Ha-Shilth-Sa Newspaper June 4, 2020

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INTERESTING NEWS Canada’s Oldest First Nations Newspaper - Serving Nuu-chah-nulth-aht since 1974 Canadian Publications Mail Product Vol. 47 - No. 11—June 4, 2020 haas^i>sa Sales Agreement No. 40047776

COVID-19 forces changes to graduation celebrations The pandemic has high schools holding private and virtual ceremonies, as gathering over 50 remain prohibited By Denise Titian Ha-Shilth-Sa Reporter British Columbia – On June 1 British Columbia’s public schools opened on a limited basis with a goal of full opening in September if the COVID-19 pandemic is less of a risk, but this doesn’t mean that 2020 graduation ceremonies will happen. Beginning June 1, measures will be put in place to protect against the spread of the novel coronavirus in public schools. This includes social distancing and sanitation, and parents may opt out of sending their children back to school for the remainder of the term. But part of protecting the students is limiting crowd sizes as the pandemic continues. Public Schools in the province are forced to forgo traditional graduation ceremonies as public health orders related to the coronavirus pandemic remain in place. Grade 12 students look forward with excitement to graduation. As the school year winds down graduates and their parents normally begin shopping and planning elaborate graduation ceremonies. But the coronavirus pandemic has left 2020 graduates and their families with a feeling of sadness and frustration. According to the BC Restart Plan, we are in Phase 3 of gradual opening of businesses and services. This phase is slated to run June to September with places like schools partially open as long as COVID-19 transmission rates are low or in decline. Kyuquot Elementary Secondary School staff have resumed in-class instruction on a limited basis, which began in late May, with a plan for social distance lessons. School staff are using have the gym to spread desks apart in keeping with social distancing requirements. Parents have the option of sending their children to school on a limited basis. Time schedules are arranged so that a smaller number of students are receiving in-class instruction at any given time. “We have one of our largest graduation classes in recent years, a group who is feeling hugely discouraged that they do not get to finish their final year with regular connections to school and their peers,” said Monique Comeau, KESS vice principal. “Praises to parents of our community who do have the drive to make sure our kids, who are still learning at home, are engaging and staying caught up with their school work,” added Nuu-chah-nulth Education Worker Daisy Hanson. On March 17 Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry issued a public health

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Abigail Manson of the Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation is graduating from high school this summer, but COVID-19 is preventing a traditional ceremony. order prohibiting gatherings of more parents beaming as their graduate walks “The school is producing a video prethan 50. This order remains in place and up onto the stage to receive their diploma. sentation of photos we donated and it’s prevents public schools from having But this year it must be done differently. going to be shown on YouTube,” said traditional graduation ceremonies. Jermaine Paul is graduating from Eighth Jermaine. This leaves the province’s 2020 graduAvenue Learning Centre this year. He doesn’t know how or when he will ating class searching for alternatives to “I think he’s bummed out a bit; it’s goreceive his diploma, saying he was told traditional commencement ceremonies ing to be a virtual grad,” said his mother that the school would be keeping families – disappointing many that have worked Inez Paul. updated as they go. long and hard to earn their diplomas. Jermaine and his classmates were asked “It kind of sucks, I would rather be goIt is a rite of passage that teenagers to provide baby photos and grad photos ing up on stage to get my diploma,” Paul dream of; tuxedos and elaborate prom to the school. They also recorded video said. dresses, limo rentals, photo shoots, proud comments. Continued on Page 3.

Inside this issue... Funerals adjust to pandemic restrictions....................Page 3 Flying essentials into remote communities................Page 5 Racist drive through concerns Tseshaht ....................Page 6 Rebuilding wild chinook and a way of life............Pages 8-9 Province weighs old growth against economics.......Page 12

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Wet’suwet’en MOU sets stage for hereditary authority Agreement with province and feds recognizes territorial title, but make no mention of Coastal GasLink pipeline By Eric Plummer Ha-Shilth-Sa Editor British Columbia - With an agreement signed by the federal and provincial governments recognizing Wet’suwet’en title over their land, the nation’s hereditary chiefs now look to a new age in the territory their families have been tasked to protect for countless generations. The memorandum of understanding between Wet’suwet’en chiefs, Ottawa and the province also demonstrates to the rest of Canada a different recognition of hereditary authority over an Indigenous nation’s territory – above the direction of elected councils that function under the Indian Act. With COVID-19 social distancing measures in effect, the MOU was formally signed at different locations by nine hereditary chiefs, Canada’s Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations Carolyn Bennett and Scott Fraser, B.C.’s minister Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation, on May 14. Before the coronavirus pandemic forced the country into a succession of lockdown measures to control the spread of the disease, the stance of the Wet’suwet’en chiefs sparked the foremost news story of early 2020. Representing five clans that make up the Wet’suwet’en nation, the hereditary chiefs opposed the construction of the Coastal GasLink natural gas pipeline through their territory in northwestern British Columbia. This stance set off a series of protests as well as road and railway blockades as groups across Canada demonstrated their solidarity with the Wet’suwet’en. The Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council was among the many organizations who supported the chiefs in their opposition, stressing that such “conflicts will never end without free, prior and informed consent of indigenous peoples.” “The Nuu-Chah-Nulth have been watching with dismay as the RCMP enter onto Wet’suwet’en lands and arrest and forcibly remove heads of their government, matriarchs and community members who are peacefully defending their lands, which is within their laws,” stated the NTC media release. “Indigenous peoples continue to be forcibly removed from their territories, and jobs and revenue continue to take precedence over First Nations consent over their territories. The government is fueled by corporations and not reconciliation.” Mounting pressure across Canada resulted in provincial and federal government officials venturing to Smithers in late February to sit down with Wet’suwet’en chiefs. Three days later they emerged with an agreement that has now been publicly released, giving legal recognition that the Wet’suwet’en Houses “are the Indigenous governing body holding the Wet’suwet’en Aboriginal rights and title.” The MOU goes on to declare that the Wet’suwet’en have “a legal interest in land” on their territory, with a list of areas in which authority will be transferred over to the hereditary chiefs. This transfer includes water, fish, wildlife, land use planning, revenue sharing as well as “child and family wellness”. “In some cases the jurisdiction that is transferred to the Wet’suwet’en will be exclusive and in some cases it will be shared with Canada or British Columbia,” states the MOU. The document’s signing was contingent on review by Wet’suwet’en clan members, but the agreement revealed oppo-

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Supporters of Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs hold a demonstration at the B.C. legislature in Victoria in February. sition from five elected councils in the nation’s territory. “Discussions must adhere to a process where all clan members, hereditary chiefs and elected chiefs, have an opportunity for full and informed engagement, as well as full consensus,” reads a letter from the five First Nation councils in Wet’suwet’en territory. “These discussions have not taken place, nor have we voted on the MOU.” These band councils previously agreed to Coastal GasLink passing through Wet’suwet’en territory. They accused the consultation process of being undemocratic, and some elected members even called for the resignation of Bennett as Crown-Indigenous Relations minister. “This MOU consultation process has lacked any semblance of credibility,” continued the letter. “The federal government, the provincial government and the hereditary chiefs have completely ignored many clan members and elected chiefs. These discussions have not included openness and respect for all parties.” In their response the hereditary chiefs stated that members were consulted on the MOU across their traditional territory (yintah), as well as in urban centres. “The Dinï’ze and Tsakë’ze of the five clans, Gil_seyhu, Laksamshu, Tsayu, Gitdumten and Laksilyu make decisions by consensus, we listen, ask questions and discuss all matters as we have done for generations,” stated the Wet’suwet’en chiefs. “A strong key aspect of the yintah comes from our unique stewardship relationship, our spirit is in the land, our language and crests come from the lifegiving force of the yintah.” Although Coastal GasLink is what brought about this agreement, the MOU does not specifically address the contentious pipeline, and the company behind

the project was not included in the discussion that led to the agreement with Canada and the province. Construction of the pipeline has continued during the COVID-19 pandemic. But a significant development is how the MOU draws upon the DelgamuukwGisday’wa Supreme Court of Canada decision from 1997. This ruling determined that Wet’suwet’en and Gitxsan rights to their territory were not extinguished when British Columbia joined Confederation over a century ago.

“Aboriginal title means use and occupation of your yintah [and] right to decide on the uses of your yintah subject to constraint to protect for future generations,” states a document the Wet’suwet’en nation recently provided to its members. “This is just the beginning, but that recognition means that they will not be able to ever again approve a project without your government being fully part of the decision as to what will and will not happen on your territory.”

Single vehicle accident closes Highway 4 By Denise Titian Ha-Shilth-Sa Reporter Port Alberni, BC – An early morning accident along Highway 4 on Watty’s Hill has closed that portion of the highway for nearly three hours on May 25. Traffic was detoured around the scene. According to Richard Sam, who lives directly across from the accident scene, he heard a big bang at about 7 a.m. “At first I thought it was a bear on my porch,” said Sam. Then he saw a blue flash go across his television screen and knew immediately that whatever happened had to do with electricity. “I saw a truck pull in my driveway and that’s when I saw the car and the pole across the street,” said Sam. The man that pulled into his driveway was on the phone with 911 and asked Richard to go to the man in the wrecked

car. “The power lines were down and I think he knew he had to stay in there,” said Sam of victim. “He was moving around and on the phone.” BC Hydro reports that there is a power outage in Port Alberni affecting 134 customers. The cause of the outage is a motor vehicle accident that occurred at 6:58 a.m. on May 25. Sam said the driver of the vehicle remained inside the car while the Port Alberni Fire Department and BC Hydro crews secured the scene. Once power to the lines were cut, Sam said a member of the fire department opened the car door and the driver got out and walked to the waiting ambulance. The road was open to single lane traffic at 10:45 a.m. BC Hydro estimated the road would fully open at 12:30 p.m. after they install a new pole.

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Funeral homes see steady demand for services Businesses adapt to social distancing and sanitization as funeral demand increases during COVID-19 pandemic By Eric Plummer Ha-Shilth-Sa Editor Port Alberni, BC - How do families mark the passing of a loved one during the coronavirus pandemic, when physical distancing discourages hugging or a handshake? It’s a dilemma facing funeral homes that have seen a steady stream of work since COVID-19 forced sectors of the economy to shut down in mid March. The issue has been particularly challenging for Nuu-chah-nulth families, who have seen at least 15 deaths since the World Health Organization declared the pandemic in mid March. Following a time-honoured tradition of large gatherings, the passing of a loved one would often bring a funeral of over a hundred family members and friends. But with the province still under a state of emergency, gatherings of over 50 are prohibited according to an order from B.C.’s provincial health officer to control the spread of COVID-19, bringing unprecedented restrictions to funerals. Judith Sayers, president of the Nuuchah-nulth Tribal Council, has seen the pandemic leave many negative impacts on Nuu-chah-nulth people, including the inability to follow cultural ways when one passes on to the other side. “In normal times, we would all go to a home or place where the family is gathering to mourn the loss of the loved one, provide our mutual support and help feed the family so they don’t have to worry about that while mourning their loss,” she said. “For us, attending at the home of the family brings medicine, helps them get through a really hard time, tell stories of the one that passed on and help with the planning of the services to be held.” “Now, we cannot attend at that home due to physical distancing,” continued Sayers. “You can only communicate with the family through phone, computer conferencing or other messaging through Facebook or other means.” Meanwhile, funeral homes have been

Photo by Eric Plummer

The need to hold funerals has continued for Bradd Tuck and Yates Memorial Services. The funeral home has taken a number of measures during the COVID-19 pandemic, including offering more sanitizing and protective supplies to clients and holding smaller services that follow the province’s social distancing protocols. forced to adapt. During the early weeks now, and it’s definitely putting a strain on of the pandemic, services were limited people,” said Tuck. “It’s a hard challenge to 20 to mitigate the risk of transmission. to be standing there six feet from someSince late April, new coronavirus cases in one wanting to give them a hug, but not being able to.” B.C. have steadily declined, and the inYates has had no shortage of business troduction of Phase 2 restrictions in mid May allowed funerals to increase to 40. from Nuu-chah-nulth families since “I think that we’re probably doing more March, including one week that brought three Ahousaht deaths. They have stocked little ceremonies now than we normally would,” said Bradd Tuck, operations up on supplies like sanitizer and gloves, manager for Yates Memorial Services, and spread viewings over a longer stretch of the day to limit the volume of people which runs funeral homes in Parksville visiting the reception centres. Tuck has and Port Alberni. “With the restrictions happening in care homes where you can’t found that the biggest challenge is limiting invitations. enter and you can’t come in to do that, a lot more people are wanting to be a part “I think that’s probably the most difficult of those viewings.” decision families are needing to make, Social distancing requirements remain is who do we include and how do we in place, meaning that besides members decide who is allowed to come,” he said. of the same household, service partici“That’s something we’re not able to offer pants must remain six feet apart. too much guidance on, it’s more up to the “The physical closeness that is normal family to decide who would benefit most during a funeral isn’t happening right from being at the service.”

What funeral homes have been able to provide is the option of sharing the small service with others through an online video stream via Facebook Live or Zoom. This too can bring tough decisions for families, as some elders might not be comfortable with a live broadcast while immediate family wants it. By law the funeral home is obligated to leave this decision with the next of kin, said Tuck, although anyone on camera must also consent to being videotaped. “Some people are very comfortable with that, they want it to happen, others find that it’s too public and they want the ceremony to be private,” he said. “We’re dealing with the aspect of how do you share things but also allow for privacy and the respect of the families so that there’s not too much shared, because those are intimate moments that are quite private during a funeral service.” Sayers noted that the video streams can bring challenges for families who follow the Nuu-chah-nulth tradition of putting away photographs of a loved one for one year after the passing. “Many are planning services after the pandemic is over. Others have Facebook pages where people can leave pictures or their memories,” she said. “As our custom is to not have pictures of the person out for a year, the space for pictures is up for a limited time.” The number of active coronavirus cases in B.C. has declined to just over 200, but many First Nations remain on high alert due to the risk of the virus spreading in a remote community with little access to medical care. Despite the difficulty in following social distancing protocols during a funeral, Tuck has seen families remain cautious during the many small gatherings over the last few months. “I would say, though, that everyone has been governing themselves quite well,” he said. “We haven’t had to intervene and say, ‘Hey, you need to back off in this setting.’ People understand the risks and respect that.”

School districts rely on technology to recognize grads Continued from page 1. According to ADSS Vice Principal Carl Poole, ADSS is filming a virtual ceremony. “Our filming and editing is being done by high school student Richard Spencer, with the support of our Drama, Film, and Television teacher Stephanie Hopkins,” he stated. Graduates and their families are assigned a time to film in the school auditorium. Dressed in gowns and caps, the graduates will receive their diplomas in the decorated space. The families will be allowed to pose for photographs on the stage before moving to the foyer, which has a decorated space for grad photos. “At this point grads will learn if they have won any scholarships,” said Poole. The spaces are sanitized between the filming of each graduate. “The final product will be released on July 3 at 7 p.m. and can be seen on Shaw TV or through weblinks on the ADSS Website and ADSS Facebook pages,” added Poole. In Ahousaht, Education Director Rebecca Atleo said they are still working on how Maaqtusiis Grad 2020 will look. As a band-run school, Maaqtusiis High School is not part of the public-school system. The community is still following protocols to keep people safe during the

pandemic. According to Maaqtusiis School Administrator Pam Frank-Perry, school staff and parents continue to meet and firm grad plans have not yet been made. “We are having a meeting today and will hear parent’s ideas on how we can make this work, safely,” said Frank-Perry on June 2. Abigail Manson of Tla-o-qui-aht is graduating from Ucluelet Secondary School. Her mother, Margaret, said the school has arranged to do individual presentations with the graduates, which will be recorded. “A few kids asked to do one (grad ceremony) on the field, with each graduate’s family members in sections but school has to follow the government guidelines of no crowds gathering in groups of more than 50,” Margaret shared. “So, each graduate is being given 20 minutes for a private ceremony in the band room.” According to information provided to the parents from the school, Ucluelet Secondary School Graduates will record their individual ceremonies over two days in June. The clips will be spliced together to make a full grad class video. Weather permitting, there will be a grad parade in Ucluelet on June 20. On May 25, the provincial government and Ministry of Education announced

Eighth Avenue Learning Centre student Jermaine Paul is graduating from high school this June. honor and respect students, but there will that British Columbia’s graduates would be no gatherings. be celebrated in a virtual graduation and He is pleased to announce that scholarend-of-school celebration by local artists ships will remain available for students. and performers. “Scholarships for K – 12 are still a go, “I know this is not how graduates expected to celebrate their achievements, as per normal,” he added. The NTC Education Department is but that doesn’t diminish the occasion,” working with Ha-Shilth-Sa to pull togethsaid Premier John Horgan. er a distinctly Nuu-chah-nulth celebration The event aired on May 26 on a Faceof education production. book page and YouTube channel. Not wanting to give away too much The pandemic has also affected the detail, Caplette said he hopes that each Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council’s annual Nuu-chah-nulth graduate and scholarship scholarship ceremonies. winner can be presented with a copy of NTC’s Director of Education Ian Caplette acknowledges that it is important to this production.

Page 4— Ha-Shilth-Sa—June 4, 2020 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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Representatives discuss food delivery By Sam Laskaris Ha-Shilth-Sa Contributor Ahousaht, BC – Anne Atleo has some increased responsibilities during this pandemic. Yet Atleo, the manager of administration for Ahousaht First Nation, didn’t mind taking some time out of her busy schedule on Wednesday to take part in a webinar. Atleo was one of the three panelists for a webinar titled Food Security During A Pandemic. The webinar, which lasted just under 50 minutes, was presented by the First Nations Public Service Secretariat (FNPSS). The event was also part of FNPSS’s Mentorship Network. A variety of topics were discussed, notably how some First Nations have begun coordinating mass grocery deliveries to remote communities to limit the need for residents to travel in and out. Almost 120 people from across Canada tuned in for the webinar. Though the majority of viewers were from British Columbia, individuals from Alberta, Ontario, New Brunswick and Yukon also took part. Jeneen Hunt, the administrator of Ditidaht First Nation, and Milica Nauman, who works for Indigenous Services Canada, were the two other panelists. After hearing presentations from the panelists, viewers had an opportunity to ask questions and receive answers. Atleo was more than happy to be part of the webinar to discuss what her First Nation has been doing for its members during the pandemic. “The more people that are able to see some of the successes we might have had, that’s part of the goal,” she said. Both Ahousaht and Ditidaht have been providing their members with weekly food deliveries via funds available through federal funding. Atleo and Hunt discussed the successes and challenges that their Nuu-chah-nulth First Nations have encountered during this process of ordering and delivering food to their members. Atleo said Ahousaht members started being in lockdown on March 13 and were told they could only leave their village for essential travel. As a result, First Nation officials figured out a method to order bulk food weekly and have it

delivered by barge for its members. This eliminates the need to have members make their own lengthy way into a community such as Tofino to buy their food. Atleo said the food delivery process has not been problem-free. “There’s always a challenge of having enough volunteers (to deliver the food after it arrives) and doing it in the parameters of food safety,” she said. Atleo said a similar order is placed every week consisting of essentials, including items such as milk, eggs, bread and potatoes. These items are provided for free for members of the First Nation. Atleo added those members looking for other specific food items can also place an order through the First Nation but they will need to pay for those goods. Hunt said one of the difficulties for Ditidaht members is that they end up receiving the same order. “The hardest thing has been that you end up getting the same things every week,” she said. Like Atleo, Hunt was also more than willing to take part in the webinar as she believes information sharing is crucial. “It’s really nice to be able to do that,” she said. Hunt said when her First Nation began its food security for members there were some early challenges. “The toughest part was setting up our emergency operations centre,” she said. “None of our staff had incident command system training. The province uses that for emergencies.” Hunt added although her First Nation primarily provides some of the essential foods for its members, it does make some exceptions. “We try to get anything we can for our elders or the ones with little ones,” she said. During the webinar advice was also given to those looking to harvest their own food in their gardens. “There’s nothing like fresh vegetables and fresh berries,” Atleo said. Other Indigenous communities have also been offering support for their members during the pandemic with offers of food. “Some communities gave out one-time funding to their members,” Hunt said. “Our reason for doing the weekly distri-

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Photo by Anne Atleo

Melinda Swan, Ahousaht’s deputy chief councillor, has oversight of the First Nation’s food bank. Ahousaht and the Ditidaht First Nation are coordinating mass grocery deliveries to their communities to reduce the risk of residents bringing in the coronavirus. bution is that it was helping people stay home as much as possible.” Both Ahousaht and Ditidaht have also been able to provide food for some of their off-reserve members. “That has been a difficult one to deal with because we have more people living off reserve than we do on reserve,” Hunt said. “We’ve been able to get one-time gift cards to them. And (for those that need it) we’re recommending they go to food banks for their other sources.” Wednesday’s webinar was the third in a series. FNPSS’s first webinar, held May 6, was titled Working Remotely With Staff. A May 13 webinar called Communicating With Members During COVID-19 was then held. Virtual Engagement and Decision Making was the next seminar on May 27. That was be followed by a June 3 event called Reconciliation in a Time of Uncertainty. More information or the previous recordings of webinars is available at https://fnps.ca/webinars

Ha-Shilth-Sa belongs to every Nuu-chah-nulth person including those who have passed on, and those who are not yet born. A community newspaper cannot exist without community involvement. If you have any great pictures you’ve taken, stories or poems you’ve written, or artwork you have done, please let us know so we can include it in your newspaper. E-mail holly.stocking@nuuchahnulth.org. This year is Ha-Shilth-Sa’s 46th year of serving the Nuu-chah-nulth First Nations. We look forward to your continued input and support. Kleco! Kleco!

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Métis woman flies essentials into remote villages New operation uses fundraising to deliver supplies to remote First Nations facing a high risk during pandemic By Sam Laskaris Ha-Shilth-Sa Contributor Vancouver, BC– Residents from the remote Indigenous community of Alert Bay will once again be on the receiving end of some generosity. Earlier this month fishermen from the Tla-a-qui-aht First Nation arrived at the ‘Namgis First Nation in Alert Bay to deliver almost two tonnes of fish, which was then distributed to residents in pandemic lockdown. Despite its remoteness on Cormorant Island, which is located east of Port McNeill, Alert Bay had a COVID-19 outbreak. The community had 30 positive cases and one of its female residents died in April. She became the first person in an Indigenous community in British Columbia to succumb to the coronavirus disease. Alert Bay residents are expected to once again benefit from the generosity of others next week. That’s because Teara Fraser, a Vancouver-based Métis woman who owns Iskwew Air, will fly to Alert Bay to deliver thousands of dollars in essentials that have been donated. Fraser, the first Indigenous woman to start up her own airline company, has agreed to make flights delivering essentials to Indigenous communities. Fraser will make a flight to a different community for every $6,000 raised through the crowdfunding campaign called Air LIFT and which can be viewed at https://fundrazr. com/AirLift2020?ref=sh_16xwlf_ ab_4UCiKzm4aB44UCiKzm4aB4. Money raised for each flight will go towards purchasing supplies for the communities, airplane fuel and other operational costs of making the delivery. “I’m a bridge builder,” said Fraser, who launched Iskwew Air, which operates out of Vancouver International Airport, last March. “I’m a Métis woman and part of my responsibility is to build bridges.” Fraser will be delivering not only food but also masks and other essential sup-

plies needed in the communities. “Iskwew Air was built on a desire to uplift Indigenous people and communities,” she said. “This is what I’m passionate about.” Fraser added she would have preferred not to be doing this work. “In an ideal world, Indigenous communities would have everything they need and something like this would not be needed,” she said. Alert Bay was chosen in part because of the death of one of its residents and the fact the community has been reeling while in lockdown from the pandemic. Fraser is hoping to fly to the community this coming Tuesday to make her first delivery. But the trip will be dependent on the weather. “We won’t know until the day before (what the projected weather will be),” she said. As of Friday morning, more than $5,100 had been raised via the campaign. Fraser said sufficient funds had been secured and she would indeed make her first delivery to Alert Bay this coming week. And she’ll have to start thinking about following deliveries. “I should figure out what’s next,” she said, adding a second community will in all likelihood be selected this Saturday. “If we start getting some ground movement on this campaign, which I’m hoping we do, we need to know where we’ll be going.” Whenever possible, the essentials that will be delivered to the various communities will be sourced from Indigenous businesses, providing them with a muchneeded boost as well. Fraser is uncertain whether any of the 14 Nuu-chah-nulth First Nations would be able to benefit from this venture. “There are some communities I would love to serve but they don’t have strip access,” she said. Fraser added if need be, it is possible to fly into one location and then have essentials delivered to another nearby community. She said the number of deliveries she ends up making will be dependent

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Teara Fraser, a Métis woman who owns her own airline, plans to fly into remote Indigenous communities in B.C. in the coming weeks to deliver essential goods. not only on the funds raised but also with Navajo Chieftain, which is called the what communities need. Sweetgrass Warrior. Some pandemic restrictions are being “It’s fantastic to have a small plane and lifted throughout British Columbia and be able to fly where the needs are,” said more businesses are opening their doors B.E. Alink, the manager of the crowdonce again. Thus, it’s difficult for Fraser funding campaign. to predict how much longer communities Like Fraser, Alink is hoping several will have a need for essentials. other Indigenous communities are able to “Everything in our world is shifting and benefit from this venture. it’s changing so quickly,” she said. “When there is a request and governFraser will be making her deliveries ment is too slow to respond, hopefully we with her plane, a twin engine PA31 Piper can respond,” Alink said.

Jocelyn George inquest postponed due to COVID-19 By Eric Plummer Ha-Shilth-Sa Editor Port Alberni, BC - Those who seek answers regarding the sudden death of a young Hesquiaht mother after a night in police custody will have to wait beyond this summer. A coroner’s inquest into the death of Jocelyn George that was scheduled to begin July 6 at the Port Alberni Courthouse has been postponed due to provincial measures to control the spread of COVID-19. British Columbia’s active coronavirus cases have declined to under 300 after a peak of 750 on April 26, but preventative measures remain in place across the province, including prohibiting gatherings of 50 or more people. “The BC Coroners Service will arrange to reschedule the inquest once all COVID-19 public health measures are no longer required,” reads a statement from the BC Coroner’s Service issued today. George died on June 24, 2016 in a Victoria hospital when she suffered a cardiac arrest due to drug toxicity levels. She was airlifted to Victoria after being detained overnight by RCMP in Port Alberni. The

Jocelyn George died in June 2016 after a night in RCMP custody. A coroner’s inquest into her death scheduled for July in Port Alberni has been postponed. 18 year old was arrested the day before charges against police who held George for public intoxication, then released, but overnight, but concerns of neglect that was taken back into custody after a relaled to her death remain with family memtive concerned for her safety contacted bers and others. police. “The details outlined in this report unThese details were released in early derscore an urgent need for the RCMP to 2018 by the Independent Investigations re-evaluate their internal policies regardOffice of B.C., a police oversight agency. ing the monitoring of persons in custody The IIO found no grounds to bring who are deemed intoxicated,” stated

the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council in a media release issued in response to the Independent Investigations Office report. “This is not the first Nuu-chah-nulth or Indigenous person to die in the custody of the RCMP. This report has not only failed to bring closure to the family of Jocelyn George who have been left with unanswered questions but has highlighted a reoccurring issue present in many Indigenous communities across Canada – the unfair and unbalanced treatment of our people by police.” Coroner’s inquests are mandatory following the death of someone while in police custody. When it is eventually held, the inquest will be heard by a coroner and a five-to-seven-member jury, who would hear from witnesses to determine the facts that led up to George’s death. A coroner’s inquest can make recommendations to prevent future tragedies under similar circumstances. The process produces a verdict with a classification of the death, but does not determine who is at fault for the passing. While some of B.C.’s court operations resumed May 13, any jury selection for trials is cancelled until Sept. 7.

Page 6— Ha-Shilth-Sa—June 4, 2020

Ditidaht students share learning of traditional places High school launches website marking traditional coastal sites, generations after communities rese•led inland By Karly Blats Ha-Shilth-Sa Contributor Nitinaht Lake, BC - Students at Ditidaht Community School have been working hard to highlight the rich history of places and civilization in traditional territories of the Ditidaht First Nations through a recently launched mapping website. The site, designed to share information to the public about place names, traditional uses and Ditidaht connections today, features the work of students who researched places by interviewing knowledge keepers, searching historical documents and by visiting traditional areas. The Ditidaht traditional territory stretches inland from Cowichan Lake, down through Nitinaht Lake, and to the coast between Bonilla Point and Pachena Point. For generations, Ditidaht people lived in villages all along the coastline where the West Coast Trail passes through, but in the 1960s most moved inland to the roadaccessible end of Nitinaht Lake where the school and community buildings are now located. The Ditidaht places map represents a history of strong and growing connection for youth in the remote Vancouver Island First Nation to their traditional territory. The project was led by elders, students and the Ditidaht Community School’s growing Language and Culture department with help from fluent speaking elders, Dorothy Shepherd, Christine Edgar, Fran Tate and Mike Thompson. Dave Mason, lead teacher for the Ditidaht Places Project, said the assign-

Submitted photo

Student Larissa Lamb talks with elder and fluent speaker Christine Edgar about her experience growing up in the traditional territory of the Ditidaht First Nations. ment is important for students because it “Place names give context to our laninvites them to turn their attention to their guage and make it easier to understand territory, culture and identity. the way our people thought about things,” “It allows them to explore family consaid former elected chief Robert Joseph nections to place and situate a way of life in a press release. that might in some ways be becoming Mason said for students, working with abstract. It also helps youth contextualize the elders was the most important eletheir language learning by encoring place ment of the research process. names and stories in physical places,” “Eyes would light up in both elders and Mason said. students to share and learn about these The project is one component of an places,” Mason said. “The territory is like ongoing language revitalization initiative a roadmap of the language. There are sigin the community as it works with its six nificant clues embedded in place names remaining fluent speakers, all in their 70s that reveal how Ditidaht perceive the and 80s. world. By learning about these names,

students can immerse themselves in this world and situate their language learning there. It gives them a context to fully appreciate their language.” In addition to speaking with elders, research was compiled through the treaty negotiation process that yielded a Traditional Use and Occupancy Survey (TUOS). “This document compiled by historians, anthropologists, archeologists and other researchers includes in-depth interviews of elders and knowledge keepers, archeological reports, historical photographs, letters of correspondence and government documents,” Mason said. “Students consulted this information and shared their learning in the pins on the site.” Mason added that research is ongoing for this project as students will continually consult with knowledge keepers and elders. The map and content shared in its place-pins are designed to evolve and grow over time as different students share their research and findings. “I’m very thankful to live in Nitinaht where we have a community school that teaches Ditidaht language, culture and history in its curriculum,” said student Krissy Edgar in a press release. “I had lots of fun going to as much of the locations as we could to hear my peers to hear what the land is/was used for.” The project is an act of cultural reclamation for the students, Mason said, one that grounds learning in the territory their ancestors inhabited. To view the map, visit ditidahtplaces.ca.

Racism rears its ugly head in Tseshaht territory By Denise Titian Ha-Shilth-Sa Reporter Port Alberni, BC – As the seventh day of riots raged in the U.S. over the police killing of African American man George Floyd in Minneapolis on May 25, a disturbing incident took place in residential neighborhoods on the Tseshaht reserve. According to Tseshaht member, Nasimius (Ed Ross), his neighbors witnessed an act of racism as they were enjoying family time together in their yard in the early morning hours of June 2. Nasimius said at about 1:15 to 1:45 a.m. he heard the sounds of loud voices. His neighbor witnessed an incident and managed to video record it, which was then posted to social media. The truck drove through a main road near Haahuupayuk School. In the video, a white truck emerges from the darkness and can be seen passing under the streetlights. People inside the truck are making the stereo-typical Native Indian war whoop sounds and shouting racial slurs, according to witnesses. Nasimius was shaken by the incident. “All I can really say is I heard it all going down while I was in my house very clearly; they were doing stereotype Indian calls and racial and derogatory slurs – it was loud,” he said. He went on to say that his neighbor who shot the video was outside with her partner and her kids. “They were having a camp-out in the back of their truck so those young girls witnessed it too,” Nasimius said. The incident stirred up old feelings of being the target of racial attacks in his youth. As a young teenager Nasimius recalls being chased down on his skateboard and being called hurtful things in

racially motivated attacks. “All I will say is that these boys are lucky they never got blocked in; these actions triggered me to a person I don’t like and could very well have escalated into something worse,” he added. Elected Chief Cynthia Dick shared the video on social media. “Just when you hope that things aren’t as bad as they may seem everywhere (else) and you see a glimpse of hope. This truck was driving around the reserves tonight in small town Port Alberni yelling racial slurs and making the stereotypical ‘Indian calls’...someone has to recognize this vehicle. This is not okay,” she wrote. Tseshaht members have met with the RCMP and reported the incident. The community has plans to step up surveillance on the reserve. The RCMP hadn’t returned calls to HaShilth-Sa by press time. Nasimius later apologized to the public for his angry post, saying he was triggered by the frightening incident. Besides bringing him back to a traumatic time, it made him worry for the safety of his young daughters. “My girls, they weren’t home but I thought wtf, are my girls – our kids going to experience this still?” he asked on social media. “It made me upset that they will have to deal with this still,” said Nasimius. “The terrible acts of racism that played out in our community last night are an upsetting wakeup call that, while it’s easy to look at what is happening in the US as being far away, racism and hate still exists in our own back yard,” said MP Gord Johns in a written statement. In a joint statement issued by the Tseshaht First Nation and the City of Port Alberni, Elected Chief Cynthia Dick

Facedbook photo

A long-box, crew cab white pickup truck was spotted shouting racist slurs on the Tseshaht reserve between 1:15 and 1:45 a.m. on June 2. thanked those that have extended their until we have eradicated racism in all its support. forms and truly celebrate our differences “While this incident is upsetting, we are as members of the human family.” determined to emerge stronger and to use The Tseshaht people plan to meet to this as an opportunity to foster unity and talk about how they will prevent future teach our children what it takes to build attacks. a happy, healthy community that respects “I will say I can’t control these people’s diversity and celebrates individuality,” actions, but it triggers our nation to take she stated. action to love and protect our people and Port Alberni Mayor Sharie Minions had we will be talking about how we can this to say, “The behavior displayed durdo that in a peaceful way tonight…with ing this incident is in no way reflective of our whit waak and our wolves,” shared our community values. We stand shoulder Nasimius. to shoulder with Tseshaht and all First Dick stated that, as leaders in the Nations people and will not tolerate racAlberni Valley, they will do everything ism in our community.” in their power to assist RCMP in finding “Today, I stand with the Nuu-chah-nulth these individuals so they may be held acpeople and all those in our community countable for their actions. who condemn the racist behaviour of If you have any information on the incithose who trespassed on Tseshaht land dent or want to report other hate crimes last evening to taunt and spew hatred tothat have occurred in the Alberni Valley, wards its people for no other reason than please contact Port Alberni RCMP at 250they are different than them,” said Johns. 723-2424. “We will not be whole as a community

June 4, 2020—Ha-Shilth-Sa—Page 7

West Coast Warriors founder fought to the end David Dennis is remembered for being radical, iconic and unrelenting in his fight for First Nations rights By Eric Plummer Ha-Shilth-Sa Editor Vancouver, BC - From his younger years as a founder of the West Coast Warrior Society to a call for the province to eliminate discriminatory organ donation policies during the last year of his life, those closest to David Dennis will remember him for his fearlessness in the face of daunting adversity. A member of the Huu-ay-aht First Nations and father of five, the 45-year-old was taken off life support on Friday, May 29, less than a year after being diagnosed with end-stage liver disease. His passing was acknowledged by the Nuu-chahnulth Tribal Council, an organisation he formally served as Southern Region cochair more than a decade ago. “As we say goodbye to David, we remember him with fond memories, his moments of courage and his fighting spirit,” reads an NTC statement released today. That fighting spirit became apparent to Terry Dorward when he first met Dennis in the late 1990s, a period he recalls as “the height of the Native Youth Movement, back when we were rallying against the B.C. treaty process.” By 2000 Dorward, Dennis and three other members of the advocacy group’s security forces had broken off to form the West Coast Warrior Society, an organization that soon gained the attention of authorities for their militant appearance. “Throughout ’97 and ’98 there were members within the Native Youth Movement who felt that we should take a more direct, assertive approach to title and rights,” explained Dennis, wearing combat-style camouflage in video footage from the time. From B.C. to New Brunswick, the Warriors took part in blockades for Indigenous rights, and took to the water for the Cheam First Nation when the Department of Fisheries and Oceans blocked the community from fishing on the Fraser River. At this time recreation boats were permitted to fish in the First Nation’s territory, said Dorward. “They felt that it was their right to fish, but they were getting hassled. Women and elders and youth were getting violently arrested,” he said. “They needed a security force to protect them while they set their nets out.” This approach also came to Nuu-chahnulth territory when the Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation was having difficulty getting approval from Parks Canada to expand their reserve. “We were ready to shut down the Tofino

Photo by Eric Plummmer

David Dennis died on May 29, less than a year after a diagnosis with end-stage liver disease. Here he is is pictured at a Vancouver Nuu-chah-nulth Urban Gathering in December. highway, we were out there training on to protect those at risk. With the support of the Union of BC the beaches,” recalled Dorward. Carol McCarthy, who birthed two and Indian Chiefs, a complaint was sent to the The pressure apparently worked, and the raised three children with Dennis, recalls BC Human Rights Tribunal, claiming that reserve expansion brought the new comher partner as someone with an “ability the abstinence policy was discriminatory. munity of Ty-Histanis. to see things from a different angle.” He Dennis, who had stopped drinking on “Government officials, they listened,” showed a keen interest in bringing out June 4, was being unfairly judged for his said Dorward. “Indians in camouflage people’s ancestral pride, recalled Mcalcohol use disorder by BC Transplant, had a strong presence. It created a lot of Carthy. under a policy with “little or no scientific uncertainty.” “When he met people, he would ask, support,” according to the complaint. But the Warriors also gained the atten‘Who’s your people?’,” she said. “He By September BC Transplant changed tion of police. The pressure escalated to would tell them, ‘Don’t ever be afraid the six-month abstinence requirement, Dennis and two other members being of being Indigenous’. I don’t think that but Dennis’ condition had worsened to stopped at gunpoint on Vancouver’s Burmany young people ever heard that in the point where it was unclear if his body rard Street bridge in June 2005. Fourteen their life.” could sustain a transplant. During a Nuurifles and ammunition were seized, but She added that Dennis was also a dedichah-nulth Urban Gathering in Vancouver Dennis contended that the weapons, cated father. last December he spoke of the need to which were legally purchased, were “He did a lot of stuff with the kids accept his condition, while citing how the being transported to train Tsawataineuk outdoors, like going to the park, playing change in policy will help others in the youth to hunt on B.C.’s central coast. football,” she said, “taking the kids out to future. The Warriors were soon released without go camping.” “They’ve changed their stance, which charges, but Dennis encountered threats But Dennis was aware of the personal will benefit ultimately a lot of our kuu’us to his family, and the group disbanded cost of going against the tide of mainpeople because they won’t be faced with that summer. stream society, as shown during a talk he the same barriers,” he said, celebrating Dennis’ advocacy came to the streets gave at an East-Vancouver location after six months of sobriety on the occasion. of Vancouver as well, where he became his involvement with the Warriors. “He let people know that it’s okay to be president of the Frank Paul Society, “In my life, figures that I have respectangry, it’s okay to be mad at the system named after an Indigenous man who died ed, people that have stood up and taken a and to channel that rage and to put it into during a cold night in late 1998 when he hard-line position on anything, have been something proactive,” recalled Dorward. was taken into police custody. Paul was affected on the personal side,” he said. “It created a lot of pride and he helped picked up by police for public intoxicaPossibly his most daunting challenge ignite that.” tion, but was soon deposited in a downyet came with a liver disease diagnosis in While his last few months were filled town alley, where he died from exposure July 2019. A roadblock in treatment opwith “excruciating pain”, McCarthy saw later that December night. The Frank tions arose when Dennis was informed by him suffer in order to spend more time Paul Society was committed to ensurBC Transplant that he would be excluded with those closest to him. ing recommendations from an inquiry from the organ donor registry due to a “He was determined to do whatever he in Paul’s death were implemented, and policy requiring abstinence from alcohol could to prolong his life,” she said. “I pushed for sobering centres in Vancouver for six months. held him until he passed away.”

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Page 8— Ha-Shilth-Sa—June 4, 2020

Rebuilding wild chinook to restore a west coast w

Nuu-chah-nulth management authority over stocks, reforms to where fish are harvested are part of a shared vision for recovery of By Mike Youds Ha-Shilth-Sa Contributor

This is the first of a three-part Ha-ShilthSa series on west coast salmon harvest, hatcheries and habitat. A spring deadline has passed for re-establishing Nuu-chah-nulth fishing rights long denied by the Canadian government, stalling action that would put more First Nation boats back on the water. Just six months ago, the five T’aaq-wiihak nations (Ahousaht, Ehattesaht/Chinehkint, Hesquiaht, Tla-o-qui-aht and Mowachaht/ Muchalaht) marked the 10th anniversary of Ahousaht Nation v. Canada, the landmark B.C. Supreme Court decision acknowledging their Indigenous right to fish commercially. Counting on an agreement with Ottawa in time for the salmon fishing season, they sent Prime Minister Justin Trudeau a set of requests, holding the government to account. The short list of concrete actions was designed to overcome inertia after a decade of delays from successive court appeals by the government. “This is absolutely unacceptable,” NTC President Judith Sayers said in November. “If this were anyone else, the government would have settled with them long ago. This means 10 years of lost revenue to our fishermen and a denial of our right to a commercial fishery.” “We should not have to fight for a way of life that our ancestors carried on for thousands of years,” added Wickaninnish (Cliff Atleo Sr.), lead negotiator for Ahousaht. “Through government policies, our people have been systematically forced off the waters.” The hard-fought goal seemed within grasp until COVID-19 suddenly emerged. Still, Atleo remains confident a livelihood can be achieved. “Definitely,” he said when asked of the likelihood of an agreement on the horizon. “We’re working with the federal government on what they call ‘reconciliation.’ It’s in the works and still being negotiated. It got stretched out more because of what we are dealing with globally.”

Management before contact Fishing is in Atleo’s genes as it is with so many others who grew up Nuu-chah-nulth on the west coast. He recalls the salmon canneries that used to dot the coast, memories of a thriving industry with widespread Nuu-chah-nulth participation in commercial fisheries. Few can make a go of it now. “That speaks to the level of resources available for harvesting at that time,” he said. “It’s always been poor management. They have never been accountable to us. There’s a built-in thing we’re dealing with, brought over from Europe — racism. We’re still dealing with the racism thing, no question. The pandemic has brought it out even more.” With so many B.C. salmon stocks imperiled, accountability and accurate counts — staples of reliable fisheries management —become more essential than ever. “This right that existed before contact, in my opinion, involved management,” Atleo said. “We are going to be negotiating that along with what we want to re-establish as a way of life for our people.” Strands of Indigenous culture and wild salmon are so tightly interwoven they are virtually indistinguishable. Within that relationship lies a possible path forward for restoring wild salmon stocks despite

Uu-a-thluk technical staff practice radio tagging a chum salmon in September 2019.

“We’re working with the federal government on what they call ‘reconciliation.’ It’s in the works and still being negotiated. It got stretched out more because of what we are dealing with globally.” ~ Cliff Atleo Sr. multiple challenges. “This is a relationship rather than a commodity,” said Eric Angel, manager of Uua-thluk, the NTC’s fisheries department. “That really shapes how you think about it.”

Building on relationship The distinct characteristics of family salmonidae, once so richly abundant they teemed in rivers around the world, spawned that unique relationship. They are anadromous, navigating a long and difficult journey in their short lifespans, linking together distant marine and terrestrial ecosystems. They force people to think about the interconnectedness of the nature, essence of the Nuu-chah-nulth world view, “heshook-ish tsawalk.” “If we think of it as a relationship, what

Jared Dick handles a cuw̓it (coho salmon) found in the seine net intended to capture radio-tagged sac during a snorkel survey in October 2019. can we do to support salmon and help them tion,” Angel said. “Nobody wants to say it, but it’s true.” for the changes to come?” Angel asked. “We don’t want to just look at the al“Only after that should we ask, what can location policy, we want to look at the the salmon give us?” larger sense of it,” he added, questioning Instead, an entrenched system of resource DFO’s hierarchical, top-down approach. extraction prevails that encourages compe“It’s just a recipe for maintaining the tition and discourages co-operation vital to status quo.” rebuild stocks and adapt to environmental With the established practice of fishery changes. roundtables on the west coast, there is “We are managing the stocks to extinc-

June 4, 2020—Ha-Shilth-Sa—Page 9

coast way of life

red vision for recovery of the species

Sabrina Crowly and Jessica Johnson work on the Hobiton fish counter in May 2019.

Uu-a-thluk photos

coast would make a good case for trying a new way,” Angel said. “A lot of ingredients are here on the west coast of the Island to do something different.” But there is reason for optimism, based on a recent virtual meeting Angel had with DFO personnel. Since the COVID-19 pandemic began in March, this was the first meeting of the Joint Technical Working Group, formed to foster collaborative fisheries management between Nuu-chah-nulth and the federal department. “On the call we found out that DFO is committing significant resources to working closely with Nuu-chah-nulth to develop a chinook rebuilding plan,” he said. “This is the first real sign of progress we’ve seen in quite a while.” “There is talk of dedicating a full-time person to leading this for a year,” added Angel. “That would make a huge difference.” Angel expects that the working group will meet monthly from now on. The key to rebuilding salmon, specifically west coast Vancouver Island chinook stocks, lies with harvest management reform, said Uu-a-thluk northern region biologist Roger Dunlop. Ocean warming and habitat damage contribute to stock decline, yet it’s overfishing that represents a chance for recovery, he maintains.

‘The only solution’ “Harvest is the only solution we can control with immediate direct effects. All others will take time and are unproven,” Dunlop said. “We can’t change climate-change inertia in the oceans,” he continued. “We can’t fix the habitat that is damaged. It’s too expensive. We can’t afford it and when we do it, it generally fails. Quite often the improvement project reduces productivity.” Harvest reduction reform is essential, a fundamental shift to sustainable, terminal salmon fisheries at rivers of origin. NTC has put DFO on notice that exploitation of west coast Vancouver Island chinook is on the table for 2021, Dunlop said. “This is the only solution,” he stressed. Terminal fisheries would resemble those of pre-contact times, allowing closer and more effective management in the 21st century when challenges to the salmon seem more abundant than the salmon themselves. Dunlop points to figures indicating west coast chinook are hammered through combined U.S. and Canadian catches, as much as three times the exploitation rate set by DFO’s integrated fisheries management plan (IFMP). Older four and five-year-olds — especially females as more older fish are female — are harvested more intensively,

resulting in a “genetic drift,” he noted. “Over time, the selection process is to make smaller fish,” Dunlop said. “And 60-70 per cent of the chinook coming back are males. Very few females are getting through.” The remedy is to reduce that fishing pressure, adopt “chinook conservation corridors” and let more big ones back to the rivers to reproduce and employ more effective counting, marking and monitoring, he said. “This is the whole coastwide allocation dilemma,” Dunlop said. “Basically, we have set the goalposts in the IFMP that do not include all of the fisheries on the indicator stock.” “DFO’s current IFMP could be improved by actually integrating the conservation of west coast Vancouver Island chinook within B.C.’s fisheries and replacing the current IFMP target exploitation rates with a sustainable rate for the wild fish,” he added. The plan is to re-establish a self-reliance once integral to Nuu-chah-nulth life, Atleo said. It’s also about demonstrating the value in local knowledge, skills and ability: “By actually building on our capacity to manage and actually rebuild the stocks, I think we can do things in a way that convinces others, ‘My God, I think those guys know what they’re talking about’.”

ended to capture radio-tagged sac̓up (Chinook salmon) solid rationale for putting fisheries comanagement into practice here. “We have tried to make the case to DFO,” Angel said. “Why not try something with the Nuu-chah-nulth in terms of allowing local decision-making, a collaborative approach?” The T’aaq-wiihak court triumph bolsters that argument. “That’s another reason why the west

Joshua Charleson, former Uu-a-thluk fisheries technician takes a scale sample in July 2019.

Page 10— Ha-Shilth-Sa—June 4, 2020

Encouraging signs for Vancouver Island’s fire season Spring rain prevents dry conditions that fuel forest fires, but a ban on large burns remains due to COVID-19 By Sam Laskaris Ha-Shilth-Sa Contributor Parksville, BC – Dorthe Jakobsen does not wish to definitively predict what is in store for the future. “We try not to speculate what Mother Nature will do because we can be surprised of course,” said Jakobsen, the information officer for the BC Wildfire Service’s Coastal Fire Centre. But Jakobsen, who works out of a department office in Parksville, is encouraged with how the forest fire season has shaped up thus far, not only throughout the province but also in the Coastal Fire Centre region, which includes Vancouver Island. For BC Wildfire Service officials, the forest fire season begins on April 1 each year. As of May 27, the Coastal Fire Centre had recorded 25 forest fires in 2020. Meanwhile, across the province, as of earlier in May when the BC Wildfire Service released its last monthly update, 111 forest fires had been recorded. And it was confirmed that 83 per cent of those had been caused by humans. BC Wildfire Service will release its next seasonal outlook report in early June. Jakobsen said some positive news was the fact her region, a massive area which extends to Tweedsmuir Provincial Park in the west-central mainland and Haida Gwaii, did not have any current fires. “We have had no new fires in the last week,” she said “And we have had no active fires in the last week. It was a nice quiet week.” Jakobsen added the last forest fire in the Coastal Fire Centre was in the Squamish area of the Sea to Sky highway. That fire was officially declared out in mid May. “It had been under control for a long time,” Jakobsen said. “But they were patrolling it and monitoring it for hot spots.” Provincial officials, including those in the Coastal Fire Centre, are hoping for a calm 2020 forest fire season. “It’s very hard to speculate,” Jakobsen added. “Right now though we’re in a good spot and we hope that will continue.” Jakobsen also said BC Wildfire Service employees have been forced to

BC Wildfire Service photo

A forest firefighter works on controlling a blaze on Vancouver Island. As of the end of May there were no active wildfires in the region. make plenty of changes this year. Due dry conditions which fuel forest fires. fireworks and sky lanterns. to restrictions in place because of the Jakobsen believes a provincial burn ban The ban is also in place because BC COVID-19 pandemic, there are a number – because of COVID-19 concerns - has Wildfire Service is hoping to keep its of new tactics to consider. also kept the number of forest fires down staff as healthy as possible for when they “We had to think about our staff and across British Columbia this spring. are required to respond to fires. Thus, how they will be able to socially distance “Implementing a provincial burn ban in reducing the amount of human-caused in their vehicles,” she said. this way has not happened before and is wildfires that could have been avoided is Jakobsen added BC Wildfire Service unprecedented,” she said. the goal. officials have also had to keep pandemic The ban was introduced on April 16. It Jakobsen said it is too early to detail restrictions in mind when they send out has already been extended and now is in what sort of effect the provincial ban has firefighters who will be headquartered in place until June 15. It could conceivably actually had on the number of forest fires a camp, which can sometimes include as be extended again past that date. Jakobthroughout B.C. so far this year. many as a couple of hundred individuals. sen explained the provincial ban on fires “I suspect we will do that kind of analyBut Jakobsen said this has not tradition- was put in place in order to assist those sis at the end of the wildfire season,” ally been an issue for those in the Coastal who might have pre-existing respiratory she said. “We start thinking about those Fire Centre. problems or issues brought on by the things in the fall.” “We don’t typically get the really big COVID-19 disease. The forest fire season is traditionally fires, the 100,000-hectares fires,” she “Wildfire smoke would make those over by September or October in B.C. said. symptoms worse,” Jakobsen said. That’s even though BC Wildfire Service Jakobsen also said her region has been Though campfires are still allowed officials have their year officially confortunate thus far this year since the past throughout the province, other open fires clude at the end of March and a new year month has included seasonal temperaand resource management open fires are begins on April 1. tures and some precipitation, negating banned. Also banned is the use of all

Phrase of the week - cax=taquk%a+ >imaqstii +aa%as%+quun Pronounced ‘cha r tuck kooks alth tlah muk stee tlah uss alth goon’, this means ‘My being (spirit) is happy to be outside’ Supplied by čiisma.

Ivy Cargill-Martin Illustration

June 4, 2020—Ha-Shilth-Sa—Page 11

Ottawa urged to join B.C.’s invasive mussel defence Arrival of the species in the province’s waters would be considered disastrous for salmon already under threat By Mike Youds Ha-Shilth-Sa Contributor Efforts to prevent invasive mussels from infesting B.C. waters, ramped up in recent years, are not enough to ease concerns about a potential colonization that could be catastrophic to salmon. “The province only sees 80 percent compliance at their inspection stations and that is not good enough,” said Erin Vieira, program manager with the Shuwsap Watershed Council, based in Kamloops. Boat inspection stations have opened for the season at various locations throughout the province to check watercraft for zebra and quagga mussels, unwanted hitchhikers from contaminated waterways out East. The invasive bivalves have caused havoc for fish populations as they steadily move west. Since the B.C. Invasive Mussel Defence Program was piloted five years ago, inspections have increased by tenfold. In 2019, a total of 52,000 boats were inspected. Among them were 22 musselfouled boats coming from Ontario, Michigan, Utah and North Carolina. At least four of those boats were destined for Vancouver Island waters. While the incidence of detection is relatively low, a single point of entry by the prolific molluscs could explode through B.C.’s interconnected freshwater systems. Even with reduced tourist traffic due to the COVID-19 pandemic, travellers con-

B.C. Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy photo

A conservation officer and scent dog search for invasive mussels before the vessel enters British Columbia waters.

“The provincial borders are still open. The majority of watercraft are coming from Ontario and Manitoba. There’s nothing officially stopping that from coming to B.C.” ~ Erin Vieira, Shuwsap Watershed Council tinue to stream west as though this season were like any other. “We’re still very concerned,” Vieira said. “The provincial borders are still open. The majority of watercraft are coming from Ontario and Manitoba. There’s nothing officially stopping that from coming to B.C.” From mid-May until late October, inspectors with the B.C. Conservation Officer Service (COS) will check boats for aquatic invasive species and educate people about the importance of “clean, drain and dry,” preventative steps all boaters are expected to practise when transporting boats between water bodies. “While we are all protecting ourselves during this unusual time, each of us can take simple actions to protect our waters from invasive species,” said Dave Bennett, chair of B.C.’s invasive species council. “Whether you are a paddler, boater or a fisher, let’s continue to work together and make sure all of our equipment and vehicles are clean, drained and dry before going to a new waterbody.” B.C. Interior groups — Okanagan Basin Water Board and Shuswap Watershed Council — wrote Minister of Fisheries

and Oceans Bernadette Jordan last winter, urging DFO to step up with additional measures to control the westward transport and spread of invasive mussels. “As federal government research has noted, we are especially vulnerable due to our warm water temperatures and high calcium content, which puts us at greater risk than other regions since these conditions increase the chance of the mussels’ survival,” the groups noted. They hoped the recently appointed minister would respond with federal resources to expand inspections. “No, we never did receive any reply correspondence from Minister Jordan,” Veiera said. Former minister Jonathan Wilkinson told them in 2018 that DFO could not provide support for inspections since it does not have budgetary authority. Refusing to accept this, they have followed up with Mel Arnold, North Okanagan-Shus-

wap MP and Conservative fisheries critic, in hopes of prodding the federal government into action. About the size of a fingernail, zebra and quagga mussels are part of the same species. They were originally found in Europe and were first detected in the Great Lakes in 1988. Since then they have spread through waterways as far west as Lake Winnipeg in Manitoba, where they are blamed for the near-extinction of native species. They have also affected lakes in 24 states including California and Colorado. Cleanup and control efforts run into the hundreds of millions of dollars and containment efforts have had only limited success. Not everyone is aware of the distinct threat to wild salmon, though. “This is a huge concern,” Vieira said. Authorities in Washington State have also sounded the alarm on invasive mussel species, worried the problem will continue moving west and threaten salmon.

Zebra mussels were found on a boat in Montana last year. How are freshwater mussels a threat to salmon? Washington’s salmon recovery office believes invasive mussels would be devastating for salmon, clogging fishways, ladders and other structures. They could reduce plankton levels, alter water temperature, lower dissolved oxygen levels and change the type of plants in riparian areas, all of which would harm salmon, which rely on cool, oxygen-rich water to spawn. Pacific salmon already face multiple environmental threats with many stocks in grave decline. B.C. groups are calling on Ottawa to provide more inspection stations around the province’s perimeter, expand early detection monitoring to ensure more testing and enhance education and outreach. They hope to see the government properly enforce its own aquatic invasive species regulation by containing infestations. Anyone transporting a watercraft (sailboats, motorboats, car toppers, kayaks, canoes and paddle boats) in B.C. is required by law to stop at an open inspection station. Failing to stop can result in a $345 fine. Last year, 116 violation tickets were issued to motorists failing to stop at inspection stations. People are encouraged to report watercraft suspected of transporting invasive mussels to the Report All Poachers and Polluters (RAPP) line at 1 877 952-7277. To determine if a boat is high risk and should be decontaminated, email COS. Aquatic.Invasive.Species@gov.bc.ca. People can also report other potential invasive species through a special Report Invasives app: www.gov.bc.ca/invasivespecies One consolation is that inspections appear to be successful in preventing invasive mussel outbreaks in B.C. waters. Last year, 892 samples were collected from 79 lakes across the province. All came back negative.

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B.C. weighs old growth protection against economics After months of public consultation, the B.C.’s Old Growth Strategic Review is now in the government’s hands By Eric Plummer Ha-Shilth-Sa Editor Vancouver Island, BC - Over the coming months the provincial government is tasked with weighing a growing public concern to protect B.C.’s oldest trees against the needs of an industry that continues to rely on old-growth logging to sustain jobs and profits. On April 30 recommendations from the Old Growth Strategic Review were submitted to Doug Donaldson, minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations. In October the province assembled an independent, two-person panel of forestry experts to collect feedback from communities across British Columbia on how to best manage trees that date back to before the advent of industrial logging in the 1800s. This report will become publicly available once the minister replies to the recommendations, a process that could take up to six months, according to the Ministry of Forests’ communications department. The Old Growth Strategic Review panel ventured to Vancouver Island, where it consulted with Nuu-chah-nulth members. In the past the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council has stressed that the province should take stronger measures to limit harvesting of old growth, particularly Western red cedar trees that stand as cultural pillars in Nuu-chah-nulth life. In November 2018 the NTC called on the province to “work with them in slowing down, or even stopping the rapid disappearance of old growth forests within Nuu-chah-nulth territories.” “The forests are vanishing with the permission of the province, and have been further endangered by the rampant B.C. forest fires,” continued the NTC statement. “Joint management through Indigenous laws, B.C. laws and other workable mechanisms is critical in curtailing further damage.” But according BC Timber Sales, the provincial agency that auctions off sections of Crown land for harvest, logging old growth is necessary to support an industry that thousands of families rely on. Each year approximately half of the timber on the coast auctioned for harvest is old growth. “This is what the timber supply, economic base and community employment

Photo by T.J. Watt

TJ Watt, a campaigner and photographer with the Ancient Forest Alliance, stands with a 11-foot-wide old-growth red cedar tree cut down by Teal-Jones in the Caycuse watershed in Ditidaht Territory on southern Vancouver Island. across the coast is based on,” stated a impose any restrictions to current forestry versity of British Columbia compilation BCTS spokesperson in an email sent to practices that arise as a result of the of massive old growth stands that meet Ha-Shilth-Sa last year. Old Growth Strategic Review, based on certain specifications for their remarkMeanwhile the Forest Practices Board recent measures to promote the continua- able size and age. These trees are to be continues with a review of logging in the tion of harvesting. During the COVID-19 surrounded by a one-hectare buffer zone Nahmint Valley, an area of Nuu-chahpandemic forestry has been declared for their protection. At least eight of these nulth territory located south of Sproat an essential service, and the provincial trees stand in Nuu-cha-nulth territory. Lake. The watchdog agency’s review was government is deffering stumpage, which “These trees represent an important part launched in response to public complaints are the fees it charges logging companies of B.C.’s natural heritage, and British about old growth forestry practices on to cut stands on Crown land. Columbians have said they want them this area of Crown land, which is set to “As government, we had already taken preserved,” stated Minister Donaldson in have another 490,000 cubic metres of a number of steps to help forest comJuly 2019. “What we are announcing totimber auctioned for harvest this spring. munities and the industry because they day is the start of a broader conservation This continued logging has gone against were facing tough times even before the about the future of old-growth managethe Nahmint Valley’s designation as COVID-19 crisis came along,” said Prement in this province.” a “special management zone” in the mier John Horgan in a government stateYet old-growth logging has clearly Vancouver Island Land Use Plan, accord- ment on April 30. “Now, we’re deferring continued in parts of Nuu-chah-nulth tering to an investigation by the province’s stumpage fees so companies can maintain ritory that do not include these protected Compliance Enforcement Branch. their financial liquidity, which will not trees. In May the Ancient Forest Alliance “Our assessment suggests that the Nah- only benefit them, but ideally, forest publicized the cutting of massive stands mint demonstrates failure of professional workers and communities as well.” in the Caycuse River watershed, which reliance at maintaining publicly agreed In July last year the province announced is east of Nitinaht Lake in the territory upon values and priorities,” concluded the protection of 54 ancient trees that of the Ditidaht First Nation. Western red the branch’s report. remain on Crown land. These trees are cedars are among the trees in this grove The province will likely be careful to listed in the Big Tree Registry, a Uniof Crown land that were recently cut.

Photo by Patricia Gillespie

In 2004 the City of Port Alberni commissioned Hupcasath carvers Rod Sayers, Cecil Dawson and Doug David to create the two welcoming figures that now stand at the bottom of Johnston Road. The male figure Nuchii, carved from an 800-year-old cedar, faces up Johnson Road and was unveiled on Sept. 25, 2004 in front of over 200 people. The female figure River Princess that faces the Somas River mouth was unveiled in 2006.

June 4, 2020—Ha-Shilth-Sa—Page 13

---------- EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITIES ---------Tseshaht First Nation Employment Opportunity Referrals Reporting Analyst The Tseshaht First Nation Administration Office is now accepting applications for the position of Referrals Reporting Analyst (RRA). This is a full-time 1-year term contract position with opportunity for extension. JOB PURPOSE The RRA critically supports implementation of Tseshaht interim and longterm traditional territories land and resource referral policy, processing set formal referral responses from government and resource developers. The ideal candidate for this position will possess excellent organization and communication skills, an aptitude for computer operations and a demonstrated desire to learn. QUALIFICATIONS • High-school diploma. • Ability to operate Microsoft Word, Excel, Outlook, PowerPoint, and Google Earth. • Post-secondary training in a diploma program or undergraduate degree in fields such as Geographic Information Systems (GIS), Aboriginal Studies, Natural Resources, Environmental manage ment. • Valid B.C. driver’s license and a reliable vehicle. • Must pass a criminal record check. SKILLS & ABILITIES: • Knowledge and experience with traditional knowledge mapping and information management. • Basic understanding of provincial and federal regulatory processes. • Experience with First Nation referrals and the BC referrals process. • Ability to identify opportunities for SIB when reviewing referrals. • Experience with web-based database applications and data entry. • Strong organizational and filing skills. • Proven ability to execute advanced office procedures and practices. • Ability to take initiative and work within strict timelines. • Must have strong teamwork and problem solving skills.

Tseshaht First Nation Employment Opportunity Office Services Assistant Temporary Position The Tseshaht First Nation Administration Office is now accepting applications for the position of Office Services Assistant. This position is full time at 75 hours bi-weekly (37.5 hours per week) for a temporary maternity leave replacement until December 15, 2020. JOB RESPONSIBILITIES • Provide daily reception and general administrative office duty • Greet membership and other visitors in a friendly manner. • Operate multi-line phone system, directing calls and taking messages • Guide Welcome Center area traffic flows. • Assist with scheduling meeting spaces and facility rentals. • Receive/distribute incoming mail/courier, prepare outgoing mail. • Provide support to other program areas as needed. EDUCATION, SKILLS & EXPERIENCE NEEDED • Grade 12 equivalency. • Post-secondary training relevant to office services an asset. • Minimum of 1-3 years of work experience in receptionist or office administration experience is preferred. • Familiarity with operation of multi-line phone system. • Excellent verbal/ interpersonal skills and reception desk protocols. • Good a•ention to detail. • Ability to work as part of a team as well as work independently. • Ability to comfortably operate in a busy work environment, multitask and prioritize tasks. • Demonstrated proficiency with administering office systems. • Firm understanding of confidentiality. • Familiarity with accounting and social development processes. • Willing to learning and cross-department training opportunities. • Valid BC Driver’s license and reliable transportation required. HOW TO APPLY Submit a cover le•er, resume and three (3) current references to: Tseshaht First Nation, A•ention: Melissa Bigmore by mail: 5091 Tsuma-as Drive, Port Alberni BC, V9Y 8X9; or by email: mbigmore@tseshaht.com CLOSING DATE: June 10, 2020 at 12:00 Noon. We thank all for applying. Only those shortlisted will be contacted for an interview.

HOW TO APPLY If you believe you have the skills and ability for this position, submit a cover le•er with your resume and 3 current references to the a•ention of the Manager of Natural Resources, care of the Executive Assistant by mail to TFN Administration Office, 5091 Tsuma-as Drive, Port Alberni BC, V9Y 8X9; or by email to executiveassistant@tseshaht.com on or before the closing date. CLOSING DATE: June 11, 2020 at 12:00 Noon.

We thank all for applying. Only those shortlisted will be contacted for an interview. PORT ALBERNI PORT AUTHORITY Seasonal Summer Staff The Port Alberni Port Authority has been approved for funding under the Canada Summer Jobs Grant and invites applications for seasonal summer employment for 8 weeks beginning as early as June 29, 2020, working at Clutesi Haven Marina, Fishermen’s Harbour and/or China Creek Campground. The positions available are specific to Seasonal Marina Attendants and Seasonal Dock Hands. Marina Attendants and Dock Hand duties include, but are not limited to: daily facility quality checks and cleanup, pressure washing ramps and floats, painting, dock maintenance, launch ramp attendants, grounds and dock maintenance, fuel dock assistance, campsite maintenance, janitorial duties, garbage pickup & removal, office duties such as telephones, booking reservations for campsites or boat moorage, registering customers, collecting fees and other duties as assigned by the Marina Coordinator. Successful applicants should be team oriented, enjoy working with the public and have the ability to deal professionally with all users of the marina facilities. General knowledge of the Alberni Inlet, previous experience and knowledge of Port Authority marinas and China Creek Campground will be considered assets. Under the qualifications for the Canada Summer Jobs Grant, applicants must be a Canadian citizen, permanent resident and is legally entitled to work in Canada. The position is for 35-40 hours of work per week and the rate of pay is $15.50/hr. Applicants must be available to work days, evenings, weekends, holidays, and be flexible in assigned work schedules. Applicants must possess a valid BC driver’s license and have reliable transportation. Applications must include a cover letter, resume and three (3) references. Deadline is 3:00pm, Friday, June 12th, 2020 and be emailed to bfilipchuk@alberniport.ca or addressed to: Port Alberni Port Authority Attention: Bianca Filipchuk, Manager Administration & Properties 2750 Harbour Road, Port Alberni, B.C. V9Y 7X2 Selected applicants will be contacted for an interview.

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The president’s message to Nuu-chah-nulth-aht Hello Everyone!! Hoping you are keeping healthy and protected in your homes. I know there have been more losses in our communities, and my deepest heartfelt sympathies goes to those families that have lost loved ones. I know the leadership in your communities have been working hard at preventing the virus from coming into your homes and have been successful to date. Vancouver Island has been doing well with no new cases for over 2 weeks. This does not mean that we can stop working hard to keep the virus out, we must continue to do so. We had a directors meeting this week, and they reported from each community what they have been doing to help their members. Some of those things include distributing food, sending out fishermen to get members sea resources, doing their own gardens and getting members to participate in planting and harvesting. Most have an emergency operations person or team to deal with issues around the virus. Most are blocking off roads into their communities so people cannot come in with the virus. One nation is setting up tents in their community to do testing when that is available to the Nations. Nations are starting on a slow phase in for back to work-workers may be doing shifts and having members make appointments to go see people in their offices. First Nations are meeting daily or weekly to report out on issues and how situations are being dealt with. The Nations are also doing daily or weekly newsletters, or FB live videos to provide updates to members on what is going on. Keeping member informed has been important to everyone. There are many other ways First Nations are dealing with the virus with the intent of keeping everyone virus free. Outstanding issues across the board is not having enough personal protective equipment, having testing kits in communities for members and for anyone entering the reserve if they are essential workers. ISC has not given First Nations money for their members who live off reserve and this has created problems. There is a lot of uncertainty about whether there will be a more severe second wave of this virus. We cannot let our guard down and continue to be prepared with Personal Protective Equipment, testing machines and whatever else we may need. We must keep up the safeguards we have in place now. We do not want to be unprepared if there is a second time. Schools are going back on June 1. You have the choice if you want to send your children back for the month of June. Communities need to decide this as well for if you are allowing your children to go out to school and being exposed to the virus, this will not protect your more vulnerable members at home. I have been trying to track down programs and dollars to increase the amount of internet in your communities or try and increase the broadband to be quicker and more reliable. As much of the instruction for our students is on line, we need to be able to have internet for our children to participate in classes on line. I know some First Nations are buying their students tablets so they can participate in on line courses. You also need to have access

Are you facing a difficult situation, is life hard? Call us now. We can help. 24 Hour Crisis Line - KUU-US Crisis Line Society Adult/Elder Crisis Line: 250-723-4050 Child/Youth Crisis Line: 250-723-2040


to the internet so that you can take advantage of the classes. Not all of our First Nations have access to the internet, or the internet is very slow and frustrating. NTC’s Executive Director Florence Wylie is working to get our 6 office buildings up to WorkSafe BC standards to have our employees go back to work. We must ensure that we have taken all measures to keep our employees safe, the communities they go to work in are safe and when they go home, their families and communities are safe as well. Our employees continue to ork from home. NTC has decided to celebrate grads and scholarship winners over the internet this year on July 17th. We know it is nothing like being able to gather and celebrate our grads who have worked so hard to graduate. Scholarship forms will be going out this week so watch for them, fill them in so we can provide our students who have worked hard with scholarships. A big congrats to all our grads and scholarship winners. Nations are deciding to open up or loosen restrictions and some are not. Directors are developing a resolution that will require both provincial and federal governments to get our Hawiih/Chief and Council consent before they open parks in their territories, or open the border to the US. All of this will impact Nuuchah-nulth as more people come into the territories, utilize stores and services and potentially bring the virus. These are all important decisions communities have to make-it is not up to the governments to do so. Our directors have been clear, people before economics. This makes us different than non-indigenous governments. As our lives have changed through this pandemic, I encourage you to continue to take good care of yourselves, families, and all of your community members. Work together to make your communities a safe place that the virus cannot infiltrate. Every one of you are very important to our Nation. It is good to see the way our communities have come together to work against this virus. It may be hard to stay at home and physical distance, but this won’t be forever and the future is so very important to all of us. Stay strong, work as one, remember our ancestors who fought hard to keep us alive and our rights intact. They are always with us, fighting the good fight with us. This enemy, this virus cannot be seen but we know it is there and we will work against it. All my best Kekinusuqs, Judith Sayers


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Le•er to Editor This has been a challenging time for all of us. We have had to distance ourselves from family and friends, cancel trips, and many have seen lost income and jobs. Fortunately, Canada has done really well through the COVID-19 pandemic and BC, even better. Certainly much of this credit goes to you for making sacrifices, washing hands, staying home, and keeping physically distant. We are now at the time where we can start easing restrictions and we have gotten here through all of your efforts. I am writing this today to remind you all of the good job you’ve done, that you’ve certainly played a role in the successes we have made through this, and that this isn’t yet over. Our communities enjoy remoteness and natural beauty but please remember none are completely isolated. Food and supplies come from elsewhere in the province, people travel in and out of the communities and yes, every precaution helps, but nothing is 100 percent effective. When the flu season hits this fall, we will likely see a recurrence of COVID-19 and with that, the possibility of increased

restrictions. It is really important that these restrictions are followed both in and out of our communities, regardless of how remote they are. Even now, please continue to follow the gradual reopening rules put forward by the province. Stay home if you feel unwell, support our elders, and wash your hands. These things are simple but they work, we have proven it. We will get through this and in the meantime, enjoy the extra closeness with immediate family and take time to enjoy the simple things. We are fortunate to be surrounded by so much natural beauty at our doorsteps. Dr. Ian Warbrick. Dr. Warbrick is an Internal Medicine resident at UBC who will be joining the Internal Medicine group and West Coast General Hospital next summer. He is also working as the Physician Liaison at the NTC and plays a role in recruitment, liaising with nursing services, and advocacy. He is available to provide sessions to community groups regarding chronic diseases.

June 4, 2020—Ha-Shilth-Sa—Page 15

Healing the land and spirits through a garden The Tseshaht community garden is growing food on the former site of the Alberni Indian Residential School By Melissa Renwick Ha-Shilth-Sa Reporter Port Alberni, BC - When Gail K. Gus was a child, her mother used to tell her stories of what it was like going to the Alberni Indian Residential School, which was built in the middle of the Tseshaht community in Port Alberni. “She was starving,” Gus said of her late-mother, June Watts, who spent seven years at the residential school, where she fell ill from tuberculosis. To help ease the pain, Watts’ friends would run to the orchard up the road to collect food for her to eat. Watts passed at the age of 58 in 1992, but her stories live on through Gus. To honour her mother and the children who continue to suffer from the consequences of residential schools today, Gus set out to build an orchard and community garden. What started as a couple of planters in what would have been the school’s playyard, has blossomed into an array of fresh fruits, vegetables and herbs for community members to pick at their will. “I insisted on it being here because I felt like our earth needed to heal as much as us,” she said. The project was initially met with some criticism and many refused to visit the school grounds because of the horrific experiments, beatings and tortures that took place, said Aaron Woodward, who was brought on as the gardener from the project’s inception. It has since developed into a gathering space for community members to talk about their experiences, he said. One man described is as “the spot where the bomb went off,” recalled Woodward, who has tried to bring the earth back to life for the past seven years. The garden is grown naturally, without any pesticides, and in conjunction with the biodynamic sowing and planting calendar. Gus, who is the Tseshaht First Nation’s crisis care and wellness coordinator, brings it full circle by the using the garden as a platform to teach the community about healthy foods and diet. “There’s still lots of pain and there’s still lots of healing for every family,” Gus said. She added that the pain translates into how “we don’t take care of ourselves in healthy ways.” Linda Thomas, who works for Usma

Photos by Melissa Renwick

Above: Aaron Woodward and Gail K. Gus munch on some fresh radishes plucked straight from the Tseshaht community garden, on Monday, June 1. Below: Linda Thomas stops by the Tseshaht community garden in Port Alberni. Through her work with Usma Family and Child Services, she is aiming to connect the youth to the garden in hopes that they might be inspired to grow one of their own. Nuu-chah-nulth Family and Child Services, is trying to connect youth to the garden by encouraging them to pick their own vegetables and helping Woodward to weed the various planters. “(I hope it will allow) some of our children to get that feeling of wanting to grow their own when they get older,” she said. It’s important for Thomas to be involved with programs that allow the youth to stay connected to the earth, “the creator and to be thankful for what is in front of us,“ she said. As Gus lingered at the edge of the garden reflecting on how far it has come, memories of her mother remained at the forefront of her mind. “It’s my mother’s birthday,” she said. And without skipping a beat, the clouds parted, and the sun cast a warm glow down on Gus. “She’s right there,” she said. “Her spirit is full.”

Page 16— Ha-Shilth-Sa—June 4, 2020

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