Ha Shilth Sa Newspaper March 7, 2024

Page 1

‘We won’t have the opportunity to do this forever’

Ahousaht Tyee Ha’wilth Maquinna (Lewis George) and grandson Jaiden George are preserving the history and knowledge of their people by video recording extensive interviews with elders.

Grandfather & grandson team up to videotape traditional Ahousaht stories about culture, history and territory ready. Each elder begins by introducing themselves in Nuu-chah-nulth language and then Maquinna delves into a range of topics from family lineage, territorial boundaries and cultural practices, to life growing up in the village, boat names and harvesting traditional materials. Besides the session with sisters Greta and Winnie Charlie, the interviews are conducted one person at a time.

In early spring 2023 they launched the project with elder Harold Little and have since sat down with 15 others. They have about eight moreAhousaht elders left to go on record with, offering up priceless “Haahuupa” (continuous teaching with care) aboutAhousaht culture, history, and the region.

“They are really generous with what they share,” said Jaiden, a future Ahousaht hereditary chief, who isa graduate of the Emily Carr University ofArt + Design bachelor of fine arts and photography program.

While Jaiden takes care of the camera work, lighting and audio for each interview, Maquinna facilitates the conversation with a list of 100 questions at the

“We go as long as the person is comfortable going,” said Jaiden. “The longest interview we’ve had has been with Ron Hamilton. That took place over the course of five days total. Each one of those being five-hour days. We have about 25 hours of footage. His interview is actually my favourite. He’s incredible.”

“The first day we sat down with him we got through about three questions because his answers are about two hours long,” continued Jaiden, adding that Hamilton had a circular way of answering questions.

Ahousaht-Otoosaht War

To date, the project has captured historical information going back about five generations. In the 1800s,Ahousaht went to war with Otoosaht, a group that lived on the outer beaches of Flores Island.

“I would say it’s the largest event that’s happened in our recent history outside of colonization,” said Jaiden.

Maquinna shared that the war between Ahousaht and Otoosaht lasted over 13 years.

“This little baby was born when the war started and when the war ended the little baby girl was a young lady, so they were figuring about 13 years that the war took place,” said Maquinna.

The Otoosaht were stopping the Ahousaht from accessing fish in their territory, so the chief declared war.

“The war went on and on and many, many people were killed,” said Maquinna.

Ultimately,Ahousaht conquered Otoosaht, and the neighbouring tribes of Manosaht and Keltsmaht amalgamated withAhousaht.

“The people of Otoosaht fled all the way down to Neah Bay, Washington,” said Maquinna. “During the canoe journeys we had people who were original Otoosahts and they were wanting to know how we felt about them. I sent a message back, I said, ‘The war has been over for a long time. You guys should come home, and I invited them back to where their original lands were’.”

Present day issues

During the interviews, Maquinna asks the elders to share their thoughts on present day issues like the crisis the community is facing when it comes to substance abuse.

“The colonization of our people is really evident. We have a lot of work to do with getting back to who we are as First Nations people,” said Maquinna, adding that many of the elders talked about the change in traditional diet.

Continues on page 3.

Canada’s Oldest First Nations Newspaper - Serving Nuu-chah-nulth-aht since 1974 Vol. 51 - No. 05—March 7, 2024 haas^i>sa Canadian Publications Mail Product Sales Agreement No. 40047776 INTERESTING NEWS If undeliverable, please return to: Ha-Shilth-Sa P.O. Box 1383, PortAlberni, B.C. V9Y 7M2 Inside this issue... MOU with province brings 30 units for homeless.........Page 2 Fish Farm licences expire in June................. .................Page 8 Nuu-chah-nulth groups perform at Hoobiyee....Pages 10 & 11 Traditional food gathering event..................................Page 15 Lessons for International Women’s Day.......................Page 19
Eric Plummer photo An estimated 235 Tla-o-qui-aht members took to the floor at Hoobiyee on March 1 in Vancouver, singing and drumming while younger dancers performed. Pictured are dancers during the Kingfisher song. More on Hoobiyee on Pages 10 and 11.

MOU between province and Victoria brings 30-units

With at least 1,665 people homeless in the city, an agreement brings immediate homes for another 30 people

Victoria, BC - Victoria will see the addition of 30 temporary housing units for those who have been staying in shelters long term. This interim housing is the first action of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) signed between the city and province to provide housing and services with aims to reduce homelessness.

“Housing is a critical issue across the whole province, there’s no question,” said Grace Lore, MLAfor Victoria-Beacon Hill, in an interview with Ha-Shilth-Sa.

“Certainly, here in Victoria the need for housing, really across the housing continuum, is really acute.”

In mid-February, the City of Victoria and the province announced the open-

ing of Caledonia Place, formerly known as Tiny Town, located on 940 Caledonia Avenue. The reopening of the 30-unit facility will transition those who have been staying in shelters long term to interim units while opening up beds at nightly shelters, reads a joint press release.

“When vulnerable people have safe housing with supports such as health care and skills training, they can start to rebuild their lives, supporting healthy and safe communities for everyone,” said Lore in the press release.

Operated by Our Place Society, Lore shared with Ha-Shilth-Sa that they are expecting the housing to be running within weeks.

“These aren’t permanent homes,” said Lore, “but they are homes for people while those additional supportive housing

and purpose-built rentals get built.” The implementation of Caledonia Place follows the opening of 30 beds at St. John Divine Church extreme-weather response shelter on Quadra Street, operated by SOLID outreach society.

“Together, these 60 temporary spaces will increase the housing and shelter options available to people experiencing homelessness in the community, while the province, through BC Housing, works to bring other temporary housing and permanent supportive housing to Victoria,” reads the press release.

Throughout Greater Victoria there are currently 380 overnight shelter spaces available, the press release reads. But according to 2023’s Point-In-Time count, the city’s unhoused community amounts to a minimum of 1,665 people.

The MOU was formalized to coordinate rapid support, through BC Housing’s Homeless EncampmentAction Response Teams (HEART) and the Homeless EncampmentAction Response Temporary Housing (HEARTH) programs.

«With this MOU, we can rely on the province to take advantage of opportunities and undertake innovative actions - partners in a comprehensive strategy to provide rapid access to the supports and services needed to help unhoused people find a home,” said MarianneAlto, mayor of Victoria, in the press release.

“Collaboration and cooperation is essential,” said Lore. “We’re only going to meet the needs of our community, of our neighbors, by working together.”

Coldest Night raises nearly $50,000 for PA’s homeless

PortAlberni, BC -As homelessness continues to be a major issue in all communities, the Sage Haven Society is working hard to raise funds and help out. For the eighth year in a row Sage Haven hosted their Coldest Night of the Year fundraiser on Saturday, Feb. 24.

Formerly known as theAlberni Community and Women’s Services Society, Sage Haven offers transitional housing and support services to women and their children In PortAlberni who face intimate partner violence.

This year 179 walkers and 38 volunteers from various businesses and groups around the community helped raise $48,907 to help the homeless.

“The funds raised will significantly contribute to the creation of warm safe spaces and services in theAlberni Valley” Ellen Frood, executive director of the Sage Haven Society, in a press release. Data from the 2023 point-in-time count indicated that 66 per cent of the homeless in theAlberni Valley identify as Indigenous - and of those 84 per cent have reported having been to residential school or being the descendants of former


Tseshaht Chief Counsellor Ken Watts and Brandy Lauder, elected chief of the Hupacasath First Nation, opened the event with some encouraging words to the excited group.

“PortAlberni continues to come together to fundraise and bring awareness to the most vulnerable,” said Watts during a later interview. “While we know so many are struggling right now, many including Tseshaht are trying to combat the opioid, housing, and mental health crisis we find ourselves in. Our thoughts and prayers are with not only our Tseshaht members struggling, but all those in theAlberni Valley. Kleco to Sage Haven and all walkers of this important local event”

MLAJosie Osborne and MP Gord Johns were also there showing support, commending the group on their efforts and joined in on the walk.After completing a two-kilometre or five-kilometre walk participants enjoyed chilli and hot drinks courtesy of the SalvationArmy and Tim Hortons.

“Sage Haven sends our thanks to all who supported the annual event this year and we are already planning for February 2025,” said Frood. “Hope to see you then!”

Page 2— Ha-Shilth-Sa—March 7, 2024
Eric Plummer photo In late January PandoraAvenue in Victoria was lined with encampments, as the nearby Our Place Society facility offers help to the unhoused on the street. Tasha Potter photo Coldest Night of the Year participants assembled outside of Char’s Landing waiting to walk the 2 or 5 k routes and raise money for the homeless.

Project gathers information about traditional practices

Continued from page 1.

“Their time to now, our people are getting away from the diet that they had.

Fish, sea urchin, crab, mussels, all of the rich food that we once ate, we’ve gotten away from and we are seeing a lot of diabetes coming into our community and that’s because of sugar,” Maquinna shared.

The elders passed on stories about cultural practices like funerals. Back in the day, reveals Maquinna, children and pregnant women were kept away from funerals to “protect the child and unborn child from hurt”.

“One of the elders told us he was 19

years old when he first attended a funeral. You know how difficult it is for adults to (handle) the broken heart, the tears. The grieving part of it is just too much for kids,” said Maquinna.

One of the final questions Maquinna poses to the elders is about giving advice to future generations.

“They all were saying to be kind. Kindness was what really showed up in the end here,” he said.

Project scope

Jaiden is using OtterAI to help transcribe all the interviews and the videos are backed-up on multiple hard drives, which he keeps in a fire-proof safe.

“That’s really important to us. There have been efforts in the past to do something like this wherein all the information has been lost. Like all of the data was lost, which is insane. That would be a nightmare for me,” said Jaiden, noting that a lot of the project has to do with organization.

To find information efficiently, he’s assigned codes to each elder and also uses codes for specific locations and more.

“The whole point of it is to be able to search it up easily and very quickly identify who said what and when and what place it pertains to,” Jaiden explains.

The second component of the project is the lofty task of mapping all the different points of interest and village sites, plus creating shareable information about place names.

“For students to be able to see this I think is really, really important.And also for the general public,” Jaiden said, noting that he envisions points of interest signage with QR codes that can access elders’teachings.

The Maaqutusiis Hahoulthee Stewardship Society is funding the Elders Knowledge Documentation initiative and they hope to have all the interviews complete by the end of summer 2024.

Ahousaht matriarch FlorencemitAtleo was 95 when she passed away recently in January… Some say she was the eldest member of the Nuučaanuł.

“We didn’t get to her,” Jaiden sighed. “And that’s the nature of what we are doing and that’s why it’s urgent. We won’t have the opportunity to do this forever.”

March 7, 2024—Ha-Shilth-Sa—Page 3 TSESHAHT MARKET GATEWAY TO THE PACIFIC RIM Hours of operation - 7:00 am - 10:00 pm Phone: 724-3944 E-mail: manager@tseshahtmarket.ca Find us on Facebook If you should be getting a copy of the Ha-Shilth-Sa paper delivered to your home, please contact: Holly Stocking at 250-724-5757 Have You Moved?
Jaiden George photo Ahousaht elder CliffAtleo talks to Maquinna at the Clayoquot Wilderness Lodge, as Maquinna’s grandson Jaiden George videotapes the answers for documentation.

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Waiting increases at B.C. walk-in clinics

The 1.5 hour average is worsening health care crises currently facing First Nations

PortAlberni, BC – The Medimap Index is showing that British Columbians face the longest average wait times for walkin clinics in Canada.

“[P]atients in B.C. had to wait on average 93 minutes to see a physician at a walk-in clinic in 2023, an increase of 14 minutes from 2022,” according to the Medimap Walk-in Clinic Wait Time Index.

The latest measurement places British Columbians waiting 25 minutes longer than the 68-minute average for walk-in clinics in other provinces.

This news comes as no surprise to Nuuchah-nulth Tribal Council Vice-President Les Doiron. He hears about the issue from Nuu-chah-nulth people all the time.

“People that can’t get in to a doctor have to go to the clinic and wait forever,” he said.

PortAlberni is in the same boat as most other communities across Canada – there are too many people and too few doctors.

Doiron has been advocating for better health care services for Nuu-chah-nulthaht and has been working with several groups and organizations to find solutions.

“PortAlberni released a promotional video, an advertisement, encouraging doctors to come to beautiful PortAlberni,” said Doiron.

He said he appears in the video, welcoming viewers to come to the traditional territories of Hupacasath and Tseshaht.

“We sit with the doctors at many tables and they know all about the issues in healthcare…the racism our people face and the opioid crisis,” said Doiron.

He says there are a couple of doctors that he can talk to openly about “how shitty the system is and how we need to change things”.

When it comes to walk-in clinics, Doiron says it’s an open floodgate.

“There’s too many people and not enough places to go,” he said.

Take addictions treatment, for example.

“The day before my nephew died (of an overdose) he asked about getting into treatment,” said Doiron, the anger and frustration still palpable in his voice.

“Our relations are dropping dead left, right and center – I’m on a mission to try find help for our people.”

InApril 2016 British Columbia’s provincial health officer declared the first-ever public health emergency due to the highly toxic illicit drug supply and its resulting death toll.According to the Ministry of Mental Health andAdditions, it was in September 2017 that the provincial government announced a three-year, $322 million investment to save lives. But in 2024 there are very few detox beds and many barriers to access what is there. Doiron says there are only two facilities for detox on Vancouver Island –one in Nanaimo and one in Victoria.

“There’s nowhere for people to go,” said Doiron. “Unless you win the lottery, you’re not getting in.”

Doiron says the problem boils down to money.

“If there was enough money to do everything…but there’s not,” he said. “We need more mental health dollars, and we need what I call land-based healing,” said Doiron.

He wants to see places in communities where people can be safe and clean while they wait for a treatment bed.

“We need houses of healing because they have no place to go,” said Doiron, who hopes that a new development in Vancouver is successful. “St. Paul’s Hospital has a new RapidAccessAddictions Clinic.”

In the meantime, pressure continues to

Ha-Shilth-Sa belongs to every Nuu-chah-nulth person including those who have passed on, and those who are not yet born.Acommunity 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 50th year of serving the Nuu-chah-nulth First Nations. We look forward to your continued input and support. Kleco! Kleco!

build on B.C.’s healthcare system. Those without a family physician must rely on walk-in clinics, virtual visits with a doctor or head to the emergency department at the hospital, where wait times are often several hours.

The West Coast Urgent Care Clinic, located at 3949 Maple Way, is Port Alberni’s only walk-in clinic. It is where people go when they can’t access or don’t have a family physician. The clinic provides non-urgent medical care on a walk-in basis for people needing advice, assessment or treatment for minor illnesses or injuries. West Coast Urgent Care Clinic is open from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on weekdays. There is an afternoon break before they reopen at 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.

According to online reviews, people warn that waiting time is long.

“Must ensure early arrival to be seen,” writes one reviewer.

Another complained of waiting more than 90 minutes with no assurance that they will be seen by a doctor.

Medimap publishes wait times at Canada’s walk-in clinics. It is a platform used by Canadian walk-in medical clinics, pharmacists and allied health professionals to publish their wait times online. Canadians using the platform can find up-to-date wait times at clinics near you, and the service can be used to make appointments with healthcare providers like physiotherapists, chiropractors, optometrists, dieticians, mental health providers, naturopaths and dentists.

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Page 4— Ha-Shilth-Sa—March 7, 2024
Denise Titian photo The West Coast Urgent Care Clinic, located at 3949 Maple Way, is PortAlberni’s only walk-in clinic.

Harm reduction van hits the streets to fight overdoses

With over $900,000 from the First Nations Health Authority, the service will support those at the highest risk

PortAlberni, BC - Help is coming to the streets of some Vancouver Island cities, with the latest effort to save Nuu-chahnulth people from the harms of drug use.

On March 4 the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council’s Teechuktl department presented its harm reduction van, which will offer regular assistance to drug users on the streets of PortAlberni, Nanaimo, Campbell River and Tofino. With the aim of improving the safety of Nuu-chah-nulth members who use illicit drugs, the large van will be operated by two staff who specialize in harm reduction measures.

The van contains a large supply of Naloxone kits as well as “safe supply” packages containing items like clean syringes and smoking pipes to prevent the spread of infection by users sharing equipment.

The harm reduction van also offers food, blankets and a tent as part of its support.

Sanne van Vlerken, manager of Teechuktl Services, hopes that the van can connect illicit drugs users with helpful services that lead to better health.

Those who are struggling with homelessness are particularly at risk, and a large proportion of this group has identified as being Indigenous.According to PortAlberni’s Point-In-Time Homeless count from last year, 66 per cent of those experiencing homelessness reportedAboriginal descent.

“They’re living on the streets - that’s their lifestyle - so we want to meet them where they’re at,” said van Vlerken. “Then we can expand their network to other supports if they would like it, referrals to counsellors, seeing a nurse. There’s some wound care that can happen as well related to the vulnerable lifestyle that they live.”

The van will be operated by Darrell Ross and Brianna Rai, Teechuktl’s two current harm reduction workers. Rai is trained to treat wounds from the van, something that is needed among illicit drugs users who are reluctant to seek medical attention at the hospital. Teechuktl also plans to eventually have NTC nurses available in the vehicle.

“They don’t want to go to the hospital,” said Rai of illicit drug users. “They don’t get treated very nicely, so they have a cut or something and it spreads into infecting the whole body. They can’t keep it clean.”

Access to medical care is one of the many barriers illicit drugs users face, something that Rai said she sees every day.

“If I phone an ambulance, half the time they talk the client out of going to the hospital, because they know how they’re treated,” said Rai. “They’ll help them in the back of the ambulance and let them go.”

It’s one part of a complex crisis that has continued for years in B.C. with no sign of abating. With 2,511 fatalities due to

toxic drugs, last year saw more deaths than ever. Fentanyl was detected in 85 per cent of fatal overdoses in 2023. The current rate of over six per day is twice what the province faced inApril 2016 when the opioid crisis was first declared a public health emergency. The First Nations HealthAuthority has reported that Indigenous people have a fatality rate five times that of other people in British Columbia.

With 37 fatal overdoses last year, the issue has been especially prevalent in Port Alberni. TheAlberni-Clayoquot health area, which includes PortAlberni and Tofino, saw a fatality rate of more than twice the provincial average, a regional crisis that has gotten the attention of health authorities.

The harm reduction van is being funded by over $900,000 over the next two years from the First Nations HealthAuthority, which will cover the cost of the vehicle, its workers and operations. Teechuktl is also expecting to introduce laundry and shower facilities in the coming months at its Redford Street location in Port Alberni.

NTC President Judith Sayers has been watching the van project develop for years as funding was sought to help those at the highest risk of harm from illicit drug use.

“When they see this on the streets, I hope that they’ll get excited and know that help is on the way,” said Sayers when the van was presented outside Teechuktl’s main office on a sunny and brisk March 4 morning. “We have to feed our people mentally, emotionally and spiritually for the health of everyone.”

The van is covered with artwork by Kerry Erickson from the Hesquiaht First

Nation. Cedar boughs on the vehicle symbolize strength and protection for the harm reduction workers, dancers wearing sea serpent head pieces sit with their backs to each other, while on the other side hummingbirds that stay in the region throughout the winter indicate how assistance from the vehicle will endure throughout the year.

Leonard Manson of the Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation spoke about the van as tears ran down his cheeks. He’s lost family members to drug overdoses, and still sees deaths regularly.

“This is really going to open a lot of peoples’eyes,” said Manson, who hopes that the vehicle’s services will empower illicit drug users. “I feel that they’re stuck.”

“Drug use is a sign of an underlying pain,” said van Vlerken. “The addiction is what they’re using to cope with the pain.”

Manson isn’t a drug user, but struggled with alcoholism when he was a young man. He sees similarities in how narcotics are affecting Nuu-chah-nulth people today.

“Today you’re surrounded by street drugs,” he said. “It starts with homelessness, because they have nowhere to turn to.”

In an effort to reduce barriers for illicit users, B.C. was granted an exemption under Canada’s Controlled Drugs and SubstancesAct on Jan. 31, 2023, which decriminalized small amounts of narcotics in the province. But last year still ended up being the deadliest yet for B.C., and the latest statistics from the B.C. Coroners Service show almost 200 deaths in January, amounting to an average of

6.4 a day. After these numbers came out Jennifer Whiteside, B.C.’s minister of Mental Health andAddictions, stressed the province’s commitment to the crisis with $117 million for “mental health and substanceuse services” as part of this year’s budget, which is in addition to the $1 billion over three years that was announced in 2023.

But putting money into the crisis will not necessarily open up support for who at the highest risk, cautioned Rai.

“There are so many barriers for everything, and they are in such a bad condition in their life that they don’t want to follow the rules,” she said, noting the problems with the institutional setting of a shelter or another publicly funded facility. “They’re addicted to drugs, they don’t want to be locked in from 9 o’clock at night until 9 in the morning. That’s the problem, there’s beds available and people aren’t using them for those reasons. Too many barriers.”

Meanwhile, a medically staffed detox centre remains at the top of the list for the Alberni Valley. This was prioritized as part of a plan presented by theTseshaht First Nation in partnership with Port Alberni’s CommunityAction Team and Kuu-us Crisis Line Society on Jan. 31.

“Those withdrawal symptoms and that experience, that’s what’s hard, that’s what will make a person go back to using drugs, and that’s what’s hard for family members and friends to witness,” said van Vlerken of the need for a detox centre. “When the person is ready to detox, it’s now, it’s right now. It’s not tomorrow, it’s not next week or three weeks from now, it’s now.”

March 7, 2024—Ha-Shilth-Sa—Page 5
Eric Plummer photos
Doreen Ryan Little 250-723-4776 Mobile Hair Stylist 27 years as a licensed hair stylist. Able to go to elders/handicapped homes to cut, perm or color hair. Would also do in own home.
Brianna Rai and Darrell Ross will be operating a harm reduction van for Teechuktl Mental Health, the latest measure to help those at a high risk of harm due to illicit drug use.

Youth face barriers to overdose harm reduction

Experts say that public support services are often not reaching the street-involved teens who need them most

With the toxic drug crisis as the leading cause of death for British Columbians aged 10 though 59, nearly 170 youth, aged 18 and under, have lost their lives since 2017.According to experts, not enough research and monitoring has been done to assess the impacts of the crisis on young people, who also face barriers when accessing harm reduction services.

“Young people do use drugs,” said Kora DeBeck, an associate professor at Simon Fraser University’s School of Public Policy, noting that for young people it is a time of experimentation. “Unfortunately, in this context of a toxic drug supply, use can be so much more risky than it was 10 years ago.”

Between Jan. 1, 2017 and Dec. 31, 2022, the province saw 142 deaths from illicit drugs among minors, equal to 24 fatalities per year, according to a report released by the BC Coroners Service. With unregulated and toxic drugs as the leading cause of death, fentanyl or its analogues were detected in 78 per cent of the cases.

The next age group cited in the report, 19-29, saw more than 10 times the number of fatalities due to illicit drug use with 1,718 over the same period, and the 30-39 bracket had even more deaths at 2,580.

Of the youth, 73 per cent were recipients of one or more services from the Ministry of Children and Family development, while 67 per cent had either a diagnosis or evidence of a mental health disorder, the report continued.

According to coroner, deaths in 2023 due to unregulated drugs decreased among youth.

Data collected until late 2022 demonstrates that there has been no increase in the rate of youth being diagnosed with opioid use disorder since 2020, shared Alexis Crabtree, a senior scientist and

The BC Coroners Service reports that drug overdose deaths affecting people under 19 is significantly lower that other age groups, but the fatality rate for youth has risen significantly since 2019. Front-line workers in places like Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside (pictured) report that young people face barriers to getting the harm reduction services they need. ing drugs are lessened,” said DeBeck.

medical lead of harm reduction and substance use at the B.C. Centre for Disease Control, at a recent press conference.

“Clearly though, more monitoring is needed,” said Crabtree. “The truth is, we don’t have a lot of evidence about what is happening for youth and substance use.”

“There is a need for more primary data collection with youth to understand what their experience of substance use is right now, and how the pandemic has shaped that, and what supports they might need in the future,” Crabtree continued.

DeBeck is the principal investigator for theAt-Risk Youth Study (ATYS), which since 2005 has studied over a 1,000

street-involved youth under the age of 25 who use drugs in Vancouver. She said that based on feedback from the community there is frustration among young people from the barriers they face when accessing services.

“For young people, [they] often don’t have access to harm reduction services to the extent that older people have,” said DeBeck. “Alot of it is a reluctance to give them access to evidence-based harm reduction programs, I think out of fear that they might encourage substance use among young people or somehow send the wrong message.”

“The impact is that young people aren’t given the protections that those evidencebased interventions can provide,” added DeBeck.

Because of this, young people who inject drugs are more likely to share needles, said DeBeck. But she noted that barriers for young people who use drugs extend much farther into housing, addiction treatment, food, nutrition, dental care and decriminalization.

“They’re already using drugs, and they’re already at risk,” said DeBeck. “There’s a feeling that they’re just not able to benefit from the protections that older people do get.”

In early February the Provincial Health Officer Bonnie Henry released a report recommending that the province expand its prescribed safer supply program to include heroin, fentanyl and stimulants to meet the needs of drug users. But concerns were raised among physicians about prescribing drugs to youth, Crabtree noted at the press conference.

“What they’re worried about is youth accessing these medications and transitioning to other forms of substance use,” said Crabtree.

DeBeck shared that with scaling up the prescribed safer supply, pharmaceutical drugs could, at a community level, “be more easily available, lower cost, and potentially even [be] perceived as being lower risk.”

“In that context, there could be young people, or people across the spectrum, who wouldn’t otherwise use drugs, who might then feel like the risks around us-

But with physician concerns, DeBeck believes that the situation should be monitored.

“I haven’t seen any hard evidence that there is sort of a new epidemic of opiate use among young people that has been spurred on by diversion,” she added.

But another aspect of diversion could have benefits, shared DeBeck.

“If diversion becomes a substitution for other individuals away from unregulated street drugs, yes, that is a good thing,” she said.

Kali Sedgemore of Namgis First Nation, who works in Vancouver with youth who have lost a parent to the toxic drug crisis and now use drugs, shared that though diversion does occur, it’s not common for youth.

“[Youth are] finding what they want to get, which is usually fentanyl because they’re already… addicted to it,” said Sedgemore.

DeBeck shared that for prescribed safer supply programs, it’s important to consider if people can access the drugs they need and prefer.

“If there’s a mismatch between what’s offered and what people need, then we are going to increase the issues of diversion,” said DeBeck, who notes that, to date, the implementation of prescribed safer supply programs have been limited in the scope and types of medications provided.

The prescribed safer supply, with its limits around medications, “has created a lot more diversion and potential negative impacts than would be if we had a more to scale, rigorous, safe supply program,” said DeBeck.

For youth in Vancouver, Sedgemore shared that there needs to be a detox center and overdose prevention site dedicated to them.

“The reality is that youth are using drugs,” said Sedgemore. “By not teaching them harm reduction education and best practices, it’s putting them more in harm’s way because it’s just teaching youth that their life’s not worthy.”

Page 6— Ha-Shilth-Sa—March 7, 2024
Eric Plummer photo

‘I feel every single death’: Workers reflect on crisis

Port Alberni workers strive to support clients through addiction, despite limited detox and recovery services

PortAlberni, BC - Gail Gus, a frontline worker for Tseshaht First Nation, goes on her route three nights a week handing out naloxone kits and supporting people who use drugs in PortAlberni. Her work as a frontline worker extends from crisis into wellness, serving community members beyond PortAlberni and even out of the province.

“When I first started over three years ago, I just went to two places where I could visually see somebody,” said Gus. “Now I kind of know where our people are and where they hunker down and where their friends are.”

Gus is often contacted by community members who ask her to check on their family or friends while she does her route.

“It’s a job that isn’t just nine to five,” said Gus. “I’m busy all the time, and I’m busy doing good things, fun things, and hard things.”

As a Tseshaht member, Gus shares that she has a vested interest in the work that she does because she knows “every single person on the street.”

“If they’re Tseshaht, they’re either related to me or they’re close to me because I’ve worked with them for so many years - or I know their families and how much they love them and I also know why they’re there,” said Gus. “It’s all unresolved trauma.”

Gus’s dream is for PortAlberni to have the services it needs with an overdose prevention site open 24 hours, a detox centre with a stability unit and access to immediate assistance when they are needed.

“We don’t have the facilities for people, we don’t have the appropriate detox facilities or rehabilitation places,” said Robyn Hesby, a frontline support worker at PortAlberni’s overdose prevention site. “Coming out of rehab isn’t just a 60-day program, it’s very, very long term, it takes a long time to relive your life again.”

“It’s just like in any type of a disease, addiction, especially, it needs aftercare,” said Hesby, noting that there aren’t places or programs in the valley to take care of an individual throughout their sobriety.

In late January, led by Tseshaht First Nation in partnership with PortAlberni’s CommunityAction Team and Kuu-us Crisis Line Society, they presented a plan to address the toxic drug crisis in the Alberni Valley.

With input gathered from community members and organizations, the strategy outlines four pillars: people, places, programs, and prevention, which includes establishing a timely and barrier-free detox and treatment facility in PortAlberni.

According to the B.C. coroner’s report, 2023 saw the highest number of fatalities due to the toxic drug crisis, reaching 2,511 deaths due to unregulated drugs, with theAlberni-Clayoquot holding some of the highest death rates in the province.

For Gus, who’s been a frontline worker in the region for nearly 25 years, the drug crisis is at a whole different level than when she first started.

“This is a whole different ball game, fentanyl has really changed things up,” said Gus. “Nobody could ever think down the road that fentanyl was coming.”

Hesby doesn’t remember weeks having gone by without waking up to find another person has passed from unregulated and toxic drugs.

Our clients are people that we see everyday, they become people that we really, we care about”

“It’s been every week,” said Hesby. “I feel every single death.”

“Our clients are people that we see everyday, they become people that we really, we care about,” said Hesby. “When people are dying… it just weighs heavy on a person.”

PortAlberni’s overdose prevention site at 3699 3rdAvenue serves roughly 200300 people daily, shared Hesby. Open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., the site provides a safe place to use drugs under the supervision of trained staff to reduce overdose deaths.

The site is advocating for funding to extend their hours of operation from 12 to 24 hours to serve their clients, who are reported in numbers up to 60, outside the facility throughout the night.

For four years, Hesby has spent each day working on the frontlines in Port Alberni’s downtown, caring for the needs of her clients, watching them on camera while they use to ensure there are no fatal overdoses, and referring them to services throughout the Valley. She brings coffee, snacks, clean clothes to them, while also reminding clients of court dates, probation calls and RCMP check ins.

“We’re kind of like the moms here,” said Hesby.

For outreach workers 90 per cent of their work is relationship building with clients, shared Hesby.

“It’s those relationships and those bonds that you make that can get you in the door to having somebody actually address their unresolved trauma,” said Gus. “If you let them know that there’s a rea-

PortAlberni’s overdose prevention site provides a safe place to use drugs under the supervision of trained staff to reduce overdose deaths.

son to live, and that they are an important human being in this world… they will find the love in themselves.”

Hesby shared that she gets to know them “as human beings should be known and not just as drug addicts or people that are in addiction.”

In building relationships, they can establish trust which helps bridge gaps to mental health and addiction services, explained Hesby.

“We don’t treat people in a clinical way, we don’t treat them as a patient,” said Hesby. “With the length of time that each of us has been here, we all know them and know personally their needs and their wants.”

Although it doesn’t happen nearly enough, it’s fulfilling for Hesby to see the big moments when clients want to change their lives and are set up for detox and recovery.

Another inspiration is when somebody tells her that they’ve been sober for a year.

“But it’s just not nearly enough,” said Hesby, noting that addictions have a strong grip on people. “If they go into rehab…there’s nothing set up for clean living and sober living that will suit their


“You have to find small things fulfilling in our line of work because you don’t get the larger things often,” she added.

She notes that small fulfilling moments throughout the day are when clients come in to chat with her, share that it’s their birthday, or even give her a high five.

Similarly, Gus wished she had time to visit those who have “gotten clean” but she’s busy doing frontline work.

“It’s not the drugs that burn you out, it’s not the job itself, it’s always the bureaucracy,” said Gus. She finds it frustrating that some people can’t see what the community needs are, who say, ‘Why do you bother going out there?’and ‘We don’t need safe injection sites’.

“I think that stigma and that idea of harm reduction just being an enabling factor really needs to go away,” said Hesby. “People need to become educated.”

“If there’s one person that stops using drugs and finds a reason to live another day and can clean themselves up to be there for themselves all over again,” shared Gus, “it’s worth it, it’s so worth it.”

March 7, 2024—Ha-Shilth-Sa—Page 7
Alexandra Mehl photos With PortAlberni’s overdose prevention site serving 200-300 clients daily, it is only open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. The site is advocating for funding to extend operations to 24 hours to serve their clients, who are reported in numbers up to 60, outside the facility throughout the night, shared Robyn Hesby (left), front line support worker, and Lexi Kossenko, manager.

All of B.C.’s fish farm licences expire June 30

Of the existing 85 tenures to raise finfish on the B.C. coast, 52 are in Nuu-chah-nulth territory off the west coast

Vancouver Island, BC - With the 2025 deadline approaching for a transition plan from the standard ocean net pens, the fish farming industry is on the cusp of a defining period as all of B.C.’s tenure licences are set to expire this summer.

According to data provided by Fisheries and Oceans Canada, all of the 85 finfish licences on British Columbia’s coast are due to expire June 30. Renewals are being sought for 66 of these licences, and consultations are underway with First Nations that have fish farms in their territorial waters.

“All nations that have marine finfish in their territories should have received a consultation package on the marine finfish conditions of licence and licence reissuance,” saidAmber Neuman, DFO’s senior aquaculture management coordinator, during a Nuu-chah-nulth Council of Ha’wiih Forum on Fisheries meeting on Feb. 22. “That engagement and consultation is going on until March 8.”

“We’ve really gone back in time. I say that because I heard ‘consultation’used seven times when I started counting,” commented Nuchatlaht House Speaker Archie Little after hearing Neuman’s update during the meeting. “We’re at the point of consent. We have talks, we negotiate, we come to an agreement and we consent. To me, consultation is you coming into our communities, telling us what you’re going to do, and then leaving again.”

“We understand that this is an important topic for many First Nations and we want to respect the many views that come along with aquaculture,” said Neuman during her address to the Nuu-chah-nulth representatives.

Even if the 66 operational permits are renewed, Neuman noted that no additional licences will be granted this year. The industry awaits the result of a mandate from Prime Minster Justin Trudeau to “create a responsible transition plan from open net-pen salmon farming in coastal British Columbia waters by 2025.”A draft of that plan is expected to be released this year.

“At this point our director general has made the decision to pause all applications for any biomass increase or new facilities in British Columbia until the transition plan comes out,” said Neuman.

Closures threatenAhousaht’s ‘rights as a nation’

Very little is known about what this transition plan will look like, but in an interview with Ha-Shilth-Sa in December Fisheries Minister Dianne Lebouthillier said that it will not mean the immediate shutting down of more salmon farms.

“In the mandate letter, I’m asked to put in place a transition plan. It doesn’t say that we have to close everything, that we have to close all the aquaculture centres. It really means working to put in place measures to protect wild salmon,” said Lebouthillier in French. “I’ve confirmed that there will be no closure of aquaculture centres in 2025. We’re going to present a transition plan, and then we’ll go from there.”

At stake is an industry that directly supports 7,000 jobs in coastal communities, contributing $1.5 billion to the province’s economy annually, according to the B.C. Salmon FarmersAssociation.

Of the existing 85 finfish licences, 52 are in Nuu-chah-nulth territory off the

“They do impact wild stocks, no doubt in my mind”
~ Cliff Atleo

west coast of Vancouver Island, from Barkley Sound to Kyuquot. The majority of these sites raiseAtlantic salmon – a long-held staple of the fish farming industry – with a few exceptions, like two sablefish farms operated by Golden Eagle and a chinook site run by Mowi in Kyuquot Sound.

Most of the 21 sites in Clayoquot Sound are operated by Cermaq, although not all are stocked at one time, with some areas requiring that no more than four of six sites are to be in use.

For over a decade Cermaq has operated under a protocol agreement with Ahousaht, which entails environmental requirements, employment, educational supports, transportation and other benefits for the First Nation’s members, which are currently valued at approximately $6 million annually. Twenty-oneAhousaht members work at Cermaq’s operations in Clayoquot Sound, including the processing plant, saltwater farms and support roles.

In an opinion piece published in iPolitics late last year,AhousahtActing Tyee Ha’wilth Hasheukumiss, Richard George, stressed the importance of the federal government respecting his nation’s right to determine who operates in their Ḥahuułii.

“Closing aquaculture facilities doesn’t only fly in the face of our rights as a nation. It means devastating job losses, food security concerns, and increased daily costs forAhousaht musčim,” wrote Hasheukumiss. “It also threatens existing economic partnerships and agreements with aquaculture operators, undermining governance and economic stability.”

With limited employment opportunities

for the Flores Island community, it’s a difficult issue forAhousaht members to balance.

“They do impact wild stocks, no doubt in my mind,” said CliffAtleo, who is chair of the fisheries forum, during the Feb. 22 meeting. “I get caught between a rock and a hard place, because I know the negative impacts of fish farms, but I also see the benefits that flow to our people wouldn’t be there normally.”

Atleo, who is anAhousaht member, noted that Cermaq has responded faster to the First Nation’s concerns about aquaculture than DFO.

“The story that most people don’t understand is the revenues that are generated from their operation there, along with provisions within the agreement,” he said, noting that Cermaq supports operations of the Maaqtusiis Hahoulthee Stewardship Society, which is run by Ahousaht Ha’wiih. “They pay for halibut fisheries, MHSS, from revenues of that fish farm. We wouldn’t have some of these benefits without those revenues.”

Resurgence in pink salmon disputed For many years fish farms have faced scrutiny as Pacific salmon stocks have declined. Many fear that the close quarters of net pens serve as a breeding ground for sea lice and other pathogens, exposing migrating wild salmon to disease.

Amid these concerns, a number of farms have been removed from regions off the northeast coast of Vancouver Island in recent years, including 15 sites in the

Discovery Islands and 17 farms in the BroughtonArchipelago.

While the three-day Council of Ha’wiih Forum on Fisheries was underway, leaders from Broughton First Nations visited PortAlberni to give a presentation on their fight to remove the salmon farms. After years of tensions, the situation came to a confrontation when ‘Namgis members occupied a salmon farm in August 2017.

“Things came to a head,” said Ho’miskanis, Don Svanvik, hereditary and elected chief of the ‘Namgis First Nation. “They became year-round hosts for sea lice.”

“It’s a devastating industry,” added Chief Councillor Rick Johnson of the Kwikwasut’inuxw Haxwa’mis First Nation. “Our clam diggers were starting to notice our beaches weren’t the same, things were changing, and they attributed it to the fish farms.”

The occupation brought a visit from former premier John Horgan, who facilitated meetings between the province, the three First Nations from the area, as well as aquaculture companies Cermaq and Mowi.

Unsatisfied that there was evidence to show the farms weren’t harming wild salmon, the 17 sites were closed, and the last of them was removed from the Broughton in 2023.

With the farms out of the ocean, a healthy run of pink salmon passed through the Salish sea last year, resulting in approximately 20 million returning to the Fraser River, the largest migration to the watershed since 2003.

“They’re coming back, it’s proof that this industry had a devastating impact on our salmon,” said Johnson. “For the first time in a long time some of the killer whales are showing up in the Broughton. I think it’s been 20 years since we’ve seen some of them.”

“Salmon is an amazing species,” commented Svanvik. “All we have to do is get out of the way.”

Meanwhile industry advocates have disputed a correlation between a resurgence of pink salmon and the removal of fish farms from the region.

Continues on page 9.

Page 8— Ha-Shilth-Sa—March 7, 2024
Eric Plummer photo Grieg Seafood runs multiple salmon farm sites in Nootka Sound, which are among the 52 off Vancouver Island’s west coast. CliffAtleo

Report finds deficient communication during spills

Auditor general delivers a critical assessment of the province’s response to environmentally harmful incidents

Victoria, BC - B.C.’s auditor general is pointing to shortcomings in how the province responds to hazardous spills –including cases where local First Nations were not informed of harmful incidents in their territories.

Although high-risk spills were assessed, monitored and referred to the province’s recovery staff,Auditor General Michael Pickup found that, overall, B.C.’s Ministry of Environment and Climate Change “had not effectively managed hazardous spills”.

Released on Feb. 27, the auditor general’s report notes deficiencies in enforcing compliance with regulations, and that the ministry doesn’t have a plan to respond to a major spill. Covering a period from Nov. 23, 2020 to June 13, 2023, the report cites more than 4,000 hazardous spills annually, with as much as 5,306 reported over the 2021/22 fiscal year. Incidents usually involved gasoline, diesel and heating fuel, but can entail any substance that could harm the environment.

“Deficiencies were found in provincial planning, compliance and enforcement, and cost recovery,” said Pickup during a press conference when the report was released.

In its response, the Ministry of Environment accepted the report, acknowledging that improvements are needed. It noted that a new environmental management action plan is set to be introduced this year.

That plan will be tasked to find ways to better engage with the over 200 First Nations in British Columbia. In three of the 12 high-risk incidents assessed by the report, provincial response staff didn’t follow procedures to notify the appropriate First Nations.

“In one incident, First Nations weren’t notified when they should have been,” stated Pickup’s report. “In another incident, the response officer made one attempt to notify the seven First Nations affected, but only made the required second attempt for two of the seven.”

In these cases, municipal governments were notified of the hazardous spills, but not the local First Nations. In response

to another spill, officers notified the First Nations HealthAuthority, which said it would contact the affected Indigenous communities. But this goes against the province’s response procedures that require First Nations to be contacted directly.

“Operational guidance for engaging with First Nations was limited to larger incidents that required the involvement of other jurisdictions,” stated the report.

The document points to challenges in working with multiple governments and jurisdictions, which was an issue facing responders to the Zim Kingston marine container spill, an event that the report identifies as among the “high risk” incidents.

On Oct. 21, 2021 the vessel encountered stormy weather while entering the Juan de Fuca Strait, resulting in 109 40-foot shipping containers falling overboard. Just four containers were recovered after they washed up on west Vancouver Island

in the days following, while fridges, sofas, clothing, toys, industrials parts and various other items collected on the coast over the next few weeks. Commercial goods were found on beaches and coastlines from Tofino to Haida Gwaii, as response agencies searched in vain for hazardous materials that were identified in a few of the lost containers.

The next year the House of Commons Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans found that the Zim Kingston still revealed how ill-prepared Canada is to respond to marine cargo incidents, while finding that “coastal communities are bearing the brunt of clean up efforts.” The committee determined that although the Canadian Coast Guard and the province kept coastal communities well informed of how the recovery effort was progressing, communication among those who responded was poorly coordinated. The auditor general’s recent report recommends that the Ministry of Environ-

ment implement a process to ensure that First Nations are notified of a hazardous spill in their territory. The document noted that an automated notification system was planned to engage with 14 coastal First Nations in B.C., although this wasn’t yet being used when the audit was conducted.

This year elevates the urgency for a better coordinated coastal response with the expected completion of the Trans Mountain oil pipeline. The project will increase the daily capacity of the pipeline from centralAlberta to the Vancouver area from 300,000 to 890,000 barrels of petroleum a day. This is expected to increase the number of tankers leaving the Westridge Marine Terminal in Burnaby from five to 34 vessels a month, destined to follow a route past southern Vancouver Island and the territorial waters of several Nuu-chah-nulth nations.

‘All we have to do is get out of the way’: ‘Namgis chief

Coninued from page 8.

The B.C. Salmon FarmersAssociation presented data from DFO records, showing wild variations in pink returns since 1969. These range from under 5 million to the 24 million in 2003, with no apparent change to the pattern when salmon farms came to the waters northeast of Vancouver Island in 1988.

“The pink salmon’s success has nothing to do with local impacts and everything to do with global ocean conditions favouring the pink salmon,” stated the BCSFA.

The association has also disputed concerns that sea lice from the Discovery Islands farms impacted wild salmon.

“Professional biologists have consistently measured the abundance of sea lice on wild juvenile salmon at the same locations for the past seven years in the Discovery Islands region,” said Brian Kingzett, executive director of the BC Salmon FarmersAssociation, in a release.

“The data shows that the sea lice abun-

dance on juvenile wild salmon in 2022 was about 50 per cent less than in 2020, however, that was the case both before they reached salmon farms and after they passed by salmon farms. Furthermore, 2022 sea lice levels were similar to 2017 and 2018 when all farms were active in the Discovery Islands region.”

For those on either side of the issue, it’s been difficult to read the DFO’s position on salmon farms. In February 2023 the federal department announced the permanent closure of 15 sites in the Discovery Islands, which are located south of Broughton, citing adverse impacts to wild stocks. But meanwhile Lebouthillier’s recent comments indicate that dozens of other licences could be renewed this summer.

“I’m just curious about the government’s formal position on why they seem to keep it alive,” saidAtleo of DFO’s management of the industry. “Atransition plan to what? What are they transitioning to? Sanity, hopefully.”

March 7, 2024—Ha-Shilth-Sa—Page 9
Submitted photo On Oct. 21, 2021 the Zim Kingston encountered stormy weather while entering the Juan de Fuca Strait, resulting in 109 40-foot shipping containers falling overboard. Just four containers were recovered after they washed up on west Vancouver Island in the days following, while fridges, sofas, clothing, toys, industrials parts and various other items collected on the coast over the next few weeks. Submitted photo In December Fisheries Minister Dianne Lebouthillier visited Vancouver Island, where she saw a Mowi salmon farm on the east coast.

Four Nuu-chah-nulth groups to perform for thousands

Hoobiyee’s competitive selection process decided on a Huu-ay-aht, Tla-o-qui-aht and two Ahousaht groups for the annual

Vancouver, BC - Nuu-chah-nulth groups were a large part of this year’s Hoobiyee cultural celebration in Vancouver – a lively showcase that continued for two days at the PNE despite scheduling changes due to a what by all accounts appeared to be a tragedy midway through.

In celebration of the Nisga’a new year, marking the traditional beginning of the harvest season with the return of the oolichan fish into the Nass Valley, Hoobiyee once again took over the Pacific National Exhibition on March 1 and 2. The annual event is hosted by the Nisga’a Ts’amiks Vancouver Society, offering a cultural celebration for Nisga’a people living away from their home territory as well as First Nations from across British Columbia.

This year the competitive selection process resulted in four Nuu-chah-nulth groups performing before the thousands in attendance, including two from the Ahousaht First Nation.AnAhousaht group from the village of Maaqtusiis were the first to perform on Friday morning, with contingents from Huu-ay-aht and Tla-oqui-aht following in the afternoon.

An estimated 235 people took part in the Tla-o-qui-aht performance, with dancing and regalia electrifying the floor as a tightly packed crowd sung to drumming.

Elmer Frank was among those in the centre.

“Our culture has really brought our people together,” said Frank, noting that as many as 300 of the First Nation’s members participate in the regular cultural practices in Tofino. “There might have been times when it might have been weak, it might have slowed down, but it never died - and this is a good testament to that. You see little children that have a high interest in learning the songs, that are willing to come out in the rain to get to our cultural centre at Tin Wis.”

Events unfolded under an illuminated crescent and star hanging from the centre of the forum’s ceiling. This references traditional methods that the Nisga’a used to read celestial bodies.

“The Simgigat – Nisga’a Chieftains – in past centuries studied the celestial heavens. They were knowledgeable in the behaviors of the stars in proximity to the moon which forecasted the weather patterns,” reads a document compiled by the Nisga’a Lisims

The first group to perfrom at Hoobiyee on March 1 came fromAhousaht (above), with dancers from the Maaqtusiis school.AnotherAhous PortAlberni took the floor the following afternoon.

Government based on elders’accounts.

“They observed that whenever the first crescent moon (thin-shaped) is in the shape of the Hoobix – the bowl of the Nisga’a wooden spoon with the ends pointing upward, this meant abundant resources in the harvesting seasons to follow in K’aliiAksim Lisims (the Nass Valley).”

The document explains that hoobiyee means “The spoon is full” in the ancestral Nisga’a language. This word has been adopted by performers during the Hoobiyee event in Vancouver, as they intermittently shout “Hoobiyee!” to the crowd.

“Just as soon as the Hobiyee moon was sighted, the grandfathers would immediately throw their arms up into the shape of the ‘hobiyee moon’and run out into the village hollering, ‘Hobiyee! Hobiyee!’And always, the children would be right behind, copying the grandfathers,” explained the

Nisga’a Lisims Government. This was the second year in a row that the Tla-o-qui-aht group performed at Hoobiyee. Frank admitted that in the past his group has been more accustomed to the looser time constraints of a potlatch, but to prepare for Hoobiyee they had to ensure their timing could fit within the 45-minute performance period. They learned this lesson from the 2023 event.

“We performed probably about half an hour over our time limit. It wasn’t done on purpose,” said Frank. “This is the Nisga’a celebration, we’re honouring their invitation. We tried to stay within their timelines to be respectful to them.”

By late afternoon the event appeared to be running ahead of schedule, allowing all performing groups to walk into the forum for the Grand Entry. With the lights low the building vibrated with chanting and

drumming, and Premier David Eby came to stand with the growing crowd on the dance floor.

Meanwhile someone sitting in the courtside area designated for elders had collapsed, leading those around him to attempting resuscitation. This continued for some time until paramedics arrived, who continued the effort with no apparent response from the fallen individual.

Authorities and Hoobiyee’s organizers have not announced that someone passed during the celebration, although the BC Ambulance Service did confirm to HaShilth-Sa that paramedics arrived at the PNE at approximately 6 p.m., but “did not transport” anyone away to a hospital. After an opening prayer to resume the celebration the next morning, Hoobiyee organizers did acknowledge the incident. “We do have a blessing from the family

Page 10— Ha-Shilth-Sa—March 7, 2024
The first day of the event also included a performance by the Gitmaxmakay group, a collective of Nisga’a members from Prince Rupert. Maaqtusiis dancers await their cue to take the floor, as sings and drummers perform nearby.

for thousands groups for the annual event in Vancouver


performers from to carry on today - to carry on with our celebration, as the family wishes us to do,” they said. “We’re grateful for them to honour us and allow us to carry on.”

Organizers also noted that measures were taken after the incident, and that counsellors were on hand over the course of the day to provide support to anyone if needed.

“We also are very grateful to our creator and our ancestors today for being here with us and being here to provide us with good medicine people, good spiritual healers that are here,” said the organizers. “And they did a good cleansing on the hall and the floor for us.”

With an altered time schedule, more performances followed on the Sunday, including afternoon singing and dancing from theAhousaht Cultural Group, many of whom reside in PortAlberni.

March 7, 2024—Ha-Shilth-Sa—Page 11
Eric Plummer photos Maaqtusiis school. group with The Maaqtusiis performance also includes a paddle dance before spectators from across the West Coast of British Columbia. Aboy performs as the Thunderbird duringAhousaht’s dance on March 1. The hoobix shape of the moon signifies a healthy harvest ahead in Nisga’a culture (above).

Podcast’s season two features Nuu-chah-nulth stories

4VI Indigenous Voices of Vancouver Island Podcast is a five-part series with stories from throughout west coast

Vancouver Island, BC - In mid-February, 4VI launched their second season of Indigenous Voices of Vancouver Island Podcast, featuring input from 12 First Nations throughout Vancouver Island, including stories from throughout Nuuchah-nulth.

The season’s deep dive into community stories features Nuu-chah-nulth businesses and voices, ranging from Ka:’yu:’k’t’h’/Che:k’tles7et’h’Tiičma enterprises’economic development to the discussion of food sovereignty with Naas Foods. The series also includes Mowachaht/Muchalaht Hereditary Chief Jerry Jack and Jolleen Dick of

Hupačasath highlighting efforts to build tourism alongside Nuu-chah-nulth traditions.

Tchadas Leo of Homalco and the Stillaguamish Tribe of Indians hosts the podcast. He shared that with this season’s five-part series listeners can look forward to going on a journey.

“One of the beautiful things about this podcast is we really want you to feel like you’re coming with me to all these different businesses, all these places, all of these tourist attractions that are run by First Nations groups across Vancouver Island,” said Leo.

“Stories from Indigenous communities, businesses, and changemakers are featured as they share their inspirations, culture, and traditions,” reads the press

release for the podcast’s premier. “Hailing from more than 12 Nations, they collectively weave a narrative that showcases how their special relationship with the land finds its place in 21st-century business.”

Though season one focused on traditional aspects of tourism, Leo said this season dives deeper than what meets the eye.

“Indigenous people were the original land keepers of this territory,” said Leo. “It is important that we first acknowledge that.”

The podcast, which in its preceding season met a global audience, provides people interested in travelling to Vancouver Island the opportunity to learn about the Indigenous people of the lands they intend to visit before arriving, said Leo.

“We really want people, tourists especially, not from here to understand who was here first and what are they doing,” said Leo.

Leo, who hosted both seasons of the podcast, shared that through the series he has learned about the continued challenges that First Nation people face when building a business.

“I learned what it takes,” said Leo, “and what it takes is resilience and time.”

He added that he also learned “what success looks like, after you put in that work.”

4VI’s Indigenous Voices of Vancouver Island five-part podcast can be found on podcast streaming sites.


Pronounced ‘Yeah ugk koos so wa’, it means ‘My heart aches with love for you’. Supplied by ciisma.

Page 12— Ha-Shilth-Sa—March 7, 2024
Illustration by Maddexx George
Submitted photo 4VI’s Indigenous Voices of Vancouver Island is a five-part podcast that can be found on podcast streaming sites. The second series features multiple Nuu-chah-nulth voices. Pictured is Roy Henry Vickers Gallery in Tofino.

Ahousaht and Tla-o-qui-aht receive tourism awards

Ahous Adventures and Tla-o-qui-aht’s Tsawaak RV Resort and Campground recognized for first year in industry

Ottawa, ON –Ahousaht and Tla-o-quiaht First Nations were honoured at the 2024 Indigenous TourismAward ceremony for their new ventures that operate out of Tofino, B.C.

The Indigenous TourismAssociation of Canada (ITAC) held their Gala Dinner and awards ceremony in Ottawa on the evening of Feb. 29.According to Tla-o-qui-aht member and Tin Wis Best Western ResortAssistant Manager Maria Clark, the award winners were kept secret until the gala.

According to Teresa Ryder, director of partnerships at Indigenous Tourism, this was their 11thAnnual Indigenous TourismAwards. Canadian tourism businesses that are at least 51 per cent Indigenousowned and controlled are eligible.

Awards are open to ITAC members in good standing that were open to visitors in 2023.

Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation built Tsawaak RV Resort and Campground near their Tin Wis Best Western Resort. They quietly opened the resort in the summer of 2023 and, according to Clark, remained busy through the rest of the summer despite the fact that there was no marketing.

Tsawaak RV Resort and Campground offers 24 RV serviced sites along with 13 longhouse-style cedar cabins just a short walk from Mackenzie Beach. Clark says Tin Wis Best Western Resort managers have taken on the management of the new RV resort.

“It was fantastic grand opening even though we didn’t get to market it,” she said, adding they did very well for the summer of 2023. “We were nearly full every night through the rest of summer.”

To help get through their first slow winter season, the resort allowed long-term rentals.

Tsawaak RV Resort and Campground won their ITAC award in the category of Leading the Way in Business Develop-

ment (Community-based), which recognizes a local business thriving in tourism development at an inspirational rate.

“Tsawaak RV Resort is deeply committed to ecological sustainability and cultural integrity, aligning with the values of the Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation’s vision for a socially and ecologically just conservation economy,” reads the resort’s promotional material submitted to ITAC. “As part of the Tribal ParkAllies community, they work tirelessly to support the protection and restoration of the Tribal Parks ancestral gardens, while also promoting the resurgence of Tla-o-qui-aht culture and governance.”

“Tsawaak RV Resort was a standout in the category for their commitment to building Indigenous tourism experience that supports the values of Tla-oqui-aht,” Ryder stated in an email to Ha-Shilth-Sa.

Ahousaht’sAhousAdventures won the ITAC award for New Operator or Business that Launched a New Experience. This award recognizes a new operator or business that launched an Indigenous

tourism experience in 2023.

Launched in May 2023,AhousAdventures invites visitors to exploreAhousaht territories through the Indigenous lens of the people that have lived on and stewarded the lands and waters for many generations.

According to their website,AhousAdventures is an eco and cultural adventure tour company owned and operated by the Ahousaht Nation, that offers a variety of excursions withinAhousaht haḥuułii (territorial lands, waters and culture) including Tofino-based tours to Hot Springs Cove or for whale and bear watching.

“AhousAdventures invites visitors to exploreAhousaht territories through the lens of the people who have lived on and stewarded these lands and waters since time immemorial,” states theAhousAdventures website. “On our Tofino excursions visitors will learn aboutAhousaht’s Indigenous culture, language, history and storytelling,”

The Indigenous TourismAssociation of Canada partners with its provincial counterpart Indigenous Tourism BC for the

development and marketing of authentic Aboriginal-owned experiences. It is a national non-profit Indigenous tourism industry organization established in 2015.

According to ITAC, their gala shines a spotlight on the transformative power of Indigenous tourism.

“And every year, this inspiring event not only acknowledges the accomplishments of local and national Indigenous tourism operators but also serves as a platform to elevate and promote Indigenous culture, heritage, and economic development,” stated the organisation.

“It was exciting, really exciting,” said Clark of the awards ceremony.

She was surrounded by delegates and finalists from across British Columbia. There were four delegates from B.C. that were nominated for awards.

“It seemed that they called us all up, one after another we were announced –first wasAhousAdventures, then Takaya Tours, Bannock and Salmon and then Tla-o-qui-aht,” Clark shared.

Tourism Tofino pursues sustainability certification

Tofino, BC - Tourism Tofino has become a Biosphere Committed Destination with the Responsible Tourism Institute and will now pursue Tourism Biosphere Certification.

The Responsible Tourism Institute’s (RTI) Biosphere Program is a globally recognized sustainability management and certification system that aligns with the United Nations’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Tourism Tofino will aim to become Biosphere certified through the enhancement of its sustainability efforts, encouraging collaboration on regenerative projects and distinguishing Tofino as a destination of choice for those seeking responsible travel experiences.

For more than 25 years, the biosphere program has helped destinations, businesses and organizations define, organize and make visible their sustainability goals. It offers a model for developing a sustainable development plan in a personalized way, including an annual evaluation process and external audits to measure progress.

“We chose the Responsible Tourism

Institutes Biosphere program to align with other destinations across Vancouver Island and British Columbia. It was a natural choice due to the work 4VI has already done and the support they offer to communities and businesses,” said Jody Kirk, Tourism Tofino’s destination stewardship manager, in a press release. “We felt that using the same framework across Tofino and the industry would allow us to compare, streamline and actively pursue goals together.”

4VI is a social enterprise created to ensure travel is a force for good. Headquartered on Vancouver Island, the organization takes a holistic approach to its work through the use of four pillars of social responsibility: businesses, communities, culture and the environment.

Already actively engaged in sustainability initiatives, Tourism Tofino supports programs such as being a Surfrider Ocean Friendly Business, offering a marine debris recycling station at the Tofino Visitor Centre, collaborating with Tofino’s Coastal QueerAlliance, and partnering with organizations like Spinal Cord BC and the Clayoquot Biosphere Trust.

The Biosphere Sustainable platform and methodology is aimed at any company that interacts, directly or indirectly, with the tourism sector. Companies are able to

come up with strategies and create an action plan to convert sustainable intentions into action.

“The traditional territory of the Tlao-qui-aht First Nation, which includes Tofino, is renowned for its natural beauty and biodiversity” said Brad Parsell, Tourism Tofino’s executive director, in a press release. “This is thanks to the continued stewardship of the Nuu-chah-nulth First Nations, as well as environmental initiatives and activism aimed at protecting the area. The Biosphere program will be a valuable tool for setting new goals and initiatives as we seek to make Tofino’s tourism sector not just sustainable, but regenerative and abundant for generations to come.”

Saya Masso, natural resources manager with the Tla-o-qui-aht First Nations, said Tourism Tofino’s interest in pursuing a more sustainable model is welcomed by the Tla-o-qui-aht, but there’s still a long way to go.

“There’s still so many outlying communities that aren’t being lifted up by tourism, and the Tla-o-qui-aht community is certainly one of them,” Masso said. “We’re being kind of left behind in the benefits of tourism but we’re baring the impacts of tourism in our homelands from sewage treatment on our clam gar-

dens or other impacts to our way of life.”

Managing water use in Tofino will be one challenge towards pursuing a more sustainable community. Last summer, the District of Tofino issued Stage 3 water restrictions by July 10 and asked the community and businesses to immediately reduce water consumption by 20 per cent.

“We do have to manage water in the drought years as much as Tofino does,” Masso said. “Ultimately we are constrained in our ability to grow the region more because of that, so we will have to seek new sources as well as applying conservation efforts.”

Masso said studying water shortage issues, understanding demographic growth and user needs are a few ways to work towards water sustainability for the area.

The housing shortage in Tofino and area is another challenge towards sustainability.

“Even Tla-o-qui-aht has ambitions to do a sub development on one of our properties and we’re currently held back because of the lack of infrastructure from water and sewage,” Masso said. “We could easily do an affordable housing sub development but we still need to line up all the other infrastructure to make that possible.”

March 7, 2024—Ha-Shilth-Sa—Page 13
Submitted photo On Feb. 29 Maria Clark of the Tsawaak RV Resort and Campground (second from far right) and Savannah George of AhousAdventures (second from left) received awards from the Indigenous TourismAssociation of Canada.

Traditional foods bring value amid modern life

Whaling has long been outlawed, and fishing has transformed, but some ancestral food gathering has persisted

Prior to colonization, Nuu-chah-nulth diets were known to consist of whale, seal, and salmon. Since contact, traditional diets have shifted to adapt to fishing and hunting regulations, but still, traditional aspects of acquiring food persisted.

“What you would see as a traditional diet we had… previous to colonization, we’ll never see that again,” said Dr. Charlotte Coté of the Tseshaht First Nation, who is a professor at the University of Washington specializing in food sovereignty. “It’s impossible.”

“We don’t have the same environment as pre-contact to sustain ourselves that way,” she added. “That doesn’t mean we can’t have traditional foods in our diet, but we have to complement those diets with other foods.”

“Whale was a prominent feature in traditional Nuu-chah-nulth diet, as well as seal and then, of course, other fish and seafood,” said Rachel Dickens, who is Ts’msyen of the Lax Kw’alaams First Nation, and a dietitian for the Nuu-chahnulth Tribal Council. “Primarily whale - and using the whole animal, not just the meat, but also the blubber.”

She shared that other aspects of the traditional diet consisted of berries, crab apples, seagull eggs and root vegetables, as well as gamey meats such as duck and deer.

But with government policies and the over harvesting of certain species, First Nations people experience restrictions in their traditional practices, shared Dickens.

“That kind of created this break in knowledge around how to hunt whales and all the spiritual traditions, practices and rituals that went around a whale harvest,” said Dickens, adding that the same could be said for seals, as overhunting led to a ban on harvesting the animal.

In early March, Dickens was involved in a diabetes wellness retreat withAhousaht First Nation, where a group ofAhousaht elders processed a seal, sharing stories of their parents and grandparents who once undertook the same practice.

“We weren’t just eating the seal, we were sharing stories, and also processing the blubber to make seal oil, and then had a seal feast,” said Dickens.

Though seal hunting and processing is not practiced on as wide of a scale as salmon fishing or clam harvesting, it is still being done, said Dickens. When it is practiced, it is largely celebrated, she added.

“Throughout my lifetime, I’ve really maintained, or really attempted to maintain, a diet that included traditional foods,” shared Coté. “I grew up in the berry picking tradition, I grew up in the salmon harvesting tradition, [and] I still fish for salmon when I come home every summer.”

“You can’t talk about a traditional food without talking about salmon, especially with Tseshaht,” Coté added. “Salmon is part of our cultural identity.”

What Coté now considers a traditional meal would include salmon paired with rice, soya sauce, boiled potato, or green onion, she shared.

“Those aren’t traditional to our diets, but they become part of what we consider a traditional meal,” said Coté.

“Our traditions have always changed, they’re dynamic, they’re fluid, they’re not static,” she continued. “As part of that fluidity, I think incorporating healthy

foods into our diets, but keeping or trying to keep traditional foods at the heart of it, is really what we’re striving for today.”

But with the expansion of the global industrial food system people are at risk of lifestyle illnesses such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer, and autoimmune disease, shared Coté, who sees a rise in these conditions throughout her community.

For the Indigenous people of Canada, discussions about health and wellness must consider the impacts the residential school system, said Coté.

“The major goal was assimilation, to assimilate our young children, the heart of our communities, into the larger mainstream society,” said Coté. “But also, to weaken their relationships with their own cultures, traditions, languages, and foods.”

“The boarding school really shifted that relationship we had with food,” she said.

Starting in 1891,Alberni Indian Residential School (AIRS) operated on the Tseshaht reserve, closing its doors officially in 1973.

“Children did not eat traditional foods there, they ate a very highly processed diet, a very inadequate diet and a very unhealthy diet,” added Coté. “Many of our people suffered as a result.”

“It doesn’t mean if you’re not attending those schools anymore, you just naturally learn how to be healthy,” she said.

Coté reflected on the Tseshaht Community Garden, led by her sister, Gail Gus, who began growing vegetables, fruit, flowers and herbs for their community in a garden located behind one of the remaining formerAIRS buildings.

“It’s not traditional foods, but it’s healthy foods,” said Coté, who was excited to hear about the project.

The garden became part of a greater movement within the community, where Gus would share healthy recipes and teach harvesting, cooking and canning lessons, shared Coté.

Gus, alongside other knowledge holders, were reintroducing that information to people in the community who never had access to it, she added.

“Because they came from generations of boarding school and that knowledge hadn’t been passed down,” said Coté.

When the Tseshaht First Nation began its research and scanning for unmarked graves at the location of the formerAIRS buildings, the garden was removed. Gus shared with Ha-Shilth-Sa that she is currently working on relocating the garden to the side of the Tseshaht Youth Centre.

For Coté, re-Indigenizing diets is at the heart of a decades-long movement for cultural resurgence and self-determination.

“The food sovereignty movement really began to be positioned within these larger struggles, anti-colonial struggles, decolonization struggles,” said Coté, “to have more authority and control over our homelands, over our bodies, over our

diets and over the foods that we can eat.”

“Bringing back these foods, re-engaging with our environment in a very sacred way, in a very cultural way, and in a very respectful way, was really at the heart of that,” she said.

“[With] traditional food harvesting and consumption, the practice is still there,” said Dickens. “There have been some blockages because of all these government restrictions, the residential school system, the loss of knowledge translation, but the practices are still there.”

“Nuu-chah-nulth people are bringing it back with a lot of strength,” she added.

Page 14— Ha-Shilth-Sa—March 7, 2024
Eric Plummer photo Tseshaht members fish for chinook salmon on the Somass River, a staple of the First Nation’s traditional diet.

Ahousaht to host traditional food gathering event

The event at Maht Mahs aims to implement a sustainable strategy to advance First Nations food sovereignty

PortAlberni, BC –Ahousaht, in partnership with Tseshaht First Nation, are inviting Indigenous people of Vancouver Island to a traditional food gathering at Maht Mahs on March 21 – 22.

The event will bring people together to share thoughts and traditions related to traditional food gathering and preparation.According to organizers, the event will bring together up to 200 participants from Vancouver Island.

“This event is an opportunity for mutual learning, knowledge-sharing and focused collaboration. Together, the leadership at this event will aim to establish and implement a comprehensive and sustainable strategy to advance food sovereignty for their communities,” stated a media release for the event.

According to Nitanis Desjarlais, a traditional foods knowledge keeper for Island Health and an affiliate of the Vancouver Island and Coastal Communities Indigenous Foods Network, food security is especially important for the isolated communities on the west coast of Vancouver Island.

“When the Cameron Bluffs fire happened, we were cut off from the mainland.Are we prepared for another disaster?” she asked.

Equally important is the nutritional and cultural values of a more traditional diet.

“What do we know about our traditional foods?” Desjarlais asked.

Prior to contact, the Nuu-chah-nulth diet was different than what it is today, and people were healthier. The people were eating plenty of fish and other seafood along with game meat, berries and roots.

Desjarlais said she knows that we all cannot return to a traditional diet at this moment, because everything would wiped out. There are not enough traditional foods to sustain the population.

That is why it is important to talk about what these foods are and how we can save it for our children.

“We want to promote healthy eating habits and bring back our ways,” said Desjarlais, “the culture, the berry fields, the family ties to the land and the songs that go with that.”

But it’s not all about the old ways of doing things. Desjarlais says there will be opportunities to share ideas of how to prepare traditional foods in a modern context. Seaweed, for example, can be

made into a crispy treat in a few minutes in an air fryer.

According to Desjarlais, the first day of the gathering will focus on solution-based dialogue and there will be a guest speaker leading a discussion about food security and traditional food sovereignty.

Day two will be filled with information tables, food samples and demonstrations around the smoke houses, the fire pit for traditional barbecue salmon and a pit cook. In addition, special guestArt Napoleon, host and co-producer of the television show Moose Meat and Marmalade, will be at the event.

Art Napoleon is an experienced hunter and outdoor cook. He combines his knowledge of plants and wildlife with home-style cooking techniques to create healthy, affordable meals that showcase Indigenous foods. Traditional Indigenous practices such as the respect for food sources, creating minimal waste and following ethical techniques are key considerations in the meals he creates.

Funding for the event comes from

Island Coastal Economic Trust, which is supported by the Province of British Columbia.

According to the Island Coastal Economic Trust, this event is anticipated to spur economic development, providing collaborative opportunities for local businesses, artisans, and food producers.

“Knowledge sharing will be a central theme, providing opportunities to learn traditional skills, culinary expertise, and sustainable agricultural practices. By providing an immersive experience, the event should strengthen cultural heritage and promote community pride,” ICET stated.

“Indigenous food security and sovereignty is an important factor of the overall health and wellbeing of our people,” statedAhousaht Chief Councillor naasʔałuk, John Rampanen, in a press release. “Our connection to the surrounding lands and waters is a vital component of our cultural identity and our ability to survive and thrive as a people.Ahousaht is pleased to host the Island Indigenous

Foods Gathering 2024 to support the ongoing healing and nurturing qualities that our food systems and practices have to offer.”

“The re-establishment of traditional food sovereignty and security for First Nations is such an important part of our work in reconciliation,” stated Josie Osborne, MLAfor Mid Island-Pacific Rim. “By supporting this traditional food gathering, the Trust will help hundreds more Indigenous people get the tools they need to empower their communities with access to traditional and nutritious food.”

Ahousaht is pleased to be co-hosting the event with Tseshaht First Nation and say seats are filling up fast. Desjarlais says they are looking for people who are knowledgeable about traditional foods to participate in the event. That could be people with knowledge about sustainable harvesting of traditional foods and those that know traditional methods of food preparation and preservation.


March 7, 2024—Ha-Shilth-Sa—Page 15 250.724.7629
Island Coast Economic Trust photo An event scheduled for March 21-22 at Maht Mahs aims to establish and implement a sustainable strategy to advance food sovereignty for First Nation communities. Pictured is salmon drying in a smokehouse.

On Tuesday, February 20th, 2024, the Mowachaht/Muchalaht hosted Heritage Day at the House of Unity at Tsaxana. The almost 200 guests viewed a sampling of MMFN’s inventory of cultural material including baskets, masks, carvings and books. They heard a brief presentation on the historic designation of Yuquot by others and how that recognition transitioned to an indigenous lens with the YuquotAgenda Paper of the Mowachaht/Muchalaht. The highlight of the day was the singing, drumming and dancing of the Youth of the Nation. West coast culinary specialties were shared that included sockeye soup and bannock. It was a wonderful gathering of community and family, both Ray Watkins Elementary and Gold River Secondary and Captain Meares Elementary of Tahsis. Essock, special honors and hugs to all who support the Education of our Youth and community – Joni Johnson, Corissa Campbell, Sean Broderick and a heart-

felt kleco to Jeff Rockwell and now Sam Johnson who have taken the lead in the circle. Thanks to my son, Jordan and quaotze,Alexa James-Thomas for installation of the exhibits.

Kleco kleco to Eva Johnson and her team, Janelle, Jack and Jaylene for serving the always delicious food from your kitchen and your heart.

The day was part of BC Heritage Week, Feb 19 – 25th to honor history and heritage in our communities.

Thank you to all who attended to support and celebrate, especially my neighbour/Sistah, Gloria Maquinna. It is true, we need to learn about our history and who we are as indigenous people. It helps ground us in the present to move forward into our future.

Despite our differences, together, we are all members of the human family.

Kleco kleco & cuu, Margaretta James Land of Maquinna Cultural Society

Nuu-chah-nulth Baby Group

Every Monday

CYS - 4841 Redford Street, Port Alberni

10am-12pm. We offer Prenatal and infant development information, special guests, snacks provide and $20.00 food voucher per family. Referrals when needed. NTC Nursing and Doula’s 250-724-3939. Enter from 4th avenue side, building with orange stripe.

Girls Group

Every Tuesday

PortAlberni – Usma culture space

5:00pm-7:00pm Girls ages 13-18. Need a safe space? Want to express yourself? Looking to learn to bake and cook? Do you enjoy doing crafts? Come join us for fun activities with food and refreshments every Tuesday!

&Community Beyond

Eating in Balance

Every Wednesday

PortAlberni Friendship Center

1:00pm – 3:00pm. Participants work together to make a meal, discuss health and food related topics. Participants who work (cook and clean) with the group will receive a $10.00 grocery coupon that can be used at either Quality Foods or Buy-Low Foods. Childminder on premises.Adrop-in group, no registration required. For more information about our program, please call and ask forAmber –250-735-6276 ext. 233.Apart of theASI Early Years program.

Cultural Brushings with Quu asa

Every Friday

RedfordAdministration Building, Port Alberni

9:00am-12:00pm Cultural Brushings in support of the Tseshaht Community. If you have any questions, please call Leanne Harding,AdministrativeAssistant 250-724-1225

Page 16— Ha-Shilth-Sa—March 7, 2024
Kleco! Kleco!
to editor STAY INFORMED Join our facebook group for the latest Nuu-chah-nulth community news.
Le er

Employment and Training

Port Alberni

Friendship Centre

Volunteers Needed

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

March 7, 2024—Ha-Shilth-Sa—Page 17 Check out our new Facebook page Nuu-chah-nulth Jobs and Events Updated daily!

Five Nuu-chah-nulth teams head to Junior All Native

The basketball tournament awaits 88 youth teams, as Terrace converts arenas for the heavy schedule of games

Nuu-chah-hulth youth are getting ready to shine at the JuniorAll-Native Basketball Tournament (JANT) March 17 to 22 in Terrace, B.C.

Hosted by Nisga’a Nation, the youth basketball tournament will showcase 88 teams and 1,400 Indigenous athletes from all over the province. Mike Davis, JANT committee manager and member of Nisga’a, says the tournament is spread out over six facilities.

“Terrace doesn’t even have one basketball facility, but Nisga’a Nation is making it happen with the facilities we have available. We’re converting two of the ice arenas into two basketball gyms,” said Davis, noting that the school gyms were all booked up by various clubs.

“We’re hoping when Terrace sees the event they will see the importance of building a nice rec centre,” he added.

Yuułuʔiłʔatḥ is sending three teams: Marissa Mack and Edward Mack are bringing a U13 boys and a U13 girls team and Matthew Jack and Evelyn Charlie are coaching a U17 boys team. Catherine Thomas is coaching the U17 girls Nuuchah-nulth West Coast Thunderbirds, a mix of Tla-o-qui-aht,Ahousaht, and Hesquiaht players, and Joe Charleson is coaching the U17 girls Tseshaht Pride.

“Defense will win it for us. Offense will come, but defense is what’s going to win this tournament,” said Charleson, who started coaching women’s basketball 20 years ago with his sisters’team.

The Tseshaht Pride came third in the JANT in Nanaimo last year and the year before in Kelowna they finished second.

“The ultimate goal would be to win it all. I haven’t done that yet in all my years coaching,” said Charleson. “This team is something new for me also because we

don’t have all our players in PortAlberni, they are in surrounding towns. But I’ve had eyes on everybody and I know what they can do and hopefully we can get it together and have a good run.”

Prolific Indigenous basketball player and basketball momAnita CharlesonTouchie has three daughters competing in the JANT: Tiani and Taleah are on the on the Yuułuʔiłʔatḥ U13 squad and Jaysen is playing for the U17 Tseshaht Pride.

“Reflecting on the value and importance of sport like basketball, for my family it’s been a generational thing,” said Charleson-Touchie. “For me, it started with my father, who was a phenomenal player. He hostedAll Native tournaments on the coast.”

She went on to say that all-native sporting events like JANT provide Indigenous

youth with opportunities to connect to theirAboriginal culture and values, make lifelong friends and play in a safe space.

“In my own experience, I didn’t always feel safe because of the racism,” said Charleson-Touchie. “It’s important to acknowledge the cultural differences. I see it myself with my children, when they’re with our family or community, they do feel safe enough to be themselves.”

Coach Charleson re-iterates.

“It gives the youth something to do and something to strive for. It’s part of our culture. We battle on the floor, but everybody is happy to see everybody,” he said. The host of JANT has the option to include a U13 division on the schedule. For Nisga’a, it was important to keep the younger division.

“Having young players see that there is

more to their small villages and be able to go out and make connections… We just want to keep kids busy,” said Davis. “It teaches a lot of life skills. Not only playing basketball, but there’s discipline and anger management. Some teams make you sign an oath that you’re not going to do drugs or alcohol.”

Charleson is constantly wowed by the U13 teams.

“These kids are just unreal and amazing athletes. You would think it was like senior division watching these U13 teams play,” he said.

Canada’s First Nations Radio (CFNR) is the broadcaster for the JANT games and all matches will be live-streamed online via the CFNR website: https://www. cfnrfm.ca/jant/.

Canuck alum signs autographs at Alberni Toyota

PortAlberni, BC - The soggy weather didn’t detour the more than 300 Canucks fans from showing up atAlberni Toyota on Saturday, March 2nd to meet longtime Canuck alumni Richard “King Richard” Brodeur and to win prizes.

Brodeur was the Canucks’goalie for eight seasons from 1981 to 1988 and after his retirement he founded his own hockey school in the Vancouver area.

At the event fans and their families were treated to a hot dog barbeque by the Gyro Club and a myriad of prizes, from spinning of the big wheel for Toyota and Canucks merchandise, signed jerseys, games tickets, a game experience for two at the Champion Club suite and a chance to win a junior trainer experience.

Wynita Jaworski, Toyota’s general manager and organizer of the event said, “We are very excited because we get to bring the Canucks to the community annually.”

One hockey player and fan, Sophia Mack from Tseshaht, told Ha-Shilth-Sa she loves the sport and has been playing on a team in PortAlberni for two years. She was very excited to meet a real Canuck.

Due to an away game the Bulldogs weren’t available this year, but the junior BAlberni Valley Bombers and minor hockey league coaches were there to step in and play a few games of road hockey with the young fans.

Page 18— Ha-Shilth-Sa—March 7, 2024
Eric Plummer photo The Tseshaht Pride return to the JuniorAll Native Basketball Tournament, after finishing third in their division when the contest was held in Nanaimo last year (pictured). Holly Stocking photo Sophia Mack was among those who came toAlberni Toyota on March 2 to meet legendary goaltender Richard “King Richard” Brodeur.

Women reflect on their role through generations

On International Women’s Day Nuu-chah-nulth women reflect on traditional roles they hold for their people

Nuu-chah-nulth women are powerful, strong, and not afraid to take up the space meant for them. This is how Mariah Charleson (łučinƛcuta), a Hesquiaht member who was recently elected the nation’s chief councillor, describes the women of Nuu-chah-nulth First Nations.

When young girls see the generation before them filled with strong-natured Nuu-chah-nulth women who are proud to speak their language, sing their songs, and dance their dances, they intrinsically want to follow suit, she said.

“It’s an amazing time that we’re living in, because our women are beginning to take up these spaces that we know belong to us,” said Charleson.

Charleson shared that when she was growing up, she didn’t see women being elected as chief councillor for her nation and speaking at large gatherings.

“[That] didn’t mean that women didn’t hold important spaces, but I think historically, we had seen men taking up those type of leadership positions,” she said.

“I want young girls to understand that they have the qualities already, the way that they were born, and they have the qualities to be leaders in whatever aspect of their life that they’re living,” said Charleson.

But leadership roles didn’t always take the shape of chiefs, shared Charleson.

The roles that they held as knowledge keepers and medicine women made them leaders as well.

“One thing that was commonly said was that it was the women who had the strong minds, and the women who remembered,” said C.Ann Robinson of Tseshaht, who was given the name t’ickaa ‘aqsuł, meaning thunder coming from the mouth. “The women were shown [and] taught what was needed to keep the families moving forward.”

It was the women’s role to remember history, teachings, songs and dances, she


“The women were the root or the anchor of the communities and the families,” said Robinson. “The women were the ones who cared for the families, who raised the children, who took the time to teach with love what was needed.”

As mothers, aunties, grandmothers, cousins and sisters, women took on certain responsibilities in their family and throughout the community, said Robinson. She shared that when a couple were to be married, the women would sit with the groom to talk with him about how to be a good husband and father, and how to look after his family.

“[It was] always done in a way that was respectful and meant to teach and help them grow into a good life,” said Robinson.

“The women were absolutely the caregivers of the children, the teachers, [and] they’re the ones that when the fish came in, they’re the ones that processed the fish,” saidAngie Miller, nee Tatoosh, of Hupačasath.

Miller’s traditional name, given to her by her parents at a potlatch, is ƛuuyaayapšiƛ, which means person who takes care of people or does good things. Miller recalls that her mother and grandmothers were the caregivers of the home, cooking and providing food for the family.

“I think that in my heart, I think I still want to do things the same way that my mother [and] grandmother did,” said Miller. “And that’s what I do everyday.”

Among many of the teachings that Miller was passed down from her mother and grandmother was to always make sure there’s food in the house for everyone and never to let anyone leave hungry.

“I think that was what we did as people a long time ago,” said Miller, adding that it was the chief’s responsibility to ensure that visitors from another community were all taken care of and fed.

Miller recalls her childhood when her mother would take her to fish days,

alongside her mothers and grandmothers in the community. They woke up at 5 a.m. and would spend the day fishing and barbequing the fish over a fire.

“Somebody had brought potato, somebody brought homemade bread, and they would feed all of us up there,” said Miller, noting that the children watched, played, and once fishing was completed, they would go swimming.

Robinson feels fortunate for being raised with close ties to the elders in her community. Often when she was young, Robinson would visit the elders to hear about “all parts of our communities, [and] all parts of our teachings and our values.”

The elders did not often speak of the impacts of the residential school system, shared Robinson. But she recalls one day when a group of elders were gathered at their chief’s house they spoke about when their children were taken to the schools.

“The next day, after the kids were taken, every house on the reserve was crying; all the homes, they couldn’t stop crying for days, some for weeks,” she shared with Ha-Shilth-Sa. “You could just feel it in the room, you could just feel that moment, that deep sorrow.”

The persistence and determination of continuing to teach and share with the next generation, despite the difficulties and limited time families had together, is what carried knowledge through generations, said Miller.

“Lots of the people I know held on to the teachings,” she said. “Even now, I see our families out there that are doing potlatches and doing practices.”

When Miller was growing up potlatches were beginning to resurge after years of prohibition through the IndianAct. Today, Miller sees Nuu-chah-nulth children learning songs and dances, and notes the pride she sees them carry.

“Somehow or another, I think their persistence is what kept it going,” said Miller.

Something that Miller hopes to see carried through generations is the coming of

age ceremony, which recognizes young girls becoming women.

“That wasn’t happening for quite a few years, but it’s coming back,” she said, noting its important to understand what the ceremony is about. “This is a young lady now who has gone through puberty, now you have to recognize that she’s a woman, she’s the bearer of our children, and she needs to be treated with respect.”

The first traditional ceremonial event that Miller recalls ever attending was for her auntie’s coming of age ceremony, she shared.

“Despite Canada’s persistent mandate to assimilate all of our people, many of our women continue to speak the language, continue to sing our songs and continue to do many of the things that our ancestors have done for thousands of years,” said Charleson.

As a result of colonization, Robinson observes that many of the basic teachings in her community have shifted.

“We’ve lost a lot of our basic teachings, not just around women, in all parts of the community,” she said. “We are so colonized that our core teachings and our core values are changed.”

“When I look back through my growing up years and sitting with [the elders], they lived what they said. They didn’t just say it, it was a part of life, it was a part of who we are as a people back in that day,” Robinson shared. “What they said, they lived, they walked, they meant it, they modeled it.”

What Robinson learned from her elders was not ever hers, but for her grandchildren and their grandchildren.

“That’s the essence of the teachings, is it rolls forward from generation to generation,” said Robinson. “That’s why it’s so important to keep it alive. They used to say, ‘Breathe the life into it, breathe life [and] let it live, when it lives, it’ll carry forward’.”

March 7, 2024—Ha-Shilth-Sa—Page 19
Alexandra Mehl photo For Nuu-chah-nulth women, their role and responsibility are to remember history, teachings, songs and dances for the next generation, shared C.Ann Robinson of Tseshaht.
Page 20— Ha-Shilth-Sa—March 7, 2024 PLEASE JOIN US FOR A NTC Health Department Open House MARCH 25, 2024 2:30PM TO 6:00PM 4841 REDFORD STREET (OLD REDFORD SCHOOL) 5TH AVE ENTERANCE Snack, activities, door prizes, information tables EASTER HUNT FOR KIDS
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