INTERESTING NEWS Canada’s Oldest First Nations Newspaper - Serving Nuu-chah-nulth-aht since 1974 Canadian Publications Mail Product Vol. 48 - No. 10—May 20, 2021 haas^i>sa Sales Agreement No. 40047776
Photo by Sandra Mack
Nevaeh and Weston Mack stand outside the apartment building where a body was found on May 4. Family and friends have identiﬁed the body as Terrance Mack, the children’s father.
Justice for Terrance Mack: Murder victim identiﬁed Police say the murder victim’s body was in the Third Avenue apartment for weeks before it was discovered By Denise Titian Ha-Shilth-Sa Reporter Port Alberni, BC – While the RCMP and BC Coroner’s Service have not conﬁrmed the identity of a person found deceased in a Port Alberni apartment, friends and family are saying that the man was Terrance Mack of Toquaht First Nation. “He was so very gentle, he did not deserve to go the way he did,” said Sandra Mack. Sandra was at the apartment building a week after her ﬁrst cousin was found. Other family members were there to demand justice for their relative. She said that her cousin, whom she called brother, died by homicide. On Tuesday, May 4th, Port Alberni RCMP were called to an apartment building on the 3200 block of Third Avenue, for a possible sudden death. There, they found a body in a unit on the third ﬂoor of the apartment building. “The state the body was located in lead investigators to believe that the body had been there for some time, and was a victim of a homicide,” said the RCMP in
a written statement. Authorities believe the body was there for at least two weeks before police were called to investigate. The Port Alberni RCMP General Investigation Section worked alongside the BC Coroner’s Service to identify the body. Sandra said that identiﬁcation was made on May 8 and the family was notiﬁed the same day. Mack says the family is calling for justice for Terrance Mack, a father of two young children, who would have celebrated his 34th birthday on May 13. She and other family members have made a connection between Terrance’s murder and the police shooting incident that took place in Hitacu on May 8. Sandra’s sister Allison Russ said the apartment Terrance was discovered in belonged to the woman shot in Hitacu. The Yuułuʔiłʔatḥ government conﬁrmed that on May 8 there was a police incident that culminated in a non-member being shot several times by police. “On the early evening of Saturday, May 8, there was an altercation between a Yuułuʔiłʔatḥ male citizen and a non-
Inside this issue... Woman shot during confrontation with RCMP..........Page 3 RCMP move in on Fairy Creek..................................Page 5 First Nations COVID cases drop................................Page 9 Going ‘through the ﬁre’ to heal................................Page 11 Red Dress Day at Sutton Pass..................................Page 12
Yuułuʔiłʔatḥ female,” they said in a written statement. The male was injured and required medical attention. When asked what the connection was between Terrance and the female shot by police in Hitacu, Allison Russ said that she heard that there was love triangle and jealousy. The Mack family said they have been informed that police were called to the Port Alberni apartment on several occasions, usually for noise complaints. “It must have been the end of April when (the man injured in the Hitacu incident) was outside the apartment building with an axe, screaming at her,” said Russ. She said police were called. “And the next we hear, Terry is missing,” she added. On the day his body was positively identiﬁed, a violent incident unfolded in Hitacu, 100 kilometres away. Police were summoned to Port Albion on a domestic violence call with an injured male. “When police arrived on scene, the female was in possession of what was visually a weapon, RCMP opened ﬁre, wounding the female,” stated the
Yuułuʔiłʔatḥ government. “The weapon has been oﬃcially reported by the (IIO) Independent Investigations Oﬃce of the BC, as a replica gun.” Both parties were transported to hospital by ambulance. The Yuułuʔiłʔatḥ government said there have been ongoing community concerns related to the two individuals involved in the incident and that a stay-away order had been issued for the female. While safety and security are of utmost importance for Yuułuʔiłʔatḥ leadership, they say they are concerned about this incident and other national incidents that have been in the media. “Our thoughts are with Yuułuʔiłʔatḥ – Ucluelet First Nation, our neighboring nation, the individuals involved and all families aﬀected,” said Charles McCarthy, President of Yucluthaht. Through her tears, Allison Russ said in this case, the police shooting of the woman was not police brutality. “I know our people are hurting, but this case is diﬀerent,” she said.
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Young woman shot during confrontation with police The May 8th incident near Ucluelet is the third Nuu-chah-nulth person shot by police in less than one year By Denise Titian Ha-Shilth-Sa Reporter Hitacu, B.C. – A young woman is in a Victoria hospital recovering from multiple gunshot wounds after the Ucluelet RCMP were called to the home for a domestic disturbance. According to a statement released by RCMP, at around 5:12 p.m. on Saturday, May 8, frontline oﬃcers from the Ucluelet RCMP were called to a report of a disturbance and a male needing medical assistance at a residence in the Port Albion community. “Responding oﬃcers entered the home and encountered a woman with a weapon. Shots were ﬁred by the police oﬃcers. The woman suﬀered gunshot wounds and was transported to hospital by BC Emergency Health Services. A male was also transported to hospital for treatment. No one else was physically injured in this incident,” reads the statement. According to sources, the young women was put in a medically induced coma to better stabilize her condition and ﬂown to Victoria for emergency treatment. “I just ﬁnished cooking dinner for my family and went to cool oﬀ out front and then I seen two cop cars move in on the triplex,” said Hitacu resident Trish Miller. “Soon after I heard two to three gun shots, and it felt like just seconds later they were already putting the (crime scene) tape up.” “More cops and ambulances came after, all happened so fast,” she added. The name of the young woman is being withheld. Source have said she is Tlao-qui-aht member, but this has not been conﬁrmed by the First Nation. Miller said the couple had been staying in one of the units of a triplex for a few weeks. During that time, according to Miller, there were plenty of interactions between the couple and the police, much of it domestic violence towards each other. According to Miller, the male had sustained injuries from a weapon in an assault by his girlfriend on the day of the shooting. NTC President Judith Sayers said she has heard that the injuries the young woman sustained were not life-threaten-
A young woman is in a Victoria hospital recovering from multiple gunshot wounds after the Ucluelet RCMP were called to a home for a domestic disturbance on Saturday, May 8. also been engaged, said the RCMP in a If the young woman is in fact Tla-oing. written statement. qui-aht, this incident would make her the “We are very concerned there was The B.C. Independent Investigations third member of the First Nation to be another shooting by police and hope for Oﬃce is conducting a concurrent invesshot by police in eleven months. Chantel a quick recovery for (female). We will tigation into the actions of the police. As Moore, 26, was shot by an Edmundston, be overseeing the situation to make sure NB police oﬃcer during a wellness check the matter is now under investigation by police are held accountable for their acthe IIO, no further information will be on June 4, 2020. Julian Jones, 28, was tions and that a thorough investigation is released by police. shot at his parent’s home in Opitsaht on carried out,” she added. The IIO is asking any person with relFeb. 27, 2021. Miller said that on Sunday, May 9, evant information to please contact them The initial incident is being handled the community was holding brushing on the witness line toll-free at 1-855-446by Island District General Investigative ceremonies open to everyone. She added Services in assistance to Ucluelet RCMP. 8477 or via the contact form on the iiobc. that members of the RCMP were taking ca website. The Nuu-Chah-Nulth Tribal Council has part in the ceremony.
Photo by DeniseTitian
Amanda Aspinall, a Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council nurse stationed in the Central Region, administers a COVID-19 vaccination at the Port Alberni Friendship Center on Monday, May 10. Nurses across Canada were recognized for National Nursing Week, an event that could be even more important due to the role of front-line health care workers over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic.
As a little girl Julia understood some day would be her day Julia George, June 25 2020 is the grand daughter of Perry George and Rebekah.... Our elders in spirit dancing up in the sky Heaven Cecelia George (Chitska) and Moses George (Johnny). Graduation June 2020 wonderful smile, Congratulation’s it is what it is. From Mom and Dad and your Brother’s & Family.
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Protests and forestry: Huu-ay-aht set up check point Measure taken after the nation reported a protestor had driven through a safety barrier onto an active cutblock By Eric Plummer Ha-Shilth-Sa Editor Bamﬁeld Main, BC - In a move to prevent dangerous clashes from forestry protest activity in it’s territory, the Huuay-aht First Nations have introduced a checkpoint halfway down the road to Bamﬁeld. The checkpoint went up May 11 on Bamﬁeld Main. If a driver isn’t recognizable, personnel will inform the visitor that while in it’s ḥahuułi, Huu-ay-aht’s three sacred must be followed: ʔiisaak (Utmost Respect), ʔuuʔałuk (Taking Care of), and Hišuk ma c̕awak (Everything is Connected). “People who violate our sacred principles are no longer welcome on our ḥahuułi,” reads a notice given to visitors at the checkpoint. “Violations will be dealt with to the full extent of the traditional laws of the Huu-ay-aht Ḥaw̓iih and the laws of the Huu-ay-aht Government and Canada.” The checkpoint was announced on Friday, May 7, one day after the First Nation reported that a logging protestor had driven through a safety barrier onto an active cutblock to remove signs. “They’re endangering their lives and endangering the workers there - for us that’s unacceptable because we have to be concerned about the safety of our workers,” said Chief Councillor Robert Dennis Sr., noting the Huu-ay-aht’s growing stake in Tree Farm Licence 44, which extends across much of the First Nation’s territory. “With us being on the other side of the ledger now that where we’re 35 per cent owners we have to be concerned about our workers.” After the May 6 incident TFL 44 LP, a partnership co-owned by the Huu-ay-aht and Western Forest Products, engaged conﬂict resolution specialist Dan Johnston. He is assigned to prepare a report and recommendations on how to ensure safe forestry practices while allowing people to exercise their right to peaceful, legal protest. Dennis said that the First Nation is not against protesting, but it must be done in a respectful way that doesn’t endanger forestry workers. “Some of those people are our people,” he said. “We now have 16 Huu-ay-aht people working in forestry operations.” Tensions have been rising recently across southern Vancouver Island, as a growing number of blockades and protest camps are being established by the Rainforest Flying Squad, a loosely aﬃliated collective of activists taking a stand against old-growth logging. Their ﬁrst blockades were set up in August last year to prevent road building into the Fairy Creek watershed, an area near Port Renfrew that is believed to be one of Vancouver Island’s few valleys still untouched by industrial logging. The Huu-ay-aht have heard of loggers ﬁnding spikes in trees in the Fairy Creek area, an old technique used to disrupt harvesting that became common during the large-scale protests in Clayoquot Sound in the 1990s. Tayii Ḥaw̓ił ƛiišin, Derek Peters, doesn’t want the same hazardous measures undertaken in his territory. “We don’t agree with that approach,” said ƛiišin. “We’d much rather have people come and ask permission, and say what they’re here for, and get information from us.” While standing at the checkpoint, which lies at the entrance to his nation’s territory, ƛiišin pointed to the historical impacts
Photo by Eric Plummer
Tayii Ḥaw̓ił ƛiišin, Derek Peters, and daughter Olivia stand at the entrance to Huu-ay-aht territory, where a checkpoint was set up on May 10 to ask visitors to respect the First Nation’s sacred principles. of logging evident in the surrounding area. Not far from the checkpoint the enormous Camp B was located, which at its peak house as many as 400 forestry workers. As the Huu-ay-aht claim a growing stake in the industry, ƛiišin noted that his nation has had to work with some of its own members opposed to logging. “We have people in Huu-ay-aht too that are against what we do as well,” he said. “When you look around here and you see how much devastation has occurred through forestry practices since forestry started, it takes time for change to happen.” Dennis added that logging intensiﬁed in Huu-ay-aht territory after much of Clayoquot Sound became protected a generation ago. “The other thing that people don’t realise is that when Clayoquot Sound was successful in their protests and they quit cutting over there, well guess what? They had to cut somewhere else,” he said. “B.C. declared Huu-ay-aht territory a forest enhancement zone.” But since then the annual timber harvest has declined from approximately 1 million to 500,000 cubic metres, and now the Huu-ay-aht are placing a greater emphasis on planting western red cedar, after Douglas ﬁr was the mainstay for replanting before the 1970s. For each cubic metre harvested $5 is reinvested into salmon habitat renewal work, adding to the $375,000 Western Forest Products has already committed in watershed enhancement projects. “We’re in a good position to start inﬂuencing management in a way that incorporates our values as Huu-ay-aht people,” said ƛiišin. “What you take out you must put back in is the philosophy we go by in our value system.” In any given year forestry accounts for 60-80 per cent of the Huu-ay-aht’s revenue as a First Nation with a modernday treaty. Meanwhile tourism accounts to about 1 per cent of what the First Nation takes in, said Dennis, who noted that providing employment opportunities needs to be considered while managing the Huu-ay-aht’s natural resources. “We’ve got to balance the two: we need an economy, but we also need a healthy
environment,” he said. “If you can ﬁnd an alternative way that we can have an economy, bring it to us. Nobody is coming forward.” Meanwhile, 7,000 hectares of old growth in Huu-ay-aht territory remain protected, as this is part of the Paciﬁc Rim National Park Reserve. The nation is
planning 150 years ahead, and now ƛiišin has the authority to decide which second growth will become old growth over a century from now. “He now has the ability to say, ‘I want to set that aside for future generations’,” said Dennis.
May 20, 2021—Ha-Shilth-Sa—Page 5
RCMP enforce court injunction near Fairy Creek Activists report approximately 50 police vehicles and 200 protestors in the area, arrests made Tuesday morning By Melissa Renwick Local Journalism Initiative Reporter Port Renfrew, BC - The RCMP moved into the Fairy Creek Watershed on Monday to enforce a court injunction banning blockades from preventing old-growth logging in southern Vancouver Island, within Pacheedaht First Nation’s traditional territory. In a statement, RCMP said that anyone who breaches the injunction, as well as those refusing to leave the access control area, will be arrested. The Rainforest Flying Squad, an old-growth activist group, have had blockades at the Fairy Creek watershed since last summer. They were erected to prevent forestry company Teal-Jones from accessing what is considered one of the last remaining old-growth forests untouched by industrial logging. In the morning of May 18, RCMP spokesperson Cpl. Chris Manseau said Mounties were sent to the watershed to read the injunction to protestors stationed at the blockades and will “make a determination on how to proceed next.” An RCMP check-point has been established at the McClure Forest Service Road, where the restricted-access area begins. “The purpose is to prevent a further escalation of eﬀorts to block access contrary to the Supreme Court order, and to allow the RCMP to be accountable for the safety of all persons accessing this area given the remoteness and road conditions,” reads the RCMP statement. Glenn Reid, a tree-defender with the Rainforest Flying Squad, drove to the watershed from Cowichan on Tuesday morning with a convoy of around 50 vehicles, he said. Undeterred by RCMP presence, Reid said “we’re having a peaceful protest.” Pacheedaht First Nation elder Bill Jones also joined the protest, but said he could not get past RCMP to access the Caycuse blockade on Tuesday morning. “I [was] denied my rights and freedoms of access to my own territory,” he said. Around 200 protestors were at the wa-
Photos by Marnie Recker
On May 18 police moved into blockades near the Fairy Creek watershed to enforce a court injunction. Pictured are visits by the RCMP and forestry personnel to the blockades taken earlier this month.
“I was denied my rights and freedoms of access to my own territory” ~ Bill Jones, Pacheedaht First Nation elder tershed to show their support against the court injunction, said Jones. While there, he said he saw one arrest being made. Jones has been an outspoken ally of the blockades from the start and said it’s important for him to ﬁght for old-growth because “it’s the last of it.” “It will be all gone if [Teal-Jones] is given free reign,” he said. Fairy Creek is a spiritual place, Jones
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recounted of his grandfather’s teachings. “We go up there to pray and meditate,” he added. “Fairy Creek is a cleansing creek.” In a statement signed by Pacheedaht Hereditary Chief Frank Queesto Jones and Elected Chief Jeﬀ Jones, the nation said it is concerned about the increasing polarization over forestry activities in their territory. “Pacheedaht has always harvested and managed our forestry resources, including old-growth cedar, for cultural, ceremonial, domestic and economic purposes,” read the statement. “All parties need to respect that it is up to Pacheedaht people to determine how our forestry resources will be used. We do not welcome or support unsolicited involvement or interference by others in our territory, including third-party activism.” “Like all communities, there is a diversity of opinion within Pacheedaht Nation,” added Rod Bellingham, Pacheedaht’s
forestry manager. “Prior to the blockades and the media attention, it was not obvious that there was a strong desire within the community to restrict harvesting in Fairy Creek.” Bellingham said that forestry is “massively” important to Pacheedaht’s economic future. “Forestry revenues are key to the current and future of the nation,” he said. “We are surrounded by a fabulous forest resource that will continue to provide multiple beneﬁts for generations to come if we manage it wisely.” But Bill Jones is worried the nation is more concerned about ﬁnancial gains than being stewards of the land. “They’re looking for cash ﬂow and the easiest and quickest way is to cut the oldgrowth,” he said. “Their ploy is to say that ‘we don’t want the protestors there, we’re going to protect the old-growth’ … which to me is just to say goodbye to the old-growth.”
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Five nations hope Court of Appeal ruling will lead to be•er allocations The latest catch numbers from DFO are less than half of what the nations asked for By Eric Plummer Ha-Shilth-Sa Editor While Nuu-chah-nulth nations are celebrating a favourable ruling from the B.C. Court of Appeal, it remains to be seen how the DFO will adjust ﬁsheries allocations beyond the small fraction set aside for the coastal communities this spring. On April 19 the appeal court aﬃrmed the Aboriginal right of ﬁve First Nations to catch and sell ﬁsh harvested in their territorial waters oﬀ the west coast of Vancouver Island, extending the scope of these ﬁsheries beyond what was previously set by the B.C. Supreme Court in 2018. The ruling directly applies to the Ahousaht, Ehattesaht/Chinehkint, Hesquiaht, Mowachaht/Muchalaht and Tla-o-qui-aht First Nations. Now the words “small scale,” “artisanal,” and “local” have been removed by the court, which deﬁnes the scope of nations’ ﬁsheries as “a non-exclusive, multi-species, limited commercial ﬁshery aimed at wide community participation, to be conducted in their court-deﬁned area for ﬁshing, which extends nine nautical miles oﬀshore.” “It would appear from all that has been said that the plaintiﬀs’ rights are to a ﬁshery of a moderate commercial scale,” reads the recent appeal decision, the latest ruling in a court battle extending over a decade. Now the nations are hopeful that Fisheries and Oceans Canada will interpret the judgement favourably for this years’ ﬁshing seasons. “I’m wishing our nation and other nations do actually get back to looking after ourselves the way we used to,” said Cliﬀ Atleo, lead negotiator for the Ahousaht First Nation. “The only way we can do that is to get our people out on the water and give them the opportunities.” The most recent allocation numbers released by the DFO have limited opportunities for the ﬁve nations, compared to other harvesters on the Island’s west coast. For example, an April 21 meeting between DFO representatives and other
Gord Johns stakeholders sets this year’s total allowable catch oﬀ the west coast at 88,000 chinook salmon. Of this amount, the ﬁve nations tied to the court case were allocated 7,821, with another 5,000 pieces designated for food, social and ceremonial purposes. Meanwhile the Area G troll ﬂeet is allocated 31,738 chinook, and recreational boats are set at 40,000. Nations belonging to the Maa-nulth treaty were allocated another 3,441 chinook. This diﬀers drastically to what the ﬁve nations requested. In correspondence with DFO in recent months the nations asked for 30 per cent of the region’s total allowable catch, plus another 5,000 chinook over the winter months. “I expect more,” said Atleo, who has participated in regular negotiations with the federal department. “Indeed, the allocation policy had to be reviewed, and they’re dragging their feet on that. We told them so in our session last week.” On April 26, Courtenay-Alberni MP Gord Johns pressed Rebecca Reid, DFO’s regional director general for the Paciﬁc Region, on how the recent court ruling will aﬀect this year’s ﬁshing season. “What actions will the department be taking for the 2021 ﬁshing season to increase the allocations of chinook, coho and other species?” he asked. “What recommendations will you be bringing to the minister?” “We are still reviewing the court deci-
COVERAGE: Although we would like to be able to cover all stories and events, we will only do so subject to: - Suﬃcient advance notice addressed speciﬁcally to Ha-Shilth-Sa. - Reporter availability at the time of the event. - Editorial space available in the paper. - Editorial deadlines being adhered to by contributors.
sion,” responded Reid, noting that the department does recognize the ﬁve nations’ court-deﬁned right. “We are also undergoing negotiations with the ﬁve nations from a reconciliation perspective. They do have a ﬁsheries management plan in place now for their rights-based ﬁshery.” But the Five Nations Multi-species Fishery Management Plan, which was released by DFO in April, shows the department’s reluctance to allow the Nuuchah-nulth communities to harvest more from their territories. “For hook and line opportunities, DFO is of the view that wide community participation is facilitated by the use of small, low-cost boats with limited technology and restricted catching power,” reads the document. “[T]he use of vessels with catching power equivalent to the regular commercial ﬁshery can limit the opportunity for wide community participation because a few vessels catch the available allocation in a short period of time.” Atleo believes that ﬁsheries management needs to change from formulas that are designed to keep the First Nations poor. “The only way that we’re going to look at sustainability and looking after ourselves like we used to is actually to be able to beneﬁt from half of the aquatic resources,” he said. “I don’t think we should have to go to court to secure that, let’s do that through your so-called reconciliation.” He’s also not fond of the court limiting the nations to nine miles oﬀshore. Atleo said this came from the court’s interpretation of the 19-th century journal entries of John Jewitt, a seafaring English blacksmith who was captured by the Mowachaht for two years in Yuquot. “This day all the chiefs went about nine miles from Nootka, where the natives go to catch halibut,” reads Jewitt’s entry from July 12, 1804. “Do away with that nine-mile limit,” said Atleo.
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May 20, 2021—Ha-Shilth-Sa—Page 7
Tension erupts between activists and forestry workers An altercation pauses logging in Walbran, as Pacheedaht, Ditidaht and Huu-ay-aht meet to discuss the incident By Melissa Renwick Local Journalism Initiative Reporter Walbran Valley, BC - After months of peaceful protests calling for an end to old-growth logging near Port Renfrew, tensions between activists and forestry workers have come to a head. Logging in the Walbran Valley has been paused following the release of a video revealing an altercation between forestry workers and those protesting the harvesting. The footage was shared by the Rainforest Flying Squad, an old-growth activist group. Since last summer, they have set-up blockades at the Fairy Creek watershed, as well as elsewhere in Southern Vancouver Island, to prevent Teal-Jones from accessing what is considered one of the last remaining old-growth forests untouched by industrial logging. In the video, forestry workers yelled racial slurs at the protestors and an altercation ensued. An Indigenous youth was allegedly assaulted. Kati George-Jim, who’s part of the blockade, said “Indigenous peoples are targeted with violence for disrupting industry.” The forestry staﬀ were working on land managed by Tree Farm License 44 LP, a partnership between Huu-ay-aht First Nations-owned Huumiis Ventures LP (Huumiis) and Western Forest Products Inc (Western). “TFL 44 LP is moving quickly to take appropriate actions to independently review this incident, determine the facts and act on resulting recommendations,” said Don Demens, Western president and CEO, in a release. Huumiis and TFL 44 LP issued a joint statement, saying the “use of racist language, intimidation, and acts of violence have no place in our society or our workplaces, and we have zero tolerance for such behaviour. We are fully supportive of the right to peaceful and legal protest
Photo submitted by Rainforest Flying Squad
Protesters with the Rainforest Flying Squad are pictured at a blockade in Ladysmith in December. A recent incident where activists with the group were stationed has paused logging in the Walbran Valley. Pacheedaht, Ditidaht and Huu-ay-aht have met to discuss the altercation, while Western Forest Products is investigating. Chief Councillor Jeﬀ Jones stated deciand the obligation of all forest compavital old-growth stands while supporting sions over forestry resources need to be nies, including, TFL 44 LP, to provide a workers and communities.” made by the First Nation, adding that the safe work environment.” Despite the province’s commitment, Pacheedaht has always harvested oldHuu-ay-aht, Ditidaht and Pacheedaht recent mapping done by the Wilderness First Nations met with Western on Thurs- growth trees for various reasons, includCommittee indicates that old-growth loging economic purposes. day, May 6 to discuss the incident. ging approvals have gone up by 43 per “Our constitutional right to make deci“The territory where there were incent this year, compared to last. sions about forestry resources in our truders belongs to [Hereditary Chief] “The government is not keeping its Queesto of Pacheedaht,” said Huu-ay-aht territory, as a governing authority in our word,” said Torrance Coste, Wilderness territory, must be respected,” reads the First Nations Chief Councillor Robert J. Committee campaign director. “We’re statement. “We do not welcome or supDennis Sr. “And I believe those people calling on the government to defer oldport unsolicited involvement or interfershould be asking Queesto, ‘can I protest growth logging and provide support ence by others in our territory, including in your land?’” for communities that currently derive Historically, Nuu-chah-nulth people par- third-party activism.” beneﬁts from old-growth … to just say On Friday, Huu-ay-aht First Nations ticipated in canoe journeys, where they that we need to change the way we’re would canoe to neighbouring nations’ ter- announced it will be implementing access managing old-growth, but not actually restrictions and safety measures within ritories. Upon landing in a new territory, change anything on the ground leads the nation’s territory starting Monday, permission to land was required by the these companies to go and get it while May 10. hereditary chief, explained Dennis. they can.” The step is in response to an alleged for“To me, the protestors and those loggers The Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural estry operations incident that took place are disrespecting the roles and responsiResource Operations and Rural Develon Thursday, May 6. bilities of Queesto,” he said. opment responded by saying it does not “Eye-witness accounts conﬁrm a forIn mid-April, a letter signed by Hefeel the Wilderness Committee’s analysis estry protester drove through safety barreditary Chief Frank Queesto Jones and accurately reﬂects what is happening in riers into an active logging area, putting B.C.’s old-growth forests. the safety of the driver and the forestry “The fact is, 10 million hectares of workers at risk,” read a release issued by old-growth is already protected and since Huu-ay-aht First Nation. coming into oﬃce our government has “Protesters, forest workers, companies, protected hundreds of thousands more,” other governments, or Indigenous or non- the ministry said in a release. “We are Residential . Commercial Indigenous individuals who do not concommitted to work with the committee duct themselves in accordance with our to better understand their results and to & Architectural Structures nation’s three sacred principles – ʔiisaak provide a true account of our old-growth Construction Management & Consulting (Utmost Respect), ʔuuʔałuk (Taking Care forest.” of), and Hišuk ma c̕awak (Everything Following the altercation, all TFL 44 Forming & Framing Connected) – are not welcome in our LP contractors and their crews received a Ph/Txt: 250.720.7334 les email@example.com is ḥahuułi (Territory),” said Huu-ay-aht brieﬁng on Wednesday, May 5, covering Tayii Ḥaw̓ił ƛiišin (Head Hereditary “the critical importance of adhering to Chief Derek Peters), in the release. forest operation safety and already-esPrior to Tuesday’s altercation in the tablished public protest protocols which Walbran Valley, Huu-ay-aht had been focus on respectful non-engagement,” prepping to provide a virtual course, read the joint statement by Huumiis and GATEWAY TO THE PACIFIC RIM titled “Huu-ay-aht 101” for Western TFL 44 LP. workers. As the incident between forestry workThe course will cover cultural traditions ers and protestors continues to be investiand historical information related Huugated, tensions remain high. ay-aht, said Dennis. “There’s a lot of charged emotions on “A lot of people don’t realize that there this issue,” said Coste. “But there’s no was a very functioning and well-orgaplace for violence or intimidation or racnized governance structure in place long ism.” before white settlers got here,” he said. “The loggers broke our laws, and they Forests minister Katrine Conroy said broke colonial law as well,” said Kati she is “disgusted” by the racist language George-Jim in a release issued by the used by some of the forestry workers in Rainforest Flying Squad. “The fundathe video, adding there is “no place for mental laws of our coastal peoples are racism, period.” based in reciprocity and respect for all Hours of operation - 7:00 am - 10:30 pm “How old-growth forests are managed relatives, and consensual relationships. Phone: 724-3944 is an emotional and complex issue,” We honour all past, present and future E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org she said. “Our government is commitgenerations by protecting the integrity of ted to doing things diﬀerently to protect our shared mother earth.” Find us on Facebook
Les Sam Construction
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More housing coming for homeless individuals Indigenous people are prioritized for housing spots, as nearly half of a hotels’ residents identify as Aboriginal By Karly Blats Ha-Shilth-Sa Contributor Victoria, BC - Close to 100 temporary supportive homes for people experiencing homelessness are in the works for Victoria’s Capital City Center Hotel. The Province of BC purchased the hotel, at 1961 Douglas St., through BC Housing and plan to redevelop the site into aﬀordable rental units over the long term. Since April 2020, BC Housing has been leasing 83 of the hotel’s rooms for use as temporary homes for vulnerable people during the COVID-19 pandemic. With this purchase, BC Housing will convert 94 of the of the hotel’s 96 rooms into temporary supportive units. Current residents will remain in the building. The vacant units will be ﬁlled through BC Housing’s Coordinated Access and Assessment (CAA) process, including people living outdoors at Beacon Hill Park. The remaining two units will be used for administrative purposes. Our Place Society, an experienced non-proﬁt operator, has been running the building since October 2020 and will continue to manage it as supportive housing. The society will provide residents with wraparound supports, including meal programs, life skills training and health and wellness services. The site will feature 24/7 staﬃng to provide security to residents of the building and the surrounding neighbourhood. “The purchase of this hotel creates stable housing options now and opportunities for rental housing in the future that will serve people in Victoria for decades,” said David Eby, attorney gen-
Photo submitted by Grant McKenzie of Our Place Society
Close to 100 supportive homes for people experiencing homelessness are in the works at Victoria’s Capital City Center Hotel. eral and minister responsible for housing adjacent lot. in a press release. “Because this hotel In a statement, BC Housing said currently just under half of the current residents is now in public ownership, the almost 100 people who are safely housed with at the former Capital City Center Hotel supports now can breathe a sigh of relief have identiﬁed themselves as Indigenous. “Specialized Indigenous outreach - they won’t have to move at the end of the lease.” workers from several organizations are Included in the purchase is the adjacent supporting people in the hotel, providing them with individualized support to meet parking lot at 722 and 726 Discovery St. Over the long term, BC Housing plans to their needs,” BC Housing said. “This redevelop both the hotel and parking lot includes members of Portland Hotel to create additional rental housing in the Society outreach, Victoria Native Friendship Centre (VFNC), staﬀ from PEERS community. BC Housing will engage the Indigenous outreach and the Aboriginal community when it is ready to redevelop the two sites. Coalition to End Homelessness.” On April 14, the building operator, Our This purchase is part of the commitPlace Society, worked with PEERS to ment between the province and the City of Victoria to move the more than 220 hold a cultural welcoming and drumming event for residents. people living in encampments indoors. “In addition, Our Place Society and BC The province is investing approximately $25 million to purchase the hotel and Housing have set up a meeting with the
local Indigenous Health Network at the end of May,” said BC Housing. “Together, they will work to determine how best to continue to support Indigenous persons living in the hotel.” BC Housing said the assessment process for new residents deﬁnes tenant support needs and outlines barriers to housing such as physical health issues, mental illness or addiction. The assessment includes the history of homelessness over the past several years, such as shelter or encampments, treatment or time in hospital or corrections. “Indigenous applicants have been prioritized for this building through our local CAA process,” said BC Housing. “The other priority group includes individuals aged 55 and over experiencing homelessness and individuals experiencing long-term homelessness with high vulnerability.” According to BC Housing, once settled, supported and stabilized in supportive housing, many people move out to independent subsidized units or market housing, while others stay in supportive homes as part of a long-term solution where they can continue to receive onsite staﬀ support. “I congratulate BC Housing for yet again stepping up to purchase and bring more supportive housing to the Greater Victoria region, something that has been chronically lacking for years,” said Julian Daly, CEO, Our Place Society in a press release. “We know this investment will pay dividends when it comes to giving some of our most vulnerable citizens a place of hope and belonging: a home.”
May 20, 2021—Ha-Shilth-Sa—Page 9
Driver training oﬀered through an Indigenous lens The new All Nations Driving Academy is working to empower First Nations to oﬀer their own driving lessons By Melissa Renwick Local Journalism Initiative Reporter Toﬁno, BC - Lucy Sager grew up along the Highway of Tears in Terrace. The 725-kilometre corridor of highway in British Columbia has been the location of many missing and murdered Indigenous women (MMIW). Driven by a range of factors, including colonization, the disproportionately high number of MMIW is, in part, a result of poverty. Without a driver’s license or access to a vehicle, many First Nations are forced to hitchhike, she said. “The cost of hitchhiking can be your life,” said Sager. “And certainly, I’ve seen that.” After high school, Sager went on to work in construction but struggled to hire First Nations in the surrounding communities. “I would ask chief and council in multiple territories, ‘what is the biggest challenge for your people going to work?’” she said. “And consistently – for ﬁve years – it was driver’s licenses.” The insight prompted Sager to return to school to become a driving instructor and launch the All Nations Driving Academy, which delivers driving courses through an Indigenous lens. “I did this with the intention to support nations to have their own driving schools,” she said. “I was ﬁnding that in Indigenous communities [across B.C.] only ﬁve to 25 per cent of people have a valid driver’s license.” In coordination with Hayden Seitcher of the Tla-o-qui-aht youth warriors, Iris Frank, Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation education manager, and ICBC, Sager hosted a two-week driver training session at the Best Western Plus Tin Wis Resort in Toﬁno. “In community, a lot of the parents don’t have a car of their own,” said Seitcher. “So when [training] like this comes to where you are, it helps a lot … especially
A two-week driver training session was recently hosted at the Best Western Plus Tin Wis Resort in Toﬁno. Mamuk, an Indigenous program run with the L [license] because it’s another through the BC Centre of Disease Conincentive to start studying.” trol, 21 participants from Ka:’yu:’k’t’h’/ Bringing services like driver training to First Nations communities helps “remove Che:k:tles7et’h’, Ahousaht, Tla-o-qui-aht, barriers” for Nuu-chah-nulth people, said Huu-ay-aht and Ucluelet First Nations received Class 7L and Class 4 Student Frank. Courses for free. If you are caught driving without a Since launching the All Nations Drivlicense in B.C., you face a ﬁne between ing Academy over three years ago, Sager $500 and $2,000. A court may also sentence you to six months in jail. If you are has continued to mobilize her eﬀorts by studying a doctorate in social sciences to caught driving while prohibited a second determine the impact of colonization on time, you face a similar ﬁne and a court might sentence you up to one year in jail. driver’s licensing for Indigenous people in Canada. “If you go to jail, then you have a Research on the topic has been studied criminal record,” said Sager. “And if you in New Zealand and Australia, but never have children, your kids go into care. It’s in Canada, she said. actually super serious.” For some, their ﬁrst experience in a car For many coastal communities, not only was when they were being driven away to is travelling to Port Alberni for driving residential school, explained Sager. lessons logistically diﬃcult, it is ﬁnan“There’s a lot of trauma around the car,” cially inaccessible, said Frank. “All services don’t stop in Port Alberni,” she said. The rates of death, hospital admission she said. and injury related to motor vehicle colliThrough funding from ICBC and Chee
sions are twice as high among Indigenous populations than the general Canadian population, according to a 2013 study published in the Canadian Journal of Rural Medicine. Between 1992 and 2006, motor vehicle collisions were the leading cause of death for Indigenous children aged 1 to 4 years old. With a rate of 5.6 per 100,000, it was nearly four times higher than the rate for other B.C. children, according to the 2016 report Where the Rubber Meets the Road: Reducing the Impact of Motor Vehicle Crashes on Health and Well-being in BC. Through exposure therapy, Sager said she hopes to create positive memories for First Nations people so they feel safe in a vehicle. “I want people to feel like they’re safe to move their life forward,” she said. “There’s so many incredible stories like mothers getting reunited with their children and people who have chosen a life of sobriety because now they can be a legal, compliant driver and get a job.” Frank said she hopes the nation continues with the pilot project after debrieﬁng with Seitcher and Sager to determine how they can improve it for Nuu-chah-nulth members going forward. Not only do the courses provide members living in Ty-Histanis or Esowista the ability to complete simple daily duties, such as checking their mail in nearby towns, it gives them another skill set to add to their resume, said Frank. “When people get a driver’s license [they’re] challenging systems,” said Sager. “We’re challenging systems of policing – like justice, corrections and health, because there’s this whole conversation around social mobility. When people start to rise, we’re disrupting how people are also kept down. And I will say it’s rocking the boat, and I think it’s rocking it in a really good way.”
COVID-19 case counts fall among First Nations in B.C. By Melissa Renwick Local Journalism Initiative Reporter Daily new counts of COVID-19 among First Nations in British Columbia continues to fall and is at its lowest level since June 2020. According to the First Nations Health Authority’s (FNHA) latest Community Situation Report, more than 83,400 First Nations people, along with nonIndigenous people living in or near First Nations communities, have received their ﬁrst dose of the COVID-19 vaccine as of May 6, 2021. More than 10,900 have received their second. Mariah Charleson, Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council vice-president, said the decreasing case count is welcome news. “We really thank the guidance of the research that has allowed our people to be a priority,” she said. “We know that we have been hit disproportionately compared to the general population, so it’s been been really good to see [the decline.]” At least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine has been administered to 50 per cent of all status and eligible First Nations people within the province, the report stated. Out of the total 7,005 cases reported, 42.8 per cent were in or near a First Nations’ community, despite 78 per cent of
Indigenous people in British Columbia living oﬀ-reserve, according to the province. “Living in rural and remote [communities] adds to the risk,” said Charleson. “When we enter a lot of our communities, you don’t have to look very hard – there’s overcrowded housing, there’s a lack of essential services. It highlights a much broader issue of the lack of capacity within many of our First Nations communities.” While all 14 Nuu-chah-nulth nations have received their ﬁrst dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, some continue to await their second. Charleson said that FNHA has conﬁrmed they will all receive a second dose within the 16-week period recommended by the National Advisory Committee on Immunization. “But we can’t forget the amount of Nuu-chah-nulth people that live away from home,” she said. “We really urge communities to assist in ensuring that our vulnerable people, and all of our people, are able to receive their ﬁrst and second doses.” With guidance from the Nuuu-chahnulth Tribal Council, the FNHA recently released a Communicable Disease Emergency Response (CDE) Planning Guide and template to help support nations develop their own CDE plan.
Pictured is one of Ahousaht’s immunization sessions in early January, part of the province’s prioritization of remote Indigenous communities. Oﬃcer, Dr. Bonnie Henry, should com“The FNHA acknowledges the impormunities deactivate response activities, tance of community autonomy in choosoutlined the planning guide. ing strategies that work best for the comAs communities continue to keep their munity,” reads the planning guide. “The guard up, recognizing the pandemic is outbreak mitigation resource is a collection of wisdom provided by communities not yet over, Charleson said that the NTC health and nursing team have been during the COVID-19 pandemic, and helping to guide the way by sitting on this resource may prove helpful for other numerous committees, such as the rural communities when faced with a communicable disease and deciding on strategies and remote framework. “[The NTC nurses] are really putting the to best protect elders, knowledge keepers care of our people at the centre of their and community members.” work,” said Charleson. “Klecko-Klecko Only when COVID-19 restrictions to them.” are declared over by Provincial Health
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Systemic errors in managing Nahmint’s old growth Forestry standards are not being met, but logging continues due to legislative gaps, says Forest Practices Board By Eric Plummer Ha-Shilth-Sa Editor Victoria, BC - B.C.’s forestry watchdog has released a report critical of logging practices in the Nahmint valley, pointing to inconsistencies in protecting the area’s old growth forest. On Wednesday, May 12 the Forest Practices Board released its ﬁndings, nearly three years after a complaint from the Ancient Forest Alliance sparked the investigation into old-growth logging in the valley. The independent watchdog found that forestry management standards set by the government were not met in how the Nahmint was handled by BC Timber Sales, a provincial agency responsible for auctioning oﬀ Crown land for harvesting. Covering nearly 20,000 hectares south of Sproat Lake, the Nahmint Valley lies within Nuu-chah-nulth territory, containing old growth forest that includes some of the largest Western red cedar and Douglas ﬁr trees in British Columbia. According to the Vancouver Island Land Use Plan Higher Level Plan Order, the Nahmint is designated as a special Management Zone. The valley is also considered one of the ﬁve “high biodiversity landscape units” in the Vancouver Island plan, a designation that sets particularly high levels of conservation for an unprotected forest. But the forest stewardship plan that BC Timber Sales has been operating under does not adequately protect the Nahmint according to this designation, said Kevin Kriese, chair of the Forest Practices Board.
“BCTS’s FSP did not meet the legal objective, and it should not have been approved” ~ Kevin Kriese, chair of the Forest Practices Board “BCTS’s FSP did not meet the legal objective, and it should not have been approved,” he said. “We looked at the remaining forest in the watershed and found there are some ecosystems that could be at risk if more logging takes place in them.” After a 2019 ﬁeld trip to the Nahmint with the Ancient Forest Alliance, plus dozens of interviews with regional experts and government staﬀ, the Forest Practices Board uncovered a series of systemic errors in how the valley was managed by B.C. Timber Sales. “What we found was that the district manager made an error in approving this forest stewardship plan, even though it was not consistent with the government objectives,” said Kriese. He noted that the necessary level of site-speciﬁc planning was never done, even though the Vancouver Island Land Use Plan prioritized the Nahmint for such a detailed assessment. “More detailed landscape unit planning was supposed to provide clear direction on how much and where to conserve old and mature forest, but that planning was never completed,” said Kriese. “BCTS was left with a complicated set of legal objectives to interpret, and we found it missed important details that are required to manage for biodiversity in the Nahmint.” The investigation began when the An-
Photo by Eric Plummer
This Douglas ﬁr was discovered by the Ancient Forest Alliance in 2018, with dimensions comparable to trees listed on the BC Big Tree Registry. The alliance sent a complaint to the Forest Practices Board about logging activity in the area. factors with undoubtably put demands on cient Forest Alliance discovered enorthe landscape level,” wrote a ministry the old-growth trees within the Nahmint mous trees that were recently cut in the spokesperson. “The updated Landscape valley, where an average of 56 hectares valley, including a few with dimensions Unit Plan will come into eﬀect soon, enhave been harvested a year by BCTS comparable to stands listed on the BC suring biodiversity protection across the since 2003, while another 22 hectares is Big Tree Registry, a public archive of the range of ecosystems in the Nahmint.” typically cut annually by the Tseshaht province’s largest examples of diﬀerent Meanwhile, softwood lumber prices First Nation under its current ﬁve-year species. A disturbed bear den was also have reached records highs, with some license. discovered inside one of the logged old species tripling in value since the begingrowth trees, raising concern that forestry ning of the pandemic. These economic practices in the Nahmint were below provincial standards for the area. “With the Forest Practices Board’s investigation now complete, the evidence is irrefutable: BC Timber Sales are failing to adequately protect old-growth in the Nahmint Valley,” stated Ancient Forest Alliance campaigner Andrea Inness. “This failure exposes the gross inadequacies and lack of accountability that are inherent in BC’s forest system and the need for immediate, systemic change.” But while the watchdog found that provincial standards weren’t met in Nahmint, logging can continue in the valley with no legal ramiﬁcations. This is due to gaps in the Forest and Range Practices Act, a legislative issue that made actions to protect the old growth forest by the Compliance and Enforcement Branch futile. “It later asked BCTS to bring itself into compliance by amending the forest stewardship plan. BCTS stated at the time it was not required to comply with the higher-level plan order because it had an approved FSP,” explained Kriese of the failure in enforcement. “It closed the ﬁle and referred to the ﬁle to the Forest Practices Board.” The FPB has recommended that the province conduct landscape unit planning, and to not sell any more timber in Nahmint’s “high risk ecosystems” until a more speciﬁc assessment of the area is conducted. An answer from the Ministry of Forests is expected by Sept. 15. In an emailed response to Ha-ShilthSa, the ministry did not say logging will cease in the Nahmint’s high risk areas. But some measures are being taken. “[T]he ministry if updating the Nahmint Landscape Unit Plan, adjusting Old Growth Management Areas to better capture rare and underrepresented ecosystems and biodiversity targets at
May 20, 2021—Ha-Shilth-Sa—Page 11
Photo by Eric Plummer
A men’s healing group gathered on May 7 in the Ahousaht village of Maaqutusiis, in the First Nation’s territory on Flores Island.
Going ‘through the ﬁre’ to heal from sexual violence Ahousaht launches a men’s group to help end sexualized violence by confronting locked away, painful issues By Melissa Renwick Local Journalism Initiative Reporter Ahousaht, BC - As Jenzen Thomas sat in a circle with nine other men from Ahousaht First Nation, he thought he was apart of just another support group. Gathered together for the ﬁrst time on May 7, the group’s facilitators explained they would be focusing on exploring pathways to stop sexualized violence in their community. The men sat quietly, nervously looking around at each other, Thomas recalled. But nobody walked away. “It was very powerful,” said Thomas. “I can’t stop praying now. I can’t stop praying for no [more] sexual abuse.” Sexual violence is not only an issue that plagues Ahousaht, but all First Nations communities across Canada, said Tom Paul, Chah Chum Hii Yup Tiic Mis drug and alcohol councillor. It is a learned behaviour that stems from the traumas of colonization and residential schools, he added. After being victimized by sexual abuse in residential schools, Paul said it started a cycle of people victimizing each other. “And then it came into our communities and was passed on,” said Paul. “It’s a vicious cycle that needs to be stopped … we’re so great at talking about what happened to us from the colonizer, but we don’t want to talk about what we’ve [done] to our woman and our children.” Indigenous women are physically assaulted, sexually assaulted, or robbed almost three times as often as nonIndigenous women, according to the 2017 National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls interim report. And yet, “it’s not talked about,” said Paul. Deciding to grab the torch, Paul applied for funding through the Maaqutusiis Hahoulthee Stewardship Society (MHSS) to form a men’s group to address the topic. Through his role as a councillor, he asked those he was already working with to join. Although John Swift, a consultant for Makwag Consulting, came to the table as
a facilitator with over 28 years of experience exploring Indigenous pathways to health and wellness, he said he felt as lost as the other men. In the beginning, the group was “unfocused,” he said. “We were trying to create knowledge around a subject matter that none of us had really discussed as a group before,” he said. “It’s a dark subject and no one wants to talk about it – but it needs to be talked about.” Swift said his involvement was a “cultural responsibility.” It’s not about shaming or blaming, it’s about creating safe space so men can work towards healing. “If we’re not actively working to stop this in our communities, then we’re passively saying that it’s OK,” he said. “As men, we really have to come up with localized strategies of dealing with sexualized violence and provide safe, nonjudgemental, empathetic spaces where men can unpack this stuﬀ.” Over three days, the group of men participated in talking circles, sweat lodge ceremonies and cold-water bathing, called oosimtch, at the Aauunuuk Lodge, in their traditional territory on Flores Island. “[They] decided to align and start working on this from a community-based level,” said Swift. “There is magic that happens when you work with culture.” Each morning at 6 a.m., the men went down to the beach to plunge into the ocean and pray to the creator. “Watch over our people,” Thomas would ask. “Watch over our ladies – our wives, our sisters, our mothers, our grandmothers and granddaughters – they’re our world. They carried us for nine months.” For Ahousaht First Nation hereditary chief, Richard George, whose traditional name is Hasheukumiss, the men’s retreat signals real progress and is the “only way to move forward as a community and as a village.” “This is a real ongoing issue,” he said “This has been going on for decades … there’s no better place to [confront] it then right at home.” Acknowledging the importance of the
Tom Paul #MeToo Movement, Hasheukumiss said that MHSS is committed to oﬀering continued ﬁnancial support towards Paul’s eﬀorts. When Paul invited Alphonse Little to participate, the 56-year-old considered it another opportunity to continue on his own path toward healing. “I just knew it was cultural, so I was game,” he said. Little’s journey began one year ago when his wife, Sherri, pleaded with Ahousaht First Nation elected councillor Curtis Dick to get him into a six-week men’s cultural retreat at Mahtsquiat, on Meares Island. At the time, Little was heavily drinking and using drugs. Sherri feared for his life. While his trauma hasn’t simply vanished, he said he now has tools to deal with it and recently celebrated one year of sobriety. “I’ve never been more proud of myself,” he said. “I can look in the mirror now and say ‘I love you.’ I couldn’t say that before.” Little said he turned to the bottle as a coping mechanism, unable to face the abuse and violence he suﬀered as a child. “I still have tough times,” he said. “But I talk about it now, whereas before I didn’t want to talk about it – I drank.” Sexualized violence tends to hide be-
hind closed doors, he said. “It’s happening more than people like to say it does,” said Little. “And It needs to be addressed … it’s a subject that a lot of people are hurting from.” Only when you’re honest with yourself and confront your past are you able to “begin letting stuﬀ go,” said Little. “If you hold on to something, it’s going to haunt you,” he added. “Put it out there and leave it out there.” Accountability is built when you hold sexualized violence out in the light and let everybody gather around it, said Swift. Because it’s no longer a secret, he added. Like Little, Billy George has been on a spiritual journey of his own for the past eight months. “[The men’s group] is a place where someone can go and feel safe and be open about anything that’s happened to them in their life,” he said. “To see and hear stories that you normally don’t hear men talking about is something that really gave me strength and helps me to move forward.” Near the end of the retreat which coincided with Mother’s Day, the group appointed Thomas as the leader and gifted him a drum. If he got tired, the group assured him he could hand the drum oﬀ to another member. It’s the ﬁrst drum Thomas had ever been gifted, which was a “real honour,” he said. He was also tasked with naming the group and designing the drum. The word “transforming” comes to mind, he said. “Transforming from hurt to love.” As a community, Ahousaht had to start somewhere, said Paul. And while the weekend marked a necessary ﬁrst-step, it’s only the beginning. Paul is now planning a second men’s retreat. He has been individually asking men to participate and already has ten lined-up. Once he has the funding secured, it will run over another weekend in Ahousaht. “In order to heal, we need to go through the ﬁre,” he said. “We need to go through that pain so that these vicious cycles break.”
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Red Dress Day marked in solemn ceremony May 5 gathering was one of many in Canada recognizing Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls By Denise Titian Ha-Shilth-Sa Reporter Sutton Pass, BC – A carved wooden sign at Sutton Pass summit marks the entrance to Tla-o-qui-aht territory. That is where a small group of people gathered to remember Nuu-chah-nulth loved ones that are missing or were murdered in an event organized by Nora Martin of Tla-oqui-aht. May 5 is recognized across Canada as a national day of awareness for missing and/or murdered Indigenous women and girls. Also known as Red Dress Day, individuals across the country hang red dresses in highly visible places to draw attention to the disproportionate number of missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls, trans and two-spirit individuals in Canada. On May 5 Aboriginal groups and their supporters across Canada are promoting awareness of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls. The Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) has documented 582 cases since the 1960s, but says there are likely many more. The people of Tla-o-qui-aht remember eight of their members that are missing or were murdered in recent years. “That is a lot for our nation,” said organizer, Nora Martin. Martin is a health liaison worker for her nation, but she also volunteers her time to support grieving community members, organizing public events like the red dress gathering that took place on Sutton Pass on the morning of May 5. When she began planning the event more than three weeks earlier she wasn’t aware that the road would be closed for the day due to a highway construction project. That meant that there was no passing traﬃc to see the colourful signs and dresses that were on display. But it made for a quiet and solemn event as family remembered their loved ones taken too soon. A brisk mountain breeze kept the red dresses, hung in trees, ﬂuttering above a bed of wild bleeding-hearts. A cleansing ceremony and prayer was performed by Josie Johnston and her son before John Lucas oﬀered a prayer. It
Photo by Denises Titian
The May 5 gathering by Highway 4 at Sutton Pass was one of many held across Canada in recognition of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. was Lucas’ step son, Julian Jones, that “Our people are angry…frustrated,” said nobody cares no matter what we do,” said was shot by police at his family home in Martin. Martin. Opitsaht earlier this year. She said TFN elder Rose Tom lost her Of the police shooting death of Julian Following the highway-side ceremony, son several years ago in Toﬁno’s RCMP Jones in Opitsaht earlier this year, Martin rd the event was moved to Port Alberni’s 3 cells. Back then, recommendations were said people are now afraid to call the poAvenue, where the people marched with made to prevent things like that from lice. She said people now feel fear when their banners, signs and red dresses. Mar- happening again but, according to Marthe RCMP are in their communities. tin said they would be joined by people tin, none of the recommendations were NTC Vice-President Mariah Charleson of Tseshaht and Yuułuʔiłʔatḥ and would implemented. spoke at the gathering. She said that wind up their event at the Walmart parkDespite her own personal loss, Martin Canada is, in fact, a place where genocide ing lot on Johnston Road. helps others. persists against Indigenous people. She Martin said it is her hope that her people “I write letters on their behalf,” she told the people that, together, we will be a will form a society. One of her goals is shared. Of the dozens of letters written big part of change in the country. to make a quilt featuring the faces of lost to politicians, she says she’s only ever TFN Councilor Corine Ortiz-Castro Nuu-chah-nulth loved ones. received two responses. (Martin) spoke on behalf of council, vow“I hope it can be used as an educational “It’s like we don’t matter…who cares? ing to stand together with the grieving tool in the future,” said Martin. So, what?” families and to be a voice for their lost Martin is always there to lend a hand She referred to a recent boat incident loved ones. when it comes to the MMIWG movewhere two Ahousaht elders drifted for The gathering ended with a self-comment. It has been nearly a year since her about three hours before they were resposed healing song performed by Eugene grandniece, Chantel Moore, was shot by cued by Tla-o-qui-aht men after the Coast Antoine of Tla-o-qui-aht. police in a wellness check in New Bruns- Guard failed to respond. wick and the family still has no answers. “It’s like Eddie and them on the ocean,
Phrase of the week: Wa>ši>%is%a> hisit / mii%a+ mi+šay%a+qu Pronounced Walth silth ish alth His it / mi alth Milth sha alt koo, it means ‘The salmon come home when the rains come.’. Supplied by ciisma.
Illustration by Ivy Cargill-Martin
May 20, 2021—Ha-Shilth-Sa—Page 13
Chims Guest House named ﬁnalist for award Real estate board recognizes business for $400,000 in improvements undertaken during COVID-19 restrictions By Sam Laskaris Ha-Shilth-Sa Contributor Port Alberni, BC – Though the COVID-19 pandemic has had a signiﬁcant impact on its operations, Chims Guest House has received some prestigious recognition. The Port Alberni business, which was opened in July of 2018 by Tseshaht First Nation member Naomi Nicholson, was a ﬁnalist this year in the Vancouver Island Real Estate Board (VIREB) annual commercial business awards. This marked the 14th year of the VIREB awards, which were held virtually this year. Winners were announced on May 7. A total of 45 projects were nominated for the awards this year. They were vying for top honours in 11 categories. Chims Guest House was one of ﬁve ﬁnalists in the Hospitality category. The winner in this category was Toﬁno’s Hotel Zed. “It’s a really big deal,” Nicholson said of the awards. She added simply being a nominee is great recognition. Chims Guest House was the only Port Alberni business nominated in any of the categories. “These projects are huge,” Nicholson said of some of the other award nominees. Nicholson’s husband Ed became a partner in the business this past November. She believes the fact Chims was a ﬁnalist in its category is also signiﬁcant as she believes the Nicholsons are the only Indigenous couple operating a business together that was nominated for an award. The VIREB awards celebrate the best commercial, community and industrial buildings north of the Malahat. In order to be eligible for the 2020 awards, nominees were required to have upgrades at their facilities done between January 1
Photo by Darren Chaisson/Chaisson Creative
Naomi and Ed Nicholson are the owners/operators of Chims Guest House in Port Alberni. few years and faced many tribulations and December 31 of last year. along the way,” Nicholson said. “Small Though she obviously would have preferred to have Chims Guest House win its businesses face diﬀerent challenges comcategory, Nicholson said she was pleased pared to corporations, so this recognition for our million-dollar investment to the once she found out who did win. Alberni Valley means a lot.” “I’ve met the lady from Hotel Zed and Before renovations took place, Chims she’s wonderful,” Nicholson said. “She’s Guest House consisted of a 550-square all about building up other women.” Nicholson was nominated for the award foot facility, which oﬀered Indigenousthemed experiences to visitors, some by family friend Brittany Larsen, who coming from out of province. owns and operates Ability Wealth ManBecause of the pandemic, however, agement in Port Alberni. Chims shut down in March of 2020 and Nicholson said Chims’ recent renovations have surpassed the $400,000 ﬁgure. was closed for six months. The renovation project was dubbed IsolaIt reopened last September but only to tion Vacations. individual locals who stayed on short“We have worked really hard the past term (at least 30 days) rental agreements.
Chims’ renovations included adding a second 400-square foot guest house. That opened in February this year, again available only to locals on a short-term rental deal. Chims also added three RV sites to its facility. Current renovations at Chims, located on Highway 4, are in their ﬁnal phase now. Nicholson said paving and drainage work is now being done and gates are also being installed. “Hopefully by July everything will be totally done,” Nicholson said. To be eligible for the VIREB awards a business had to be an investment, commercial or industrial building or a renovation project on Vancouver Island, from the top of the Malahat to the island’s northern tip. The criteria the businesses were judged on included how it complements the surrounding areas and properties, its environmental footprint, whether it has unique features, whether it is aesthetically pleasing and if there is a need for it in the community. Besides using their own money, the Nicholsons managed to pay their renovation expenses through various grants and loans, including some federal funding. The couple also received funding via the Nuu-chah-nulth Economic Development Corp, Indigenous Tourism BC and the Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada. They are proud of the fact that 11 local businesses provided some services and materials to their renovations. No doubt these Port Alberni businesses were grateful for the local work since the pandemic greatly aﬀected their operations during the past year. Nicholson believes all of those who helped out with the renovations also deserve recognition and should share attention generated from Chims’ VIREB nomination.
Indigenous Tourism Association faces insolvency By Sam Laskaris Ha-Shilth-Sa Contributor Port Alberni, BC – As the COVID-19 pandemic was dragging on in 2020 and the situation was looking bleak for her Indigenous tourism business, Naomi Nicholson knew one place she could count on for support. Nicholson, who owns and operates Chims Guest House in Port Alberni with her husband Ed, was fortunate to receive a $25,000 grant last year from the Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada (ITAC) to help keep her business aﬂoat. Because of pandemic restrictions, Chims closed in March of 2020 and did not reopen until this past September. The ITAC grant, however, was a welcome relief for Nicholson since the Chims closing meant she had no revenue coming in from her business. Nicholson is disappointed to hear that ITAC might not be around much longer. Shortly after details of last month’s federal budget were announced, ITAC oﬃcials announced they were close to insolvency, which would no doubt severely damage the Indigenous tourism industry across the country. Nicholson said it would be extremely disappointing if ITAC was no longer able to operate. “To me it would mean that the government has won,” she said. “Unfortunately,
it would silence a voice.” ITAC oﬃcials had received $16 million in federal funding in 2020. With that money the association was then able to provide $25,000 worth of grants each to 683 Indigenous tourism businesses across Canada. ITAC had requested a further $18.3 million in federal assistance. But when the federal budget was released in April, Indigenous Services Canada recommended that just $2.4 million be allocated to ITAC. “It’s really devastating,” said ITAC’s CEO and president Keith Henry about the fact his association could indeed be shut down soon. “We have to be responsible legally. As of June 1, we can’t make any payments to anyone.” This could be devastating news to Indigenous tourism businesses across Canada. Many operators have been reeling since the start of the pandemic, since they have been unable to open their doors and have been forced to run at less than capacity. “I don’t know how we got here,” Henry said. “I hope it will turn around. I can’t believe it. We’re all in shock. We have to follow legal steps. We have been driven into insolvency.” ITAC oﬃcials, however, continue their lobbying eﬀorts to secure more federal funding. Nicholson said the demise of ITAC would be immense not just for her but for
Keith Henry other Nuu-chah-nulth tourism operators and as well as for businesses across the country. “Canada would not be able to showcase all it can Indigenous-wise,” she said. Prior to the pandemic, there were about 1,900 Indigenous tourism businesses across the country. Henry said almost 60 per cent of those are now closed. And he had no way of telling how many of those businesses were closed permanently or whether they were simply waiting for the end of the pandemic to possibly reopen. Nicholson believes many more Indigenous tourism businesses will cease their operations if ITAC is no longer around. “I think a lot of us would close up shop
because the traﬃc ITAC generates is huge,” she said. Nicholson believes some small businesses would try their best to remain aﬂoat. And they would continue to advertise their services as best they could. But Nicholson feels any type of advertising that is generated would not be able to come close to equaling the impact an ITAC promotion on any business would have. “People will try but they will have a tough time,” Nicholson said. “They might have a tough time trusting me, but if ITAC mentions my business more people would listen to that.” No doubt some Nuu-chah-nulth businesses were hoping for some more ﬁnancial assistance from ITAC in 2021. Nicholson said businesses will not just suﬀer ﬁnancially if they do not get any support from ITAC. “They’re going to lose the whole package of other services ITAC provides like marketing and media,” she said. “ITAC is not just about grants. They help you with your (administrative) paperwork and other things like marketing and media.” One federal politician that Henry does have a lot of praise for is Gord Johns, the MP for Courtenay-Alberni. “He has been a leader and trying to champion Indigenous tourism businesses, not only in Nuu-chah-nulth territory but all of Canada,” Henry said.
Page 14— Ha-Shilth-Sa—May 20, 2021
Nazko celebrates chinook release at Big Bar Slide A permanent $176-million ﬁshway is not ready for 2021 returns, part of the struggle to ‘recover the wildness’ By Mike Youds Ha-Shilth-Sa Contributor A Dakelh blessing celebrated spring release of 15,300 chinook fry into the Blackwater River as part of emergency enhancement measures to oﬀset Big Bar Slide impacts. “We think it’s important of the community to do the ceremony in celebration of our culture, traditions and teachings to keep them alive, but also to give prayers to the ancestors to help guide these ﬁsh back to the ocean and back to us,” said Chief Leah Stump of Nazko First Nation after taking part in the April 27 ceremony. Delicate, silvery slivers a few centimetres in length, the fry imprint their freshwater habitat as they drift downstream to the Fraser River, forming their essential nature, an uncanny ability to return years later to the same river to spawn. Instinct aside, these ﬁsh will need all the help they can get to begin rebuilding a food source critical to the Dakehl and other Interior First Nations. Spring 2021 is shaping up to be another nail-biter for salmon passage at Big Bar. “From my perspective, we’re still really dealing with the Big Bar Slide and response,” said Gord Sterritt, executive director of the Upper Fraser Fisheries Conservation Alliance. “We know the ﬁsh are more impacted in the Upper Fraser due to high water early in the season. These enhancement eﬀorts are trying to address it in the short term.” The Blackwater release is part of a larger program involving 101,000 fry and a dozen Upper Fraser watersheds. They are important for long-term rebuilding of Fraser chinook, already threatened prior to the 2019 slide, yet they are also a stop-gap to gain some measure of mitigation as work continues on a $176-million permanent ﬁshway at Big Bar, Sterritt explained. Construction began last winter. “We’re still proceeding with construction of permanent passage, but we’ll not have that ready for this year’s migration, which starts, basically, now,” said Michael Crowe, manager of biological programs with the slide response team. As an interim measure, contractor Kiewit & Sons constructed another “nature-like” ﬁshway at the barrier. “We have hope and conﬁdence it will operate at a higher rate of ﬂow,” Crowe said. The slide response team, including First Nations, DFO and had to continually revise their plans based on emerging challenges since the slide. The Fraser’s mighty spring freshet is the wild card. Last year, there were 100- and 200-year ﬂoods in the Chilco and Blackwater watersheds, Sterritt noted. Then there was the Fraser freshet, intense and sustained, another hurdle for chinook and slide response measures. This year, there remains a lot of snow in some Fraser drainages. The average snowpack provincewide as of May 1 was only slightly above normal. Higher than average snowpack persists in northern B.C., including the Upper Fraser, according to B.C. River Forecast Centre. For migrating chinook and early Stuart Sockeye reaching the slide in coming weeks, much depends on the weather. Chinook stocks most at risk are those that arrive at Big Bar from mid-May to July. Spring ﬁve-year-olds arrive at peak freshet, making them most vulnerable. “With the early-timed stocks, we’re trying to protect their genetic diversity and protect them, as a population potentially
Photos submitted by DFO
Chief Leah Stump (above) of Nazko First Nation releases chinook fry into the Blackwater River, a tributary of the Fraser River, south of Prince George. A permanent ﬁshway (below) is under construction at Big Bar. becoming extinct or extirpated because of the challenges they face,” Sterritt said. Chinook fry released this spring were reared from brood stock collected last year below the slide. Gitksan, Sta’t’imc, Secwpemc and Sylx crews led ﬁsh wheel operations and transported ﬁsh collected at the slide site by truck to the a holding facility at French Bar Creek. This was critical to capture of salmon for radio tagging, emergency enhancement and upstream release. By mid-August, Indigenous crews moved more than 1,500 salmon over the slide, capturing approximately 90 per cent of early-timed chinook and Early Stuart sockeye needed for the enhancement plan. Eggs and milt were then collected from these adults, as well as from those from the natal streams. The eggs and milt were then transferred to Quesnel River Research Centre for fertilization and incubation to eyed stage. In early fall 2020, the ﬁsh can get by the barrier, but it all Big Bar as “devastating.” A teacher by some of the eyed eggs were relocated to depends on the environmental conditions profession, she is concerned about passSpius Creek and Chehalis River hatchering down knowledge to children. Her … If we can get back to a normal year or ies. husband is a councillor of ?Esdilagh First things similar to normal, we should see Sterritt and Crowe said every eﬀort Nation, smallest of six Tsilhoqo’tin nagreater passage.” was made to genetically match brood tions. If not, they will continue to trap and stock with streams of origin hundreds of “Their people really rely on salmon. A transport. kilometres upriver. If there was low conUntil the permanent ﬁshway passes its lot of their summer is spent harvesting ﬁdence in a match, the ﬁsh were released. ﬁrst test next spring, every emergency and preparing salmon for winter and proIf they couldn’t form a matching pair, the measure plays a part. Until then the viding our family with ﬁsh,” she said. salmon were released. The fry release at least gives them hope barrier remains, not only to ﬁsh but to tra“Obviously, there was some uncertainty, ditional ways of life. “that our salmon can survive.” and it may not be a distinct population Chief Stump described the impact of but part of the same genetic unit,” Sterritt said. “I’d say, we can’t calculate very accurately, but it’s not a massive diﬀerence,” Crowe said. “Enhancement is still an opportunity to recover the wildness.” Last spring, the slide response team was testing another stop-gap measure, a pneumatic ﬁsh pump trade named Whooshh. The system has been sidelined this season. “It did work, but there were challenges,” Crowe said. “It worked as a high-water backup, but site constraints made it very diﬃcult to use eﬀectively.” In its place, a holding area used to corral ﬁsh for Whooshh passage was modiﬁed for beach seining and truck transport of ﬁsh around the slide. Much depends on spring conditions, Sterritt said. “How conﬁdent am I? I’m conﬁdent
May 20, 2021—Ha-Shilth-Sa—Page 15
Fuel recovery next in Nootka Sound spill response New patches on the shipwreck are ‘not a permanent ﬁx’, as oil continues to leak from a depth too deep for divers to access By Mike Youds Ha-Shilth-Sa Contributor Nootka Sound, BC - A marine salvage contractor has patched a sunken freighter leaking fuel in Nootka Sound and identiﬁed next steps in a complicated deepwater spill response. Despite this — and the gift of good weather — operations to stop fuel leaking from the 1968 wreck are far from over, said Gillian Oliver, Coast Guard incident commander. Resolve Marine Group placed patches on the hull of the MV Schiedyk in late April using a remotely operated vehicle (ROV), six months after fuel sheening was observed on waters oﬀ Bligh Island. The Florida-based ﬁrm, specialized in complex emergency salvage and response, was contracted by DFO/Coast Guard in March to survey the wreck and complete a technical assessment. Those tasks were completed in a couple of weeks. A uniﬁed command — Canadian Coast Guard, Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy and Mowachaht/Muchalaht First Nation (MMFN) — awaits the assessment report. “I’ve got to admit I was surprised as well that it went that smoothly,” said Gillian Oliver, a Coast Guard incident commander. The patches, applied by an ROV descending from the deck of oﬀshore supply vessel Atlantic Condor, have slowed but not stopped the spill. Bunker C oil and diesel continue to well to the surface of Zuciarte Channel, close to the shore of the island, a marine provincial park in Mowachaht/Muchalaht territory. An 11-metre-long gash in the starboard hull was the most serious breach found. A “submar mat,” a thick rubber mat about 15 metres long and ﬁve metres wide, had to be sunk hundreds of metres to begin the patching. “Just the logistics of that were pretty complicated,” Oliver said. Once the mat was on the hull, a rareearth magnet (rare-earth magnets are the strongest permanent magnets) was applied. Sandbags were laid around the perimeter to reinforce the seal. After that, block-shaped, cement-ﬁlled
Photo from Uniﬁed Command Information Site
Oil containment booms have been set up to protect the shoreline of Bligh Island in Nootka Sound. mattresses weighing 1,500 kilograms the types of fuel product will help inform upwelling of oil continue to challenge were lowered into place to conform to the next steps in removal. in-ﬁeld operations,” notes a May 11 situthe shape of the hull while securing the Despite what some observers may ation report at spillresponsebc.ca. patch. Each stage of the operation had to think, it was not possible to speed up the After sliding oﬀ the reef, Schiedyk sits follow a strict timeline according to maresponse, Oliver said. at a depth of roughly 120 metres, too rine conditions. Keeping it on track was “I don’t think it could have been done deep for divers, and the deepest of three tricky, Oliver said. any sooner,” she said. Following the set wreck cleanups undertaken by the Coast She said the wreck is quite “banged up” process helps ensure a smooth operation Guard in recent years. That should not over an extensive area of the hull. Over and successful outcome, she suggested. make recovery of fuel any more diﬃcult, time, the freighter appears to have rolled “You want to make sure you don’t end up Oliver said. on its port side and slid deeper into the with something worse. Going at it step by “It’s really about heating up the fuel channel. Seepage has been halved by the step is really the best approach.” product so that it has the viscosity to patching, but spill response crews continWatching from above, aboard Atlanpump it out,” she said. ue to work at containing fuel to prevent tic Condor, the slow-motion pace of Once the technical assessment is refurther contamination of area beaches. So underwater operations is an exercise in ceived, they plan to return to the wreck in far, the patches appear to be holding. patience. a few weeks to start the next phase. “We patched it up, but we know the oil “Sitting up on the vessel with the ROV “We’re going to get back down there will ﬁnd another way out,” Oliver said. trying to manoeuvre 1,000-pound matas soon as possible … I would say it’s go“We have been able to slow down the oil, tresses, you just want to reach in and do it ing as well as can be expected given the but it’s not a permanent ﬁx. We need to yourself,” Oliver commented. “Working complexity of it,” Oliver said. ﬁgure out how to get that oil in the next at this steadily for ﬁve months, people are As of May 5, more than 37,000 kilophase and recover diesel and heavy fuel tired for sure.” grams of surface oil had been recovered. oil in the tanks.” They were lucky to have favourable Observed wildlife impacts have been Part of Resolve Marine Group’s role weather during slack-tide periods when relatively few — just one sea otter and 14 was to determine the location of multiple the ROV was in use, while at other times mew gulls are listed as “impacted” — defuel tanks aboard the Schiedyk, drill into conditions dictate the schedule. spite the abundance of marine mammals, the tanks and recover samples. Knowing “Weather, remoteness and a consistent seabirds and ﬁsh in the sound.
School District 70 showcases Spring Festival online
Photos by Eric Plummer
A poster made by Grade 2 and 3 students was selected to promote the 2021 Spring Festival. Pictured are Trey Kyte (left), Liam Horbatch, Sybil Purwins and Macen Avery, with A.W. Neill Principal Darrin Olson and Richard Samuel, a cultural development supervisor with the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council.
Under the concept that nature and people are one, while everyone is connected through the natural world, a poster made by Grade 5 and 6 students was chosen to promote the First Nations Spring Festival. Pictured from left to right are Azlynn Keinas, Samantha Blakey and Kyra Papove, with Richard Samuel, a cultural development supervisor with the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council, and A.W. Neill Principal Darrin Olson.
Page 16— Ha-Shilth-Sa—May 20, 2021
President’s message to Nuu-chah-nulth-aht Sending greetings to all our Nuu-chahnulth-aht wherever you may live. There have been tragic losses in our communities with the police shootings and a couple murders. My deepest sympathies to all those who have been impacted by these events and to all those who have lost their dear ones in other ways. Sad to see how many losses we have suﬀered in the past month. On May 8th, shots rang out on the Hitacu reserve. Shocking sounds for our quiet communities. One of our Nuuchah-nulth ladies was shot by police and is in the hospital recovering from the force of those bullets. On the same day. A murder victim was identiﬁed as a Nuu-chah-nulth man. Mariah Charleson and I are doing everything we can to ensure police investigations are carried out properly and we are working with our policing committee to prevent further shootings of our Nuuchah-nulth people. We are going through de-escalation training to see if it is suﬃcient. When our members are being shot multiple times, we know this is an issue. We also are working to put together our own cultural training for police so they value and understand us as a people. We continue to ask for trauma-informed teams to go into situations ﬁrst where that could be an issue. Oﬃcers apparently get some training but we do not think it is enough considering what has happened. We are raising this issue politically as this is important for the public to know about and to help change things so our people can have justice. We know we will have achieved positive changes when there are no more shootings of our people. Our policing committee met with the RCMP to review these issues and we heard about their processes for de-escalating situations. We will need to hear more on this issue as we need to understand how things work and what recommendations we can make for positive change. I have been doing a lot of work this week raising issues with the media, and meeting with other First Nations organizations and people to help us as look to formulate an MOU with RCMP. I also checked in again with the deputy commissioner for the RCMP to ensure they are still committed to working with us to resolve these big issues. There will be an MOU with Nuu-chah-nulth and each nation can enter into one that will set out how RCMP enter the reserve and who to call before coming on the reserve. There is a lot of work to do in justice. Nuu-chah-nulth have been asking for the use of body cams on oﬃcers. It would be an independent source to witness what happens in the situations we have been involved with. The deputy commissioner informed us that the body cams are on their way to B.C. and will be distributed to various detachments. Not every detachment will get them, but we have been assured that at least one detachment in our territories will have one, though we are hoping for more. We are working with our health team and SFU to put together some research on COVID and its vaccines. How has COVID and the vaccine aﬀected our people? Has it been helpful? We will be coming back to inform you more on how you can help with this research. We need to know as much as we can about the virus and the vaccines so that we know how to be prepared if there are more viruses that will impact us as well.
Health has become a very important subject and we need to increase our jurisdiction over health to make decisions about our health as well as get the data we need to make good decisions for all our people. We are pursuing these issues. Red Dress Day was on May the 5th, a day to remember and honour those murdered and missing women and girls, hold the government to account and implement the recommendations of that report. I began that day in an early morning TV news show to talk about why this day is important to us and continued through the day to promote the need for action. Mariah and I had a chat with Minister Marc Miller, ISC, and we talked about the budget this year, what was in it for Nuu-chah-nulth, but most importantly, where we needed to have more money for various services for your communities. The minister wanted to point out there was money for working towards our own peacekeeping forces – this would be good so we wouldn’t have to use the RCMP and we could do our security within our own ways and values. On the ﬁsheries front, we are still working with the Haida, Quatsino and Pacheedaht in order to put a management board in place for the Marine Protected area that Canada is trying to put in place under the Oceans Protection Act oﬀ of the west coast. We will be looking for names for some of the sea mounts out in Nuu-chah-nulth waters and again, our communities will be coming to you for help in naming these sea mounts. All of our nations are working towards a working relationship, including management in this large oﬀshore area. Graduation is coming up for our students both in secondary and postsecondary. While we cannot do the kinds of celebrations we would like to do, we encourage families to hold up their grads and do small family gatherings to congratulate them. Graduation is hard won as COVID has set up many challenges for our students and I congratulate all of them sincerely. They have accomplished a big thing. On June 4th, it will be a year since Chantel Martin was shot and killed by a police oﬃcer in Edmundston, New Brunswick. The family has not seen the report of the independent investigative team or even the coroner’s report. Martha Martin wants to do a Facebook event to mark the year and demand justice for Chantel. We hope to do a small event in Port Alberni, Toﬁno, Victoria and New Brunswick. Keep your eyes open for announcements on these events. Wishing you all to be healthy, safe and staying strong in our ways. -Kekinusuqs Judith Sayers
Marion Crowe is the chief executive oﬃcer for the First Nations Health Managers Association, which hosts weekly virtual town halls to bring Indigenous communities across Canada together.
Public meetings tackle COVID vaccine hesitancy By Melissa Renwick Local Journalism Initiative Reporter When Canada went into lockdown last March to combat COVID-19, the First Nations Health Managers Association (FNMHA) knew they needed to get information out, and fast. “There’s been such a barrage of information coming out, especially as the science evolves and changes,” said Marion Crowe, FNMHA chief executive oﬃcer. “We wanted to be able to [create] a central place to gather together where [viewers] could go and see people from diﬀerent nations – people that look like us, sound like us, laugh like us.” Rising to the challenge, they launched a weekly one-hour virtual town hall and recently celebrated the release of their 40th episode. The series features guest speakers such as Dr. Evan Adams, deputy chief medical oﬃcer for Indigenous Services Canada, Carol Hopkins, the executive director of the Thunderbird Partnership Foundation, and Dr. Brenda Restoule, the chief executive oﬃcer of the First Peoples Wellness Circle. Crowe said she is grateful for the regional discussions that are happening around COVID-19, but creating a national dialogue among Indigenous people across Canada allows communities to pool their information and learn from each other. Covering topics such vaccinations, by looking at the side eﬀects and breaking down each of the authorized vaccines, Crowe said she wants to provide Indigenous communities with reliable information so they can make informed decisions about how they want to proceed. “[The vaccine] is something only First Nations people can understand in terms of that reluctance,” she said. “There’s the historical mistrust between government and First Nations.” Some First Nations people are questioning being prioritized and are hesitant to receive the vaccine because of the federal government’s history of experimenting on Indigenous people, said Crowe. “My father was one of those people,” she said. “I get why there’s a concern.” A recent paper published by the Canadian Medical Association journal highlights medical experimentation and the roots of COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy among Indigenous people. Historian Maureen Lux documented
multiple instances of medical experimentation on Indigenous people, including a 12-year trial of an experimental vaccine for tuberculosis on Cree and Nakoda Oyadebi infants in Saskatchewan during the 1930s and 1940s, reads the paper. “A whole range of experimental surgical and drug treatments were also administered to Indigenous patients, without their consent, within Canada’s racially segregated system of Indian Hospitals during the early postwar years,” the paper continued. By coming together collectively to talk about the science and approaching it through an Indigenous lens, Crowe said that Western medicine can be weaved into traditional approaches. “Bring in the sweet grass, the sage, all of our [traditional medicine] and mix it with that Western needle,” she said. “It’s just that enhanced layer of protecting me, you and the others that are around.” Viewers and listeners are encouraged to send in their questions to fnhma@ ihtoday.ca. “If somebody is feeling uncomfortable calling Telehealth Ontario, for example, or going to their health centre because their auntie works there, and has a medical question, [they] can get them in facelessly and beneﬁt others asking those questions too,” said Crowe. Instead of telling listeners to stay sixfeet apart, Crowe opts for descriptions like staying a “moose-length apart.” “We are cautious about how we share the messages,” she said. “We’re talking about them in a culturally appropriate way … making it real and relevant to how [Indigenous people] look at things.” As of Friday, April 30, Crowe said that 370,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered to Indigenous people in Canada living on-reserve. Of those, 170,000 were second doses. The weekly town halls that average around 10,000 viewers are planned to continue until the end of June, at which point Crowe said she hopes they will no longer be needed. Although she loves hearing from guest speakers and interacting with community members, Crowe said she looks forward to the day when we are ready to move beyond COVID-19 as a society. Until then, Crowe said the weekly town hall continues to be the “one thing that is positive in all of the darkness surrounding COVID-19.”
May 20, 2021—Ha-Shilth-Sa—Page 17
Photo by Eric Plummer
The BC Wildﬁre Service isn’t predicting a season like what Vancouver Island residents saw in the summer of 2018, when lightning and human activity ignited forest ﬁres across the region. Pictured is the response to the Arbutus Ridge ﬁre in Tsehshaht territory near Port Alberni in August 2018.
Island’s wildﬁre season predicted to be ‘normal’ By Denise Titian Ha-Shilth-Sa Reporter British Columbia – Even though there have been 156 recorded wildﬁres in the province up until May 4, the BC Wildﬁre Service say they expect the 2021 Vancouver Island wildﬁre season to be average. Even though there have been 156 recorded wildﬁres in the province up until May 4, the BC Wildﬁre Service say they expect the 2021 Vancouver Island wildﬁre season to be average. “On a 10-year average, the Coastal Fire Centre has about 198 ﬁres per year. Of those 198 ﬁres, 129 of them are human caused, and 69 are lighting caused,” said Donna MacPherson of the Coast Fire Centre. She went on to tell Ha-Shilth-Sa that she doesn’t have statistics solely for Vancouver Island, however, the Coastal Fire Service has a website that shows historical wildﬁres up to 2020. MacPherson said that the 2020 wildﬁre season for Vancouver Island was not as bad as it could have been for a couple of reasons. She noted that while summer 2020 was hot, it was tempered by periods of rain that rehydrated the forests. “Second, people weren’t moving around like they did in the past,” she added. In addition, the BC Wildﬁre Service was more aggressive with ﬁres than in previous years, said MacPherson. They plan to take the same aggressive approach this year. The 2020 season in British Columbia, according to the BC Wildﬁre Service, recorded 637 ﬁres burning just over 15,000 hectares of land between April 1 and Oct. 1, 2020. “Over the past 10 years, on average, 1,356 wildﬁres have occurred and 347,104 hectares have burned over a full ﬁre season,” they say. Information from Environment Canada indicates that the southern portion of the province was drier and warmer than normal for the month of April 2021. Parts of Vancouver Island, including Victoria, Nanaimo and Campbell River, all had signiﬁcantly less precipitation during the month of April. Victoria, for example,
normally gets 47.9 millimetres of precipitation in April but only got 19.9 last month. Campbell River normally gets 92.1 millimetres of precipitation but only recorded 23.2 in April 2021. MacPherson reported that, so far, the biggest ﬁre on Vancouver Island is under control. It started in a “dead block” in steep terrain near Gold River. “Since the beginning of February, the southern half of the province has seen signiﬁcantly drier conditions when compared to the historical average,” stated the BC Wildﬁre Service. They are more concerned about the Kelowna, Vernon and Cranbrook regions, which have had less than half of their normal amount of precipitation. The BC Wildﬁre Service is preparing for the season by implementing COVID safety precautions for their ﬁre crews. Personnel will not be allowed to camp together and will have their food delivered to them. “We make sure each crew is selfsuﬃcient for 72 hours and don’t have to rely upon food or hotels for the ﬁrst few days,” MacPherson said. There are two wildﬁres on Vancouver Island that are listed as under control. A ﬁre near Gold River at Matchlee Bay was discovered April 19, which burned 12 hectares and is suspected to have been caused by a person. A smaller ﬁre near Woss Lake was discovered May 13. It burned .01 ha and is listed as under control. “Wildﬁre seasonal activity is increasing and expected to continue given the current forecasts,” says the BC Wildﬁre Service. They note that most wildﬁres have been in open fuel types on south facing slopes. “As we progress through May, we can expect to see these ﬁres starting to burn into the surrounding timber in the Kamloops, Okanagan and southeastern regions of the province. For more information about wildﬁres in British Columbia visit the BC Wildﬁre Dashboard at https://governmentofbc. maps.arcgis.com/apps/dashboards/ f0ac328d88c74d07aa2ee385abe2a41b
Tseshaht Fi rst Nation Employment Opportunity Beach Keeper & Visitor Services Attendant Seasonal Employment To view full job posting visit hashilthsa.com/careers-training HOW TO APPLY Submit a cover letter, resume and three (3) current references to: Tseshaht First Nation, Attention: Dave Rolston by mail or in person: 5091 Tsuma-as Drive, Port Alberni BC, V9Y 8X9; or by email: email@example.com CLOSING DATE: May 31, 2021 at 4:30 PM. We thank all for applying. Only those shortlisted will be contacted for an interview.
Page 18— Ha-Shilth-Sa—May 20, 2021
Smokery beneﬁts from new micro-processing facility The Flurer Smokery operates their ﬁsh processing plant at Port Alberni’s new Dock + facility on Harbour Road By Karly Blats Ha-Shilth-Sa Contributor Port Alberni, BC - Flurer Smokery is oﬀering the traditional ﬂavours of the West Coast to Port Alberni’s Fisherman’s Harbour with their hot smoked seafood products and processing plant. Flurer Smokery has been a Vancouver Island staple for seafood lovers for the past 12 years. The company opened in Campbell River in 2009 by Kelly and Brian Flurer and the couple worked hard to make the wholesale and custom valueadded processing plant internationally known. “We shut the plant down in Campbell River back in January 2020 and moved everything down [to Port Alberni] and we didn’t actually get in and started until the end of August,” Kelly said. Flurer smokery now operates out of the Dock + food hub on Harbour Road, becoming one of the facility’s anchor tenants. “We’re happy we moved here, we’re thrilled to be a part of the community now. It’s something that the community really seemed to have needed,” Kelly said. “The Dock + has been amazing. The Port Authority and the City of Port Alberni have deﬁnitely welcomed us with open arms and made us feel really comfortable moving here. I don’t think the Port Authority realized what the demand was for a federally registered building.” Flurer Smokery is Aboriginal owned and operated, federally registered and HCCAP certiﬁed, which allows the company to ship products across Canada and internationally. Flurer oﬀers raw processing, boneless ﬁllets, burger portions, skewers, and hot smoked products. All of their products are natural with no chemicals, dyes or preservatives. Brian is from the Dene Nation, about 200 kilometres north of Yellowknife, and Kelly grew up in Campbell River in a logging camp. Brian and his family eventually moved to Campbell River in 1982 and the couple relies on traditional recipes from the West Coast for their hot smoked products. Together they have more than 50 years of combined experience in the ﬁsheries and aquaculture industry. “We use a brown sugar and salt brine. It was a recipe that was created on the coast here by a lot of the local people way back when I was a little kid, some were First Nations,” Kelly said. “It’s very, very traditional to what the West Coast is.” Kelly said it’s common for smoking companies to use a liquid brine which is adopted through the cold smoked product. “Cold smoke is European so it has nothing to do with the West Coast here,” Kelly said. “The ﬁsh with a liquid brine tends to come out with a very rubbery texture where ours is more like baked or barbecued, very much more the traditional way of the West Coast.” Port Alberni’s All Mex’d Up taco shop features a smoked salmon taco using Flurer smoked ﬁsh and Double R Meats is oﬀering the smokery’s products as well. Flurer Smokery has a license to purchase and Kelly said they are interested in buying products from commercial ﬁshers. “People are coming here, they can come right here,” Kelly said. “We also do a lot of sport ﬁsh so people who catch their
Photos by Karly Blats
Brian and Kelly Flurer moved their seafood processing plant to Port Alberni from Campbell River last summer. They now operate out of the Dock + food hub on Harbour Road. own can bring it in, we cut it up, vacuum pack it or take it through to a smoked product.” All of Flurer’s products are boneless and skinless and they can typically have an order ready for customers in seven to 10 days. They’re licensed for fresh, frozen, semi preserved and ready-to-eat ﬁn ﬁsh and shell ﬁsh. The processing plant has two smokers than can hold up to 400 pounds, a freezer that can hold up to 300 totes and a blast freezer that can hold around 24 totes. “We’ve been working a lot with some of the local ﬁshermen on and around the island and we have done quite a bit of the native food ﬁsh through the chum season last fall,” Kelly said. “We had some of the members bring their ﬁsh in from the Tseshaht First Nation and we’ve had a few people come over from Ucluelet, Toﬁno and also out of Bamﬁeld.” Flurer Smokery also now operates the ice house at Fisherman’s Harbour, where people can come for ice. “We’re just waiting for a couple pieces of hardware to come in,” Kelly said. “The Port Authority has invested a considerable amount of money to get the machines working and it’s federally certiﬁed.” Dave McCormick, director of public relations and business development with the Port Alberni Port Authority (PAPA), said Flurer Smokery brings industry leading seafood products, seafood product development and processing expertise to the Dock + and entire Alberni Valley. “Even before we learned about the funding potential and program around provincial food hubs…we were fans of their product and so with the old ﬁsh plant that was dormant we had been recruiting Brian and Kelly for a while,” McCormick said. “When the funding came up and the opportunity to develop the food hub with a few anchor tenants in the seafood space, of course they were the ﬁrst people that we called.” The Dock + food hub was built through a partnership with PAPA and the City of Port Alberni with funding support from the province of British Columbia and
Island Coastal Economic Trust (ICET). The space also includes a commercial kitchen that businesses or individuals can rent out. “We’ve got pretty much every inch of space leased out to anchor tenants, we call them micro processing plants,” McCormick said. “Each of the businesses are at various stages of set up and operation in their areas.” Other tenants at the Dock + include Cascadia Seafood, Forest for Dinner, Canadian Seafood Processing (Eﬃngham Oysters), Nova Harvest and Tastes Local. McCormick said having micro-processing space available in the Alberni Valley is highly advantageous for future development of the aquaculture sector and for businesses to reduce barriers in expanding their processes and operations.
“The potential of the Alberni Inlet and Barkley Sound is so untapped. The blue economy is the wave of the future and Port Alberni is ideally located for that,” McCormick said, noting that the community has a long history in the seafood sector. “It’s part of our culture and will be part of our future and that’s what the dock supports.” McCormick added that the Dock + and commercial kitchen have received Canada and province-wide recognition. “The kitchen itself is an opportunity as a business incubator for people to expand and grow their food processing and food making,” McCormick said. “To have that permitted commercial kitchen space reduces the barriers and allows more people to enter business and expand their business opportunities.”
May 20, 2021—Ha-Shilth-Sa—Page 19
School garden opens possibilities amid restrictions With an eye to local traditions, a project is growing at the 8th Avenue school in the middle of an empty ﬁeld By Eric Plummer Ha-Shilth-Sa Editor Port Alberni, BC - On a crisp morning in early May, a group of teenagers from Port Alberni’s Eight Avenue Learning Centre were working the ﬁeld in front of their school, realizing the garden they had conceived over the previous winter months. Within a metal fence that had been erected a month prior, the Grade 8 and 9 class were measuring out where the garden beds would be made, while others carted loads of leaves to the site from a large pile that had collected behind the school. Gracie Martinez and Gabriella Stanley were planning where raised beds would be installed. This is part of a design that used input from each student, recalled Stanley. “Everyone drew one or two garden layouts,” said the Grade 9 student. “We got the measurements and everything, and then we went through and laid everything out. At the end we numbered all of them and said what we liked about each one and made this garden plan.” “We all decided how everything was going to be laid out,” added Martinez. “We all scribbled down our own thing.” The project is the result of research the students undertook over the winter, including methods to build garden beds and the importance of quality soil. “I like learning about the soil health, how the diﬀerent health of the soil will aﬀect your plants,” Stanley remarked, looking over where raised beds will be
Photo by Eric Plummer
Daisy John moves a load of leaves with her sister Denise to start garden beds on May 4, part of an outdoor project at the Eighth Avenue Learning Centre. “We spend so much time sitting and built. “We’ll do cardboard, and then soil, looking at screens these days, working then leaves.” A vast quantity of leaves was collected outside feels great when you do it,” she from the surrounding neighbourbood over said. the previous fall. Smiles weren’t visible At a time when the day is dominated by cell phones, computer work and online as the students gathered up and carted meetings, school counsellor Karen Campthe piles of compostable material, due to the masks they were required to wear as bell sees the project as being a transformative activity for the students. a pandemic-era safety measure. But the “It’s a COVID-safe way of being able exuberance of ﬁnally being engaged with to do a project like this. So many other the outside was evident. “It’s way more fun than doing math school activities have had to stop,” she said. “There’s not a lot of leadership inside,” commented Stanley. opportunity right now because of the “It’s actually doing something, it’s not pandemic. They are the originators of this just pointless questions for a mark out of space. As next year’s students come in, 10,” added Martinez. “Instead out of 10, they’ll be able to show them all about the it’s how good is the garden.” garden.” Kirsten Abercrombie has seen a growIn the centre of the garden space lies a ing eagerness among her students to plant link to the surrounding area’s heritage. A things outside of the classroom.
large rectangle is designated for traditional First Nations pit cooking, a feature the school hopes to use in mid June for an outdoor gathering to celebrate the new garden. Following Nuu-chah-nulth protocol, the garden space received a blessing at daybreak on April 21, following guidance from a group of elders who are helping to retain ties to the ancestral past as the project progresses. “It’s our Nuu-chah-nulth protocol to get that done in a good way, to get it all ready and prepared so things move forward in a good direction,” said Dianne Gallic, a Nuu-chah-nulth education worker at the school. Besides the crops with a European inﬂuence, like potatoes and squash, the garden will contain some Indigenous plants that people in the area would harvest before colonization, such as huckleberries. But following direction from the elders, medicinal plants will not be grown. “We’re not using any sacred medicines,” noted Gallic. “As protocol we have to respect that families have certain places where they ﬁnd their medicines, we’re not about to start dabbling in any of that.” After more than a year of restrictions on their formative lives, students are looking ahead to a project that will never stop expanding. There are even plans to manage the garden over July and August while classes aren’t in session. “I live just down the street, so I can come and help out a lot,” said Martinez. “I don’t have room for a garden at my house, so this is the closest I have.” “Every year there’s going to be a lot more work to get done,” added Stanley.
Page 20— Ha-Shilth-Sa—May 20, 2021