Ha-Shilth-Sa Newspaper May 6, 2021

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INTERESTING NEWS Canada’s Oldest First Nations Newspaper - Serving Nuu-chah-nulth-aht since 1974 Canadian Publications Mail Product Vol. 48 - No. 09—May 6, 2021 haas^i>sa Sales Agreement No. 40047776

Tla-o-qui-aht man loses boat in offshore rescue Concerns are raised about a delayed Coast Guard response, after emergency boats sat idle for hours in Tofino By Denise Titian Ha-Shilth-Sa Reporter Tofino, BC – A Saturday afternoon fishing trip nearly turned tragic as propeller troubles left two elder Ahousaht brothers stranded on the open ocean off of Long Beach, near Tofino. Eddie Frank, 70, was out fishing with his brother, Tommy Joe Frank, 64, near Portland Point on his boat the Reel Cowboy on May 1. “We were just going to haul up about 4 p.m. and head home, but the wire line got caught on the prop,” Eddie said. He added that there was a six-to-eightfoot swell, the ocean was choppy and the wind was picking up. The auxiliary motor wouldn’t start so the brothers were helpless, drifting further away from their home harbour. “I radioed the Prince Rupert Rescue Centre – that’s the station we need to call into for help,” said Eddie. When asked by the dispatcher if they were in any danger, Eddie told her, no, not in immediate danger but they were drifting fast to the east. “I gave her my coordinates and asked for assistance and she said, we can’t seem to get anyone to go,” he said. Eddie asked the dispatcher to contact the Tofino Lifeboat Station but she told him that they were waiting for authorization from Ottawa to send a rescue boat. “Ma’am, we’re drifting fast and there’s no boats around me,” Eddie told the dispatcher. He said they waited 45 minutes before calling the Prince Rupert Rescue Centre back. When he heard that the centre could not get any boats to assist, he said he asked her to stand down and they reached out to family for help. “Tommy called his son who called his uncle Elmer for help. It was going on to 6 p.m. by then,” said Eddie. Michelle Imbeau, Communications Advisor for the Canadian Coast Guard said they followed standard operating procedure in this incident. “On May 1, Coast Guard’s Marine Communications and Traffic Services (MCTS) received a call from the Reel Cowboy, offshore of Leonard Island, requesting a tow due to a mechanical issue. Coast Guard tasked the Tofino Lifeboat station and sent out a broadcast message alerting vessels in the area,” she told Ha-Shilth-Sa in an email. She went on to say that vessels of opportunity (VOO) were in the area and said they would respond. “One VOO was the Princess M,” Im-

Supplied photo

The Princess M capsized and was temporarily lost when Elmer Frank and others went out to rescue two Ahousaht fishermen on Saturday, May 1.

Elmer Frank beau explained. “Knowing that VOOs were responding to a low-risk tow situation, the Tofino lifeboat crew was stood down, in the event that they may be required to attend a more dire/life-threatening incident.” “The Canadian Coast Guard relies on VOOs to assist in low risk situations in order to ensure our primary Search and Rescue (SAR) vessels are readily available for distress situations,” said Imbeau. But Eddie and his rescuers say it was nearly two hours before Tla-o-qui-aht fishermen were notified and responded to the Reel Cowboy. Elmer Frank, Tla-o-qui-aht’s emergency operations manager, had been out fishing that day in his 21-foot speedboat, the Princess M. At the end of the day he pulled his boat out of the water and trailered it to his home at Esowista. “We were getting ready to have dinner when my nephew called asking me to go out looking for his dad and uncle,” Elmer recalled.

Inside this issue... Man’s death shows systemic shortcomings................Page 3 Fisheries warriors who started the court case.............Page 6 Addressing sexual abuse.............................................Page 8 Businesses cope with new restrictions.....................Page 10 Elder’s garden dream grows.....................................Page 15

He went on to say that he was told that the Coast Guard was not responding because they didn’t deem it a life and death situation. Elmer left immediately, knowing that the wind was picking up and the brothers were in danger. He towed his boat back to Tofino, relaunched it and went out searching. Elmer’s brother Bruce had already left in his boat to help in the search. “My brother found them first,” said Elmer, adding that the Reel Cowboy was near Florencia bay. “They had already drifted about 10 miles east of where they broke down.” As Elmer headed out to Florencia Bay he felt his boat slowing and knew immediately that he was in trouble. “I called Coast Guard and told them I’m taking on water and am headed to the beach,” Elmer shared. According to Imbeau, the Coast Guard received another call, this time about the Princess M. “Knowing lives were at risk due to a sinking vessel, Coast Guard tasked the Tofino station crew, and both the CCGS Cape Ann and Fast Rescue Craft (FRC) were sent to respond,” she wrote. At the same time, Elmer’s brother was towing the Reel Cowboy to safety. He cut them loose when he heard Elmer was in trouble so that he could assist. Imbeau said that when the Coast Guard vessels arrived on scene, the Cape Ann went to search for the Princess M, but it was no longer visible above the water. By then, Elmer shot a flare, and was rescued by his brother. “We were okay until they got to us, but as soon as we stepped off the boat it rolled and went under,” said Elmer.

The five rescuers aboard the Hannah J went back to Eddie and Tommy and towed them toward Tofino. But it was Elmer’s sinking boat that drew authorities out to assist. “The RCMP dispatched their Zodiac, looking for Elmer,” Eddie said. “Then we saw the two Tofino life boats…they told Bruce to cut us loose and they will take over.” “I never prayed so hard to get to shore,” added Eddie, who said he finally arrived at Tofino harbour at about 10:20 p.m. “I hailed into Prince Rupert and told them that we made it back safe, I was right choked with them,” said Eddie. There were a lot of concerned people waiting at the dock when they arrived. According to Eddie, there was confusion at first, as people heard of the sinking of the Princess M and wanted to make sure that everyone came home safe. While Elmer is grateful everyone is safe, he is annoyed at the inaction of the Coast Guard. “They finally came because they knew my boat was in distress,” said Elmer, adding Eddie and Axel (Tommy) are elders in their community. He noted the sinking wouldn’t have happened if the Coast Guard responded in first place. “I think they would have been found sooner if they (the Coast Guard) responded immediately,” Elmer said, noting that, at the time, the wind was gusting 25 knots. It was not nice weather. Two days after the rescue, Elmer was out fishing on his troller. He said the Coast Guard deployed all kinds of resources to his sunken ship. “They sent out a helicopter and the Parks Canada Zodiac searching for my sunken boat and there are no lives in danger,” Elmer said. On Monday, May 3, the Princess M was located on a beach south of Florencia Bay where it was quickly being swallowed up by the shifting sand. “I think it’s a wash, a loss,” said Elmer. “We made the ultimate choice to abandon our boat so that we could go back for Tommy Joe and them.” “This is unacceptable,” he said of the Coast Guard response, adding that Nuuchah-nulth leadership has been pushing for their nations to be more safe and secure on the waters. “We’re doing it on our own, we always help but there’s no help from the feds,” Elmer said. “No reimbursement for fuel, nothing, no acknowledgement.” While Eddie is grateful to be back on solid ground, he feels bad for Elmer. “I respect him, I take my hat off to him.”

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May 6, 2021—Ha-Shilth-Sa—Page 3

Man’s death reveals shortcomings in monitoring James Williams died in a shelter after suffering a head injury; an IIO investigation indicates a systemic failure By Denise Titian Ha-Shilth-Sa Reporter Duncan, BC – The Independent Investigations Office (IIO) has released its report on the July 16, 2020 death of James Williams. The Tla-o-qui-aht/Yucluthaht father of five was found dead in his shelter unit less than a day after being detained in RCMP cells for public intoxication. Williams, 52, was spotted lying across the concrete base of a business sign beside a busy highway intersection at about 4:30 p.m. on July 15, 2020. A Duncan RCMP patrolling the area stopped to check on Williams and determined that he was too intoxicated to care for himself. The IIO report notes that Mr. Williams was calm and cooperating with the police but was “significantly intoxicated”. Public intoxication isn’t an offence under Canada’s Criminal Code, but often police will take someone into custody if it’s determined that they are a danger to themselves, said Corp. Chris Manseau of RCMP media relations. “For the most part it’s so that someone can care for that person if we feel that they’re unable to care for themselves,” he said. “Maybe they’re going to walk into traffic or make a bad decision. They could choke on their vomit or what have you.” The officer who found Williams determined that he was too intoxicated to be released to the shelter where he lived. “He was too intoxicated for the sobering centre, but not intoxicated to the point he required medical attention. So, I felt that the cells was the safest and best place for him,” the officer is quoted as saying in the IIO report. Oddly enough, people using the sobering center need to be able to dress and undress themselves before being allowed in. Williams needed help standing and walking, but was considered not drunk enough to send to the hospital. The officer told investigators that there would be no one at the Warmland Shelter to monitor Mr. Williams but there is a guard in cells who would monitor him. Mr. Williams was described as a model prisoner by the cell guard who watched him. He was not placed in handcuffs during his ride to the RCMP station. Williams was released from cells at about 1:30 a.m. on July 16. Williams asked for the number of a taxi but none were operating at that time, due to the pandemic. So, Williams set off on foot for an estimated 15-minute walk to the shelter he called home. Commercial surveillance cameras captured Williams as he walked toward

Submitted photo

James Williams died in a Duncan shelter on July 16, 2020 after suffering a head injury. An investigation from a provincial watchdog is indicating a systemic failure to keep him safe. Warmland Shelter. A camera in the shelter The seven-page IIO report chronicles showed that he had gone to the laundry Williams’ time in police custody based on room at 5:54 a.m. on July 16. That was witness testimony, police notes, RCMP the last recorded activity until he was custody records, video from RCMP and found later that afternoon, deceased on commercial premises along with autopsy the floor of his room by shelter staff. and toxicology reports. Because of the fact that his death ocThe toxicology report notes “nothing curred in close proximity to the time he contributory to death”. was detained by the RCMP, the IndepenThe autopsy report lists the cause of dent Investigations Office of BC immedi- death as a subdural and subarachnoid ately launched an investigation. hemorrhage – bleeding on the brain. The On July 17, 2020, the IIO said it would report estimates that a bruise on the back investigate to determine what role, if any, of Mr. Williams’ head occurred within the officers’ actions or inaction may have approximately seven days prior to his played in the death of Mr. Williams. death. “The BC Coroners Service is also con“The subdural hemorrhage was consisducting an independent investigation to tent with an older bleed having occurred determine how, where, when and by what about four to five days before death and a means he came to his death,” the IIO said recent re-bleed occurring within approxiin a statement. mately seven hours before death,” states The IIO is the independent civilian the report. oversight agency of the police in British The autopsy report further indicates that Columbia. It investigates all officer-relat- Mr. Williams suffered from other seried incidents that result in serious harm or ous health conditions, most notable is death, whether or not there is any allegathere was evidence that he had previous tion of wrongdoing. strokes, and some hardening and narAt the time of his death, family memrowing of the arteries supplying both the bers said Williams had spent time in the heart and the brain. The autopsy report states, “The bruise to hospital after a bout of pancreatitis a day or so before his passing. They were the scalp at the back of the head would be informed that Williams appeared to have in keeping with blunt trauma to the head a head injury. such as could be explained by a blow against a hard surface from e.g. a backwards fall. This impact could be sufficient to explain the development of the subdural and subarachnoid hemorrhage seen at autopsy. A re-bleed of an older subdural hemorrhage can occur with minimal/ trivial trauma to the head potentially with signs of impact to the head due to the fragility of the blood vessels within this region.” “High blood pressure and a history of alcohol misuse may increase the susceptibility of an individual to develop intracranial bleeds,” the report continues. The investigation revealed that Mr. Williams’ interaction with law enforcement was recorded from the time he entered the back of the police vehicle to the time of his release from the detachment. “Those video recordings show nothing of any concern with respect to Mr. Williams handling and treatment by officers

or civilian guards, and nothing suggestive of a cause for a head injury, or any other harm.” States the IIO report. The investigators believe that Mr. Williams had suffered a cerebral hemorrhage days before, which had partially healed. They suspect he may have fallen backwards while intoxicated, reinjuring the back of his head. Investigators believe his pre-existing medical conditions caused him to collapse in his room where he died. “There is no evidence whatsoever that the brain injury was caused by any police officer or jail guard,” continues the IIO report. “On the contrary, the evidence establishes that no injury to Mr. Williams, of any sort, occurred during his time in police custody.” While the family has their answers, the loss of their relative could bring changes in how severely intoxicated people are handled by police. According to NTC Vice President Mariah Charleson, the family met with investigators in Duncan on April 23 to hear their findings. “We suggested that RCMP cells should have at least a nurse to assess people before they are released,” said Charleson. Williams had complained about chest pains upon his release but was allowed to walk home on his own. It turned out that the pain in his chest was another health condition that did not contribute to his death. “He did not die of that but his injury may have been spotted if a nurse could have examined him before he left,” said Charleson. Charleson was pleased that IIO Chief Civilian Director Ronald MacDonald agreed with the recommendation. She went on to say that the family and NTC would like to see more sobering centres, which they believe is better suited to monitor intoxicated people rather than the ‘drunk tank’. Finally, while most of Mr. Williams’ time with the police was recorded, the initial contact with police, before he was placed in the RCMP vehicle was not. “We recommended that officers wear body cams,” said Charleson. She said that the police are already pursuing the idea and are awaiting on body cam deliveries from the manufacturer. How James Williams’ head was injured in unknown. But Charleson said if it was foul play they may never know because once an IIO investigation is launched, the RCMP cannot investigate for the duration. With nearly a year gone by, it would be difficult to locate witnesses and over time, memories fade. “Everyone only had good things to say about him…the RCMP, guards, the staff at Warmland – they cried. He was a wellliked man,” said Charleson. Charleson said the February 2021 police shooting death of Julian Jones in Opitsaht led to the formation of the Nuu-chahnulth Tribal Council and RCMP Working Committee on Improved Communication and Safety. The group is made up of law enforcement and Nuu-chah-nulth – their goal is to work together to prevent shooting deaths of Nuu-chah-nulth people. In June 2020, Chantel More of Tla-oqui-aht was shot in her New Brunswick apartment by a police officer during a wellness check. In both shootings, the police officers were not wearing body cams. The Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council and RCMP Working Committee on Improved Communication have been advocating for widespread use of police body cams.


Page 4— Ha-Shilth-Sa—May 6, 2021 Ha-Shilth-Sa newspaper is published by the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council for distribution to the members of the NTC-member First Nations, as well as other interested groups and individuals. Information and original work contained in this newspaper is protected by copyright and may not be reproduced without written permission from: Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council P.O. Box 1383, Port Alberni, B.C. V9Y 7M2. Telephone: (250) 724-5757 Fax: (250) 723-0463 Web page: www.hashilthsa.com facebook: Hashilthsa Ntc

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No roadside interrogations: Minister By Eric Plummer Ha-Shilth-Sa Editor Victoria, BC - Police will not be stopping people on Vancouver Island’s roadways, according to an update on new travel restrictions delivered April 30 by B.C.’s Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth. Farnworth’s message came one week into a legal order he gave under the province’s Emergency Program Act, prohibiting non-essential travel between three regions in B.C. to slow the spread of COVID-19. Those regions are Vancouver Island, the Lower Mainland and Fraser Valley as well as B.C.’s Interior and north. The solicitor general clarified that RCMP will be enforcing the order on highways that join these three regions, but road stops will not be in place within the areas to prohibit non-essential travel. “You will not see road checks in downtown Vancouver or along Boundary Road,” said Farnworth during his April 30 press conference. “If police have reasonable grounds to believe you are about to leave your regional zone or are already travelling outside of your health authority for non-essential purposes, they can direct you to stay within your region, or to leave the authority at that time.” Not complying with this direction can bring fines of up to $575. Exceptions for travel between regions include visiting someone in long-term care, going home, going to training or classes at a post-secondary institution, commercial transport, a funeral or seeing one’s child. The initial April 21 announcement of the travel ban brought widespread confusion on how police can enforce the new rules, as well as concern over the expansion of RCMP powers. Both sides of the issue promptly responded, including Brian Sauvé, president of the National Police Federation. “We understand the province’s need to keep communities safe in this ongoing and protracted pandemic,” he said in a statement. “But, as we said earlier this week, many of our members are opposed to this proposal as it puts them at risk of public backlash, legal ambiguity, and risk of exposure and possible infection due to the continuing slow immunization roll-

out for police in the province.” A letter was issued by 11 organizations, including the B.C. Assembly of First Nations, the First Nations Summit and the B.C. First Nations Justice Council, raising the issue of some groups being unfairly targeted. “We are deeply concerned about the overbroad and unconstitutional expansion of police powers that will disproportionally impact Black, Indigenous and racialized communities,” reads the letter. “The lack of information and details about the order has raised many alarm bells, especially in the middle of a global and local reckoning about systemic racism in policing and policing powers.” “This is not about targeting people,” said Farnworth on April 30. “Police will not have the ability to randomly stop people. Unless there is an offense, information is not being gathered and collected.” He stated that RCMP will only be able to require a driver’s licence and any other documentation showing a person’s address. “Documentation regarding travel will not be required, as passengers in the vehicle are also not required to provide this information,” added Farnworth. Nor can people expect RCMP road stops near ferry terminals. “Ferries have been dealing with things, they have been asking, ‘Is this essential travel?’ When people book they check a box that is essential travel,” said the solicitor general. “The police - whether it’s RCMP on the island, for example, of in Delta or Vancouver, their local detachments - those police will attend as required. That’s what’s been taking place and it’s been working quite well so far.” The risk of Indigenous people being unfairly targeted during police questioning remains, said Mariah Charleson, vicepresident of the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council. “We know Indigenous people are disproportionally negatively impacted by RCMP, so of course it is still a concern,” she said, pointing to travel enforcement in Atlantic Canada as a less threatening means of controlling the spread of COVID-19. “Nobody at those checkpoints has guns and badges, and yet they’ve been very successful.”

Since December Nuu-chah-nulth nations have been advocating for a Vancouver Island bubble, requiring a 14-day quarantine for those who come from elsewhere. But the province has not been receptive, said Charleson. “We’ve seen it successful with the Atlantic bubble on the east side of Canada, and we’ve seen it also on Haida Gwaii,” she said. “We continue our advocacy and B.C. hasn’t consulted us throughout the process one bit.” She also noted the effectiveness of First Nation’s managing their own check points throughout the pandemic. “They’ve been successful in stopping non-essential travel, and the people who have been front lines in doing that aren’t armed police officers,” said Charleson. “We’ve seen our own First Nations, and other wonderful examples since the very beginning of the pandemic, enact their own checkpoints.” On the weekend after Farnworth’s order came into effect ferry travel to Vancouver Island dropped 25 per cent for vehicles and 32 per cent for foot passengers. But unnecessary trips to the island continue, said Charleson. “Our people continue to see non-essential travel in our territory and it is alarming as all of these people bring a trail of risk along with them.” The Emergency Program Act order remain in effect until May 25.

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May 6, 2021—Ha-Shilth-Sa—Page 5

New travel restrictions spark civil liberty concerns An order bans non-essential travel between health authorities, but the degree of enforcement remains a mystery By Melissa Renwick Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

issue. “Part of the mandate of the BC First Nations Justice Council is to grapple with

Indigenous community groups and organizations across B.C. have outlined their concerns and frustrations about the new proposed travel restrictions in a letter addressed to B.C. Premier John Horgan. On April 19 the province announced new travel restrictions prohibiting people from leaving their local health authority. The new order means that people could face a fine for non-essential travel, enforced through a roadside checkpoint program. “[The Minister of Public Safety] will be using the Emergency Program Act to restrict people’s ability to move from one health authority to another,” said Horgan, during a press conference. “It will be done in a way that includes everyone … and there will be consequences if you are outside of your area on non-essential business.” Those consequences have not been clearly identified and Meghan McDermott, BC Civil Liberties Association policy director and staff counsel, said she is troubled by the “overly broad” policing powers the new order presents. “This [was] announced without any further details,” said McDermott. “We’re just left to languish for the next few days wondering how we’re supposed to prepare for this. The idea of using police officers is really abhorrent to us. We know that police’s use of discretion tends to be discriminatory and harmfully impacts Black, Indigenous and other rationalized folks in B.C.” The new order remains in place until Tuesday, May 25 – after the long weekend. Douglas White III, chair of the BC First Nations Justice Council, said that to date, they have not been engaged with on the

“Part of the mandate of the BC First Nations Justice Council is to grapple with the reality of systemic racism across the justice system, including policing” ~ Douglas White III, BC First Nations Justice Council the reality of systemic racism across the justice system, including policing,” he said. “When we see this kind of initiative being put forward by the government it causes concern and alarm about deepening the problem, rather than resolving the problem. We want to make sure that… necessary safeguards and checks are in place to ensure that the province isn’t putting forward direction that would expose Indigenous peoples to further policing.” The BC Assembly of First Nations Regional Chief Terry Teegee said he signed the letter to address the many unanswered questions. “There’s definitely stereotypes and racism that exists within the system of policing and justice,” he said. “What are the overarching powers of the police force, and what will they impose on our people?” The Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council (NTC) did not sign the letter, but has long been asking the province for a Vancouver Island bubble to restrict travel. Similar to measures taken in the Maritimes, this would include a 14-day isolation period

John Horgan upon arrival, said Mariah Charleson, NTC vice-president. “Our First Nations communities have already been implementing this since the very beginning of the pandemic with checkpoints and even curfews at some points,” she said. “As a Hesquiaht member, I still can’t go home.” While the NTC is encouraged to see travel restrictions, Charleson said they are concerned about the new proposed policing measures. “We want to see clear, concise information tomorrow that all of our members, regardless of where they reside in the province of B.C., understands,” she said. “And if they have a medical appointment, for example, in a different health region, that they will be able to freely [attend] without harassment from the police or any type of enforcement.” We have to respect that we’re in the third wave and do not know how the COVID-19 variants of concern will affect First Nations populations, said Teegee.

“But at the same time, we need to be concerned about our liberties,” he said. “We need to be very cautious about how decisions are made and make sure that First Nations are brought into the fold.” For Teegee, the pandemic has served as a “cautionary tale.” “Once again, First Nations authority and our jurisdiction is not considered,” he said. “That should be concerning to all Indigenous peoples.” McDermott said she hopes to see evidence to support the province’s pending restrictions. “We don’t have any of that information upfront,” she said. “We’re just asked to trust the government over and over and over again. And it’s difficult … we’re on the outside looking in.” As international travellers continue to arrive at the Vancouver International Airport and out-of-province visitors drive across the provincial border into B.C., McDermott said she questions the province’s gaps in policy. “The review of our legal options made it clear we can’t prevent people from travelling to British Columbia,” said Horgan, in a January news release. “We can impose restrictions on people travelling for non-essential purposes if they are causing harm to the health and safety of British Columbians. Much of current interprovincial travel is work related and therefore cannot be restricted.” To many, the idea of engaging with police officers is intimidating, said McDermott. “When police are asking us questions and they’ve got all these weapons on their body, there’s such a power differential,” she said. “One of the core issues that we’re getting at in our letter is, what are the police powers? How much can they ask? And then, what do they do with the information that they receive?”

First Nations face larger burden in pandemic: FNHA By Melissa Renwick Local Journalism Initiative Reporter A new Community Situation Report released by the First Nations Health Authority (FNHA) reveals the disproportionate impact COVID-19 has had on Indigenous people on Vancouver Island. Despite representing only 7.6 per cent of Vancouver Island’s population, Indigenous people account for 34.9 per cent of COVID-19 cases. The rate of positive cases for the Indigenous population was 1,323 per 100,000 compared to 202 per 100,000 for the non-Indigenous population, according to the FNHA. Additionally, those who self-identified as Indigenous experienced three times the rate of hospitalizations and four times the rate of deaths, compared to the nonIndigenous population. “Those are really scary figures,” said Mariah Charleson, Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council vice-president. “It’s shocking, but we all realize that’s the reality.” The imbalance is driven by various factors, including overcrowded homes, underlying health conditions, a lack of capacity to handle outbreaks - especially in more rural and remote First Nations communities - along with a lack of trust in the health care system, said Charleson. “Systemic racism exists in every sector of the health care system in B.C.,” she said, citing the 2020 report, In Plain Sight: Addressing Indigenous-specific

Racism and Discrimination in B.C. Health Care. The In Plain Sight report was prompted by allegations about an organized “Price is Right” game involving guessing the blood alcohol contents of Indigenous patients in B.C. emergency rooms. “A picture is presented of a B.C. health care system with widespread systemic racism against Indigenous peoples,” read the report. “This racism results in a range of negative impacts, harm, and even death.” The data recently released by the FNHA was used to inform vaccine prioritization, which resulted in expedited delivery to remote and isolated First Nations communities, with the first doses arriving December 29, 2020. Despite the increasing COVID-19 case counts sweeping the province, new cases among First Nations continue to fall, according to the FNHA. “The proportion of provincial daily cases who are First Nations is the lowest level since June 2020,” read the report. As of April 15, more than 72,000 of B.C.’s First Nations people – along with some non-Indigenous people living in or near First Nations communities – have received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. More than 6,700 First Nations people have also received a second dose, according to the report. “We’re happy to see that the [statistics] and data are being used to ensure that Indigenous people remain a priority – par-

Photo by Courtenay Louie

Ehattesaht Councillor Ernie Smith is immunized for COVID-19 in early January, aligning with the province’s prioritization of First Nations due to how the coronavirus has disproportionally affected these remote communities. ticularly for receiving the vaccination,” said Charleson. While all 14 Nuu-chah-nulth First Nations have received their first dose, several await their second. Charleson said that second doses of the Moderna vaccine will be rolled-out in the remaining communities within the

16-week timeframe suggested by the National Advisory Committee on Immunization. “We don’t have to look very far to understand that our people have been disproportionately impacted,” she said. “I just really want to see our communities pulling together.”


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Fisheries warriors: A look back at court case origins A recent B.C. Court of Appeal ruling has reinvigorated hope of returning to a lifestyle of living off of the waters By Denise Titian Ha-Shilth-Sa Reporter West Coast Vancouver Island – “If we lose the herring we will have no salmon!” said Simon Lucas at a Nuu-chah-nulth fisheries meeting more than 30 years ago. Nearly four years after the Hesquiaht elder’s passing, Julia Lucas recalled how passionate her husband was about Nuu-chah-nulth-aht’s right to harvest and to manage fisheries in their respective territories. She said it was Simon who tabled a motion at an NTC fisheries meeting that the nations challenge DFO in court to assert their rights to harvest and sell fish. After more than a decade in the courts, five Nuu-chah-nulth nations are celebrating an April 19 decision from the B.C. Court of Appeal. The unanimous decision eliminates restrictions previously placed on how the nations should harvest and sell seafood from their territorial waters off the west coast of Vancouver Island. Hesquiaht elder and fisherman Stephen Charleson hopes this will change how the fisheries have gone for his community over the last generation. “For sure it was a dismal feeling to be a fisherman in the 1990s and 2000s,” he said. “By the time the court case was being contemplated I was hardly fishing at all.” Charleson pointed to exclusionary DFO policies that pushed Indigenous fishermen out of the industry. “The seasons were starting to get shorter and shorter and the allocations were getting smaller and smaller,” he recalled. As each year went by there were fewer Nuu-chah-nulth boats tied up in the villages. “Most of us were fishermen who didn’t really chase the big loads,” he told Ha-

Ha-Shilth-Sa Archive photos

The Hesquiaht Fishing Fleet, seen above in this archive photograph, as it looked decades ago tied up at Hot Springs Cove. Below: Darrell Campbell of Ahousaht hauls in home-use dog (Chum) salmon.

“Most of us were fishermen who didn’t really chase the big loads” ~ Stephen Charleson Shilth-Sa. “We were happy to get by comfortably year in and year out.” But DFO began to change the licensing and allocation systems in favor of the larger commercial fishing vessels. Jon Manson, 43, of Tla-o-qui-aht said he had his own small boat by the age of 12 to fish off of Long Beach, selling his catch to the local fish plants. Manson said he only made it to Grade 9, opting to earn a living starting on his 16-foot boat. Manson said his father used to have an A license, allowing him to fish all species, but it got taken away with the new licensing and allocation rules. Manson said his father’s license was given to larger, commercial fishermen. “To be eligible for species like halibut, for example, you had to have a certain amount of poundage in the previous years in order to be allowed to fish for them,” Charleson noted. The same ruled applied for all species. Charleson’s boat, the Sashmaray, was a combination troller and gillnet vessel. Charleson had to choose one or the other under the new rules, along with an area to fish in. Gone were the days when fishermen could go in other zones under the new DFO rules. “There was a whole slew of new rules like that combined with a whole bunch

of new paperwork and license fees,” said Charleson. “It became too much after a while and I was losing interest in commercial fishing,” he added, saying that his boat became simply a home-use fishing boat before he gave up in 2005 and beached her. But Charleson said he maintained hope throughout the years while the fisheries court case dragged on through the appeals that followed. “I had high hopes that were dashed again and again with DFO’s appeals and Canada’s stance and refusal to honor the

court decisions until the last one, last week,” he said. Management for a Living Hesquiaht Harbour In the meantime, Hesquiaht people saw commercial harvesters setting crab traps and fishing herring and salmon in their remote home of Hesquiaht Harbour, effectively wiping out what was left of the natural resources. “They closed down Hesquiaht Harbour to save the fish,” Julia recalled. According to Charleson, who for-

merly served as elected chief, his people launched a program called Management for a Living Hesquiaht Harbour back in 1992 after the people passed a motion to protect their resources at a band meeting. “It was originally a motion regarding logging in the territory,” Charleson said. The people wanted logging to stop in their territory until they could figure out how to repair damages to their mountainsides and creeks, which became destabilized due to forestry and poor road design. The landslides were destroying salmon habitat. “The logs were disappearing off the land and we were being left to clean it up while we watched the herring, clams, spawning beds being destroyed and our livelihoods and food sources irrevocably lessening and disappearing,” Charleson added. Manson noted that millions of dollars have been spent over 30 years on watershed rehabilitation efforts in Clayoquot Sound. The goal was to repair salmon habitat destroyed by logging practices of the past in an effort to increase critically depleted wild salmon stocks. Charleson says Hesquiaht is also working on repairing habitat in their territories and both note that it isn’t making much of a difference. Manson believes the nations need to work to restock the creeks through salmon hatcheries. Besides putting a stop to industrial logging in their hahulthi, the Hesquiaht management plan demanded the commercial closure of herring, clam, geoduck, sea urchins, crab and any fin fish in Hesquiaht Harbour. “Sports fishing was added to the list, whether it was in the salt water or in the creeks and lakes,” said Charleson. For about a decade the closure remained in place while the Hesquiaht collected data and built on research. They reviewed recorded information from elders of the past and hired a western scientist who helped them study and plan for the protection and renewal of their natural resources.


May 6, 2021—Ha-Shilth-Sa—Page 7

This archive photograph of Ahousaht Harbour shows some of the remaining fishing fleet. Middle: Nuchatlaht member Curtis Michael hoists a smiley, a Chinook salmon at Oclucje. Below: Ahousaht elder, the late Cecelia Titian, fills her smokehouse with dog salmon for her family’s winter stock. A resurgence of wildlife In the decade that it was closed to commercial harvesting, Hesquiaht Harbour residents noticed an abundance of birds that came back. Charleson attributes that to the growing number of herring returns. “It has attracted a lot of birds and mammals during the spawning season from January to April,” Charleson noted. He went on to say it is a noisy time of year with eagles, sea gulls, cormorants, scoters, loons, seals, sea lions, and grey whales that converge in the area. “Sometimes hundreds of grey whales are in the harbour from February to the end of March during herring spawn,” he said. In the fall, when the salmon return to spawn, sea gulls and eagles come back along with bears and wolves. But the resurgence of the once extinct sea otter has meant no more crab or clams in Hesquiaht for the past 20 years since the predator began feasting there. Julia Lucas said the protection of natural resources was so important to past leaders like Simon Lucas, George Watts and Nelson Keitlah that one time her husband was summoned to sign court documents while he was on a fishing trip. “He was fishing off of Ucluelet with our son Linus when George (Watts) sent a plane there to get Simon to Vancouver to sign the documents,” said Julia. “He was there and back in Ucluelet on the same day,” recalled Linus Lucas. Ahousaht harbor filled with boats Julia Lucas, an elder herself, was called to testify in the fisheries court case. She said the court wanted to hear how fishing was in previous generations. At one point, the judge and lawyers arrived in Ahousaht to hear testimony at the Thunderbird Hall. The court heard elders testifying about how the people lived on fish. Julia, who is originally from Ahousaht, said she was asked by the court how her father and uncles fished. “Ahousaht harbor was filled with fishing boats, the mosquito fleet and even skiffs,” said Julia.

She recalled her late sister-in-law, Margaret Titian, would leave Ahousaht harbor in a skiff to go fishing off of the front beach. “She got nine big smilies,” said Lucas. A smiley is a term fishermen use to describe exceptionally large salmon. “Late Mary Amos did the same thing at Hesquiaht Harbour,” Julia recalled, saying Amos landed a few Chinook salmon in her skiff. “Fish did not go to waste – we ate it three times a day.” Two out of 56 crab licenses Today, Manson fishes through the courtwon rights-based fishery, which allows him to fish “pretty much anything that bites the hook”. But he wishes to see more “brothers” out there. “We’re only allowed a certain number of crab traps in Clayoquot Sound,” Manson noted. He said there are 56 crab licenses in Clayoquot Sound and only two of those are Nuu-chah-nulth owned. Manson is tired of seeing licenses going to nonlocal, non-Indigenous large-scale commercial fishermen. “Those guys don’t spend a dime here,” he said, adding that they come to make their money then go back to the mainland. “I’d like to see half the fleet being

kou-uss.” In order to survive as a fisherman, he needs to fish all species and he has to get creative when it comes to marketing. “I have people willing to pay a fair or even better price than the local buyers,” said Manson, adding they are not a big operation but it’s enough to feed his family. In the latest B.C. Court of Appeal ruling on Aboriginal Fishing Rights, which came out April 19, 2021, the court ruled that restrictions previously placed on how the five nations (Ahousaht, Ehattesaht, Hesquiaht, Mowachaht/Muchalaht and Tla-o-qui-aht) should harvest and sell seafood from their territorial waters be removed. The courts determined that the nations have a right to a non-exclusive, multispecies, limited commercial fishery aimed at wide community participation, to be conducted in their court-defined area for fishing, which extends nine nautical miles offshore. “This means that these nations have a right to participate in commercial fisheries for any species in their territory, and they don’t have to stay on the margins of those fisheries,” said Lisa Glowacki of Ratcliff LLP, lawyers for the Nuu-chahnulth plaintiffs. Proud of her late husband, Lucas said Simon put his whole life into fishing. He, along with other elected Hesquiaht chiefs, including Joe Tom Jr. and Stephen Charleson, supported the court case with monetary donations, said Julia. “It was Si, George and Nelson that started it all,” she said. “Those three men really dedicated their lives to the court case.” Both Simon and Nelson Keitlah were commercial fisherman and Nuu-chahnulth leaders. George Watts was a prominent leader with the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council and Tseshaht First Nation. All men have since passed away. But thanks to their efforts, and the work of those who followed, Stephen Charleson’s hope has been revived. “I have hope again and am getting ready to go out again in my little boat,” he said.


Page 8— Ha-Shilth-Sa—May 6, 2021

Addressing sexual abuse by building the family

An emerging approach to treating sexual abuse involves the perpetrators, victims and their families working to find a path toward By Melissa Renwick Local Journalism Initiative Reporter Port Alberni, BC - As a teenager, Lisa Robinson lived in denial and repressed her emotions. She could not name what was causing her pain, so she kept silent while living among all of her sexual abusers. The loneliness and shame propelled her into a black hole. “There were times where I felt like I didn’t want to live,” she said. “Because I didn’t have the guidance to help me [through] it.” Robinson attempted suicide for the first time when she was in residential school at the age of 11. “I was screaming for help,” she said. “But I didn’t have the words.” Her journey of healing began nearly a decade later when she met Jane MiddeltonMoz while attending one of her workshops on intergenerational trauma at Tsow-Tun Le Lum Society, a substance abuse and trauma treatment centre. “I finally heard somebody speaking the truth,” she said. “I found somebody that could help me find my voice.” Middelton-Moz is an internationally renowned author, known for her work in consultation, training and community intervention. Barney Williams, of the Tlao-qui-aht First Nation, adopted her into his family nearly 50 years ago and she has been awarded the distinction of Honorary Witness for the Truth and Reconciliation Committee of Canada. That first encounter with Middelton-Moz instilled her with a fight and developed into a lifetime of friendship, preparing Robinson to spearhead a new initiative, called Building the Family Circle. As the executive director of Kackaamin Family Development Centre in Port Alberni, Robinson intends it to be a hub for sexual abuse assessment and treatment - for victims and perpetrators, as well as their families. With Middelton-Moz’s guidance and training, Robinson - whose roots are from Hesquiaht and is married into Ahousaht and her team of around 40 are aiming to address sexual abuse in their Nuu-chahnulth nations. The team of community leaders and cultural support workers have been coming together for the past two years on a voluntary basis. “Sexual abuse is an epidemic,” said Middelton-Moz. “Not only in Nuu-chahnulth, but throughout the world.” ‘Behaviors say what words cannot’ Each year, Sexual Assault Awareness Month is observed in April. It is a growing international movement to raise public awareness. Indigenous women are physically assaulted, sexually assaulted, or robbed almost three times as often as non-Indigenous women, according to the 2017 National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. “Simply being Indigenous and female is a risk,” read the report. Hollow Water First Nation is the only other community in Canada that has attempted to treat and deal with sexual abuse in a holistic way that Middleton-Moz knows of. “If you don’t have an entire continuum of services where you’re working with victims of sexual abuse and their families, [as well as] perpetrators of sexual abuse and their families, you don’t stop the epidemic,” she said. Without a foundation of services laid for

Photo by Melissa Renwick

As the executive director of Kackaamin Family Development Centre in Port Alberni, Lisa Robinson intends it to be a hub for sexual abuse assessment and treatment - for victims and perpetrators, as well as their families. Island is that these services are coming really help us because we still go to our together to work together, which is unheard neighbouring tribes for potlatches, birth“If you don’t have an entire of,” said Middelton-Moz. day celebrations and ceremonies,” said continuum of services where As a residential school survivor, Robinson Seitcher. said she understands some of the learned As one of the 40 people working with you’re working with victims behaviours that were instilled throughout Robinson to bring the pilot project to life, of sexual abuse and their generations of Nuu-chah-nulth families Seitcher not only hopes to “shine a light” families, [as well as] perpetra- who suffered a similar fate. on sexual abuse, but highlight the lack of “People were taken away from their support that is available for victims, both tors of sexual abuse and their sources of love,” she said. “And didn’t men and women, as well as perpetrators. families, you don’t stop the have anyone to guide them. It’s almost like If a man was inflicting harm on someone we have to re-do it over again.” in the past, communities would place him epidemic” Without intervention and assistance to in a canoe and push him out to sea withwork through the inflicted trauma, some out paddles. He would be in the hands of ~ Jane Middleton-Moz residential school survivors became offend- the creator and if he survived the ocean, ers, said Middelton-Moz. the community would offer him a second To quote Middelton-Moz, Robinson said, chance, Seitcher recounted hearing from victims and offenders, she added that often“behaviours say what words cannot.” his elders. times the issue is “shoved right back down Robinson recalls her late-mother-in-law “I believe that everybody deserves a secunder the rug.” recounting stories about living in a longond chance,” he said. “People can change.” Building the Family Circle aims at adhouse, a large house built with cedar planks Through the new initiative, offenders will dressing the lack of services available, which several families shared. be assessed to determine if they can go creating safe pathways towards healing. “It’s really not that long ago that we lived through treatment. There may be a “small Part of that includes educating teachers, that way,” she said. “Where people took number of offenders” who may not be treatsocial workers, frontline workers, justice care of one another and taught each other able, said Middelton-Moz. However, for systems and creating trauma-informed strong values. I’m of the belief that we will those who want to work through treatment, schools, said Middelton-Moz. lead – we can lead this because of that love the program would support treatment rather “We need teachers that can identify kids than incarceration. in preschool that need help and assistance,” we have for one another.” Sexual abuse is a “sickness” that stemmed When looking at the problems individuals she said. “Offending behaviour can start as from residential schools and was brought and communities are dealing with in terms early as 11.” back into community, said Robinson. of drug abuse, alcoholism and suicide, the Robinson’s road to healing has endured a “Our communities are all in the same underlying layer is sexual abuse, she said. lifetime. canoe, so we have to help heal everybody “We call it the secret everybody knows,” “It’s quite a process,” she said. “You that’s in the canoe,” she said. said Middelton-Moz. “You’re told, ‘don’t have to have people in your life that speak While Robinson was careful not to excuse go over to that house’ - but it’s just not the truth – that you could say anything to. the behaviour of offenders, she said they dealt with. Kids are living in silence. And Somebody has to be there. It’s not easy to are also a part of “our families and comit’s the silence that is breaking their hearts.” get there at all. It takes time. It’s a process munities.” With funding from the First Nations of healing … you need to feel those feel“How do we address that?” she quesHealth Authority (FNHA), Robinson has ings of what it was like to be victimized tioned. “We can’t just get rid of them all – been able to hire two coordinators to help and it’s not nice to go back to that. As a develop a strategic plan. She anticipates there’s so many.” victim, you need to connect back to yourlaunching the pilot project in one year. self because it’s almost like you split off. Being out in a canoe without a paddle The FNHA also recently funded a new You’re not connected and that’s where that Asking perpetrators to leave their commuprogram being developed in collaboration emptiness comes from.” nity is not the solution, said Chris Seitcher, with Nanaimo Family Life Association, She has never confronted her abusers, but Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation cultural support Island Health’s Central Island Forensic said, “what would help my healing heart worker. Nurse Examiner Program and Warmland would be to see them get some help.” By not addressing offender behaviour, the Women’s Support Services Society. Rather than competing with each other, onus is being placed on neighbouring naThe Indigenous-informed Sexual AsNuu-chah-nulth nations are cooperating to tions and towns, he said. sault Response Program (SARP) aims to create that foundation. “It doesn’t really help them and it doesn’t improve access to sexual assault services “What’s wonderful about Vancouver


May 6, 2021—Ha-Shilth-Sa—Page 9

he family circle

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oto by Melissa Renwick

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that are culturally safe for Indigenous people who experience sexual violence. It will be available to anyone through the Forensic Nurse Examiner Program at the Nanaimo Regional General Hospital. “Indigenous women and girls are at even more risk of sexual assault,” said Deborah Hollins, Nanaimo Family Life Association executive director. “They also are less likely to seek services because of barriers that are inherent in our colonial structure. That is really what we’re hoping to address.” Moving forward, Hollins said the next step in establishing SARP is to interview volunteers, who will be put through an intensive program that will unpack the impacts of colonialism on Indigenous communities, along with hiring a program coordinator. Eventually, they hope to offer such things as a regular healing circle based on Indigenous models of healing, and access to elders in the community for guidance. “In a partnership like this, we’re able to really develop a response to sexualized violence that reflects the survivors and what they need,” said Hollins. “Partnerships that bring all the players to the table are just so much more effective than one agency trying to answer all the questions. This partnership is specifically and uniquely situated to really give a holistic response to these victims.” ‘Justice means taking responsibility’ In Ahousaht, Tom Paul is in the early stages of trying to acquire funding to create a space where members can engage in dialogue around sexual assault. “I’m kind of grabbing the torch,” he said. “We’ve got to start somewhere.” It’s an opportunity to lead by example and show our children how to respect and love a woman, said Paul, Ahousaht Education Authority co-chair. “I’m all about restorative justice and dealing with this in a holistic way because nobody mentored us as Indian men.” Robinson has been trying to put a program like Building the Family Circle together since she was 20 years old. The now-51-year-old said, “I tried but nobody would listen to me.” At the time, residential schools hadn’t been “exposed,” said Robinson. “We needed to realize the extent of what had happened,” she said. After becoming one of the first to graduate from the University of Toronto’s Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work with a Master of Social Work in Indigenous trauma and resiliency in 2018, Robinson has been building up to realize her life’s work. “I’ll do this until I pass over,” she said. “I want to see this happen because there’s so much unnecessary suffering. I suffered for so long and people are suffering in silence.” The epidemic will not end overnight. As someone who has been working through her trauma from sexual abuse for nearly two decades, Robinson said the path to healing will be a “long, long journey.” “I see this outcry from communities who want some kind of justice,” she said. “And I think justice means taking responsibility – being accountable for that behaviour and being willing to heal. That’s the best gift you can give to a victim - to say, ‘I’m going to stop this behaviour and I’m going to pursue healing.’”

Photo by Karly Blats

The Port Alberni RCMP saw a significant decrease in criminal activity for the first quarter of 2021 compared with the same quarter last year.

Crime down significantly in Port Alberni A massive reduction of theft from vehicles can be a!ributed to education says RCMP By Karly Blats Ha-Shilth-Sa Contributor Port Alberni, BC - Crime is down across the board in Port Alberni for the first quarter of 2021. Inspector Eric Rochette of the Port Alberni RCMP presented the stats from January to March to Port Alberni City Council on April 26. Rochette said overall criminal offenses were down by 31 per cent in the first quarter of 2021 compared to the same quarter last year. Break and enters were down 52 per cent, violent offenses down 17 per cent and theft from vehicles were down 72 per cent. “Theft from vehicles—massive, massive reduction from 112 to 31,” Rochette said. “I think a big part of it is education, making sure you’re locking your vehicles, do not leave items of value in plain view.” Domestic violence cases decreased from 43 calls for service in the first quarter of 2020 to 37 in 2021. “Which is good news,” Rochette said. “The (domestic violence) numbers were steadily going up for a number of factors… COVID being one of them.” For violent crimes, assaults went down from 69 in 2020 to 52 this year, assault with a weapon causing bodily harm went down to eight from 14 and uttering threats went down from 27 to 22. Harassment saw a slight increase from 11 in 2020 to 15 this year. For property crimes, mischief to property went down to 86 this year from 139 last year, theft went down to 54 from 76 and shoplifting went down to 20 from 65. “What we notice is a lot of stores do not call us, especially for first time offenders, they usually just issue a trespass notice telling the person not to return to the store and if they don’t return it’s usually not an issue,” Rochette said. “Or if the value of items stolen is minimal sometimes they just deal with it instead of calling police.” Rochette said the pandemic has had a

huge impact on the department’s staffing levels. Over the last three months, seven members have had to self-isolate for 14 days because they were exposed to someone with active COVID-19. “We’ve been lucky and credit to the members, they’ve been using their personal protective equipment when it’s required and we’ve had no positive cases but as soon as [a member] is in contact with a positive case we have to contact Vancouver Island Health Authority,” Rochette said. Rochette pointed to some good news for the department, telling council that Cst. Beth O’Connor of the Port Alberni RCMP, who works in the Indigenous Safety Team (IST), was successful in obtaining a grant of just under $75,000. This will go towards hiring a registered social worker to be a part of the IST. “We’re trying to improve the Indigenous social navigator program to address social and injustice issues facing Indigenous people within the City of Port Alberni,” Rochette said. “It’s been a really successful program for the last couple of years and when I look at stats and seeing the reduction of the calls for service I think this program has a massive impact on that.” Late last year the Port Alberni RCMP began a five-month project to get mid-level drug dealers off the streets of Port Alberni. Rochette said during the project, the Port Alberni RCMP were able to conduct four search warrants and arrest 10 people that they’re working on seeking possession for the purpose of trafficking charges against. Rochette also said officers seized a “fairly large” amount of illegal drugs like cocaine, methamphetamine, fentanyl, GHB and methadone, as well as a handgun, tasers, machetes, knives, other weapons and $13,000 in cash. “The street value of all the illegal drugs that we seized is close to approximately $400,000,” Rochette said. This project was possible thanks to a $45,000 grant the detachment received

from the Provincial Tactical Enforcement Priority program, which Rochette said they apply for every year. Coun. Ron Paulson asked Insp. Rochette if crime stats are down because prolific offenders are either in jail or away from the community. “There’s a few (offenders) for sure that we arrested over the last three months and some were sentenced to a few months in jail,” Rochette said. “One person in particular was related to the drug world and property crimes who was sentenced and plead guilty to assault causing bodily harm and he received a conditional sentence order with a no go to Alberni Valley.” Rochette said if there’s no reason for an offender to be in Port Alberni, like family in the area or being from the Valley, he likes to push with Crown council to ban them from the community. Coun. Cindy Solda asked how Port Alberni’s crime stats compared to other communities on the Island. “If you look in general there’s been a reduction in property crime all across the board, but it’s been more drastic if you look at Port Alberni,” Rochette said. Courtenay also saw a drop to break and enters this quarter with numbers falling from 87 in 2020 to 50 in 2021 from January to March. Theft from vehicles also dropped this quarter in Courtenay from 121 last year to 98 this year. Courtenay saw a 39 per cent increase in assault files in 2021 compared to the same quarter last year. They also saw an increase to sex offences from 21 in 2020 to 29 this year. Port Alberni’s sex offences were down by one this year compared to last year for the same quarter (12 in 2020 and 11 in 2021). Domestic violence was up only slightly in Courtenay this quarter compared to the same quarter last year with 75 cases in 2020 and 76 in 2021.


Page 10— Ha-Shilth-Sa—May 6, 2021

Businesses cope with the new travel restrictions With ferry travel down significantly, Tofino shops are seeing a quiet spring, hoping the summer will bring more customers By Melissa Renwick Local Journalism Initiative Reporter Tofino, BC - A new public health order that came into effect on Friday restricts British Columbians from traveling between health regions for non-essentials reasons. The move divides the province into three regional zones – Vancouver Island, the Lower Mainland and Fraser Valley, and northern and interior B.C. British Columbians who break the restrictions are subject to a $575 fine, which is in effect until May 25, after the long-weekend. At a time when businesses in Tofino would normally be ramping up in preparation for the summer, the new order has brought them to a stand-still. “It’s so quiet in Tofino,” said Cathy George, while working at the House of Himwitsa on Monday, April 26. “We’ve only had one customer today.” Cathy and her husband, Lewis, Tyee Ha’wilth of Ahousaht First Nation, opened the Native art gallery in Tofino in 1991. It has since branched out to include the Himwitsa Lodge and Dockside Smoked Fish Store “We’re lucky in that sense,” said Cathy. “Because we don’t have a huge overhead. If we [did], we’d be sunk. There’d be no doubt.” Normally, she would have 12 people employed. Currently, there are only three other employees working between the art gallery and the fish store. Cathy said she will not be looking to hire more staff prior to May 25. In response to the latest travel restrictions, the Himwitsa Lodge closed its doors until the order is lifted. All reservation cancelations that were COVID-19-related received a full refund, said Cathy. “If you have a full month booked and you’ve got your deposits in for that month, and then all of a sudden, they slam the doors closed and you’re not allowed to accept these bookings because of travel restrictions, you have to refund all that money,” she said. “That is working capital that you’re refunding. That can be really hard on a business.” On top of refunding reservations to

Photo by Melissa Renwick

Normally, Cathy and Lewis George would have 12 people employed at their House of Himwitsa. Currently, there are only three other employees working between the art gallery and the fish store, but the couple are hoping business will pick up in the summer. their customers, the House of Himwitsa endeavour, the T-M Food Truck. director of public affairs for BC Ferries. is also committed to their artists and are “They are asking customers if the nature The food truck, which normally sells standing by all the orders they placed in of their travel is essential.” menu items such as halibut, crab, clam anticipation of the spring and summer While is it based on an honour system, chowder and fish and chips, is based at tourism seasons. customers travelling for non-essential the Best Western Plus Tin Wis Resort. “It’s very difficult because you’re trying reasons on one of the six routes that cross In light of the new travel restrictions, to stock up for the season by bringing regional zones will be denied travel, she they also closed their doors. [in] orders,” she said. “When you bring said. “It’s what we have to do during this in these huge orders, you expect to be Ferry traffic is “significantly” down time,” said the Tla-o-qui-aht man. “The selling … and when that doesn’t happen, safety of my community comes before since the order was introduced on April you’re then stuck with a lot of inventory. 23, said Marshall. my pocket.” And it’s difficult to make those pay“Fleetwide, we saw a further drop of Instead, Manson has been working as a ments.” 25 per cent in vehicles and 32 per cent in commercial fisherman. Despite the ongoing uncertainty around passengers this weekend, compared to the “I’m not suffering,” he said. “I always future travel restrictions, Cathy said she weekend prior,” she said. “This indicates make sure I have something else lined is grateful for the surrounding local com- up.” to us that British Columbians are avoidmunities. ing non-essential travel.” In support of the provincial travel re“We really, really, really are relying on strictions, BC Ferries is denying customLooking into the summer, Cathy said the local support and we’re very thankful ers travelling for non-essential reasons on her businesses will be open. for everyone that is supporting us,” she “It may not be busy,” she said. “We may routes crossing regional zones. said. “It’s going to be hard for a lot of “Our staff is letting customers know that not have the staff that I would like to businesses. I don’t know how many will see – we might not be able to rehire all of we have been directed by the province survive if it keeps going like this.” of B.C. to ensure people are travelling our stuff, but we will be open. Unless the Jon Manson and his wife, Margaret Tion the ferry system for essential reasons government shuts us down.” tian, recently launched their new business only,” said Deborah Marshall, executive

Phrase of the week: p’uup’uu @iih= Pronounced Boo boo irhn, it means ‘halibut fishing’. Supplied by ciisma.

Illustration by Ivy Cargill-Martin


May 6, 2021—Ha-Shilth-Sa—Page 11

Nations receive funding for economic recovery First Nations eye tourism potential, new positions for Uchucklesaht, Ka:’yu:’k’t’h’/Che:k:tles7et’h’, Huu-ay-aht By Sam Laskaris Ha-Shilth-Sa Contributor Port Alberni, BC – Officials with the Uchucklesaht First Nation will soon be able to devote more time to economic development. That’s because Uchucklesaht has been announced as one of the latest 20 recipients that will receive funding via the Island Coastal Economic Trust (ICET). A total of 17 communities had been previously announced during the first intake of ICET recipients. In total, the economic recovery program, which is funded by the provincial government, includes $1.83 million being distributed to create new jobs. Uchucklesaht is getting $70,000 to hire a community economic development coordinator. “The nation has an economic development committee,” said Ryan Anaka, who serves as Uchucklesaht’s deputy chief administrative officer and is also its director of lands and resources. “However, this group has met irregularly and facilitation of the committee was undertaken on an ad hoc basis by staff.” Two other Nuu-chah-nulth First Nations were also included in the second group of funding recipients. Ka:’yu:’k’t’h’/Che:k:tles7et’h’ First Nations is receiving $60,000 to hire an economic development co-ordinator. And Huu-ay-aht First Nations has been awarded $20,000 to hire a tourism marketing co-ordinator. Anaka said it was important for his First Nation to create a new job position to assist with its economic development. “Given the nation’s economic activity and goals it was determined a full-time position was necessary to undertake internal economic development requirements, such as updating our economic development plan and to assist with moving forward the nation’s economic interests,” he said. “It was determined that current staff’s work load was such that appropriate time was not available to properly support our economic ventures and goals

Photo submitted by Huu-ay-aht First nation

Huu-ay-aht First Nations Councillor Trevor Cootes said a soon-to-be-hired tourism marketing co-ordinator can expect some busy days. to allow them to realize their full potenBesides operating residential and comtial.” mercial rental properties, the UchuckAnaka anticipates Uchucklesaht officials lesaht First Nation also owns a forestry will hire the new economic development company, a bottled water company and co-ordinator during the next few weeks also has a kelp aquaculture partnership. and that individual will commence work Anaka said there is room for the First before summer begins. Nation to expand its holdings and the “It is currently a temporary full-time newly created position should assist with position as that is what the funding this regard. permits,” Anaka said. “The nation will “There are recreational tourism and decide whether to continue the position other opportunities within our territory based on multiple factors.” which deserve exploration,” he said. “Our These factors include other funding opcurrent businesses and future economic portunities the Uchucklesaht can secure opportunities require the time of an ecoas well as the economic performance of nomic development coordinator to reach the First Nation. their full potential.” Anaka said the individual who will be The Ka:’yu:’k’t’h’/Che:k:tles7et’h’ First hired will have several responsibilities. Nations’ economic development coThese include: ordinator will also have several responsiStrategic economic development planbilities. ning The individual with this job will have Implementation of market focussed crucial roles not only spearheading the strategies for Uchucklesaht businesses First Nations’ community economic Market development, creation of adverdevelopment but also building resiliency tisement/marketing tools and assisting with the expansion of poDeveloping a unified brand for Uchuck- tential businesses regionally. lesaht assets Job duties will also include implementIdentifying new market opportunities for ing the priorities of a recently completed Uchucklesaht community economic development

strategy. Meanwhile, the person who will soon be hired to serve as Huu-ay-aht’s tourism marketing co-ordinator can expect some busy days. That individual will be helping to implement the First Nation’s tourism destination plan. “The person coming in is going to be pretty busy,” said Trevor Cootes, a Huuay-aht councillor who is also in charge of the economic development portfolio for the First Nation. Cootes added the tourism marketing coordinator will play a key role in the immediate future as officials from the First Nation decide which of their businesses they can safely reopen in 2021. Many of Huu-ay-aht’s business interests were either closed or featured skeletal crews in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Cootes believes it’s important for others, including the provincial government, to step up and provide some assistance for communities who are facing financial hardships from the pandemic. “Huu-ay-aht has been able to weather the storm but the storm can only last so long,” Cootes said. The majority of the recipients (85 per cent) that will receive ICET funding through the second application intake are for communities with a population of under 5,000. And half of the projects are for Indigenous communities. “Smaller, rural and remote communities have big needs,” said ICET board chair Aaron Stone. “They also have big ideas that these resources will help bring to life.” Ravi Kahlon, the Minister of Jobs, Economy Recovery and Innovation, said the latest funding announcement is a continuation of commitment from the BC government to support recovery from the pandemic and help assist with long-term success. “This program helps ensure communities throughout the ICET region have the tools and resources to become stronger and more resilient,” Kahlon said.

Red dresses stolen from near Ucluelet on Highway 4 By Eric Plummer Ha-Shilth-Sa Editor Ucluelet, BC - Two red dresses have gone missing from their display by Highway 4. The disappearance was noticed today by Jennifer Touchie, as she and her partner checked on the location of the dresses 15 to 20 kilometres east of the Highway 4 junction to Tofino and Ucluelet. The discovery was disturbing, as the pieces were hung about 50 feet apart to recognize two women who are among the countless Indigenous females who have gone missing or were murdered. The dresses were hung on April 25, said Touchie. “My partner Colin and I hung them in the trees and we squeezed them tight to make sure,” said the Yuułuʔiłʔatḥ member. “Today I just went for a drive just to see if they were still hanging - for some reason, I don’t know what made me go there but I did - and they were gone. One hanger was broken.” In recent weeks red dresses have been appearing along highway corridors and roads across Canada to honour those lost in the national phenomenon. According to Canada’s Department of Justice, Ab-

original females fall victim to homicide at a rate of almost six times that of the non-Indigenous population, an ongoing crisis that prompted the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. Those lost will be recognized Wednesday, May 5 on Red Dress Day. Touchie plans to involve the police, but wants the municipalities of Ucluelet and Tofino to take the incident seriously. “They need to understand the significance of the red dresses,” she said. “We just want to make a stand that our lives matter. There’s a lot of people and we need to acknowledge those that have passed or are still missing.” Touchie and others involved in the May event are also hanging blue dress shirts to mark the tragic passing of Indigenous men as well. Her cousin was James Williams, who died in July 2020 in a Duncan shelter on the day he was released from police custody. B.C.’s Independent Investigations Office recently released report indicating that police did not have a role in his death, but the incidents or any people who caused the 52-year-old’s passing have not been concluded by authorities.

Photo by Melissa Renwick

A red dress hangs near Sutton Pass on Highway 4, one of several being hung along Canada’s roadways to recognize Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.


Page 12— Ha-Shilth-Sa—May 6, 2021

Clayoquot Sound Watershed Recovery Initiative Project a•ends to rivers in Ahousaht, Hesquiaht and Tla-o-qui-aht territory, repairing damage from logging By Melissa Renwick Local Journalism Initiative Reporter Tofino, BC - Funding through B.C.’s Economic Recovery Plan will help restore critical salmon habitat in the Clayoquot Sound. Hesquiaht, Ahousaht and Tla-o-qui-aht First Nations are partnering with the Central Westcoast Forest Society (CWFS) to work on the Clayoquot Sound Watershed Recovery Initiative. Along with providing technical training and certification to workers, it will support at least 25 new jobs. The work will be taking place in the Hesquiaht Harbour, the Atleo River and the Tranquil River. By implementing bioengineering approaches, the BC Ministry of Environment and Climate Change said the project is aimed at stabilizing banks, reducing erosion, and restoring salmon habitat. “In Hesquiaht, we’ve been focusing a lot on landslide stabilization,” said Jessica Hutchinson, CWFS executive director. “There were a lot of landslides post-logging in the territory that impacted salmon bearing streams by burying them in sediment, rock and debris. We’re working in the upslope areas and the steep terrain trying to stabilize landslides and prevent that sediment and material delivery to the rivers below.” Terry Dorward, Tla-o-qui-aht Tribal Parks project coordinator, said that combining traditional knowledge with CWFS’s science-based approach creates an ideal partnership. “Our mandate, our Tla-o-qui-aht vision, is to have healthy rivers producing salmon,” he said. “It goes back to our responsibilities. We’ve been trying to build a conservation economy for some time now and working with the folks at CWFS is the perfect fit.” Work in the Tranquil River is planned to begin in June and will focus on a critical

Submitted photo

The Clayoquot Sound Watershed Recovery Initiative aims to stabilize banks, reducing erosion in Hesquiaht Harbour and other areas on Vancouver Island’s west coast. Pictured is Hesquiaht Lake after a storm filled it with debris in 2018. portion of habitat for Chinook salmon, said Mandala Smulders, CWFS director B.C.’s watersheds remain healthy and said Hutchinson. of operations. resilient, while creating 750 new jobs. “It’s their key spawning area,” she said. “We’ve had way more interest than we “The people of the west coast love “And again, it’s been impacted by loghad space for,” she said. “Hopefully we where we live, but we know it takes work ging that was done over 50 years ago but can find more funding and run it again.” to keep it as beautiful as it is,” said Josie has yet to recover. So, we’re [building] Nine jobs will be created in Ahousaht to Osborne, MLA for Mid Island-Pacific some in-stream structures that will create help restore the Anderson Creek waterRim, in a release. “This partnership pools and more holding habitat for adult shed by revitalizing spawning habitat for between the Central Westcoast Forest salmon when they return to the river.” Chum salmon and protecting the commu- Society and the Hesquiaht, Ahousaht and As part of the initiative, CWFS worked nity’s drinking water, said the ministry. Tla-o-qui-aht First Nations will go a long with the three nations to determine their “Through a combination of restoration way in protecting and restoring salmon individual priorities for training and work and water monitoring activities, habitat and strengthening river banks employment. Currently, 10 participants Ahousaht [First] Nation and neighbourwhile creating jobs that people can be are taking part in an environmental ing communities will be prepared to proud of.” technician certificate program at the Best make informed water and land use deciCWFS and the partnering nations will Western Plus Tin Wis Resort. The fivesions that support a healthy ecosystem,” be working on the projects throughout the week program offers foundational field said the ministry. summer and fall. skills, familiarizing students with survey The Clayoquot Sound Watershed Recov“It’s helping us build our partnerships,” methods, such as electrofishing. ery Initiative is one of 70 watershed and said Smulders. “And strengthen the restoOffered on a first-come-first-serve basis, wetland initiatives recently announced ration expertise on the coast.” the training is not only free, but particiby the province. Through StrongerBC, pants are being compensated to attend, $27-million has been allocated to ensure


May 6, 2021—Ha-Shilth-Sa—Page 13

Marine cleanup brings 300 jobs to the west coast Nuu-chah-nulth First Nations welcome $2.2-million coastal improvement project to gather vessels and debris By Mike Youds Ha-Shilth-Sa Contributor A massive effort to clear shorelines of debris and remove derelict vessels is expected to create short-term 300 jobs on the Island’s west coast over the next six months. B.C.’s Clean Coast, Clean Water Initiative (CCCWI), announced last week, allocates $2.2 million to coastal improvement projects in the territories of Tla-oqui-aht, Hesquiaht, Ahousaht, Tseshaht and Ucluelet First Nations. Cleanup operations between May and October span most of the Island’s west coast — roughly 280 kilometres of shoreline — from Sooke to Kyuquot, said Capt. Josh Temple of Tofino-based Coastal Restoration Society (CRS). “For our project on the west coast of Vancouver Island, we’ll see 300 jobs created for First Nations companies, individuals and contractors in communities up and down the coast,” Temple said. The project is part of a larger, $9.5-million B.C. coast initiative to address environmental degradation caused by ocean-borne debris. As project lead, CRS administers funds to T’sou-ke First Nation and three non-governmental organizations specialized in marine cleanup, Surfrider Pacific Rim, Rugged Coast and Ocean Legacy. Eleven First Nations in all are partners and collaborators in the operation. All nine derelict vessels to be removed in the operation are located in Ucluelet Inlet. That’s a small proportion of the total, as many as 100, slated for cleanup this year on the Island’s west coast, Temple said. “We look forward to working with the Coastal Restoration Society and Surfrider for the partnered removal of marine debris and providing environmental opportunities for the citizens of Yuułuʔiłʔatḥ, and for our neighbouring nations,” said Charles McCarthy, Ucluelet First Nation president. “The marine ecosystem is a vital source for our culture, sustains our livelihood, and home.” Temple, critical in the past of federal and provincial governments for leaving the burden of west coast cleanup to local volunteers and private donors, was elated to see major funding. “It’s like a breath of fresh air, really, especially for those of us who have been working in this space for years, raising money from private individuals,” he said. Local volunteers, companies and First Nations have been the front-line force, providing funds, equipment and labour for badly needed marine cleanup on Vancouver Island’s west coast. CCCWI signals a sea change, one that Temple believes there will beneficial in the long run. “It is setting a precedent,” he said. “It’s the largest marine cleanup in history the planet, something that others will look to. It will be a catalyst for global change in the way we approach this issue internationally. If they all step up, then we have a real shot at getting ahead of this.” Data obtained in the course of the cleanup provide an extensive record of ocean debris, enabling a better understanding of the problem. Information will prove to be instrumental in planning and navigating for future initiatives, Temple said. Hesquiaht Chief Counsellor Joshua Charleson welcomes the initiative but believes that only secure and sustainable funding will adequately deal with the issue long-term.

Photo submitted by Coastal Restoration Society

Nine derelict vessels will be removed from Ucluelet Inlet as part of the west coast coastal improvement project. “It’s always been quite serious in our area,” the chief councillor said. “It’s something that’s ongoing and needs to be addressed year after year,” he said. “It coats almost our entire territory in ocean debris that comes from all over the world.” Only an international agreement between all coastal nations would be enough to control the volume of waste entering the ocean, Charleson said. Hesquiaht First Nation will work directly with Rugged Coast and Surf Rider on shoreline cleanup between Anton Spit and Barcester Bay. Over a two-week period, a crew of 10 from HFN will augment a 10-member crew with Rugged Coast. They expect to recover an estimated 30 tonnes of debris in that area alone. “That seems to be the tip of the iceberg as they will see when they start moving around logs and find all the microplastics there,” Charleson said. Hesquiaht undertook a similar project a few years ago focussed mostly on the Hesquiaht Harbour side of the peninsula, he noted. Another pressing environmental concern is ghost gear, derelict fish nets and gear that continue to entangle fish, birds and mammals, including a group of 100 grey whales that pass through Hesquiaht waters, he said. The jobs, though temporary are also welcome, helping to fill a gap left by a decline in resource-based activity. “It will be a huge boost for families up in Hot Springs Cove,” Charleson said. The NDP government, which was critical of the former Liberal government for not adequately funding marine cleanup, held public consultations with coastal communities two years ago. Key concerns included abandoned vessels, mooring buoys, polystyrene foam, aquaculture debris and single-use plastics. CCCWI is the result, intended to cover 1,200 km of coastline, including removal of 100 wrecks, while creating hundreds of jobs in partnership with coastal First Nations. The initiative is part of the CleanBC Plastics Action Plan, which has so far

Map submitted by Hesquiaht First Nation

The extent of shoreline cleanup in Hesquiaht territory stretches between Anton’s Spit and Barcester Bay. removed 127 tonnes of shoreline debris, with few other job opportunities, he said. and the $10-billion COVID response and He also feels a better equipped marine recovery plan. cleanup industry could provide a meanCOVID restrictions hindered cleanup ef- ingful chance of restoring wild salmon. forts last spring on the west coast, Temple “It’s really huge,” Temple said. “We are said. setting the bar higher. There is no one in “The good thing is we have an incredthe world with an operation of this scale ible team and we’re very grateful for the and that’s the global aspect. The local support we’ve received from the host aspect is that this is going to be a real nations and others,” he said lifeline since tourism, fishing and forestry A sector that once operated solely in a sectors are struggling.” volunteer sphere is evolving into a bona He predicted federal ghost gear funding fide profession, providing employment to will also be confirmed in coming weeks. people in rural and remote communities

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Page 14— Ha-Shilth-Sa—May 6, 2021

Sports leaders needed in communities, says elder Samuel has been named for another term with the Indigenous Sport, Physical Activity & Recreation Council By Sam Laskaris Ha-Shilth-Sa Contributor Port Alberni, BC – Wally Samuel Sr. is still waiting for some younger individuals to step up to the plate. But for now the veteran sports advocate, a member of Ahousaht First Nation, will continue to serve as a director for a provincial Indigenous sports board. Samuel, 74, was one of nine individuals named to the Indigenous Sport, Physical Activity & Recreation Council (I-SPARC) board for a nine-month term last June. At the time Samuel said he was pleased he was named to I-SPARC’s board of directors but was also hoping some younger blood would come on board to help lead the organization in the future. That hasn’t happened yet as earlier this month Samuel was named to I-SPARC’s newest board. Besides Samuel, five others were announced as being part of the new executive. Three other directors will also be appointed before I-SPARC’s annual general meeting, which is scheduled for August. “There’s still not enough young people stepping forward,” Samuel said, explaining in part why he was once again selected to serve as an I-SPARC director. Corinne McKay, a member of Nisga’a Nation, will continue to serve as ISPARC’s president. The others appointed to the newest board include Alan Edkins and Dr. Curtis Smecher, who are representing Métis Nation BC. Edkins will serve as the organization’s vice-president. Cheryl Charlie, a Sts’ailes representative, is I-SPARC’s secretary/treasurer. The current board also includes Kitwanga’s Louise Ormerod. I-SPARC was formed back in 2009, with the goal of improving the health and well-being of Indigenous people throughout the province. I-SPARC was established following a signed agreement between the BC Association of Aboriginal Friendship Centres (BCAAFC), the First Nations Health Council and Métis Nation BC.

Photo submtted by Wally Samuel

Ahousaht First Nation member Wally Samuel Sr. will continue to serve as a director on the provincial Indigenous sports body. The BCAAFC served as its host agency until last year when the inaugural ISPARC board was announced. “It’s been around but it wasn’t a society on its own,” Samuel said. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, ISPARC officials have been unable to plan for in-person events during the past year. But Samuel said members of the board have been staging frequent virtual meetings. And there has been plenty of work to do. “We’ve been preparing policies and procedures,” he said. Ironically, one of the procedures that has to be finalized is how to select the three

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other individuals who will be named to I-SPARC’s board this year. Samuel has volunteered with numerous I-SPARC initiatives since the association’s inception a dozen years ago. He believes that experience makes him a valuable member on the current board. “Hopefully I’ll be able to find a way to get interest in the communities and get them involved more,” he said. Samuel though believes a much larger

commitment is required for I-SPARC to properly fulfill its mandate. For example, he’d like to see more funds become available to be able to hire more I-SPARC regional co-ordinators. “Vancouver Island only has one coordinator,” he said. “I would suggest we need one for the west coast area. It’s hard to communicate with everybody when you are supposed to be serving 50-100 communities.” Besides having more regional sporting co-ordinators, Samuel would also like to see more Indigenous communities start having their own sporting leaders. “They need somebody to co-ordinate that in their own community,” he said. Samuel believes there are ways to remain active during the pandemic even though health officials are telling members of the public they cannot gather to take part in various team and sporting activities. “You can still be doing some training,” he said. “And you can take part in virtual workshops and program planning. They should be doing that. But some communities don’t have that type of leadership (to provide programming).” Samuel added he would like to see an increase in the number of Indigenous communities that offer sports workshops, health programs and training sessions for athletes as well as coaches. “There’s some funds (available) to do that,” Samuel said. “But they need somebody to co-ordinate that in their own community.” Samuel said there are several school officials throughout the province that do seek information and funds and offer some programming. But he’d like to see more community efforts in this regard. “I know how to change my family,” Samuel added. “But if people don’t have the right sports people in their community, it’s going to take a lot of hard work to do.”


May 6, 2021—Ha-Shilth-Sa—Page 15

Elder’s cherished longtime dream grows in Tsaxana Community gardens prove their worth during pandemic, with projects in many Nuu-chah-nulth communities By Mikde Youds Ha-Shilth-Sa Contributor Tsaxana, BC - In an era of pandemic shutdowns, community closures and supply shortages, Nuu-chah-nulth community gardens are breaking fresh ground. A new Mowachaht/Muchalaht community garden producing fruit and vegetables in “Covidian times” grew from the seed of an idea planted more than 50 years ago. “The idea came many, many decades ago with some of our community members in Yuquot,” said Margaretta James, who lives in Tsaxana, just across the road from a new greenhouse and raised beds. “We call it the healing garden.” When many Yuquot residents first relocated in the mid-1960s to Ahaminaquus near Gold River, the garden idea languished until the late Sara Fred, community health representative, revived the idea in the 1980s. “Her memory is reflected in our new garden,” James said. Building community food security was a long-held dream for Fred. In 1996, when the community relocated a second time to the new village site of Tsaxana, there were too many other issues involved with resettling to the new village site, James said. “In terms of gardens and food security, we’ve always been using our resources from our territory with fish, elk and berries,” she said. “You name it, we use it. We harvest resources when we can.” “Covidian times,” as James calls them, call for adaptation. There is no grocery store in Tsaxana or Gold River, so getting supplies means a 180-kilometre round trip to Campbell River. With pandemicrelated supply shortages and panic buying last spring, goods were not always available, heightening concern about community food security. Kristi Walker, a health and wellness contractor, had funds available in her budget. She worked with Rose Jack, health services representative, to finally break ground. “It’s been a dream and vision for me since the beginning to help with food security,” said Walker, formerly a northern region wellness provider for NTC. Walker is not Indigenous, yet was raised traditionally by her grandparents, growing gardens and preserving foods. A site was chosen behind the school gymnasium, but the soil was unsuited to cultivation. That meant raise boxes had to be constructed. Walker contacted her best friend about the need for building materials. The next day, a truckload of cedar arrived from Comox Valley. Early in the season, she put in a call to the gardening community in CourtenayComox, which drew donations of starter plants. Community volunteers joined in, building beds, installing fencing and planting. “It was amazing how it all came together so beautifully and perfectly,” Walker said. She organized workshops, which they called “play shops” instead because they were more fun than work. People gathered in small groups, “our garden bubbles,” in keeping with pandemic safety. A greenhouse was completed over winter and volunteers are adding a covered area for elders and children to gather. In the first season, they grew squash, potatoes, onions, peas, broccoli, carrots and leafy greens. They also watched the community grow closer.

Photos by Margaretta James

With a greenhouse and multiple raised beds, a community garden was recently built on the Mowachaht/Muchalaht reserve community. Wayne Hinchcliffe, Brian Lucas, Randy Pierce build a fence (below) for the Mowachaht/Muchalaht garden. “It really makes a difference in that community sense of having a common goal,” James said. “We all eat. That’s one of the really core values of ‘indigenuity,’ sharing your food.” “It’s making those connections with community members,” Walker said. “It’s a really beautiful gathering space for community members at all levels.” Community gardens are hardly a fresh concept. Erika Goldt, who leads the Tofino-based Eat West Coast initiative, part of Clayoquot Biosphere Trust, said they work in partnership with a half-dozen Nuu-cah-nulth nations. The pandemic has underscored the importance of community gardens as foundations of rural and remote food security. “Absolutely,” Goldt said. “One of the exciting things that’s happening now, a lot of community gardeners are coming together to share the challenges and opportunities.” Eat West Coast offers grants to assist with some of the capital costs such as fencing. In February, Goldt and others hosted a Zoom conference series, Coastal Community Gardens, that drew participants from a half dozen Nuu-chah-nulth nations. “Basically, we were trying to look at how we can lift each other up and create healthy living and community garden spaces,” said Anna Lewis, ACRD agricultural advisor. “I think COVID really brought to the forefront issues of food security and local food, and being able to take care of communities, especially those a little more isolated.” Hupacasath Community Garden took root more than 20 years ago. The garden has expanded production in recent years and now delivers 80 produce boxes for Hupacasath families from a three-hectare farm operation, including two greenhouses. “They really enjoy it,” said farm manager Tammy Felsman, who became involved in the garden at an early stage. “It’s really worth it when you see peoples’ faces.”

They were in the process of adding a business component, selling to the broader community in the Alberni Valley, but the pandemic put a hold on those plans and forced temporary closure of a storefront. When Gail K. Gus broached the idea of a Tseshaht community garden on a site formerly occupied by a residential school, the idea wasn’t well received. When the school operated, some students ran away to find food. People were repulsed by the notion of growing food on the site. “Why would we want food where there was a residential school,” they asked. Gus had an answer borne of conviction. “I wanted to heal my people and I also felt that we needed the earth to heal,” she recalled. Seven years later, Nisma Community Garden (“nisma” is the Nuu-chah-nulth word for earth) is a multi-faceted organic growing operation, supplying 150 boxes of produce every other week for families. As well, they incorporate native plants such as camas bulbs and stinging nettles, traditional to local diet. They even have an area where kids can pick berries on their own. “Every year it grows a little bit more

and every year I get more people involved in it,” Gus said. Tseshaht Chief Councillor Ken Watts said the community has an eye on possibly expanding agriculture in the future on land along the lower Somass River purchased in 2006 from Catalyst Paper. Catalyst grew non-native poplar on the site, which lies within the Agricultural Land Reserve, Watts noted. “We could carve out a portion for agriculture, but we’re only just exploring that right now,” he said. Mowachaht/Muchalaht will celebrate their new garden and honour Sara Fred on National Aboriginal Day in June. Fred passed away last year but she was able to see her vision fulfilled. “As Margaretta said, Sara had been working for a community garden for moons,” Walker said. “This was her dream come true. It’s like a memorial legacy,” a living legacy that keeps on giving. Walker is now helping the small Nuchatlaht First Nation community of Oclucje to develop growing capacity for 10 to 15 residents. A new greenhouse was fully planted for the first time this spring and fencing is in the works.


Page 16— Ha-Shilth-Sa—May 6, 2021


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