INTERESTING NEWS Canada’s Oldest First Nations Newspaper - Serving Nuu-chah-nulth-aht since 1974 Canadian Publications Mail Product Vol. 47 - No. 09—May 7, 2020 haas^i>sa Sales Agreement No. 40047776
Urgent warning for west coast communities issued Outbreak grows to 26 cases on Cormorant Island, prompting remote communities to clamp down restrictions By Eric Plummer Ha-Shilth-Sa Editor Vancouver Island, BC - It became disturbingly clear that even remote First Nation communities can be hit by the rapid spread of COVID-19 when an Alert Bay woman succumbed to the respiratory illness on April 24. This is the ﬁrst person in an Aboriginal community to die from coronavirus infection in British Columbia, and the outbreak on Cormorant Island, located east of Port McNeill, has fuelled warnings over the last week from Nuu-chah-nulth leaders on the west coast of Vancouver Island. In a letter to Huu-ay-aht citizens on April 27, Chief Councillor Robert Dennis Sr. noted that the First Nations Health Authority reported that 57 cases have been tracked in Indigenous communities in B.C., and almost half of these infections are on Vancouver Island. The FNHA would not conﬁrm these numbers, but across the province cases continue to grow in every health region, totalling 2,232 with 8 new infections on Tuesday, May 5. One hundred and twenty one of B.C.’s cases have ended in fatality, while 1,472 of those who were infected are deemed fully recovered as of May 5. In his letter to citizens Dennis stressed the need to stay at home and not interact with anyone outside your household, heeding the alarm from the Alert Bay outbreak. “This is upsetting because it could just as easily happen in Anacla. We are isolated from much of the risk, but if people come in and out of our community there is still a risk,” wrote Dennis. “Our isolation keeps us safe, to some degree, but it also means the risk is far greater if the virus arrives because we do not have the health care services of other communities.” Ahousaht leaders have been updating members of how the First Nation is responding to the pandemic with daily online addresses. To stress the urgency of practicing measures to limit the spread of COVID-19, on April 28 Ahousaht included ‘Namgis Elected Chief Don Svanvik in the live update via video feed. Since April 18 Alert Bay has been under a local state of emergency, after the village’s mayor Dennis Buchanan contracted the coronavirus despite staying on Cormorant Island during the pandemic. “We had 26 conﬁrmed cases this morning. Out of that 14 are being recovered,” said Svanvik of his community on Cormorant Island. “I think that there may have been a
Ahousaht First Nation/Facebook video image
Alongside Ahousaht’s Emergency Operations Centre Manager Curtis Dick (right), ‘Namgis Elected Chief Don Svanvik warned Ahousaht members of how the coronavirus suddenly grew to an outbreak in his Alert Bay community. Svanvik participated in Ahousaht’s daily online update to its members via video conference on April 28. feeling that because we are remote that it wouldn’t touch us, but it has come to touch us - we don’t know how, we don’t know when - but what we know is that it’s here,” he added. “There’s only one way to get rid of it, there’s only one way to prevent it, and that’s following the directives of the health experts.” A fundamental part of the directions coming from health authorities has been to avoid contact between people, thereby removing the chance of the coronavirus spreading. This has led health professionals to limit visits to remote communities, instead relying on virtual methods for helping patients. Dr. Ian Warbrick is currently helping to ﬁnd ways for Nuu-chah-nulth communities to access health services during the pandemic. “Even things like wound care that were happening have been held back a bit - but immunizations, home health checks, that can’t be done virtually,” he said. “We’re trying to do everything we can virtually. If we can’t meet a person’s needs virtually, then oftentimes what ends up happening is they’re brought to Toﬁno or Campbell River or wherever it may be.” While remote communities have the possible advantage of being aﬀected
Inside this issue... Social isolation gives rise to domestic abuse.............Page 2 Wage subsidy relief for First Nations’ companies......Page 5 Nurses adjust to social distancing..........................Pages 6-7 Hupacasath community worker recognized...............Page 8 Mysterious raft found near Ahousaht.......................Page 11
by COVID-19 later than urban centres, Warbrick cautions that limited local services brings a signiﬁcant risk of the disease overwhelming whatever medical support is available. “If a lot of people get sick at once, there’s only so much capacity to transport people,” he said of remote West Coast communities. “There may be a false sense of security, that if we isolate from the outside world, then we don’t necessarily need to self isolate within our community. I wish that was true, but unfortunately it’s just not the case.” It can take up to two weeks for COVID-19 symptoms to become apparent, but a growing number of studies suggest that transmission is possible before someone begins coughing or shows a fever. “The horrible thing about this COVID is that it’s asymptomatic for so long, so you just don’t know who’s got it, who’s carrying it,” noted Warbrick, adding that remote communities should prepare to see cases sooner or later as the virus continues to spread. “The way that we’re thinking about it is it will inevitably get to those communities in some point or another. We just hope that when it does that they’re practicing self isolation enough that it spreads slowly.”
Ahousaht has been working to limit the 45-minute boat trips to Toﬁno by taking grocery orders from households in the Flores Island village. Curtis Dick, manager of Ahousaht’s Emergency Operations Centre, stressed that more can be done to cut back on travel. “As a province we’re doing really well, but as a community we can do better,” he said during the First Nation’s online address to members. “Stay home when you can, don’t travel. A message to our boat drivers: Don’t overload your boat, don’t load up your boat.” Meanwhile, a 9:30 p.m. curfew remains in Alert Bay to avoid any possible transmission between households. A curfew has also been in place in Ahousaht over the past few weeks. “You need to stay home absolutely as much as you can. It’s critical in my house, my children can’t even come to my house,” stressed Svanvik. “We have to absolutely minimize any interaction with all people, because if it’s not in your community now, and nobody leaves and nobody goes there, it’s probably not going to get there. But we don’t even know how it got here.”
If undeliverable, please return to: Ha-Shilth-Sa P.O. Box 1383, Port Alberni, B.C. V9Y 7M2
Page 2— Ha-Shilth-Sa—May 7, 2020
Pandemic’s social isolation favours abusers Shelters and support services report a spike in domestic violence incidents as the COVID-19 crisis drags on By Mike Youds Ha-Shilth-Sa Contributor Port Alberni, BC - Staying home may well be the best safeguard against spread of COVID-19, yet social isolation is no friend to victims of domestic violence. Abusers typically attempt to isolate their victims from social supports as a means of control. Social isolation for them is an enabler. Emergency shelters, counsellors and support groups know this all too well and could see a wave of domestic violence cases coming their way as an indirect consequence of the global pandemic. As precautions were ramped up and countless doors slammed shut, they have kept doors and phone lines open, adopting special measures to handle increased needs. “We’ve already got a bad domestic violence problem in our community,” said Ellen Frood, executive director of Alberni Community and Women’s Service Society (ACAWS). ACAWS serves families in the Alberni Valley as well as west coast Island communities, not including Toﬁno and Ucluelet. “We are seeing an increase,” Frood said. “We just know that this isolation is steering people in many diﬀerent ways.” According to a statistical proﬁle released last year by the Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics, there were more than 99,000 incidents of family violence — or more speciﬁcally “intimate partner violence” (IPV) — reported to police in 2018. Eight in 10 victims were women. Most incidents occurred in a private residence, often in homes shared by victims and abusers. Statistics tell only part of the story since most domestic violence is believed to go unreported, but they shed light on contributing factors, rural living being a primary one. Women in rural areas experience IPV at a much higher rate than urban dwellers — 789 victims per 100,000 population compared with 447. Community-wide closures, quarantining and self-isolation may further strain
Actors portray a typical domestic violence investigation in this video produced for Alberni Community and Women’s Service Society. not being seen and therefore it’s not being relationships and stress levels. reported.” Kuu-us Crisis Line Society — founded A Campbell River support group has by Nuu-chah-nulth-aht in the 1990s reported a decrease in calls to its 24-hour and now a national service — has been exceptionally busy. Elia Nicholson-Nave, crisis line and suspects the reason for that is women are unable to speak over the executive director, noted in an email that they have seen a spike due to COVID-19. phone with an abusive partner present. When she ﬁrst heard about Nova Sco“They are about the fear of the untia’s mass shooting in mid-April, Frood known, the ﬁnancial impact, where to go wondered if it was related to domestic to get more information with the everviolence. News reports later conﬁrmed changing government announcements, the mental stress of isolation,” she wrote. the killer’s rampage began with an assault on his girlfriend and continued until 22 At the same time, Kuu-us is receivvictims lay dead. More than half of the ing more expressions of gratitude from victims were women, though the invescallers, a sense of comfort knowing that tigation has not drawn a direct link to they are not closed, “providing a listenmisogyny. ing, supportive ear 24 hours a day,” said Abusive partners use various tactics Nicholson-Nave. of behavioural control and manipulaDomestic violence is a strategic priortion. Social isolation enables this type of ity for Alberni RCMP, said Cpl. Amelia behaviour. At the same time, women are Hayden, detachment spokeswoman. more inclined to be trapped in abusive Police are not seeing an increased numrelationships because the pandemic presber of domestic violence reports, but ents a major obstacle to leaving home. that doesn’t mean the situation is static, ACAWS continues to provide alterHayden said. Third parties, often the ﬁrst to report suspected domestic violence, are natives, including counselling and 11 temporary emergency shelter beds at Port not reporting as often because of isolation. The eyes and ears of community are Alberni Transition House for women, kids and families experiencing abuse. not there to witness or detect abuse. “We’ve had to adapt everything we’re “We’re not getting those reports because there is less social contact,” Hayden said. doing in talking to people by telephone,” “It could be more than usual, however it’s Frood explained.
They’ve also adopted texting as a new and more discreet means by which people trapped in abusive relationships can signal that they need help. If abused partners or youth can’t speak on the phone for fear of repercussions, they can text 250-2061011. “A day has not gone by when we haven’t had seen a text message asking about Transition House,” Frood said. As part of its COVID-19 response in early April, Ottawa reconﬁrmed $30 million in funding for women’s shelters and sexual assault centres nationally. Funding includes a $10-million infusion for Indigenous Service Canada’s network of 46 emergency shelters on reserves. A portion of funding is going directly to shelters to manage or prevent a COVID-19 outbreak in facilities while another portion is ﬂagged for family violence prevention programs. ACAWS, which includes Nuu-chahnulth First Nations in its service area, received $32,000, Frood said. The funds are being used to improve communications with clients as well as to provide socially isolated accommodation, putting clients in hotel rooms should that become necessary. Relationship violence knows no cultural boundaries, victimizing Indigenous and non-Indigenous families alike. A woman is killed every six days in Canada. One in three women is impacted by domestic violence in her lifetime. “Collectively, we have to see what difference we can make through education and counselling,” Frood said. People caught in abusive relationships often don’t recognize the signs or they blame themselves. They are reluctant to report. Counselling can enable them to take back control of their lives by providing an understanding of the physical, emotional, mental and ﬁnancial patterns of abuse. “We’re often the ﬁrst ones to say, ‘It’s not your fault’,” Frood said. Port Alberni Transition House, the temporary emergency shelter, can be reached at 250-724-2223.
Coronavirus cancels this year’s BC Elders Gathering By Eric Plummer Ha-shilth-Sa Editor Vancouver, BC - The B.C. Elders Gathering is the latest event to be cancelled due to concerns over the spread of COVID-19. The announcement came on April 23 from the BC Elders Communication Centre Society, which organizes the annual event that was scheduled for July 7-8 in Vancouver. “Of course, all registration fees and vendor fees will be reimbursed in full ASAP, but we do have to wait for deposits to be reimbursed to us and government funding to still come in for 2020,” reads a notice issued to participants. The society hopes to hold an elders’ gathering next year at the Vancouver Convention Centre in late summer. This would have been the 44th annual event, an enormously popular gathering among First Nations across the province that has drawn thousands of participants in the past. Last year’s gathering saw more than 1,800 elders and support staﬀ ﬂock to the Vancouver Convention Cen-
tre on the territory of the Tsleil-Waututh and Musqueum Nations. But large gatherings have proven to be fertile territory for the highly contagious novel coronavirus to spread, leading B.C.’s provincial health oﬃcer to currently prohibit events of over 50 people and urge those who are out in public to maintain a six-foot distance from others. The prospect of an elders gathering this summer also poses an additional public health risk, as older adults have shown to be more susceptible to COVID-19, a respiratory disease caused by the coronavirus that has yet to face a medical cure or a vaccination. According to data released by the province on April 17, 54 is the median age among the cases in B.C., but 86 is the mid-point number of those who have died from COVID-19. Over 90 per cent of B.C.’s 121 fatalities have been to those over 70, a prevalence among elders that has helped to inform the province’s focus on controlling the spread of the coronavirus in long-term care and assisted living homes. As of May 5, across the province 17 such facilities were aﬀected by COVID-19.
Photo by Denise Titian
Allan (Olie) and Edwina Henderson of the Wei Wai Kum Nation leads the procession to start the B.C. Elders Gathering at the Vancouver Convention Centre in July 2019. The couple were King and Queen for the 2019 event, which is now tentatively expected to resume at the downtown convention centre in late summer 2021.
May 7, 2020—Ha-Shilth-Sa—Page 3
Home schooling frustrations build for parents During the provincial stay-at-home directive parents struggle to manage technology-dependent school lessens By Denise Titian Ha-Shilth-Sa Reporter Nanaimo, BC – Frustrations are building for families struggling to keep up with home schooling and post-secondary course requirements made exponentially more diﬃcult due to government-mandated social isolation requirements. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic provincial governments have declared states of emergency, leading to the closure of all educational institutions, from kindergarten up to university. Initially, many school children loved the idea of an extended spring break, which, for them, marked the beginning of social isolation in British Columbia. But more than six weeks of social isolation is taking its toll on everyone. Parents have had to become teachers, navigating their way through lessons and technology that will allow their children to keep up with their schoolwork from home. Children, in many cases, are doing online schoolwork using electronic gadgets and the internet. Some receive hardcopy packages of materials that allow the student to do their work manually. Some parents, like Stacey Miller, are also students, taking post-secondary courses and having their own course loads and deadlines to meet. Stacey and her husband David, members of the Ehattesaht First Nation, live in Nanaimo with their son, who is completing the tenth grade at Wellington Secondary School. They say they are frustrated with the education system. “My wife Stacey is struggling as a student with bad communication with VIU (Vancouver Island University) and not to mention online classes with no laptop; the list goes on,” David wrote to Ha-Shilth-Sa. “It’s trying times especially for our son – he is in Grade 10 attending Wellington Secondary and they expect him to take classes via his iPhone with no laptop and other resources.” He went on to describe his wife’s frustration. “She needs help. She’s worried she is going to fail her classes without the support of NTC,” said Miller. Stacey Miller, according to David, has received full funding from the NTC Post-Secondary Program. She plans to begin work on the Bachelor of Business Administration in the fall. But with the additional pressures of becoming an instant teacher for her teenager and everyone ﬁghting to stay on top of their work with inadequate tools, there is a real fear that they will not make it. “She is pleading for help to get answers
from anyone,” said David, adding that they are struggling with all of the new duties they must manage. “A lot of students are in the dark without any follow through with the pandemic – it’s very sad,” said Miller. Ian Caplette, the NTC’s director of Education, Training and Social Development, says there is support for school students living within the boundaries of School Districts 70 and 84 because the NTC has negotiated Local Education Agreements with those districts. The two school districts cover Nuu-chah-nulth territories in places like Zeballos in the north, Alberni as well as Toﬁno, Ucluelet, and Bamﬁeld on the coast. The agreements allow Nuu-chah-nulth educations workers access school district classrooms and students in Nuu-chahnulth territories. NEW’s deliver educational support to Indigenous students as well as cultural content. Caplette says that schools in SD 70 and 84 are delivering lessons with the use of technology and internet connectivity. “All students (in SD70 and 84) are provided with no or low-tech options like paper and pencil, however this has not been consistent across the territories,” said Caplette. He acknowledged that the schools have received additional funding from the federal government to help them through the additional demands on the budget during the pandemic, but it is up to school district superintendents to set priorities and allocate funding. Since the crisis started in March, Caplette conﬁrms that some school districts are loaning computers out to students without access to adequate hardware. In addition, some districts have set up mobile hotspots where none exist. “We receive funding from federal government to purchase education services from the province. There are some stipulations on how the funding is to be used,” said Caplette. “We’ve been working with [school district] superintendents to determine what the needs are.” He noted that the Maa-nulth nations, who have treaties, administer their own education agreements with schools. Band-run schools like the ones in Ahousaht are considered independent and are not part of SD70. The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted education services for everyone and it has been challenging to attempt to bring education services to the level they were at prior to the disruption. Caplette says educators have been directed to deliver alternative learning options to all learners within their district. Teachers were sur-
Irene Joseph’s children do school work at their grandparents’ table in Kyuquot. veyed and needs assessments performed alternative,” he advised. for things such as laptops, internet conBut this raises another issue. Caplette nectivity, and people in homes that can noted it may be diﬃcult to even buy a assist the learners. laptop at this time. According to Caplette, public school “Since this pandemic began the worldteachers were tasked with providing opwide demand for computers has risen,” tions for learning. he noted. “People without technology are to be Another alternative is to apply for provided with no-tech options and some funding for a laptop through Jordan’s SD’s loan laptops out to families so that Principle, a federal program that makes work can be completed,” he continued. sure all First Nations children living in The provincial government has worked Canada can access the products, serto ﬁnd ways to help kids who do not have vices and supports they need. Funding adequate internet access. can help with a wide range of health, “School districts have worked with insocial and educational needs, includternet service providers to ensure families ing school supplies. For more informahave low-cost internet or unlimited celltion and application forms for Jordan’s phone data plans,” stated the province. Principle visit https://www.sac-isc.gc.ca/ Local internet hotspots have also been eng/1568396042341/1568396159824 created to ensure free Wi-Fi is available Caplette is the father of school-age chilto multiple families in a neighbourhood, dren and knows ﬁrst-hand the struggles the statement continued. and the process to get help for your chilCaplette suggests that parents living out- dren’s schoolwork. side SD70 and 84 that are struggling to “First, go to the teacher, then to the keep up because they don’t have a laptop principal, then to the superintendent and raise their concerns, ﬁrst with the child’s ﬁnally the board; that is the process,” said teacher. Caplette, adding that under B.C. legisla“They can also speak to the school tion, if the service is not there then the administrator to inform them that device parents have the right to advocate for is inadequate for task and request an their children.
Help is on the way for Indian day school applicants By Denise Titian Ha-Shilth-Sa Reporter Canada – Former Indian day school students that have not submitted their claim forms for Federal Day School Class Action compensation can now ﬁnd help to complete the forms online, according to Hailey MacKinnon, a consultant for Argyle Public Relationships. The nationwide class action settlement compensates survivors of Indian day schools for harms they suﬀered while attending the federally operated institutions. Since the COVID-19 pandemic has brought stay-at-home directions for
Canada’s seniors as well as all nonessential workers, day school survivors are left with few options for assistance in completing the forms. “During this pandemic, there are various supports still available for people who wish to submit a claim,” MacKinnon wrote. Gowling WLG, class counsel for the settlement, is providing virtual Community Assistance Sessions by way of video conference to assist class members with claims forms in British Columbia. “These sessions will provide claimants with information about the claims process and how to complete the claim form. A lawyer will be available to answer
individual questions as well,” MacKinnon wrote in an email. In addition, claimants can register for a Community Assistance Session at the website: https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/ bc-yukon-community-assistance-session-registration-101905939408. These information sessions are done online via videoconferencing. There is an option to participate in the presentation by telephone. In addition to the online presentations, Gowling WLG is providing a Claims Help Line at 1-888-221-2898. The help line provides support for anyone who has speciﬁc questions about their claim form. There is also a Facebook group where
you can ask questions. The group is called McLean Class Action on Indian Day Schools. The Indian Day School website, located at https://indiandayschools.com/en/ resources/, provides step-by-step instruction through an online video. Even though NTC staﬀ are maintaining social distancing some continue to work from home. One of those employees is Resolution Health Support Worker Daisy Elliot, who is available to provide assistance to anyone needing support through the application process. Elliott can be reached by phone at 1-250-720-1736 or by email at Daisy.Elliot@nuuchahnulth.org .
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‘Immediate relief’ for remote villages By Mike Youds Ha-Shilth-Sa Contributor Victoria, BC - Rural, remote and Indigenous communities in B.C. have been promised immediate relief through improved health care services, including better medical transportation options as well as new and faster COVID-19 testing. Premier John Horgan and Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation Scott Fraser announced a new collaborative framework April 20, pledging to ensure all B.C. residents have equal and timely access to health care. “People living in rural, remote and Indigenous communities have unique challenges in accessing the health care they need,” the premier said. “This new collaborative framework will bring immediate relief to these communities, including a commitment to moving patients to the critical care they need at a moment’s notice.” The framework has been adopted as a pandemic response, although it was in development long before COVID-19 appeared. A suite of measures is designed to prevent the spread of COVID-19 while supporting better health outcomes in the future, Horgan said. They include: Improved medical transportation options to larger centres, including ﬂight and ambulance. Housing options for people to self-isolate near their families while remaining in their home communities. New and faster COVID-19 testing technology. Culturally safe contact tracing that respects privacy in small communities. Access to Virtual Doctor of the Day, a new program that connects First Nation members and their families in remote communities to a doctor or nurse practitioner using video-conferencing. Options for accommodation near larger centres with more medical services. Increased mental health supports in communities. Developed through a partnership between First Nations Health Authority (FNHA), Northern Health and Provincial Health Services Authority, the framework is intended to be ﬂexible so local community leaders can adapt it to meet their needs. “This addresses both the urgent short-
term responses needed to support communities during the COVID-19 pandemic and the necessary long-term upgrades to health-care access for rural First Nations populations,” said Colleen Erickson, FNHA board chair. Dr. Danièle Behn Smith, deputy provincial health oﬃcer, Indigenous health, said they are following the crisis but haven’t seen signiﬁcant outbreaks in Indigenous communities. “We need to remain vigilant,” Behn Smith said. “We come into this pandemic on unequal footing,” she added, referring to systemic and racial discrimination within the health care system. NTC President Judith Sayers said she hopes the measures will make a diﬀerence, but wonders how they can address challenges in remote communities with few resources. There have been no suspected COVID-19 cases reported so far in rural Nuu-chah-nulth communities, yet community leaders and health-care staﬀ are wondering how they might respond. “How do you safely get someone to a testing centre?” she asked, noting the need to board a vessel or aircraft and risk infecting others. Isolating patients within communities is problematic, too. “Look at any of our communities and you have a shortage of housing, so where are you going to put people?” Sayers asked. In early April, FNHA announced it was launching Virtual Doctor of the Day, a telehealth program introduced in recent years in northern B.C., in Nuu-chah-nulth communities due to the pandemic. “The rapid deployment of the First Nations Virtual Doctor of the Day technology, and partnership with groups like the Rural Coordination Centre of B.C., is an example of how technology can provide real solutions for our more vulnerable communities by delivering faster and eﬀective primary health care where it is needed,” said Richard Jock, FNHA’s chief executive director. Rapid response and testing have proven to be among the more eﬀective tools to combat a potentially fatal virus for which there is no immunity, no preventive vaccine and no broadly eﬀective treatment. Getting ahead of community transmission of the highly contagious disease through limiting social contact has been credited
COVERAGE: Although we would like to be able to cover all stories and events, we will only do so subject to: - Suﬃcient advance notice addressed speciﬁcally to Ha-Shilth-Sa. - Reporter availability at the time of the event. - Editorial space available in the paper. - Editorial deadlines being adhered to by contributors.
Behn Smith with slowing spread in B.C. in comparison to other provinces. “COVID-19 is a virus that can move extremely quickly and cause a serious decline in health,” said Minister of Health Adrian Dix. “This presents real challenges for rural, remote and Indigenous communities, for whom access to critical care may not always be close to home. We’re working with our partners to make sure people can access the health care they need, no matter where they live in the province.” As part of the initiative, B.C. Emergency Health Services has added to its ﬂeet 55 ambulances and seven ﬁxed-wing and rotary aircraft for medical transport. Faster testing methods include GeneXpert test kits, which take less than 45 minutes to supply a diagnosis for COVID. Several are already in use by FNHA and regional health authorities and more are expected to arrive in coming weeks. NTC has been promised one of the kits but hopes for more to be able to distribute them to First Nations, Sayers said. “There is a big push by the chiefs to say we really need increased access to testing in the communities,” Sayers said. “I’m hoping this framework will help facilitate that.” A number of Nuu-chah-nulth communities remain closed to outsiders. Each nation has adopted its own plan for dealing with the pandemic, all precautionary at this point, she noted, “ﬁngers crossed.” Ahousaht, for example, was looking for surplus cots and blankets. “It’s these preparations that we see in most of our communities,” Sayers said.
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May 7, 2020—Ha-Shilth-Sa—Page 5
Relief as wages subsidized for First Nation companies Businesses owned by Indigenous governments can now receive federal support, covering 75 per cent of wages By Eric Plummer Ha-Shilth-Sa Editor Anacla, BC - Those employed by First Nations-owned businesses are breathing signs of relief this month, with an announcement from Indigenous Services Canada to include these corporations in a wage subsidy program for operations shuttered by the COVID-19 pandemic. Millions of Canadians are now oﬀ the job due to social distancing directives from public health oﬃcials concerned about the spread of the highly contagious coronavirus that leads to the respiratory disease COVID-19. In an eﬀort to mitigate widespread economic collapse, in early April the federal government introduced a program for employers that covers 75 per cent of employees’ wages for as much as 12 weeks. But this didn’t help First Nations-owned businesses to keep their employees on the payroll, as the wage subsidy didn’t apply to these limited partnerships. The Huuay-aht Group of Businesses feared a collapse of the Bamﬁeld economy, where the First Nation has made large investments in recent years to become the largest employer in the area. “We’ve strived really hard to become participants in the local economy by purchasing the motel, the store and the Kingﬁsher resort,” said Huu-ay-aht Chief Councillor Robert Dennis Sr. “We don’t have the reservations that we did in past years…Usually we’re really busy at the campground at the motel and Kingﬁsher that’s not happening.” As the coronavirus began its grip on British Columbia’s economy in March, the HGB’s forestry revenue declined by 34 per cent, sales at the Bamﬁeld Market & Café fell by 44 points while hospitality proceeds dropped 65 per cent. Dennis expects larger losses in April, prompt-
Photo by Heather Thompson
Help was announced on April 29 for those who work for First Nation-owned businesses, like Tianna Peters at the Pachena Bay campground, with these operations being included in the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy program. the balance as the continued presence of ing fears that the Huu-ay-aht Group of COVID-19 is shrinking any possibility Businesses might have to trim its budget of a tourism season in 2020. The wage by 30-50 per cent compared to previous subsidy is what the First Nation had been years, but positive news came from Indigenous Services Canada on Wednesday, hoping for as it tried to keep as many staﬀ working as possible. April 29. “For the campground, there is some “[T]he federal government has further work that we can do,” noted Dennis. adjusted the eligibility for the [Canada “We can put these workers to work doing Emergency Wage Subsidy] to Indigother things: campground expansion, enous government-owned corporations campground development, campground and partnerships to support them in their maintenance, all that kind of stuﬀ. eﬀorts to retain employees who are still There’s things that we can do that are part on the payroll, and to rehire workers of the normal work anyway.” previously laid oﬀ so that they are able Economic fears are particularly high to count on a steady income through the in the Indigenous tourism sector, where current challenges,” reads the federal many companies are still in their crucial department’s announcement. early years of operations. Courtney-AlDuring the busy summer months HGB berni Member of Parliament Gord Johns employs the equivalent of 55 full-time has raised this issue at the federal level staﬀ, but these positions have hung in
with a recent letter sent to Mélanie Joly, Canada’s minister of Economic Development and Oﬃcial Languages. “As an emerging part of regional economies, with new start-ups and new initiatives, Indigenous tourism is particularly vulnerable to the downturn all businesses are experiencing. These Indigenous business leaders need support from this government,” wrote Johns. “While some businesses are open now, they don’t know if they’ll have the capacity to expand operations during the normally busy season. This is crucial not only for business owners, but also for the workers who rely on this income.” The potential loss of income has brought a social concern to the Huu-ay-aht, which expects the First Nation’s annual budget to increase if cuts are made to its group of businesses. More requests from citizens for supports is anticipated if income decline persists. “The biggest thing that will happen to us – and we’ve seen this in the past – is that when we have a higher unemployment rate, our social service costs in our nation go up dramatically,” said Dennis. “What that means is people are applying more for patient travel, social assistance, any other programs that we have.” The Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy provides payments retroactively from March 15, extending until June 6. As response to COVID-19 changes each day, Dennis was optimistic that the feds would eventually include the Huu-ay-aht’s businesses in the wage subsidy program. “Generally, we’ve found that there’s been a quick response when things are missed. We’ve seen the Prime Minister get up and include something that was excluded from any previous announcement,” he said. “We’ve got to work to together to deal with the impacts of the COVID-19 crisis.”
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NTC nurses adjust service delivery for communities Front line health care workers navigate through the needs of their clients while avoiding coronavirus spread By Denise Titian Ha-Shilth-Sa Newspaper Nuu-chah-nulth territories – Nuuchah-nulth Tribal Council nurses are working hard to continue patient care during a time of social isolation. By the very nature of the job, patient care is an intimate, hands-on service usually requiring face-to-face visits. Now, amid a pandemic, personal visits between nurses and their clients have been scaled back dramatically. “Things have changed majorly,” said Homecare Nurse Clinical Leader Catherine Gislason, adding that normally nurses are out in communities, meeting with people, and checking on their service plans. “We have to be a lot more careful when we’re out with people making sure it’s safe for the nurses and for the clients.” The nurses must weigh risks and beneﬁts of the services that they can and can’t deliver. For example, they are not providing footcare during the pandemic. “There is no person-to-person contact other than the few that must be seen and can’t be put oﬀ,” said Gislason, adding that when they must see a client they have to be COVID-safe about it. According to Gislason, the 18 NTC nurses that deliver homecare services have adjusted in a way that ensures safety for both the patient and the nurse. “During COVID-19 we are doing mostly everything by phone,” said Gislason. She noted that six of the NTC homecare nurses have dual duties, spending some of their time working as community care nurses. Homecare nursing allows clients with healthcare needs to be seen at home rather than having to stay in a health-care facility. “We make sure they have everything they need and are looked after,” Gislason said. In some cases, such as dressing changes, injections and checking in with palliative care patients, face-to-face visits are required. Francine Gascoyne, who is also a community health nurse clinical leader with the NTC, says that the nursing staﬀ continue to deliver essential services to the communities. In keeping with social distancing requirements, Gascoyne has been busy, working from home, connecting with other health professionals by phone, email and teleconferencing. Nursing without personal contact Service delivery to remote communities has had to change. Gascoyne says during the pandemic, in-person nursing services to Nitinaht Lake, Anacla, Hot Springs Cove, Kyuquot, Zeballos and Tsaxana have stopped. However, the nurses do telephone check-ins with clients and keep in close contact with health leadership within the communities, providing support to them. “Nurses always travel to the remote communities in pairs for safety and you can’t keep six feet apart in a vehicle,” said Gislason. In addition, community leaders are working hard to keep their communities
Photo by Eric Plummer
Francine Gascoyne and other NTC nurses have had to adjust how they serve Nuu-chah-nulth communities during the COVID-19 pandemic. While many direct consultations are being conducted through virtual means, some services still require community visits. safe by limiting visits from outsiders. NTC homecare nurses will, in some ited to only those with sever symptoms, “They are doing their best to keep their cases, check in daily with high priority health care workers and nursing home communities safe and we recognize people, such as those in fragile health residents. that,” said Gislason, adding that the more situations. “It now includes anyone with cold, people move around the more risk there “Everyone is getting what they need; inﬂuenza or COVID-19-like symptoms, is. we’re doing the urgent care that we need however mild,” said Gascoyne. With that in mind, she said that the to and keeping in contact with rest by While testing has expanded, not evnurses that must travel to communities to phone, Zoom, video calling, texting and eryone needs a test. COVID-19 testing deliver essential services like immunizasocial media, whatever is available,” said is not recommended for people without tions now perform these tasks at commu- Gislason. symptoms. nity health centres, not in private homes. The NTC’s Aboriginal liaison nurse The symptoms of COVID-19 are similar “We slowly started rolling out comprovides services to Nuu-chah-nulth to other respiratory illnesses, including munity health nurse essential services,” people at the hospital. She normally the ﬂu and common cold. They include: Gascoyne said. works at the West Coast General in Port fever, chills, cough, shortness of breath, Immunization clinics must resume Alberni, but is also working from home sore throat, painful swallowing, stuﬀy Careful to limit personal contact, NTC during the pandemic. or runny nose, loss of sense of smell, nurses will begin going back into the “She is aware of who is entering and headache, muscle aches, fatigue, and loss communities, starting with Ahousaht, being discharged from the hospital and of appetite. Tseshaht, Ty-Histanis and Strong Famis working on meeting their needs at Any doctor or nurse can order a test for ily House on 3rd Avenue in Port Alberni, home,” said Gislason. “We’re working a patient with cold, inﬂuenza or COVIDdoing things like routine immunization on getting her back into the hospital.” 19-like symptoms. clinic for babies and children. Lesley Cerney, the NTC’s nurse navigaIf you don’t have a doctor, you can call “The provincial health oﬃcer encourtor, delivers services to Nuu-chah-nulth Island Health at 1-844-901-8442 to be ages us to provide this essential service people living away from home. “She is assessed if you need testing. Appoint(immunizations) because we don’t want like the NTC Aboriginal liaison but outments for COVID-19 testing must be preto another type of epidemic,” said Gasside the hospital,” said Gislason. booked through a primary care provider coyne. Expanded testing for COVID-19 or Island Health’s call centre. Since the March 20 oﬃce shut down, While there is no deﬁnite end in sight Testing sites are unable to accommodate the NTC nurses are checking in with to social restrictions, the NTC nurses are unscheduled or walk-in visits. patients by telephone. looking forward to getting back to norIsland Health asks you to not go to a Some nurses are still providing pregmal duties in the not too distant future. hospital emergency department seeknancy tests, STI (sexually transmitted in“We are learning more about the virus ing COVID-19 testing. However, if you fection) screening, and are oﬀering harm and how to be more safe,” said Gislason. have a medical emergency, you should reduction supplies like naloxone kits. “We will be looking at how to safely get call 911 or go to the nearest emergency “The opioid crisis is still a public health back to work when the time comes.” department. emergency,” said Gascoyne. What they do know is that the virus is If you have questions for the NTC In addition, the nurses stay connected still out there, and people are still getting nurses, call Francine Gascoyne at 250with prenatal and postnatal clients. sick. 735-0416 or Catherine Gislason at 250“Some nurses use Zoom to connect, and “It’s out there, but if we are vigilant, 720-1763 from Monday to Friday 8 a.m. can see babies through this application,” stay home and stay away from one to 4:30 p.m. said Gascoyne. another it will eventually die oﬀ,” said “We will hear concerns then determine “We look after a lot of people so it’s a Gislason. appropriate staﬀ to address the concern. lot of phone calls, a lot of checking in Gascoyne said that the province has We still want people to be looking after and we’re keeping in touch with each of expanded its COVID-19 testing strategy. their health,” said Gascoyne. the communities as well,” Gislason said. Before late April this testing was lim-
May 7, 2020—Ha-Shilth-Sa—Page 7
Pandemic delays start of emergency care program Assessment for coastal communities shows need for ﬁrst responder help, transportation and communications By Sam Laskaris Ha-Shilth-Sa Contributor Vancouver, BC – Changes are coming to the way emergency care is delivered in some Nuu-chah-nulth communities. But ironically, the COVID-19 pandemic has placed the majority of the project’s implementation details on hold. For the past two years discussions had been staged on how to improve emergency care in four Nuu-chah-nulth communities: Kyuquot, Hesquiaht’s Hot Springs Cove, Ahousaht and Tla-o-qui-aht’s west coast settlements near Toﬁno. Those talks spurred the creation of a project dubbed Kwiis hen niip, which translates into the word ‘Change’. Ka:’yu:’k’t’h’/Che:k’tles7et’h’ elder Christina Cox chose the name of the project. The four-year project will be funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), the federal funding agency for health research. In March initial funds for the program were released and Rebecca Lee was hired as the project manager. Lee also serves as the research manager of programs and strategic planning at the Indigenous Health Education Access Research Training (I-HEART) Centre in Vancouver. Shortly after the Kwiis hen niip project was launched, the pandemic arrived in Canada. As a result, the ensuing stages, including proposed community meetings which would have been taking place now, have been put on hold. “Because of COVID-19 we are delayed,” Lee said. “However, we are starting to reach out to health directors from the four communities to ask about community needs around emergency services.” Lee believes the reasons why improvements are needed in the way emergency care is delivered to the Nuu-chah-nulth nations have been enhanced in recent
A number of meetings were held in various communities over the past two years to help create a Nuu-chah-nulth emergency care program. weeks. Lee added the need for change is re“The pandemic deﬁnitely highlights ﬂected by the fact ﬁrst responders from emergency needs in Indigenous commuNuu-chah-nulth communities at times nities and also the strength and resilience lack proper training, supplies or funding to provide services within community to provide proper emergency services. when people are limited in terms of leavThe main goal of the Kwiis hen niip ing communities,” she said. project is to improve emergency mediPrior to the creation of the Kwiis hen cine care in the four Nuu-chah-nulth niip project, a needs assessment had been communities. done to determine the current state of But another goal is to have community emergency care in the four Nuu-chahengagement build solid relationships nulth communities. That assessment between communities, government, found there were four priority areas research institutions and organizations in which could beneﬁt from improvement. order to create vital emergency medicine They were ﬁrst responder support, services. patient transport, communications and “It’s very much a community-driven community readiness. project,” Lee said. “Each of the communities has diﬀerShe also said the main outcome which ent needs to emergency coverage,” Lee is desired is to have not only more eﬀecsaid. “And there’s a number of diﬀerent tive but conﬁdent ﬁrst responders, with issues.” access to remote help and speedy transDue to their remoteness, all of the comportation when required. The hope is to munities have transportation issues, espe- deliver these methods with cultural safety cially when there is a need to transfer an and community bystander support. individual to a hospital in Toﬁno. “By providing appropriate care at the “It’s often a very treacherous journey,” scene and by improving the timeliness Lee said. of transfer when necessary, unnecessary
adverse consequences will be avoided,” Lee said. “The project team will include community members to further develop knowledge, skills and capacity for implementing Indigenous research methods in integrated knowledge translation.” When necessary, community members will be hired to support local initiatives. While the Kwiis hen niip project is intended to beneﬁt the four Nuu-chah-nulth nations, Lee thinks, if successful, the venture could be duplicated elsewhere. “We believe that the methods we employ will be transferable to improving emergency medicine care in other remote Indigenous communities in Canada,” she said. Some of the project partners include the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council (NTC), First Nations Health Authority, Vancouver Island Health Authority, Heart and Stoke Foundation, Justice Institute of BC, BC Emergency Health Services and Telus Communications. Lee would obviously prefer to be working full steam ahead with the Kwiis hen niip venture. And she’s uncertain when COVID-19 restrictions will be lifted in order to allow that to happen. “It’s deﬁnitely frustrating,” Lee said of the pandemic, which interrupted work that would be happening now. “But we’re hoping to keep this project going.” Following Lee’s hiring as project manager, one of the next steps in the project was to hire an NTC community-based project co-ordinator. That hiring has been delayed as have been the majority of plans that were expected to occur in the ﬁrst year of the project, including the establishment of ethical and data agreements. Sustainment of the project was also scheduled to begin in its ﬁrst year. By the fourth year the goal was to have the system working smoothly enough for the transition from research project to a wellfunctioning program.
Nursing under social distancing guidelines By Eric Plummer Ha-Shilth-Sa Editor British Columbia - Although new cases of COVID-19 are clearly on the downward trend in British Columbia, social distancing measures remain, with directives to avoid close contact and gatherings with others while in public. Health care providers have followed the province’s social distancing requirements by heavily relying on telephone and online consultations with patients, and remote Nuu-chah-nulth communities have limited entry to essential services only. But how do nurses who focus on relationships with those in the distant reaches of western Vancouver Island maintain their connections while such communities remain vulnerable to potential spread of the highly infectious coronavirus? “Pretty much everything you do during the pandemic is challenging,” admitted Jeannette Watts, manager of the Nuuchah-nulth Tribal Council’s nursing
program. “The basic essential nursing services have to be looked at really closely step by step by step to uphold the regulations during the COVID pandemic.” Among the essential nursing services are vaccination clinics to control other infectious diseases, as well as consultations with expecting parents and families of newborns. These services have already gradually begun to return to Nuu-chahnulth villages. “Those clinics have to be set up very carefully. All the steps to maintain proper personal distancing have to be taken into consideration,” stressed Watts. “We’ve always provided various clinics, but we haven’t been able to have them until just recently because of COVID.” This also applies to travel for nurses venturing to communities like Anacla, Nitinaht Lake and Zeballos. Normally two nurses travel alongside each other in a truck to these villages, but now one drives while another sits in the back to
follow the social distancing guideline of six feet – both wearing masks. For years now the nursing program has adhered to a model emphasizing culturally appropriate, respectful health care that upholds traditional Nuu-chahnulth practices. Service delivery follows Nursing the Nuu-chah-nulth Way, an ongoing research project and framework drafted through consultation with elders that respects “individual needs, family systems and community empowerment” while promoting “the full spiritual, emotional, mental and physical potential” of patients, according to the framework. This culturally directed approach has proven to be a transition from a nursing model based on Health Canada. Marlene Atleo, an associate professor at the University of Manitoba’s Department of Educational Administration, Foundations & Psychology, has been helping to inform this approach since the 1980s. “From early on the nurses had a very diﬃcult time orienting themselves to
the Nuu-chah-nulth and the demands of the Nuu-chah-nulth nursing program, because they were educated in a way in which that wasn’t well articulated or well deﬁned,” she said. “Since ’85 my orientation has been disorientation. How do we orient people to what our community needs and our vision of ourselves, as opposed to their reason of what we should be? It’s a huge gap.” The process has become a means of informing professionals of the Nuuchah-nulth way of seeing the world, an education that Atleo incorporated into the nursing program at North Island College. “Increasingly nurses have come in with more intercultural awareness, training and all that kind of thing,” she said. Although they haven’t been seeing patients as often during the COVID-19 pandemic, constant communication has been essential to maintain connections. “Nurses are calling clients on a daily basis, they’re reaching out to all of their clients that they work with,” said Watts.
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Hupacasath community worker gets provincial award BC Achievement Foundation recognizes Carolina Tatoosh for her 20 years of dedication to elders and youth By Sam Laskaris Ha-Shilth-Sa Contributor Port Alberni, BC – Carolina Tatoosh will eventually receive a prestigious provincial accolade. But it is uncertain when Tatoosh, who has served as the youth and elders community work co-ordinator for Hupacasath First Nation for the past two decades, will be presented with her BC Achievement Foundation award. Tatoosh is also not sure when she will be able to return to her job for which she is being recognized. She was laid oﬀ in mid-March when restrictions were put in place to hopefully limit the spread of COVID-19. It was announced on April 27 that Tatoosh is one of 25 individuals from the province who will receive a BC Achievement Foundation award this year. But a presentation ceremony in Victoria to recognize all recipients in late April was postponed due to pandemic restrictions. A rescheduled date for the ceremony has yet to be announced. This marks the 17th year provincial ofﬁcials have handed out the BC Achievement Foundation awards. They are presented to residents of the province who build better, stronger, more resilient communities and shine as examples of dedication and service. “You don’t do your job to be nominated for anything,” Tatoosh said. “You just do your job. But it’s nice to be recognized for those people you’ve been around for so many years.” Tatoosh, 51, was born in Bolivia. She married Hupacasath First Nation member Tom Tatoosh in 2000. Before becoming Hupacasath’s youth/ elder co-ordinator 20 years ago, Tatoosh had spent seven years as a community worker for the First Nation, providing inhouse care for elders. There’s no denying Tatoosh has been a key member of the community for many years now. But she also is pleased with how she has been received. “This job has been one of the most important opportunities that I have ever been given,” she said. “I love my job and most of all I love the Hupacasath community for opening their arms to me.”
Carolina Tatoosh, standing in the centre, operates youth and seniors programs for the Hupacasath First Nation. Tatoosh has equally enjoyed working with youth and elders. “Working with youth for the past 20 years has allowed me to live out my own youth through play and crafts,” she said. Programs she has spearheaded include after-school arts and crafts sessions, swim outings and tutoring at the First Nation’s youth centre, which opened a half dozen years ago. She’s also organized tubing and skiing trips as well as drum making programs and cooking classes. “You name it and we’ve done it,” Tatoosh said. For seniors, she has held countless excursions. “Most are outside activities,” she said. “Every single month we go to another community on the island. They kind of dictate to me what they want to do.” Tatoosh said she has greatly beneﬁtted from these outings. “It has brought so many diﬀerent people into my life,” she said. “I have had the
privilege to learn from so many diﬀerent elders from diﬀerent nations. The culture is very important to the people.” Tatoosh has no idea when she’ll be able to return to her job. “I’m not going to lie,” she said. “At ﬁrst I was happy to be oﬀ because I felt like I was burning out. It’s almost like the universe said here’s a couple days oﬀ. But now I am missing the kids. We keep in touch through Instagram.” Tatoosh, however, realizes it will in all likelihood be a summer unlike one she has had in numerous years. “I am so worried about what summer is going to look like for the kids because we are so used to being at the lake, camping and enjoying all the diﬀerent programs that are scheduled to keep them busy,” she said. “I usually have them every day during the summer because parents are working or ﬁshing. This has disrupted so many lives in so many diﬀerent ways.” Tatoosh added a youth conference that several Hupacasath youngsters had
planned to attend in Kelowna has been cancelled. Though she isn’t sure when she’ll return to work, Tatoosh realizes there will be plenty to do once there is some sort of normalcy. In fact, she’s contemplating asking for some additional support via a part-time worker to assist her with all of the programs she provides for youth and elders. “We’re getting more and more kids and more people (out for programs),” she said. “I don’t think it’s a job for just one person.” Tatoosh added her husband and daughter Lindsey as well as several others have contributed to the success of Hupacasath programs she’s operated. “When I’m over capacity and need a seciihond person my husband or daughter or both will come out to chaperone,” she said. “I really could not have done my job without their support and so many others, too many to mention. This job has been a team eﬀort.”
Phrase of the week - +’aaq’ac^i+ %a+%is ^+’iihc’iip Pronounced ‘tla ka chilt alt ish tlee hir cheep’, this means ‘The ﬂowers are blossoming’. Supplied by čiisma.
Ivy Cargill-Martin Illustration
May 7, 2020—Ha-Shilth-Sa—Page 9
May 11 to 17, 2020
Nursing Week Wiisahii%ap (Keeping Healthy) “Huppiipc>at`” (Helping Each Other) “@a@a>h=%i” (Be comfortable, be well)
Thank You Nuu-chah-nulth Nursing Staff
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The president’s message to Nuu-chah-nulth-aht Greetings to all of you. I hope you are all in good health. I know that we are in an unusual time as we work hard to keep the COVID-19 virus from our communities. I would like to send my deepest sympathies to all the communities that have recently lost some of their members. I know this has been particularly diﬃcult as we cannot go visit the grieving family, as is our practice, or go say goodbye at a funeral due to the physical distancing rules. This has made things more difﬁcult and my heart goes out to all those who are grieving. I know there are plans to say a proper goodbye to some at a later date when we can gather again. As the NTC executive, we continue to monitor the COVID-!9 situation and intervene politically as needed. All of the First Nations are handling their own emergency response plans and when we asked, we will assist. Vice-President Mariah Charleson and I have a weekly call with Minister Scott Fraser to discuss any concerns with the minister of Indigenous Relations that we have regarding COVID-19. We have raised issues like getting testing machines for COVID-19, issues with transportation in getting our NCN to centres for testing, and ensuring there is fairness from the federal government to First Nations as there are to non-First Nation people. We know there are many calls happening between your First Nations and diﬀerent levels of the FNHA, Emergency Management BC and ISC. I and the VP are on many of these calls. These calls provide information to our communities on how to ﬁght the virus, how to prepare if anyone does get the virus, what resources are available to communities and to First Nations people. There is a lot of information available on the ISC, FNHA and EMBC websites. While the NTC oﬃce remains closed, our staﬀ are carrying out their work from home and are working on the interests of the Nuu-chah-nulth. We are carrying out meetings over the phone or on the computer and keeping in touch. NTC has cancelled the Tlu-piich Games as we follow the provincial health oﬃcer ruling that there be no large gatherings for some time to come. We have postponed NTC grad and scholarships for the same reasons and hope to be able to do this recognition at some point, but this will all depend on the ability to carry out this celebration in safety. We will be following the advice of the health oﬃcer as well on when we can gather again. We got some good news during these times. Treaty loans have ﬁnally been taken oﬀ First Nations’ books as of March 31, 2020. The federal government announced this some time ago, it just took them a long time to actually go through their processes to remove it. This lifts a huge ﬁnancial burden oﬀ of all NCN nations. We have been lobbying for many years to have the treaty debt forgiven and it ﬁnally has happened. We have been working with School District 70 and 84 to access laptops or other devices to help students in school continue their class work as well as those working on training through NETP. SD 70 has provided some funds hoping we
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Phone: 250-730-1262 or 250-720-3096 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org can leverage other funds as well so we can provide technology to our students. We have assurances that before schools are opened up again, that our First Nations are okay with that. We do not want schools to open up when there is still risks to our communities. We continue to work with schools to ensure our students are able to keep learning. We know how hard it is for our students not to do things with their friends and we can only keep on working with them to keep their distances as the health of all is at stake. Connectivity is an issue in some of our communities like Tla-o-qui-aht, Huu-ayaht, and others and we are also looking into improving their services, or in some cases, strengthening the broadband. It is through technology that we can have information about the virus, what is happening across Canada and the world. It is also about using technology to help our students at elementary/secondary, postsecondary and training programs. I encourage all of you to work hard to keep the virus from our communities. Washing hands, keeping your distance, not coughing or sneezing without covering your nose or mouth. We have all been watching the Navaho Nation and how quickly the virus has spread there and the number of deaths they have suffered. Our communities are so closely connected that it is easy for this virus to spread and we must do all in our power to not allow that to happen. I thank all those who are working so hard in their communities to help prevent the spread of the virus, to providing other services to members and taking care of each other. Thanks to all the front line workers who are treating those who have the virus and all the support services to those workers. Thanking all those who are still providing us services like grocery stores, pharmacies, banks, and other kinds of services that are there so we can get what we need. I know many are looking seriously at food sovereignty, growing your own herbs and vegetables, getting as independent and healthy as they can. I am proud of all those who are working on doing that and encourage you to continue. A quick note: the NTC does not have money to be giving out to individual members. Money went out to First Nations to help with everything to do with the virus. Sending positive thoughts and prayers to you all during this pandemic and I think of all of you every day. -Kekinusuqs, Judith Sayers
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Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council Important NTC Announcement 2020 Tlu-piich Games Cancelled After careful consideration by the NTC Board of Directors, it is with great regret that due to the consequence of the covid-19 pandemic, the 2020 Tlu-piich Games has been cancelled. This Nuu-chah-nulth community event is generally held in early August, in Port Alberni. We understand that there will be some disappointment as many look forward to this fun gathering of family and friends from throughout Nuu-chah-nulth territory. However, we are in extraordinary times with the pandemic and we believe that this is the right decision to make at this time. We hope that you will have a safe summer with your families, and we look forward to the Tlupiich Games event return in 2021.
May 7, 2020—Ha-Shilth-Sa—Page 11
Mysterious homemade raft found near Ahousaht Strange ﬁnd prompts search in the area, but family in nearby Seitcher Bay admits to creating raft the day before By Denise Titian Ha-Shilth-Sa Reporter Ahousaht, BC – An early morning water taxi trip went from routine to intriguing for Pat John of Ahousaht on April 20. As he approached the area of Catface reef, not far from Flores Island where Ahousaht is located, he spotted something odd ﬂoating on the water. “It’s got jerry cans for ﬂoatation and a bunch branches tied to the jerry cans,” said John, who video recorded the discovery. The collection of sticks was tied together with quarter-inch crab pot line, according to John. It was ﬂoating on two plastic ﬁve-gallon jerry cans along with about ﬁve smaller jerry cans, the nozzles taped shut. John retrieved the raft and brought it to Ahousaht, then contacted the Ahousaht RCMP detachment. According to Darlene Dick of Ahousaht, crews were preparing to go out and search the area. A member of the Canadian Coast Guard stationed in Toﬁno hadn’t been contacted directly about the ﬁnd, but had heard about it third-hand and dispatched a vessel to the area. “This is all very new to us – we have no idea of what’s going on,” said the Coast Guard member. For some the discovery brought thoughts Travis Thomas of Ahousaht, who went missing from Bartlett Island in the summer of 2018. But the raft ended up coming from a family living in isolation across the channel from Ahousaht. Nitanis Desjarlais said her family, who live in a remote
Photo by Pat John
Jean Thomas, mother of the Travis Thomas, examines a raft that was recently found in the vicinity of where her son went missing in 2018. place called Seitcher Bay, watched the very well and I told them to tie it up,” jarlais. movie Castaway one evening. With noth- said Desjarlais, adding that the rafts were So, with a spotty Wi-Fi signal, the ing to do during the day the kids decided built on the beach at low tide. “I didn’t children were surprised to see their ﬂoatto have a raft-building contest. want the raft to get away and have people away raft on the Ha-Shilth-Sa webpage. According to Desjarlais, the girls conthinking it was a pile of pollution.” Their mother said they were afraid they structed a raft from old life jackets while But someone forgot to anchor the raft would go to jail when they saw the her boys, Tseeqwtin and Cheveyo, made and it got away. article. one of sticks and jerry cans. “We even talked about what people “It’s the talk of Seitcher Bay today,” she “The one made of jerry cans ﬂoated might think if it were found,” said Dessaid.
Sounds of bagpipes echoes through NCN territories By Denise Titian Ha-Shilth-Sa Reporter Port Alberni, BC – In the quieter times of COVID-19 isolation comes an unusual sound, the mournful wailing of bagpipe music drifting over the Somass River. The piper is RCMP Constable Pete Batt and he played his pipes on the stairs of Tseshaht’s Maht Mahs gym on the morning of April 23. One’s ﬁrst thought might be that he is playing in remembrance of his comrade, Cst. Heidi Stevenson, who was one of 22 victims shot and killed in a murder spree that struck Nova Scotia over the weekend of April 18. “I can’t say it wasn’t on my mind,” said Cst. Batt, who once lived in Nova Scotia. “I knew one of the victims and my father was an RCMP oﬃcer over there.” But Cst. Batt was playing his pipes for another reason. A reason that celebrates cultural similarities. Batt is a member of the Port Alberni RCMP detachment’s First Nations Community Policing Unit and has created a program to raise cultural awareness among students in the Alberni Valley. “I have been working with cultural teacher Peggy Tatoosh in a culture share program with Grade 7 students,” said Cst. Batt. He spoke with Tatoosh about cultural parallels between Nuu-chah-nulth and his own Scottish heritage. In Nuu-chah-nulth culture people did not enter a chief’s territory without ﬁrst seeking permission. In the past, when the ocean was the main highway, the people
paddled their canoes to the territories of other nations for many reasons. It could be to invite them to a potlatch, a request to visit or maybe to seek permission to harvest resources. In modern times, the practice of seeking permission to land in the territory of another has been revived in the annual canoe journeys. The paddlers arrive at the landing singing. A speaker then informs the beach keeper of the nature of the visit and asks for permission to land. Batt says a similar thing was practiced in Scottish culture. “The chiefs would send pipers ahead to announce their arrival and to see whether the hosts were friendly or hostile,” said Batt. The more pipers the Scottish chief had, the further their music carried and the more prestigious the chief was. “We heard concerns from First Nations that they are not seeing us in this time of social distancing, but we are there,” said Batt. After working with school students who looked at the similarities between First Nation culture and Scottish culture, Batt thought that playing his Great Highland Bagpipe when he arrives in someone’s traditional territory would be a good way to make his presence known. “I played at Maht Mahs and also at Anacla on April 27,” said Batt. He doesn’t know if anyone from Tseshaht heard him playing, but at Anacla he was warmly greeted by some of the people there who heard him playing. “It lets people know we are here,” he
Photo by Denise Titian
Cst. Pete Batt is a member of the Port Alberni RCMP detachment’s First Nations Community Policing Unit and has created a program to raise cultural awareness among students in the Alberni Valley. said. students learn about similarities and form Batt has spent the past three years learn- an appreciation for each other’s culture. ing how to play bagpipes with his two The Cultural Share Program is part of children. He said his son is a far better School District 70’s oﬃcial teaching curplayer. riculum. On April 28 Batts played Amazing Batts said that there is a teaching band Grace by the Somass River as a spring in Port Alberni for anyone interested in rain gently fell. learning to play the bagpipes. Through the Cultural Share Program
Page 12— Ha-Shilth-Sa—May 7, 2020