Ha-Shilth-Sa Newspaper March 25, 2021

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INTERESTING NEWS Canada’s Oldest First Nations Newspaper - Serving Nuu-chah-nulth-aht since 1974 Canadian Publications Mail Product Vol. 48 - No. 06—March 25, 2021 haas^i>sa Sales Agreement No. 40047776

Herring integral to ecological health and preservation Nuu-chah-nulth nations flock to the herring during their annual spawn on Vancouver Island’s west coast By Melissa Renwick Local Journalism Initiative Reporter Outside of their Port Alberni home, Hesquiaht elected chief Joshua Charleson and his wife, Letitia, were busy at work preparing herring for their smokehouse. Having only smoked herring once before, Letitia was supported through the process by Charleson, who was taught by his mother. Growing up in an urban setting outside her traditional territory, Letitia was never exposed to the tradition. Despite being well-versed in smoking salmon, she said herring is entirely different. Unlike salmon, the head and tail are left intact on herring. Once gutted, its spine is sliced and the fish is flipped insideout before being hung side-by-side on wooden sticks inside the smokehouse, explained Letitia. “I love it,” she said. “Just being able to practice and also having our children around watching and learning. Sometimes they help, sometimes they don’t, but just knowing that they’re around and that they can see these teachings is what [excites] me. Eventually when they’re older, they will be familiar with this and they’ll know how to do it on their own.” Because of the smoke omission, Letitia said First Nations people who live in urban centres often get complaints from neighbours or landlords when using their smokehouse. “Living away from your territory plays a huge factor in not being able to keep those traditions alive,” she said. That, and the declining fish stock. Out of five regions on B.C.’s coast where the fish are monitored, only the Strait of Georgia experienced a biomass volume capable of having a commercial herring fishery this year. The west coat of Vancouver Island (WCVI) hasn’t been able to support a commercial fishery since 2005 and is only open only for small-scale First Nations food, social and ceremonial (FSC) purposes. According to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada’s (DFO) 2020/21 Pacific Herring Integrated Fisheries Management Plan, the WCVI stock persisted in a low biomass and productivity state from approximately 2004 to 2014. While recent years have shown an increasing trend, persistent low biomass and growth relative to historic levels means that the region’s commercial fishery has been kept closed to support rebuilding. Back in the day, inches of herring roe would coat the kelp, said Jared Dick, Uua-thluk central region biologist.

Photo by Letitia Charleson

Hesquiaht elected chief Joshua Charleson holds herring he smoked with his wife, Letitia, outside their home in Port Alberni. Now, only thin layers of eggs around collective understanding of herring guage program. “We are the people that one or two centimetres in thickness are abundance, distribution and recovery,” pull eel grass between our teeth to eat the laid, he said. said Coutts. herring roe.” “DFO’s models and science say it’s Carlos Mack has been conducting herA seine boat under contract to DFO improving,” said Dick. “But Indigenous ring surveys for DFO through Toquaht through the Herring Conservation and knowledge and local knowledge and unNation for the past five years. Continually Research Society began its charter to derstanding of what a healthy population “amazed” by the amount of life spawning obtain biological samples on Feb. 20. looks like [indicates] that we’re nowhere herring attract, it’s a job he takes pride in. Starting in Barkley Sound, the Proud Canear where we should be.” And yet, he can’t help but feel disapnadian travelled north through Clayoquot In 2015, DFO partnered with Nuu-chah- pointed by this year’s spawning events. and Nootka Sounds to Esperanza Inlet nulth nations to launch a five-year pilot Speaking over the hum of his engine before returning south to end its charter study to establish an annual nearshore while conducting a herring survey in back in Barkley Sound on March 11. sampling program for WCVI herring. front of Macoah village on March 12, At the request of local First Nations, The program was geared towards samMack said, “It wasn’t as great as we the vessel retained “small quantities” of pling mature herring from active spawnthought it would be. The numbers are whole herring for FSC purposes for local ing sites using small hand-thrown cast slowly coming up, but it’s really slow.” Nuu-chah-nulth nations, said Coutts. nets. Along with the cast net sampling, Before moving to his next location, During a test in Sydney Inlet, Hesquiaht the nations supported stock assessment Mack anchored a pile cedar branches to a Fisheries received around one-tonne of by identifying and locating herring boulder and dropped them into the ocean herring from the Proud Canadian for spawning events and performing surface near the spawning grounds. It’s a method distribution in Hot Springs Cove, and ansurveys of herring egg deposition, said used to harvest herring eggs that are other half-tonne for Hesquiaht members Alexandra Coutts, DFO communications deposited on the surface of the branches living in Port Alberni, said Charleson. advisor. during a spawning event. Requested by While the Hesquiaht chief said few Throughout those years, the age and Toquaht elected chief Anne Mack, the people continue to smoke herring, the size data for the cast net sampling was branches are later distributed to commutime-consuming process is “well worth compared to DFO’s seine boat data. nity members, who peel the eggs off the it.” “We’ve shown that our cast net sambranches for consumption. Once finished smoking their herring, pling produces the same data as the seine The tradition is so ingrained into the Charleson and Letitia packed the fish up boat sampling,” said Dick. fabric of Nuu-chah-nulth culture that to store in their freezer. As a result, the nations’ data is being Hesquiaht’s name is derived from the Depending on how much they give away incorporated into DFO’s annual stock as- very act. to family and friends, their stash is ususessment for the second year, he said. “We are ḥiškʷiiʔatḥ and the sound of ally gone before summer. “The Nuu-chah-nulth’s nations’ involve- repeatedly pulling the eel grass between “I’m so grateful I’m with somebody ment in the WCVI herring stock assessthe teeth is ḥišḥiiša,” said chuutsqa L. whose family still keeps these traditions ment program enhances the department’s Rorick, who coordinates Hesquiaht’s lan- alive,” said Letitia.

Inside this issue... Nuchatlaht land claims update....................................Page 3 Tseshaht designed traffic sign.....................................Page 5 Mask and healing song serve as record......................Page 8 Job opportunities board..............................................Page 9 Sisters train for MMIWG run...................................Page 11

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

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Nuchatlaht land claims court case, hearing set for 2022 Lawyers optomistic, stating Nuchatlaht has a strong case in their fight for 20,000 sq km of traditional territory By Denise Titian Ha-Shilth-Sa Reporter Nuchatlaht, BC – A trial date has finally been set more than four years after Nuchatlaht First Nation (NFN) filed a statement of claim in the BC Supreme Court seeking Aboriginal title over approximately 20,000 hectares of land north of and including northern Nootka Island and the Nuchatlitz village site. The Nuchatlaht, whose Ocluje village sits at the head of Espinosa Inlet just a few kilometers northwest of Zeballos, has maintained its hereditary governance system. They are governed by their head hereditary chief or Tyee Ha’wilth as opposed to an elected chief councilor. For the past several decades the Nuchatlaht have fought to regain control over their territory so that resources can be saved for future generations. The Nuchatlaht spent several fruitless years at the treaty table and had engaged in other processes seeking to protect their lands from clear cut logging and other exploitive resource extraction. The Nuchatlaht claim rights and title to land and waters covering the northern portion of Nootka island and areas north. “Successive governments have failed to give Nuchatlaht serious iisaak (respect) for their rights and title,” states the Nuchatlaht web page. On Jan 20, 2017, then Tyee Ha’wilth of Nuchatlaht, Walter Michael, stood on the steps of the BC Supreme Courthouse in Vancouver, declaring that his nation will be seeking official recognition of the rights and titles held solely by Nuchatlaht for thousands of years, according to the Nuchatlaht First Nation website. In Sept. 2007 the United Nations passed the United Nations Declaration on Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP). The purpose of the UNDRIP declaration is to provide a mechanism to protect the individual and collective rights of Indigenous peoples, as well as their rights to culture, identity, language, employment, health, education, protection of traditional lands, as well as other issues. Article 26 of UNDRIP speaks to Aboriginal title. It says Indigenous peoples have the right to the lands, territories and resources which they have traditionally owned, occupied or otherwise used or acquired. It goes on to say that States shall give legal recognition and protection to these lands, territories and resources. While Canada as a collective had not yet adopted UNDRIP, in Nov. 2019 British Columbia became the first jurisdiction in Canada to formally enshrine the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of

Photo by Cara McKenna

Left to right: Nuchatlaht Councillor Audrey Smith, Nuu-chah-nulth speaker Ron Hamilton and Nuchatlaht Tyee Ha’wilth Walter Michael stand in front of B.C. Supreme Court on Jan. 20 2017. Indigenous Peoples into law. B.C is the The Nuchatlaht hired Jack Woodward Kekinusuqs, Judith Sayers. first provincial government to introduce Law Firm, the same legal team that “Tyii Ha’wilth Jordan Michael’s terlegislation to implement the UN Declara- successfully represented the Tsilhqot’in ritory must be recognized and this case tion – which will form the foundation for Nation in their landmark Aboriginal Title will do that. It is unfortunate that negotiathe Province’s work towards reconciliaClaim in the Supreme Court of Canada, tions have not been productive despite tion in B.C. where Tsilhqot’in proved Aboriginal title reconciliation and UNDRIP,” Sayers With the province’s pledge to work over 1700 square kilometers of their land continued. toward reconciliation with its Indigenous in central British Columbia. “The Ha’wiih of Nuchatlaht know expeoples through UNDRIP legislation, Owen Stewart of the Jack Woodward actly where their Ḥahuułi/rights and title it came as a surprise that the province’s Law Firm said it is exciting that a trial start and finishes within the lands, waters, lawyers argued that the Nuchatlaht had date has been set, saying that this is and streams and they remain to be the abandoned their land. In effect, they something tangible, something to aim for. title and rights holders as their forefathers demanded proof in court that the Nuchat- “I think they (Nuchatlaht) have a very have been for thousands of years,” said laht had indeed inhabited and used the strong case,” Stewart said, adding that the NTC Vice President Mariah Charleson. territories that they claim. nation won on every point argued by the She went on to say that the Nuchatlaht The province’s lawyers filed an applica- province. know their rights as Nuchatlaht people tion seeking to exclude the expert report “The expert report shows the depth of and this is their opportunity to really of Anthropologist Jacob Earnshaw. The use on northwest Nootka Island – it was share that with the world and for those report commissioned by Nuchatlaht’s actively used by humans,” Owen said, rights to be upheld from here on in. legal counsel, provided information about adding that there is proof of use going The trial date is set for Mar. 14, 2022 archeological evidence that human ocback to 1846. and is scheduled for eight weeks on cupation and use occurred in the area in “I am happy that the Nuchatlaht title the BC Supreme Court list. The case is question. case has been scheduled for trial despite significant because it could pave the way On Mar. 4, 2021, The Honourable Mr. all of B.C.’s efforts to prevent the case for other First Nations land claims in the Justice Meyers ruled in favor of Nuchatfrom going forward,” said NTC President province. laht, dismissing the province’s motion.


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PAFC continues to help the community 1 year since the pandemic began PAFC still feeds and clothes the underserved By Denise Titian Ha-Shilth-Sa Reporter Port Alberni, BC – It has been a year since the COVID-19 pandemic has forced the closure of soup kitchens and other organizations that delivered services to the less fortunate in the community, but Cyndi Stevens, Executive Director of the Port Alberni Friendship Center (PAFC), is proud to say that they have never closed their doors. The PAFC continues to deliver comfort and services to anyone needing it, safely, under the protocols set out by the Provincial Health Officer. But staff and volunteers have had to overcome many challenges in order to safely deliver services in a way that is safe for both clients and staff. Approximately 50 people come to the PAFC every day looking for a warm, dry place to pick up comfort items and a nice, hot meal. Stevens said that the local soup kitchen was forced to close its doors in March 2020 when the pandemic began. Working with the Salvation Army, the PAFC prepares meals on-site, packages them up and hands them out one-by-one from their reception desk, keeping the Provincial Health Officer’s social distancing guidelines in mind. Along with hot food, the PAFC has received donations of clothing and cash from the community and other comfort items from organizations like Soap for Hope Canada. Soap for Hope collects toiletries and gently used, cleaned towels, bedding and pillows, mostly from hotels. The items are repurposed and donated to people that need them. According to Stevens, people that are underhoused and underserved often come into PAFC from the streets or encampments, cold and wet. At PAFC they can pick up a packet of toiletries and, if available, a dry set of donated clothing. “They change into a fresh set of clothes and throw their old, wet clothes away because, well, there’s no where to wash them,” she said. With government grants, charitable foundation donations and other sources, the PAFC staff is able to serve up meals like the hot roast beef lunch on Mar. 18. Stevens says hearty, hot meals are made

Photo by Denise Titian

Marsha Edgar and Brian Peters picking up a hot roast beef lunch from Port Alberni’s Friendship Center on March 18. vice has expanded to include low-income “A lot of underserved and families. The PAFC is beginning to build warmunderhoused people got ing backpacks for the underhoused. They like that because of things are looking for donations of new or gently used socks, gloves/mittens, light rain like depression – how do jackets, and sleeping bags to fill the back packs. “People come in soaking wet and we support them?” need to change,” she noted. Stevens says she hopes government ~ Cyndi Stevens, will begin to focus on mental health resources. People, she said, are strugExecutive Director PAFC gling with the social isolation aspects of the pandemic. “People are suffering with every weekday, Monday to Friday and loneliness and depression,” said Stevens, are usually served around 11:30 a.m. adding this is when addiction happens. The PAFC also gives away food bags “A lot of underserved an underhoused and delivers food hampers to seniors people got like that because of things like and shut ins. “We deliver the food for depression – how do we support them?” safety reasons,” Stevens said, adding that she asked. seniors are safer when they stay home, After 34 years at PAFC, Stevens says lowering their risk of exposure to illness. she loves her job and is passionate about The food bags, Stevens said, usually helping people. “I came from poverty, contain healthy snacks like fruit to help foster care and an addicted parent – I support nutritional needs of the people know what it is like,” she said. that may not have access to healthy food. Her message is that there is hope for everybody. “We live in a really good Stevens noted that there has been an up community,” she said. tik in demand for food hampers. The ser-

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Photo by Denise Titian

Port Alberni Mayor Shari Minions and Tseshaht Language Coordinator Dawn Foxcroft hold the new bilingual STOP sign.

Tseshaht-designed traffic signs gifted to the City of Port Alberni Moving towards reconciliation, city agrees to post signage featuring Tseshaht language By Denise Titian Ha-Shilth-Sa Reporter Port Alberni, BC- Leaders from Tseshaht First Nation arrived at Port Alberni City Hall March 18, 2021, to deliver gifts of reconciliation that showcase Tseshaht language and art. Tseshaht First Nation commissioned traffic signs that feature the word STOP in both English and Tseshaht languages. The signs feature a watermark whale tail design on a standard sized traffic stop sign. Port Alberni Mayor Shari Minions and City CAO Tim Pley greeted the Tseshaht delegation, inviting them into the foyer of City Hall. Tseshaht elected Chief Ken Watts presented Minions with a plaque that speaks to Tseshaht’s territorial claim in the Alberni Valley. Nasimius Ross, speaking on behalf of Tseshaht, told Minions and her staff that they were there to acknowledge that the Tseshaht co-exists with everyone else in the valley and they look forward to working together with the city to help make Port Alberni a better place. The plaque that Chief Watts presented to Minions is reminder that Port Alberni is in Tseshaht territory and that the nation has been there for thousands of years. Minions thanked Tseshaht, acknowledging that they are in unceded territory. In addition to the plaque, Tseshaht presented four stop signs to the city, stating that they hoped that the signs would be installed somewhere prominent. “These signs signify the co-existence of Tseshaht and the city; they show the beauty of what can be when we work together,” said Nasimius. Dawn Foxcroft is the Tseshaht Language Program Coordinator, tasked with preserving their language through a variety of means, including language classes, the development of teaching tools and the preservation of recordings. The Tseshaht Language Program, with

FPCC (First Peoples Cultural Council) funding has grown since it started in 2019. It now includes additional staffing. Linsey Haggard works as language worker and Grant Watts was hired as Data/Archivist Technician. “We feel that it is important to have our language visible in our community and in the larger community,” said Foxcroft in an email. She went on to say that their signage project started with placards that were installed around the Tseshaht community including some at the dam. The signs, she says, are bilingual and encourage people to take care of their lands. “We were inspired by other communities like Kitsumkalum and Nuxalk who had installed stop signs in their communities in their languages,” said Foxcroft. She was happy to say that they have had a lot of support and encouragement from their administration for this project. “People take a lot of pride in seeing our language around the community. I think it is important step to have our language used in these types of official settings,” Foxcroft said. “This is really exciting,” said Mayor Minions. She said that the city has a reconciliation committee that includes Tseshaht representation. “One of the committee’s recommendations is to incorporate Nuu-chah-nulth language in our street signs,” she said. Minions said they city has a lot of work to do when it comes to reconciliation with First Nations but that they have been making good progress. She said that they are working on flag poles so that they could fly the Tseshaht flag at City Hall. “It is really exciting to see Nuu-chahnulth language in our community,” she said. The stop signs are made to regulation and will be displayed in the city. Foxcroft said Tseshaht could order more signs if the city would like more.

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NCN family expands its business by opening food truck From the ocean to the kitchen, T-M Food Truck serves up always fresh, never frozen seafood delicacies By Sam Laskaris Ha-Shilth-Sa Contributor Tofino, BC - Opening a new business during a pandemic might not sound like a prudent move for some. But for Margaret Titian and her husband Jon Manson it made perfect sense. Titian, a member of Ahousaht First Nation, and Manson, who is a member of Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation, have decided to add another component to their family fishing business. Instead of simply selling fish that they catch to various corporations and restaurants around Tofino, earlier this month the couple launched the T-M Food Truck. This business is named after the first letter of the couple’s surnames, Titian and Manson. It is currently based at Best Western Plus Tin Wis Resort, which is owned by Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation. The couple’s three teenage children, Darren, Lee and Abigail are also helping out, not only by fishing but by assisting in the food truck operation. Manson said he purchased the truck last September. “It used to be a catering truck for all of the movies on the mainland,” he said. Popular menu items thus far have included halibut, crab, clam chowder and fish and chips. Manson believes the T-M Food Truck is a rather unique business. “I don’t think there is a place on the island like this,” he said. “There’s no other place that comes straight from the fisherman right to the consumer.” To this end, Manson said his family will continue to fish for a living and then sell off portions of their catch via the food truck. Manson said he was partly inspired to launch the food truck business since he felt others were not paying him a fair price for the fish he was delivering to them. “I’m tired of the bigger corporations giving us an Aboriginal wage for our fish,” he said. “We want to cut out the middle man and prove we can make a decent living out of it.” Manson does not believe it’s a risky venture beginning the food truck opera-

Photo by Melissa Renwick

Jon Manson and his wife, Margaret Titian, pose with two of their children, Abby (left) and Lee Titian-Manson, in front of their newly opened seafood truck, named T-M, located outside the Best Western Plus Tin Wis Resort, in Tofino, on March 17 2021. tion during a pandemic. go in and make the move now.” Though better weather days are ahead, “I’m not too worried about the food Titian added the couple’s children are Manson said it is difficult to predict when truck,” he said. “This is just an added indeed pleased to be involved in the new- the food truck operation will be receivextension to our business.” est component of the family business. ing frequent business from individuals Manson said all of his family members “They were the ones that were really outside his community. are legally catching and selling of their wanting it,” she said. “They were asking Pandemic restrictions are still in place seafood from their rights-based fishery. us when are we going to start.” on his First Nation. The BC Supreme Court had recogThe first day of business for the T-M “I’m not too sure when things will open nized in 2009 the fishing rights of five Food Truck was Mar. 6. up,” he said, adding only community Nuu-chah-nulth First Nations, including Though they had a fair number of cusmembers are allowed in now. “Our gates Tla-o-qui-aht, to catch and sell all species tomers, Manson would have preferred to are still up.” harvested within their territories. see more. The plan is to try and have the T-M Titian said the COVID-19 pandemic ac“It’s slow,” he said. “It’s still pandemic Food Truck open from noon until sunset tually inspired her family to think about season.” from Wednesdays through Sunday. opening a food truck. Titian believes the last few days things Closing time, however, could be earlier “It’s very exciting,” she said. “Being in are looking up for the business. if they run out of their daily supply of the pandemic is what made us think to “It’s picking up already,” she said. “The fish. do it.” first week was slow. But we weren’t there Weather will also play a huge role and That’s because Titian said with many to promote it daily.” determine if family members can actually restaurants not allowing in-person dining The reason the couple could not devote go out to fish that day. during portions of the pandemic, takeout more time to the food truck business in “I can’t predict the weather and when service has been a lifeblood for many. the past few weeks was because both it’s going to be a good time,” Manson “Most of the business right now is takeTitian and Manson had a recent death on said. out,” Manson added. “I’d be stupid to not their side of the family.

Wellness centre construction in Ahousaht set to begin By Melissa Renwick Local Journalism Initiative Reporter Ahousaht, BC - Construction of Ahousaht First Nation’s new wellness centre has been at a stand-still for one year. The project was brought to a halt last March due to COVID-19 restrictions but was recently resurrected. Since January, a crew of six Ahousaht members have been clearing the site, where the Ahousaht Indian Residential School used to stand. “When you are approaching Ahousaht [the wellness centre] is going to be forefront,” said John Caton, Maaqutusiis Hahoulthee Stewardship Society (MHSS) general manager and project lead. Sitting high up on a rock with a small white-sand beach in front, “it’s going be to be totally visible to all boat traffic coming and going,” said Caton. Traditional art will cover the front of the timber-framed building, that will be constructed in the style of a long house. Once rock blasting is done within the next week or two and the foundation is laid, “away we go,” said Caton.

Pending no hiccups relating to COVID-19, Caton said he hopes to hand over the keys to the new facility by midOctober. Due to an increase in material costs, the project budget will be over the $2-million it was originally forecasted for. “We priced this all out a year and a half ago,” said Caton. “Material costs have gone way up. I don’t know what the percentage is yet, but I’m working on it and I’m going to need to go out and find those funds to complete the project.” For the construction of the project, the nation purchased all of their own heavy equipment, such as an excavator, a dump truck, a loader, along with hand tools. “Our work force is equipped with the best of everything to accomplish this,” said Caton. “We then have the ability to move all of that over to another project in the territory.” Other than specialty trades that will be sourced from outside of the community, around 80 per cent of the project will be constructed by an Ahousaht labour force. “It’s a substantial opportunity for workers in Ahousaht,” said Caton.

Photo submitted by John Caton

The last building is moved off of the construction site by the Nickel Bros in preparation for the development of the new wellness centre in Ahousaht.

March 25, 2021—Ha-Shilth-Sa—Page 7

PASS given recommendations to be•er serve community Recommendations from a third-party includes in-depth training for staff and first nations culture at facilities By Karly Blats Ha-Shilth-Sa Contributor Port Alberni, BC - BC Housing has received recommendations from a thirdparty review that looked into operational concerns surrounding the Port Alberni Shelter Society’s (PASS) management of two Port Alberni shelters. The final report identifies 10 key recommendations for the shelter to better serve Port Alberni’s homeless community and enhance services. BC Housing said they will be accepting all the recommendations, and are already working on a number of them. The Port Alberni Shelter Society operates a BC Housing funded facility called Our Home, located on Eighth Avenue, that opened in March 2019. The facility includes a 23-bed emergency shelter, a 30-unit supportive housing program and Community Expansion Shelter. The society also operates the Overdose Prevention Site, which is not funded by BC Housing. A protest that began late last year by individuals citing a number of allegations against the shelter society’s management and operations was the catalyst for the third-party review. After multiple interviews with former clients, community members, PASS board of directors and community partners, the contractors found that one of the central issues identified by the interviewees is that PASS staff issue too many service restrictions, some of which have been long-term, multi-year bans and that there is no sufficiently accessible appeal or complaints process for clients who have been barred from the shelter. Interview respondents also pointed out that trauma-informed support and adequate staff training is needed at the shelter and that PASS is not providing the right type of housing for people with significant mental health concerns. “All service providers and community partners interviewed agree that there is no minimal barrier housing or emergency shelter in Port Alberni, but it is desperately needed,” states the executive summary of the report. Former clients interviewed claim that shelter clients can face stigma, demeaning language and jail-like rules. The summary says clients who are often barred from the shelter, or who are asked to leave for minimal or arbitrary reasons, are Indigenous with mental health concerns or learning disabilities. Indigenous representatives who were interviewed

Photo by Karly Blats

Individuals gathered outside the Port Alberni Shelter on Eighth Avenue late last year in protest of the Port Alberni Shelter Society’s operations and management. impact that COVID-19 and public health/ feel adequate staff training, traumaBC Housing recommends the continuphysical distancing measures have had informed practice and cultural safety ation of the community-based, arm’son how PASS has been able to provide are missing from the PASS approach to length Review Committee overseeing service over the past year. providing service to Indigenous people. service restrictions. “We had plans for an organizational The summary states PASS senior Similarly, it is recommended that BC review and strategic planning session in management confirmed that there are no Housing work with PASS to develop 2020, which was postponed due to the Indigenous people employed in managemore accessible and client-centred comcrisis presented by COVID-19 panment or front-line positions at Our Home. plaint and appeal processes for evictions demic,” the society said. “We acknowlIt is recommended that BC Housing em- and service restrictions at Our Home. edge that the pandemic has delayed our bed local First Nations culture throughThe report also recommends that an board training, strategic planning and out PASS facilities by building stronger alternate shelter or housing facility with team-building opportunities, and we are relationships with local First Nations and strong mental health and substance use looking forward to restarting this process improving Indigenous representation in supports is developed in Port Alberni as COVID-19 restrictions are eased.” the organization. by a different service provider and with In addition, PASS says a successorship BC Housing said they, and PASS, will collaboration from local First Nation’s plan for the board and senior managework in partnership with the Nuu-chahrepresentatives. ment is currently being developed. nulth Tribal Council, Tseshaht First Going forward, BC Housing will con“We acknowledge that these plans Nation and Hupačasath First Nation tinue to work with the society board on need to be documented in writing and on building stronger relationships with the recommendations. approved by the board of directors, per Indigenous communities. To view the recommendations in full, best practice for non-profit organizations. Additional recommendations include visit BChousing.org/news. PASS commits to do this in 2021.” for PASS to provide their staff more inIn a four-page PASS executive sumGraham Hughes, advocate and original depth training and upgrading in mental mary responding to the third-party protester to call for an investigation into health related topics, domestic violence report, released by the society’s board of the shelter society, said in a press release and awareness of local First Nations hisdirectors, it states that PASS has already he’s grateful to the City of Port Alberni tory. It’s recommended for BC Housing addressed some “important issues” that for requesting that an investigation occur. to work with PASS to ensure the safety the consultant’s review highlights, or is Hughes said the 10 recommendations of women in their co-ed facilities. in the process of addressing. and action items show that his, and BC Housing said they will “request an The society disagreed with the consulother protester’s concerns, were true and updated list of all staff and their current tant’s decision not to obtain the input of justified and he applauds BC Housing training levels and will facilitate training current clients for the review. for accepting and implementing these through the Homelessness Services As“While we respect the reasons for this recommendations. sociation of BC where needed. decision – to protect our clients and their Hughes added that BC Housing’s Recommendations go on to say that BC confidentiality – the net outcome is a executive summary of the report caused Housing should review service restricreview that does not include the essenconcern by their “omission of their own tion and eviction procedures with PASS tial input of a key audience that uses our and ensure that only those who present services and interacts with our staff every negligence in oversight of the multimillion-dollar funded programs run by an imminent health and safety threat day,” states the response. PASS.” are considered for time-limited-service In the response, PASS states they agree Hughes alleges his sister lost her life restrictions and evictions. with the need for expanded mental health due to neglect on the part of PASS and support services in Port Alberni and that their operations, under BC Housing fundthey would welcome the opportunity for additional mental health training for staff. ing, which was the reason he began a protest last year. Touching on their complaints and ap“The accusations which lead to our peal processes for when they need to restrict access to their low-barrier shelter, protest were not just of simple casual misconduct,” Hughes said. “Many of the PASS’s response states they are recomaccusations that have been made against mitting to improve efforts to raise awarePASS are criminal in nature, and need to ness about complaints and appeals and be investigated with the sensitivity and how they’re addressed. diligence criminal acts should be.” PASS estimates close to 19 per cent In addition to the action items and of their regular clients at the shelter are recommendations already in place, Indigenous and they disclosed they have Hughes is calling on BC Housing to add Indigenous individuals on both their one more: an end to the wet weather bed board of directors and staff. model. “We’d be happy to discuss with the “If we want to see lives saved, any bed Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council (NTC) in our community that can be funded for and other Indigenous service providers shelter – should be,” Hughes said. “There in the community how to create a more Photo by Denise Titian is currently a housing crisis, an overdose Taking advantage of a beautiful spring day, staff members of the Nuu-chah-nulth culturally supportive and safe environcrisis and a plague. To continue a model ment for our Indigenous clients,” states Tribal Council’s Teechuktl (Mental Health Program) cook up barbeque burgers where we provide refuge to our most PASS’s response. to support the hungry. In addition to burgers, fruit and water, people were ofThe society believes the consultant’s re- vulnerable from those things only if it’s fered safety supplies, including Naloxone kits, clean needles, condoms, masks and port doesn’t sufficiently acknowledge the raining is illogical, and inhumane.” hand sanitizer. Teechuktl offers outreach services, workshops, Naloxone training, overdose prevention and awareness.

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Mask and healing song serve as a record of history Tla-o-qui-aht brothers create a virtual performance in reflection of COVID-19 By Melissa Renwick Local Journalism Initiative Reporter To commemorate those who have died from COVID-19, the Government of Canada designated March 11 as a National Day of Observance. The day marked the one-year anniversary of the World Health Organization declaring the virus a global pandemic. For brothers, Hjalmer Wenstob and Timmy Masso, it also memorialized those who have died in the past year from other issues, like addiction and mental health. As the world’s eye has been turned on COVID-19, many of those lost lives have been overlooked or forgotten. “We wanted to remember those people and those families who are mourning in silence,” said Wenstob. Having spent the past eight months working on a healing song and performance, the Tla-o-qui-aht men used the occasion to reveal their collaboration to the world. Released as a YouTube video, it contains a performance by Masso, who dances to a healing song while wearing a mask carved by Wenstob. Written by Masso, the song was built around the phrase “wik̓ iitsap tamis,” which translates to “take away the sickness.” Its lyrics are subtitled in Nuu-chah-nulth and English so that it is accessible “to a greater population far beyond the borders of Nuu-chah-nulth people,” said Wenstob. “We really wanted it to be a tool that students, young people, language learners or just the average citizen could [access],” he said. “It’s about healing and it’s about coming out of this as strong as we can.” Collaborating over Zoom, Wenstob and Masso compiled their recordings virtually and dreamed up ways of incorporating a mask and dance into the project. “Doing my culture is something that is so important to me,” said Masso. “In the recent time of COVID-19, there’s been a lack of it.” By creating a song that everyone can sing, Masso said he hoped people could use it as a tool on their own journey of healing, while celebrating Nuu-chahnulth culture.

Photo by Melissa Renwick

Hjalmer Wenstob poses for a photo with the COVID-19 mask he carved inside the Cedar House Gallery in Ucluelet, on March 17 2021. “A lot of songs are held by chiefs,” he the hands can be pulled open to reveal “We were socially distanced, wearing said. “Whenever there’s a chief song, not small, red dots around the mask’s mouth. masks [while] recording this history that many people can sing it unless you’re at For centuries, Nuu-chah-nulth peoples we’re living,” he said. “It was a really a potlatch. What Hjalmer and I really like have recorded history, like the smallpox weird experience.” to do is make songs that everyone can epidemic, through masks. It became Supported by Canada Council for the sing – so everyone can learn it and use it important for Wenstob to build on that Arts’ Digital Originals, an initiative to as much as they want.” historical archive. help artists pivot their work for online To bring the song to life, Wenstob “The hands transform and open to reveal sharing during COVID-19, the mask was carved a mask inspired by a traditional this contemporary history that we’re created as a performance piece, rather Pookmis mask, otherwise known as a living in right now,” he said. “It was than for display. drowned whaler spirit. While Wenstob said the mask will make trying to find a way to capture that story There’s an old story of a whaler that properly in a sculptural medium.” appearances at future potlatches and gathgoes out to sea and drowns, said WenRecording the video on their traditional erings, he also hopes to make it available stob. Pookmis is the whaler spirit that territory in Grice Bay, Masso donned as an educational tool that can be shared returns as a recluse. a Hudson’s Bay blanket. It served as a in public spaces. “It felt like the time we’re in,” he said. symbol to further highlight the impacts of “The consensus from family and those “That feeling of being so lost with the the smallpox epidemic, which was trigwho were involved in the project is that world around us.” gered by European settlement and trade this dance should be danced again when Characterized with small, beady eyes with First Nations communities along the we can be together again,” he said. “Not and grey, wrinkled skin, the mask was de- Pacific Coast. just in reflection of COVID-19, but in resigned with a set of hands that covers its Using the past as a link to the present, membering and not forgetting that history mouth. Carved from red cedar, Wenstob Wenstob said recording the video was – similar to how those smallpox masks and Masso created a mechanism so that “surreal.” are still visible today.”

Phrase of the week: K’a@iic^h= his^uk%a>%is c^uus^uk Pronounced Ka ich hir his shook ish chew shook, it means ‘everything that is growing is new’. Supplied by ciisma.

Illustration by Ivy Cargill-Martin

March 25, 2021—Ha-Shilth-Sa—Page 9

------- Employment Opportunities ------Thunderbird Spirit Water Job Posting Position: Production Worker/Labourer Position: Maintenance Worker Location: Port Alberni, B.C. The Uchucklesaht Tribe Government is currently accepting applications for a Full Time Building Maintenance Worker. The Building Maintenance Worker performs mechanical and structural maintenance and repairs related to three main buildings owned by Uchucklesaht Tribe, grounds and equipment, in areas such as electrical, plumbing, painting and grounds-keeping. Also cleans both interior and exterior building areas as per maintenance schedule per building. Required Qualifications, Education and Knowledge:

Thunderbird Spirit Water is seeking a friendly and energetic individual to become part production team as Production Worker/Labourer who will report to the Plant Manager. These duties include completing daily activities on the production line ensuring product adheres to the set standards of safety, quality, and production. View full job description at www.hashilthsa.com/careers-training Please submit a resume and cover letter no later than 4:30 pm on March 26th, attention: Lysa Ray, Executive Assistant In person/by mail: 5251 Argyle Street, Port Alberni, B.C. V9Y 1V1 Emailed to: Lysa.Ray@Uchucklesaht.ca (MS Word or PDF documents)

• Grade 10, plus related vocational training such as building maintenance and mechanical maintenance Training and Experience: • Two (2) years recent related experience. • Or and Equivalent combination of education, training and experience in mechanical and structural maintenance • Criminal Record Check Required • Drivers License Required Interested applicants are strongly encouraged to obtain a copy of the full job posting and details by contacting Lysa Ray, Executive Assistant, at lysa.ray@uchucklesaht.ca Applications Deadline: Please forward a resume and cover letter by April 5, 2021 to: Lysa.Ray@Uchucklesaht.ca Uchucklesaht Tribe Government 5251 Argyle St. Port Alberni, BC V9Y 1V1

JOB POSTING – COMMUNITY HUMAN SERVICE COORDINATOR RESPONSIBILITIES: The CHS, will work in the following areas: • Income Assistance • Family Care Work • Health Initiatives • Special Projects as required • Patient Travel back up support PREFERRED QUALIFICATIONS: • Experience working with families • Project management experience a definite asset • Strong verbal and wri•en communication skills. • Ability to work well as a team and independently. • Professional and tact communication skills. • Knowledge of the community and social programs. • Accounting and financial management experience an asset. • Ability to provide a clean criminal record check • College Diploma in an associated field an asset • Current Class 5 Drivers License 40 hours per week, living wage salary rate dependent upon education/experience Applicants should submit a le•er & resume by Monday March 29, 2021 at 5:00 p.m. to Eha•esaht/Chinehkint P.O. Box 59 Zeballos, BC,V0P 2A0 Fax: (250) 761-4156 Email: admin@ehatis.ca

Page 10— Ha-Shilth-Sa—March 25, 2021

Joe David honours his ancestors with traditional art Master artist dedicates his life’s work to respecting the traditions of Tla-o-qui-aht art carved out by his ancestors By Melissa Renwick Local Journalism Initiative Reporter Born inside the house his grandfather built on Meares Island, Joe David was only moments old when his grandmother said, “this boy is going to be an artist.” It wasn’t until decades later when David was working as an artist that his father recounted him the tale. Unbeknownst to David at the time, his parents had consciously raised him to support his creative journey. If an artist was attending a gathering, David’s parents made sure he came in contact with them. Placing him in their arms, he became “part of that energy.” From the time he could hold a stick or pick up a pencil, David was always drawing. Be it in the sand, or on the walls of his family’s home, he was as relentless as his parent’s encouragement. David’s father, Hyacinth, who was a carver himself, continually strived to prop David up and support his artistic instincts. Instead of asking him to “stop,” when David would draw on the walls, Hyacinth asked questions about the meaning behind the designs, David recalled. Now, you can find David’s work exhibited all over the world and within the permanent collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, the Museum of Anthropology at the University of British Columbia and the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. The 74-year-old has dedicated his life’s work to traditional Tla-o-qui-aht and Nuu-chah-nulth art forms in honour of his ancestors. From the elegance of a cedar tree as it dances in a windstorm, to the symphony of waves crashing against the coastal rocks, David said his ancestors were such masterful artists because their souls were born from nature’s grace. Everything from the carvings, to the songs, to the dances, to the language was translated from nature, he said. “And also their relationships,” said David. “They adopted wolves as their main teachers in social order because they’re the most social animals in all of nature along the coast.” As society becomes increasingly connected to the digital world, our relationship to nature has changed. While Nuu-chah-nulth art has morphed in reflection of these changes, David said his development as an artist came from “the fact that I have applied myself seriously, and with respect and passion every day.” Likening his craft to calligraphy, David said the shapes and forms of Nuu-chahnulth art are built with thin lines that swell and shrink in thickness. “Professional calligraphers practice over-and-over-and-over, like a pianist or a dancer would practice a movement over-and-over-and-over,” he said. “In the end, you’re going to have a much more graceful outcome than if you use a machine.” Now semi-retired, David said the future of traditional art is in the hands of younger generations. “Those past generations of master carvers and artists deserve respect [for] their efforts and accomplishments,” he said. “It should not end with them.” Back in the tiny village of Opitsaht, David was sent to residential school when he was eight. Stripped from his parents, drawing transported David out of his body into a world outside the school’s walls.

“I had that controlled world of my own,” he said. “It didn’t involve anybody else. I could be invisible.” In between walking along the beach or heading out into the bush to be by himself in nature, David spent time inside the school’s chapel. “I could go in there and be left alone,” he said. The quiet space became his refuge. It was a place where he could draw, dream, or observe the carvings of Jesus, Mary and the crucifixion. Uninterested in running races or playing ball games, David was a quiet, introverted child – characteristics he continues to identify with today. He attended Christie Residential School for three years before his family moved to the United States, where he made it to Grade 9 before dropping out. For the then-teenager, he said his time was much better spent working and got a job at a lumber mill in the Olympic Peninsula, in Washington. On trip back to Seattle to visit his family, he heard about a government-funded art program through Job Corps, which he wasted no time applying to. Within months, David began a two-year commercial art program in Texas, that covered a variety or disciplines, from painting, to drawing, to photography. It wasn’t until he completed the program that his interest in Northwest Coast art began to take shape. Fortuitously, the skills he had developed as a silk screen printer and sign painter seamlessly translated into the style. At the time, there weren’t many resources for David to draw upon, so he began frequenting Shorey, the only bookstore in Seattle that carried a handful of books on the topic. While visiting one of Shorey’s satellite locations in 1971, David stumbled upon a non-Indigenous man carving a totem in the middle of the Seattle Center. Wearing a red bandana that kept his long, black hair neatly parted, David watched with fascination. Duane Pasco, who has played a major role in the re-emergence of Northwest Coast art by working as a creator and teacher since the 60s, invited David to his home. “Man, I was there in a heartbeat,” he said. “I would show up every day. I started to carve beside him and learn.” Through Pasco, David was introduced to the late Bill Holm. His book, Northwest Coast Indian Art, is what “we call the bible,” he said. “It explains the Northwest Coast northern formline system.” At the time, Holm was teaching at the University of Washington and allowed David to sit in on his classes. “He showed slides of Northwest Coast art,” he said. “Masks, carvings, totem poles – everything. He was an amazing teacher and it was because he was a practicing artist himself. He was one of the most amazing artists and carvers in the traditional forms I’ve ever known.” Within a few years of completing his commercial art program, David began selling his masks to Seattle-based gallery, The Legacy Ltd. Dropping off new pieces at least once a week, the steady sales allowed him to live comfortably, while continuing to work on his craft every day. After spending four years learning and working alongside Pasco and Holm, David left the Seattle area in 1975 to return home, to B.C. west coast. In order to follow in the footsteps of his ancestors who had developed the Tla-

Photos by Melissa Renwick

Tla-o-qui-aht master artist Joe David poses for a photo inside his home in TyHistanis.

o-qui-aht aesthetics of Northwest Coast art for thousands of years, David said he needed to return to the place it originated from. “I wanted it to have the heart and soul that it deserved,” he said from his home in Ty-Histanis. “And that meant being here.” Since then, the master artist has come and gone, always returning to his traditional territory. In 2018, a totem pole that David carved in honour of the Tla-o-qui-aht hereditary chiefs was erected in Tofino. Standing in view of his birthplace, the village of Opitsaht floats in the background. It is meant to serve as a constant reminder of Tla-o-qui-aht’s history and the hereditary chief’s spiritual and physical stewardship of the hahoułee, known as traditional territory. Historically, Nuu-chah-nulth peoples did not have written words. “We had carved forms and paintings,” said David. “It’s no different than a great

piece of literature.” Much like he did in the early years of his career, David continues to work at his craft by applying himself every day. It’s a practice he urges younger generations to follow, which requires studying the old pieces of art, he said. “Fortunately for people today, there are dozens of books,” he said. “But you really need to see [the art] in person.” Going to museums and making contact with the old pieces is critical, he said. “The masks and headdresses were danced,” he said. “They had movement, which reinforced their life force. Standing in front of them can help you imagine these things being danced in the light of fire.” Despite studying traditional forms for over 50 years, David has no plans to stop anytime soon. “I do it out of respect for the ancestors,” he said. “So that the heart, soul and spirit of their art lives on.”

March 25, 2021—Ha-Shilth-Sa—Page 11

Sisters take part in fitness challenge for MMIWG Tseshaht women turn to cultural teachings to raise awareness about safety as Red Dress Day approaches “We have a target on our backs already,” she said. “There’s a reality I have to teach my grandchildren about.” That is the galvanizing challenge behind Red Dress awareness: How best to prepare and safeguard a younger generation. As they train together, Hassell is teaching her young sister, a Haahuupayuk School student, to let her know that she’s not alone. “I’m a person who likes to think in terms of prevention, so when I’m teaching my sister about this kind of movement, I’m teaching her about protection,” Hassell said. “Having family members know where she is, focusing more on preventive measures, mostly being aware of her surroundings. People are creating awareness in all of our communities.”

By Mike Youds Ha-Shilth-Sa Contributor An online fitness challenge is getting a thumb’s up from participants, encouraging them to “hold in their hearts and minds” missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls (MMIWG). Tsow-Tun Le Lum, a trauma and substance treatment centre in Lantzville, came up with the idea of a daily fitness challenge, a motivational approach to develop awareness and prevention of violence. MMIWG Red Dress Awareness 60X60 training has participants walking, running, cycling or paddling into shape, 60 minutes a day for 60 days leading up to May 5, a national day of awareness for MMIWG also known as Red Dress Day. The society issued the challenge March 5 on its Facebook page, not expecting to trigger a sudden groundswell. “We were shocked at the response,” said Nola Jeffrey, executive director of the centre. So far, more than 1,300 have signed onto the challenge. “We got flooded with entries,” Jeffrey said. We couldn’t even keep up.” People across the Island and beyond have responded with commitments, some posting the precise details of daily workouts. Some exercise on their own, others with close family members, keeping within pandemic social bubbles. “This is only for Canada?” asks one commenter on the Tsow-Tun Le Lum web page. “And can children participate?” The challenge extends far beyond the usual physical and mental hurdles of building strength and stamina, drawing inspiration from a higher sense of social and spiritual purpose. “What I encourage people to do is to have that intention of holding missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls in their minds, to hold them in their hearts,” said Jeffrey, who has also taken up the challenge. “The 60X60 challenge is just something to help people get started, to motivate them,” said Leisa Hassell, a Tseshaht woman training with her sister, Anika Jensen, 12. “She’s one of my biggest incentives,” Hassell said. Several of her friends are doing the same. Using social media, they’ve been encouraging others to join in. Each community has its share of 60X60 participants. “It’s exciting for me and my sister,” Hassell said. “Getting family on board is pretty exciting, too.” The challenge inspired her partly be-

“I’m a person who likes to think in terms of prevention, so when I’m teaching my sister about this kind of movement, I’m teaching her about protection” ~ Leisa Hassell Photo submitted by Leisa Hassell

Leisa Hassell in training with her sister, Anika at the Glenwood Centre in Port Alberni. ings,” Jeffrey explained cause it speaks to a traditional source In 2013, when First Nations Health of strength and guidance, the power of Authority assumed responsibility for traditional prayer, Hassell said. Indigenous health from Health Canada, it “This is something I have been focused was clear to people in B.C.’s Indigenous on. People are grieving out there, and health services community that much using our cultural traditions is powerful, work had to be done, Jeffrey said. Tsowespecially in your own language,” she Tun Le Lum hired a support worker added. “Prayer is the most powerful tool dedicated to missing and murdered Indigyou can use.” enous women and girls. Tsow-Tun Le Lum (Helping House) has From the outset of the COVID-19 panoperated a trauma and substance abuse demic, the centre was enlisted to provide centre overlooking Nanoose Bay for cultural support in addition to regular the past 34 years, serving Aboriginal, services. Despite a busy schedule, Jeffrey Metis and Inuit. Not long after the centre has personally kept pace with the chalopened as an alcohol addiction treatment facility, emphasis shifted to address lenge. She hopes others will join in the effort to honour missing and murdered underlying causes of addiction among women and girls as well as their families: its clients, principally residential school “I’m sending them love, I’m sending experiences, Jeffrey explained. As the them peace. I’m sending them good enresidential school settlement developed, ergy, even if they are in the spirit world. the centre began a residential health support workers (RHSW) program, assisting “It’s not just for the ones taken; it’s for the ones who may be taken,” she added. residential school survivors and families Women of all backgrounds — as well as through the hearing process. men and boys — are subject to violence, “We also had a huge cultural support yet the risk is much greater, about 12 team and we kept team on (after the times higher for Indigenous females, Jefsettlement) and went around to the Truth frey stressed. and Reconciliation Commission hear-

Red Dress Day originated 10 years ago as The REDress Project, a series of art installations by Metis artist Jaime Black. Black collected 600 red dresses through donations and installed them in public spaces across Canada, indoors and outdoors with the aim of encouraging public dialogue on violence against women and girls. The red dress grew to be a powerful symbol, one of a variety of ways used to build awareness of issues contributing to violence against Indigenous women. Whether 60X60 participants commit five minutes or 60 is not important. The key message they hope to convey is a universal one, Jeffrey said. She described it as “loomsk,” which means honour and respect in the Tsimshian language of Sm’algyax. “All of us are human beings,” Jeffrey said. “Every man and woman. We are all indigenous to creation. If we treated each human being with respect and honour, we would never cause harm to one another.” While there can be no final public gathering to culminate the challenge this May 5, due to pandemic safety precautions, Tsow-Tun Le Lum sees potential in future years. “Just from the response we’ve gotten, I think it is something that will continue,” Jeffrey said.

Page 12— Ha-Shilth-Sa—March 25, 2021

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