfortunately, we have come across a

couple of times so far where people have claimed to be journalists and then have been escorted in, granted access, and then have joined the protest,” said Manseau. In a letter to Minister of Public Safety Mike Farnworth and top RCMP officials, the BC Civil Liberties Association argues that restricting access to the enforcement area, which is on Crown land, is unconstitutional according to Canadian law. “This situation is alarmingly reminiscent of what occurred in Wet’suwet’en territories last year,” wrote the association. The BCCLA also referenced the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which states that “Indigenous peoples have the right to the lands, territories and resources, which

they have traditionally owned, occupied or otherwise used or required.” Pacheedaht elder Bill Jones didn’t feel that these rights were being upheld when he was denied access into the Fairy Creek valley in mid May. Although the Pacheedaht First Nation has formally opposed the presence of protestors in the area, Jones is among his community’s most vocal supporters of the old-growth movement. “The road that they’re on that the police are blocking is actually a public thoroughfare,” said Jones. “I couldn’t proceed past them. They blocked me off and sent us all away. So that means that I’m affronted and denied of my rights and freedoms of access to my own territory.”

Page 8— Ha-Shilth-Sa—June 3, 2021

The Last Stand: Thousands flock to logging blockades n A movement against harvesting old growth trees is being compared to the Clayoquot Sound protests of 20 years ago By Melissa Renwick Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Port Renfrew, BC - After over a decade of documenting B.C.’s last remaining oldgrowth ecosystems, TJ Watt said he hadn’t come across anything quite like the grove of red cedars hidden in the upper reaches of the Caycuse watershed, near Port Renfrew. “It was truthfully one of the most stunning old-growth forests I’ve been in,” said the co-founder of the Ancient Forest Alliance. “The sheer volume of giant cedars was mind-blowing – every direction you looked was another 10 to 12-foot-wide ancient cedar that could be 800 years old, or older.” When he returned later that year in 2020, only their stumps remained. The now clear-cut grove is located in Tree Farm License 46, which is held by forestry company Teal-Jones. Watt said he never saw another soul out there until recently, as anti-logging protests have been underway since last August. “It’s such an obscure spot at the end of the road,” he said. “These places are so special and you wish the world could see them, but how do you get everybody out there? Now, it’s packed.”

‘Third-party activism’ The Rainforest Flying Squad, an oldgrowth activist group, have been stationed at various blockades throughout the Caycuse and Fairy Creek watersheds since August to prevent Teal-Jones from accessing what they consider the last remaining old-growth forests untouched by industrial logging. On May 17, RCMP moved into the area to enforce a B.C. Supreme Court injunction that ruled their blockades are illegal. As of June 1, 151 people have been arrested. The Fairy Creek watershed sits within Pacheedaht First Nation’s traditional territory. In a statement signed by Pacheedaht Hereditary Chief Frank Queesto Jones and Elected Chief Jeff Jones, the nation said it’s concerned about the increasing polarization over forestry activities in their territory. “Pacheedaht has always harvested and managed our forestry resources, including old-growth cedar, for cultural, ceremonial, domestic and economic purposes,” read the statement released April 12. “All parties need to respect that it is up to Pacheedaht people to determine how our forestry resources will be used. We do not welcome or support unsolicited involvement or interference by others in our territory, including third-party activism.” Garry Merkel, B.C.’s old-growth strategic review panel expert and member of the Tahltan Nation, said that, until recently, First Nations communities have been “sitting on the outside looking in.” “Government recently made a move to reallocate tenure and get First Nations much more involved in actually owning tenure,” he said. “The problem is, we are very oldgrowth dependent right now in our forest sector.” It’s estimated that B.C. will need oldgrowth logging for another 5 to 20 years, depending on the area, to make the transition to second growth, explained Merkel. “We just don’t have enough yet to make the sector transition,” he said. “That means that many First Nations have come into [the industry] at a time where there is this high dependence on the last remaining oldgrowth.” And because many First Nations tenures are dependent on old-growth logging, Merkel said “they are caught in the middle

Photos by Melissa Renwick

(From left to right) Patrick Jones, Aya Clappis and Victor Peter stand together at the Fairy Creek blockade headquarters, near Port Renfrew. Protestors continue to show their support by joining the Rainforest Flying Squad at various camps stationed in the Caycuse and Fairy Creek watersheds. “It makes me feel like not everybody is just in it for greed,” Jones said. “They see the beauty in nature and how it should be preserved.” Below, an excavator drives along a logging road in the Caycuse watershed. of this thing, with their own communities “But the standard systems that we use are An unsustainable practice? and with other people.” primarily clear-cut,” he said. “Sometimes, Instead of talking about old-growth Many members of the Pacheedaht First we even burn [the clear-cuts] afterwards forests, Merkel suggested that we should Nation have rallied in support of the proor get rid of all the slash. That sets the be speaking about old-growth ecosystems. tests, including elder Bill Jones, who said ecosystem back potentially thousands of For thousands of years, plants, fungi and he’s fighting for “the last of it.” years – minimally, hundreds and hundreds waterways have primed the earth to allow “It will be all gone if [Teal-Jones] is given cedar trees to grow up upwards of 10-feet [of years]. It took all of that time for those free reign,” he said. ecosystems to become what they are with in diameter, he said. Jones’ nephew, Patrick, joined protestors the factors that shaped them in the past. If harvested delicately so that the ecosysin the Fairy Creek watershed in May. The The factors that they’re going to face in the tem’s attributes, structure and function re23-year-old said First Nations’ self-govnext hundreds, if not thousands of years are main intact, you can have very little effect ernance is based on a colonial idea, which going to be very different with things like on the ecosystem, he said. entails chief and council making the major decisions for everybody else, thereby seeing the biggest benefits. Last summer, B.C.’s provincial government appointed foresters Merkel and Al Gorley as an independent panel to consult with thousands of British Columbians about how to manage old-growth forests. They outlined 14 recommendations that the B.C. NDP promised to implement during the provincial election campaign last fall. One of the recommendations was the immediate deferral of harvesting from ecosystems that are at “very high and near-term risk of irreversible biodiversity loss.” Over a year later, the province has not made it clear how they plan to implement the deferral, or what constitutes high-risk. There still isn’t a good definition of oldgrowth, explained Merkel. In other words, what constitutes old-growth is fluid based on who you’re talking to. In hindsight, Merkel said he wished they wrote the recommendations more “stringently.” “But you know, hindsight is always 2020,” he said. “Nobody’s gone through this scale of transformation in this province – ever.”

June 3, 2021—Ha-Shilth-Sa—Page 9

blockades near Port Renfrew ears ago

climate change and other human impacts. So, to think they’re renewable is simply not true. All those old ecosystems are not renewable.” Resource Works, a non-profit research and advocacy organization focused on promoting responsible resource development in B.C., released a new report aimed at responding to the “rhetoric coming out of Fairy Creek.” “The fact is, forest management in B.C. is not in crisis – far from it,” read the report. “Rather, there is a ‘crisis’ of misinformation.” Old forest is defined as being 250 years or older and makes up 860,000 hectares of Vancouver Island. Of that, 520,000 hectares, or 62 per cent, is protected, read the report. “While we welcome the coming paradigm shift in forest management that has been signalled by the provincial government, residents of B.C. can share our confidence that this is being managed in a proper professional and consultative context,” said Stewart Muir, co-author of the report and Resource Works executive director. Conversely, recent mapping done by the Wilderness Committee indicates that old-growth logging approvals have gone up 43 per cent since the B.C. government received the old-growth review recommendations in 2020. “The government is not keeping its word,” said Torrance Coste, Wilderness Committee campaign director. “We’re calling on the government to defer old-growth logging and provide support for communities that currently derive benefits from old-growth … to just say that we need to change the way we’re os by Melissa Renwick managing old-growth, but not actually dquarters, near changing anything on the ground, leads ps stationed in these companies to go and get it while d. “They see the they can.” se watershed. The Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural ms that we use are Resource Operations and Rural Developsaid. “Sometimes, ment said it does not feel the Wilderness cuts] afterwards Committee’s analysis accurately reflects That sets the what is happening in B.C.’s old-growth lly thousands of forests. reds and hundreds “The fact is, 10 million hectares of hat time for those old-growth is already protected and since hat they are with coming into office our government has hem in the past. protected hundreds of thousands more,” going to face in the the ministry said in a release. “We are usands of years are committed to work with the committee t with things like to better understand their results and to provide a true account of our old-growth forest.”

Soaring lumber prices Soaring lumber prices in B.C. and across Canada have only added to the tension. As of May 21, a SPF (spruce, pine and fir) two-by-four cost $1,640 per thousand board feet, while the annual average in 2019 was $372, according to the ministry. “The price for lumber is just off the charts,” said B.C. premier John Horgan during a media conference on March 17. “We still have a significant amount of work to do in the forest industry.” Horgan said the province needs to move from high-volume harvesting and focus on the long term. “These prices will encourage companies to continue to harvest at unsustainable rates,” he said. “Perhaps to catch on to these extraordinary prices.” To prevent access to an old-growth grove in the Gordon River Valley, the Rainforest Flying Squad erected the Eden Camp, near Port Renfrew. There are no roads or cutting permits

currently issued in the Eden Grove area and harvesting is not permitted, as it is a wildlife habitat area for Northern Goshawk, according to the ministry. “[Eden Gove] is one of the best of the last unprotected valley-bottom old-growth forests in that region,” said Watt. “The grove itself is not under imminent threat … although the area has been surveyed for logging.” The grove has become a flash-point because “people are saying, ‘When is enough enough?’” explained Watt. “We’re down to such low-digit numbers of how much of that productive old-growth forest remains, that when the government kicks the can down the road – another year, another two years – industry takes advantage of that and races in to cut the best of what’s left,” he said. In a statement, Teal-Jones vice president Gerry Kotze said the company’s plans at Fairy Creek have been “mischaracterized.” Most of the watershed is unavailable for logging within Teal-Jones’ tenure, he added. “We are planning to harvest only a small area, up at the head of the watershed well away from Fairy Lake and the San Juan River,” Kotze said.

Patrick Jones

2,000 gather in protest The anti-logging protests on southern Vancouver Island have been likened to the War in the Woods, when around 12,000 people participated in anti-logging blockades to prevent forestry company Macmillan Bloedel from clear-cutting in the Clayoquot Sound. It came to a head in 1993, when 300 people were arrested and became one of the largest acts of mass civil disobedience in Canadian history. In 2000, Clayoquot Sound was designated as a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO. Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation Chief Councillor Moses Martin, who was also the elected chief during the War in the Woods, said it’s an entirely different situation. “In my own case, I had the support of the whole region,” said Martin. “Not just us as Tla-o-qui-aht, but the municipality of Tofino.” For Martin, the loss of trees on Meares Island meant the loss of the watershed, which Tofino draws its drinking water from. “That’s so important to all of us that live in this part of the world,” he said. Despite continued RCMP enforcement, the Fairy Creek protests have shown no sign of slowing down. Last weekend, the Rainforest Flying Squad reported that over 2,000 people gathered within the watershed to support the anti-logging blockades. British Columbia was built on logging and is “part of who we are at our core – our cultural being as people,” said Merkel. But as societal values shift, he said “conflict is inevitable.” “I think our expectations have risen in terms of what we think is possible,” he said. Just like the protests, Watt continues to preserve old-growth ecosystems through photographs because often, “they disappear without anyone really knowing they existed,” he said. The Caycuse watershed is just one example of what’s playing out across the province, he added. “People have taken it upon themselves to literally stand in the way,” said Watt. “If the government was to follow the oldgrowth review panel’s report as it was laid out, there should be immediate deferrals in those most high-risk areas while you figure out the plan for the future of old-growth forests – not after the fact. If they don’t exist, you can’t do anything about them.”

Aya Clappis

Victor Peter

Page 10— Ha-Shilth-Sa—June 3, 2021

Students with learning barriers gain job skills North Island College helps people find roles in the workforce with a groundskeeping and custodian program By Denise Titian Ha-Shilth-Sa Reporter Port Alberni, BC – Curtis Lucas, a young Hesquiaht man with learning barriers, smiles proudly as his instructor guides him through proper techniques for cutting down invasive Scotch broom. Not far away, Gary Peter of Ditidaht, also with learning barriers, is operating a gas mower as he cleans up the lawn at Port Alberni’s North Island College. In a classroom, not far away, Jerami Sam of Ahousaht is taking a class on ladder safety in a custodial training course. These young people are part of the Employment Transition Grounds & Custodial Assistant Program offered through North Island College’s Department of Accessible Learning Services (DALS). The department provides support to North Island College students who identify as having a disability which may impact their ability to study. Faculty at DALS consult with potential students to determine how they can be accommodated in a classroom setting so that they can fully participate. Special needs students may have disabilities that affect things such as learning, mental health, physical health, hearing or vision. The Employment Transition Grounds & Custodial Assistant Program began Jan. 12, 2021 at the Port Alberni NIC campus. There are a dozen students, including three Nuu-chah-nulth-aht, learning janitorial and grounds-keeping skills that will qualify them for employment upon completion of the 26-week program. In addition, there are two Métis students and one Métis instructor. “This program provides students with diverse learning needs an opportunity to attend employability courses, gain workrelated certificates and receive industryspecific skill development training in basic grounds maintenance/horticulture and custodial/light duty cleaner areas,” states the North Island College website. According to faculty member Erin Cathro, the program started in 2020 as a pilot project but was sidetracked due to the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. The 2020 DALS class wasn’t completed due to the pandemic, so this year two cohorts are blended. When they go out for their work experience in various Port

Photos by Denise Titian

Curtis Lucas (left) cuts Scotch broom at the North Island College campus in Port Alberni, as Gary Peter mows the grass. Alberni businesses or service establishments, one cohort will work on custodial jobs while the other does grounds maintenance. After two weeks the cohorts switch. The 12 students took part in online classes from January to May 2021 under the instruction of Cathro. This was followed by three weeks of in-classroom instruction on applied outdoor groundskeeping with instructor Chemus McNulty and custodial training with Corissa O’Donnell. Work experience placement will begin Monday, May 31. Students will be placed with employers where they will be doing custodial work, like cleaning floors and walls or mowing lawns and tending gardens. Cathro says the students work for free in return for orientation, training and the provision of a supervisor to the

students. According to O’Donnell, the students spent the first four months of the year earning training certification, like WHMIS (Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System), FoodSafe and basic first aid. Besides certification courses, the students learn industry-specific skills and take part in job shadow practicums and supported work placement. They have gone on field trips to places like local seniors’ care homes where they can observe professional employees using industrial disinfecting and cleaning equipment. The two cohorts have been offered training placements at Ty Watson House, Rollin Art Centre, Port Alberni Friendship Center, the Port Alberni Food Hub and others.

According to Cathro, the governmentfunded program covers the cost of the students’ work at their placements. In exchange, the employers promise to keep the trainees in mind if and when they decide to hire for those positions. Upon completion, students will be ready to work in the accommodations sector of the tourism industry, such as hotels and motels, or in hospital and health care centres. Some have worked at Arbutus RV cleaning recreational vehicles and others have worked at seniors’ facilities. They may find work at parks, golf courses or even garden centres. For more information about this or upcoming DALS programs, contact Erin Cathro at erin.cathro@nic.bc.ca or call her at 250-724-8764.

Phrase of the week: +uu>@h=upic%a> saa@h%as+aquk wik hiš%ip c^ic^iqik +eekuu Pronounced N’aas eekuu Tluth hup ee alth saw hars alt qook Wick hish ilth Cee cee kink N’aas Kleco kleco wa, it means ‘Be careful when you go out for Cedar bark, don’t take it all, pray to the Creator to say thanks’. Supplied by ciisma.

Illustration by Ivy Cargill-Martin

June 3, 2021—Ha-Shilth-Sa—Page 11

Photo by Holly Stocking

Health officials have stressed the importance of overdose prevention sites to lesson the ongoing wave of fatalities, such as the location on Port Alberni’s Third Avenue.

Illicit drug crisis deadlier for First Nations, stats show ‘Our way out of this crisis is by working together,’ says FNHA official on high overdose fatalities, citing the risk of pandemic isolation for those who use street drugs By Mike Youds Ha-Shilth-Sa Contributor Indigenous people are dying from increasingly toxic illicit drugs at five times the rate of non-Indigenous people, a growing disparity that health officials blame on pandemic isolation, poor access to services and systemic racism. B.C. was beginning to make progress against the overdose crisis after declaring a provincial health emergency in 2016. That was before COVID-19 struck. “Things have changed and not for the better,” said Dr. Nel Wieman of First Nations Health Authority in an online news conference May 27. “These dual crises have had significant impact on toxic drug overdoses and deaths overall.” There were 1,716 overdose deaths in B.C. in 2020, a 74 percent increase over 2019. The deaths average out to 4.7 per day, two more than before the pandemic struck. While Indigenous people represent only 3.3 percent of the overall population, they account for about 15 percent of overdose deaths in the province. Wieman said 254 Indigenous people died from toxic-drug overdoses last year, roughly a 120 percent increase over 2019. “The rate at which First Nation people died has also increased,” Wieman said. “The gap is widening, and this is the widest gap we’ve seen since 2016.” COVID forced people into isolation, leading to more addicts to use drugs alone, Wieman said. At the same time, it grew difficult if not impossible to access services during the pandemic shutdown. Public health measures intended to keep people safe had unintended consequences. “We had been making some progress,”

said Dr. Bonnie Henry, provincial health officer. “It’s shocking and horrifying to find that the conditions we put in place to manage the pandemic had exacerbated the overdose problem. We’ve also been seeing increased deaths among people isolated in their homes.” “It is a crisis within a crisis and at times it feels overwhelming,” said Chief Coroner Lisa Lapointe. Toxicity of the drug supply has increased during the pandemic due to closure of the Canada-U.S. border, disrupting the usual flow of illicit drugs. Henry said the situation makes it more urgent than ever to decriminalize small amounts of illicit drugs. “We need to create a safe drug supply and make sure we have alternatives for people as the toxicity of the drug supply skyrockets,” said Dr. Bonnie Henry. In March, the provincial government established a safe supply program that enables doctors and nurses to prescribe pharmaceutical alternatives to street drugs. The province is seeking federal government approval to become the first Canadian jurisdiction to decriminalize possession of small amounts of illicit drugs. Sheila Malcolmson, B.C. minister of mental health and addictions, has told Ottawa that the need for change is more urgent than ever due to the pandemic. “This overwhelming loss of life is felt deeply in every community and we mourn with all the families, relatives, friends and caregivers that carry this loss,” Malcolmson said. “The collision of the pandemic, the poisoned drug supply and Indigenous-specific racism is at the root of the crisis we see today.” “The messaging for the pandemic is that we’re all in this together, but this is

not the case for the toxic drug crisis,” Wieman said. “We continue to lose more people in B.C. to the toxic drug crisis than to COVID-19, yet the issue is not receiving the attention it deserves. We need to change the narrative and work together to address the existing stigmas surrounding toxic drug use.” First Nations have insufficient access to culturally safe health care as well as to addiction services, she said. On top of this, they experience intergenerational trauma, a legacy of residential schools. While statistics don’t convey the full human impact of the crisis, the 2020 numbers point to disturbing trends. First Nations women, for example, died at 9.9 times the rate of other female B.C. residents. Men are most at risk, leading Island Health to launch an awareness campaign recently, encouraging men to break their silence about drug use. Last year, 263 people died on the Island from overdose. Of that number, 225 were men, and 126 of them were in a private residence when they overdosed. Overall in B.C., half the men who have died from toxic drugs were employed. Of those, 55 percent worked in trades or transport. “There’s no getting around it, 2020 was a devastating year,” Wieman said. “We need to build hope that we can turn things around and prevent more deaths.” In response, FNHA launched an online substance use and psychiatry service, part of an initiative to create a range of accessible treatment and healing alternatives for people who use substances. The health authority has also supported expanded access to prescription alternatives and opioid agonist therapy. Education in harm reduction was expanded and online training sessions were added.

Lapointe said she is encouraged by agencies working in close collaboration, the passion of first responders and leadership in First Nations communities supporting clinicians in pursuing safer supply alternatives. “I’m encouraged by people speaking out and demanding different approaches,” she added. “The people in the communities are the first line in this crisis … so we are working very hard to support those people as well,” said Dr. Shannon McDonald of FNHA. “We build hope by recognizing, just as with the COVID-19 pandemic, our way out of this crisis is by working together,” Wieman said. The scourge has not let up in the last six months. There were 158 suspected illicit drug toxicity deaths in March 2021, according to the Coroners Service. This was a 41 percent increase over March 2020 and is tied with March 2018 for the largest number ever recorded in that month. The Kuu-us Crisis Line is available for support at 1-800-588-8717. Other resources available: • Call the National Overdose Response Service before you use drugs to connect with people who want to help you stay safe. 1-888-688-NORS (6677). NORS is an overdose prevention hotline providing confidential, non-judgmental support. • Download the LifeguardApp on your phone www.lifeguarddh.com • Learn about safer use. Call B.C.’s Alcohol and Drug Information Referral Service 1-800-663-1441 or visit IslandHealth.ca/stopoverdose.

Page 12— Ha-Shilth-Sa—June 3, 2021

Photo by Karly Blats

Port Alberni’s King George Apartments on 5th Ave. were recently purchased by the Canadian Mental Health Association Port Alberni and the Province of B.C., which will secure the affordable rental rates for current tenants.

41 affordable rental units for Port Alberni tenants Huu-ay-aht, Uchucklesaht

Photo submitted by Uchucklesaht Tribe Government

A crew works to build six new homes at the Uchucklesaht village of Ethlateese.

Province and CMHA purchase the King George Apartments on 5th Ave., saving tenants from rent increases By Karly Blats Ha-Shilth-Sa Contributor Port Alberni, BC - Tenants of Port Alberni’s King George Apartments are both happy and relieved that their affordable rental rates will be unchanged after the purchase of the building by the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) Port Alberni and the Province of BC. Located at 3131 5th Ave., the building provides 41 one and two-bedroom units that cost considerably less than average market rents in the area, ranging from approximately $500 to $633 per month. The Canadian Mental Health Association Port Alberni had leased the apartment building for the past nine years. The building was recently listed on the market for sale. However, CMHA wanted to find a way to secure this affordable housing for its clients and ensure rental rates were not impacted by a private investor or developer’s purchase. That’s why the province and CMHA Port Alberni partnered to acquire the building. The Canadian Mental Health Association received a grant of $3 million and low-interest financing of $1.86 million from the province to purchase the building, which provides rental homes for people with moderate and low incomes. “Considering the current, critical housing shortage in Port Alberni, we are relieved to be able to secure these below-market rentals for the future,” said Katrina Kiefer, executive director of CMHA Port Alberni. “This purchase will provide stable, safe, affordable homes indefinitely, allowing CMHA to continue to provide services to our population focused around community wellness. We are grateful for the past generosity of the building owner and the provincial government, through BC Housing, for its forward-thinking actions that made this housing possible.”

Kiefer said nothing will change for the tenants in the foreseeable future. “Affordability is a huge issue for most renters as there are so few lower rent homes in this area. Seeking another below-market rent home and subsequently moving, would have been a daunting prospect for everyone,” Kiefer said. “This purchase should alleviate any anxiety about potentially having to do so.” An independent appraisal of the site was completed on March 25, 2021. The appraisal took into account the existing market value of the property and valued the building and land at $5.4 million. CMHA Port Alberni paid $4.8 million for the property, plus approximately $64,600 in related fees. Kiefer said she was able to personally go to each unit in the building to explain that tenants were secure and reassure them that no changes would be made. “Every tenant that I spoke to was relieved and happy that CMHA was to remain their landlord with the current circumstances and rents unchanged,” Kiefer said. With the affordable housing building for sale, there was a real chance that whoever purchased it would redevelop the site or raise rents significantly, said David Eby, attorney general and minister responsible for housing, in a press release. “By purchasing this building, we are making sure that people in the community continue to have rental homes they can afford,” Eby said. In addition to the 41 affordable homes secured in this purchase, there are another 172 new homes completed or underway in Port Alberni. “The Low Energy Housing Group are building affordable homes on Maitland,” Kiefer said. “I’m sure that if there are other future projects in the works, the provincial government will make their announcements.”

Les Sam Construction Residential . Commercial & Architectural Structures Construction Management & Consulting Forming & Framing Ph/Txt: 250.720.7334

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get funding for housing By Melissa Renwick Local Journalism Initiative Reporter Construction of 19 affordable housing units are being built within the Huuay-aht First Nations’ and Uchucklesaht Tribe’s communities. Around $6.92 million will be invested towards the units through the Projects Stream of the Rapid Housing Initiative (RHI). “Every Canadian deserves a safe and affordable place to call home,” read a release by Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC), Canada’s authority on housing. “The COVID-19 crisis has made it clear that affordable housing is key to Canada’s recovery for communities across the country, including those in British Columbia.” After every house in the village of Ethlateese was deemed unliveable, Uchucklesaht Tribe Chief Councillor Charlie Cootes said that the RHI came just in time. “With this funding, we will see eight new homes built and make it possible for eight families to move back home,” he said. “This is true reconciliation on the ground, making homes for people to be able to practice long forgotten cultural practices.” The additional 11 homes are being constructed within Huu-ay-aht’s traditional territory, building on the success of the nation’s 2020 housing project, said

elected chief Robert J. Dennis Sr. “It brings our total new housing units up to 22,” he said in a release. “We have made a commitment to our people to create a safe, healthy place to live where they can connect with the land and their culture. Thanks to the timely contribution from CMHC, we are able to offer affordable housing to more of our citizens so they can move home and enjoy our wonderful homeland.” Through an application-based process which closed on Dec. 31, 2020, $500 million was available to provinces, territories, municipalities, Indigenous governments and non-profit organizations as part of the RHI Projects Stream. The Canadian government invested an additional $1.5 billion towards funding for the RHI in 2021, of which at least 25 per cent will go towards women-focused housing projects. The program is set to help create over 9,200 affordable housing units across Canada, with almost 40 per cent of the units targeted towards Indigenous peoples. I am happy to see our government supporting the housing needs of the Huuayaht First Nation and Uchucklesaht Tribe communities,” said Randeep Sarai, member of parliament for Surrey Centre. “It means we as a province get one-step closer in making sure no First Nation youth, adult or elder is left without a place to call home.”

June 3, 2021—Ha-Shilth-Sa—Page 13

---Employment Opportunities--Port Alberni Friendship Centre

Port Alberni Port Authority is now hiring!

Volunteers Needed

• Seasonal Grounds Keeping Attendants • Seasonal Marina Attendants

Need work experience? The Port Alberni Friendship Centre is looking for interested applicants for various positions. Hours per week vary. Call 250-723-8281

Applications must include a cover letter, resume and three (3) references. Application deadline is 4:00 p.m., Friday, June 11th, 2021. Emailed to: bfilipchuk@alberniport.ca Visit www.papa-appa.ca/opportunities/employmentopportunities/ for more details

Hesquiaht First Nation Job Postings Indigenous Mental Wellness Counsellor Elders Coordinator Cultural Support Worker Location: Hot Springs Cove How to apply: Interested candidates should submit a cover letter and resume to the Hesquiaht Tribal Administrator at the following email address: norma@hesquiaht.ca on or before 4pm PST on May 28, 2021. Candidates of Hesquiaht ancestry are strongly encouraged to apply; please self-identify in your cover letter. We thank all applicants for their interest, but please note that only candidates who are selected for an interview will be contacted.

Page 14— Ha-Shilth-Sa—June 3, 2021

Mowachaht/Muchalaht community alerted to cougars A family of three mountain lions are seen near homes in Tsaxana community, one runs away after two are shot By Eric Plummer Ha-Shilth-Sa Editor Tsaxana, BC - Residents of the Mowachat/Muchalaht First Nation’s community of Tsaxana are urged to be cautious while outdoors after three cougars were seen lurking on the reserve near Gold River. Tsaxana resident Allie Amos said a mother and two babies were spotted in the community in late May, making a den between two homes, an area where her eight-year-old brother plays. “There’s a hill in between those two places and they embedded up there,” said Johnson. “My brother Darren actually plays up on that hill every day.” The babies were shot and killed by a resident and a conservation officer, but the mother ran away and wasn’t shot. Currently the First Nation is seeking permission from the BC Conservation Officer Service to track down the surviving mountain lion. “The mother is provoked and still running around the reserve, looking for her babies,” said Johnson, who saw a fullsized cougar in her driveway this week. “I think it was the mother. I came home from work and it was just laying in front of my grandpa’s truck. I got my grandma to honk at it and it wasn’t even phased.” According to a University of Victoria study, an estimated 600-800 cougars live on Vancouver Island, comprising as much as one fifth of B.C.’s mountain lion population. This gives Vancouver Island the highest concentration of cougars in North America. Mowachaht/Muchalaht Tyee Ha’wilth Michael Maquinna said that cougars are

Wikimedia Commons photo

usually seen in Tsaxana each spring. “Usually the single ones will just come and go,” he said. “If they’re in pairs they’ll stick around longer.” Johnson believes the trio had been in Tsaxana for over four weeks. A few months ago a home in Gold River caught three cougars on camera, leading some to suspect the family relocated to the reserve. “I guess that they just moved up here,” she said. “We all thought that they moved on and that they just left Gold River, but I guess they’ve been hiding here for a

while.” Johnson said the community was cougar territory before the First Nation relocated to the reserve in the 1990s. “When we chose to move up to this spot to make our reserve there were a lot of cougar dens that had to be broken down so that we could build our homes,” she said. “It’s not uncommon for cougars to be coming here as much as they do because this used to be their home.” “Certainly, we are in coexistence with the animals,” noted Maquinna. “Over the spring and summer the animals are out

there, particularly cougars, so be mindful of them.” Although cougars are spread throughout Vancouver Island, the stealthy animals are seldom seen. While attacks on people are rare, WildSafe BC says small children are most at risk. “If you notice that a cougar is watching you, maintain eye contact with the cougar and speak to it in a loud firm voice,” advises the organization. “Reinforce the fact that you are a human and not an easy target.”

Major blasting complete on Tofino highway By Denise Titian Ha-Shilth-Sa Reporter Kennedy Lake, BC – The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure announced that the once weekly 10-hour daylight closures of the Kennedy Hill construction zone are over. In a provincial traffic advisory issued May 27, the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure introduced the new Highway 4 at Kennedy Hill spring closure schedule. Midday four-hour closures of the highway that connects Port Alberni to west coast communities will continue as rock blasting continues. “Blasting to remove a significant rock bluff on the Kennedy Hill improvement project has been progressing well, and drivers are advised that midday closures will continue daily through June 2021,” the ministry stated. Throughout the month of May, the highway was closed for 10 hours every Wednesday for the blasting and removal of an extremely challenging portion of the final significant rock bluff. “The blasting was successful, and no further 10-hour closures are expected to be needed to complete the project,” they said. Blasting on site will continue into the summer with four-hour daytime closures on weekdays, between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m., continuing through June. The ministry states that they will provide more details regarding closure schedules for

the summer when they are confirmed. The $38.1 million Kennedy Hill construction project began in September 2018. The project will upgrade 1.5 kilometers of the Pacific Rim Highway along Kennedy Hill adjacent to Kennedy Lake. The notoriously dangerous section of road was narrow, steep, with blind corners that hugged a cliff along Kennedy Lake. Safety improvements are being made by widening the road, reducing the grade and realignments of the road to address sharp curves. Extensive rock blasting is required to make the upgrades For the most up-to-date information on road conditions, drivers are encouraged to check: www.DriveBC.ca When completed, the Highway 4 - Kennedy Hill Safety Improvement Project aims to create a safer and more reliable connection between Port Alberni and the west coast of Vancouver Island. The ministry thanks drivers and residents on both sides of the closure for their patience. Learn More: General project information and traffic schedules are available online: www.gov. bc.ca/highway4kennedyhill Visit the project page on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/eac.bc.ca. kennedy.hill/ Visit: www.drivebc.ca And follow @DriveBC and #BCHwy4 on Twitter. For 24-hour travel advisories updated daily, call toll-free: 1 855 451-7152

More stories and job postings at www.hashilthsa.com

June 3, 2021—Ha-Shilth-Sa—Page 15

From a commissioned piece to a community project Paul leads a crew of volunteer carvers through the final stages of the multi-year development of a totem pole By Eric Plummer Ha-Shilth-Sa Editor Port Alberni, BC - As he continues to chip away at an 800-year-old cedar log lying by Port Alberni’s waterfront, Hesquiaht carver Tim Paul has had to draw upon the teachings he received as an artist. “My discipline and my upbringing is that I go the distance; I complete and I finish,” said Paul as he stands over the developing totem pole. With a legacy of carving projects that are displayed around the world, Paul admits this one hasn’t been easy. Work began years ago when a windfallen Western red cedar was selected from the forest floor near Bamfield. A gift from the Huu-ay-aht First Nations at an estimated 60,000 pounds, the log was transported to Port Alberni’s Harbour Quay area in March 2019. That was when plans still had the pole being erected at the University of Victoria in late 2019, marking the United Nations Year of Indigenous Languages. The project was commissioned by the First Nations Education Foundation, but by summer 2019 funds had dried up, leaving the master caver and his crew to continue without pay. Then in the fall of that year Paul had to step away from the project. He lost his wife Monica in October, followed by the passing of his mother less than three weeks later. Others were left to execute Paul’s vision, and by late 2019 most of the pole was painted. By then it was determined that the monument would not be raised at UVic but remain in Port Alberni, the community that saw the log’s transformation. Paul returned to the project last year, and currently has found a boost of support from Nuu-chah-nulth carvers contributing to the project. But as he took back control of the piece it became apparent major adjustments were needed. The paint has been removed for the 11 relatives of nature in the pole to be recarved, mainly due to the lack of a proper alignment of the figures and cracks in the ancient log. “We had to realign the whole centre line, take the head off the Bear and reattach it. The fracture went right through it,” explained Paul. “The Sky Chief, the Moon and the Sun are in the back of the pole now.” Carver Moy Sutherland Jr. recently inquired about the project while he was buying lumber from a nearby Port Alberni mill. After seeing the pole, he returned the next day with his chainsaw and tools to help. “Just because it’s got paint on it doesn’t mean it’s finished,” he said. “There’s no way to gauge whether or not this is symmetrical. One of the first things that I did is I put the centre line back on this thing, and now we’re roughing off everything and making it as symmetrical as we can.” Sutherland said he can help the elder Paul with the chainsaw work and other heavy lifting. “My process with whoever I’m working with is they draw the lines, I’ll run the saw on it,” he said. “This is like community-based work at this point, because there’s no purchaser, there’s no funder.” “It’s all there, it’s just rearranged,” added Paul of the pole’s contents. “We just had to redo to make sure that it’s finished properly in Nuu-chah-nulth design and style.”

Photo by Eric Plummer

Moy Sutherland Jr. (left), Guy Louie Jr. and Josh Prescott work on a totem pole at Port Alberni’s waterfront on May 20, following designs led by Hesquiaht carver Tim Paul. The project includes 11 relatives of nature, based on a Nuu-chah-nulth world view. kept us alive, as far as people and as far Paul now plans to incorporate an alumi- tion whenever the project is completed. as our tradition.” “This particular pole has been a rough num design onto a flat section of the pole, Paul admits that the cedar log, which journey for Tim,” admitted Devost. a technique he has employed in other might have lain on the forest floor for “There’s no funding, so anyone who projects. His vision is for the pole to comes here to work on this, they’re doing a century, has been a challenge to work encompass the whole of nature, drawing with. His original designs have required it because they want to be here.” upon experiences throughout his life. adapting due to a significant rot along the “I know that everything that has hap“What it addresses is the mountains and centre of the original log. But the projpened, has happened for a good reason,” the Thunderbird, the skies, the rivers and ect is also a personal dedication to the he added. the lakes. The clearcutting, the mining, women who have influenced the HesquiA permanent location for the pole has the ocean, it just takes on everything and yet to be determined, but plans are under- aht carver over his life, inspiration that looks at the extraction of resources,” described the master carver. “Nature is here way for songs to be composed to mark its fuels Paul as he leads his volunteer crew raising. This is thanks to Ahousaht singer through the pole’s execution. and gives us everything we want. Should “This whole project is a real tribute Guy Louie Jr., who has been travelling we really be overtaking? I think in the to grandmothers, aunts and uncles and from Victoria to help carve the pole. end we pay dearly.” moms,” he said. “We were given a pig’s Louie currently works as an apprentice Since it was removed from the forest ear, but for the ladies, we’re going to turn under Moy Sutherland. floor, the pole’s development has been it into a silver purse.” “His vision is quite clear on holding up documented by filmmaker Dale Devost, a long-time collaborator of Paul’s. He ex- the women,” said Louie of Paul’s direction for the project. “Singing, he believes, pects to have a finished film for distribu-

Page 16— Ha-Shilth-Sa—June 3, 2021

Indigenous Students in School District 70 and School District 84 and all Nuu-chah-nulth are invited to apply for the:

Heečis (Eileen Haggard) Memorial Scholarship

Heečis spent much of her life working to better the lives of young Indigenous people both in her role as the Nuu-chah-nulth Cultural Supervisor and as an outstanding role model for Indigenous peoples. In addition to working to ensure that schools placed great importance in bringing Nuu-chah-nulth culture to classrooms, Heečis never stopped believing that all students have the ability to overcome challenges and believe in themselves, and in their culture. Heečis always treated students with great respect and love no matter what their circumstances. She really made a positive difference in the lives of students who struggled in school.

This year, the Haggard family would like to honour four (4) Grade 12 Graduates of Nuu-chah-nulth descendant and Indigenous Ancestry (reside in SD70 & SD84) who exemplify the qualities necessary to succeed and overcome challenges. Awards will be given at the virtual NTC Scholarship and Graduation Ceremony. Honoured recipients will be students who: • Have worked hard to excel to the best of their ability • Have overcome obstacles in their quest to obtain a high school diploma • Model and value their First Nation culture • Practice iisaak (respect) • Give back to their community

The heechis memorial scholarship application can be found: https://nuuchahnulth.org/services/useful-resources-applications-forms-policies-agreements

Due date for application is June 19, 2021

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