INTERESTING NEWS Canada’s Oldest First Nations Newspaper - Serving Nuu-chah-nulth-aht since 1974 Canadian Publications Mail Product Vol. 47 - No. 22—November 19, 2020 haas^i>sa Sales Agreement No. 40047776
Survivor warns people this not a hoax COVID-19 Ditidaht mother carried coronavirus for a week without knowing she was infected reported at Rainbow Gardens By Denise Titian Ha-Shilth-Sa Reporter
Aldergrove, BC – A young Ditidaht mother is warning people that COVID-19 is real after she spent two weeks in hospital ﬁghting for her life. In late October, when what was believed was a simple head cold worsened to the point that she couldn’t walk anymore, Denise Thompson knew she needed to call herself an ambulance. Thompson, 33, is a Ditidaht mother of two children, ages 3 and 13. She lives in Aldergrove, B.C., about 60 kilometres east of Vancouver. She supports her family as a tax preparer, and had just gotten back to work after several months of being shut down during tax season due to pandemic restrictions. From a hospital bed the young mother told Ha-Shilth-Sa that she always took the pandemic seriously, taking all the safety precautions. But it was at a seemingly harmless family gathering that she contracted COVID-19. It was Oct. 24 when Thompson and her family were exposed to the deadly virus. Through occasional coughing spells and throat clearing, Thompson struggled to share her ordeal with Ha-Shilth-Sa over the phone. “I went to my sister’s birthday that day; we had a barbeque,” said Thompson. She invited a friend over, unaware that the friend’s sister had just tested positive for COVID-19. Thompson later learned that the friend was advised to self-isolate, but didn’t listen. Five days later, on Oct. 29, Thompson started to feel like she was ﬁghting a head cold. Suﬀering from anxiety, she uses a prescribed inhaler to help with breathing issues. She thought she was getting better until Halloween night, when she woke bathed in sweat. “I was having trouble breathing so I used my puﬀer and took Tylenol and went back to sleep,” she shared. Two days later, on Monday, Nov. 2, Thompson’s condition worsened. “I tried to walk, to get up out of bed to go to bathroom and I felt really dizzy. I knew something was wrong, I struggled to breathe,” she recalled. It was then that she called herself an ambulance and was admitted to the Abbotsford Regional Hospital’s Intensive Care Unit, where she tested positive for the coronavirus. The following two weeks were tough, as Thompson struggled to breathe. “I was in ICU for seven days on oxygen,” said Thompson, adding that she was very close to having to be intubated. “It’s so painful. It feels like you are suf-
By Denise Titian Ha-Shilth-Sa Reporter
Denise Thompson receiving oxygen in ICU as she recovers from COVID 19. focating.” “It’s been the scariest two weeks of my life,” added Thompson, who was ﬁnally taken oﬀ of oxygen on Nov. 16. She said that if she can stay oﬀ the oxygen for 24 hours, she would be released from the hospital on Nov. 17. Thompson’s two children were also exposed but their symptoms were so mild that they didn’t qualify for testing. They have completed their self-isolation period. “My oldest had very mild symptoms, youngest had fever for two days and now is ﬁne,” she said. Thompson shared space in the ICU with other COVID-19 patients. She saw one who didn’t make it, being removed from the bed in a body bag. Another COVID-19 patient was a pregnant woman who was sedated because she needed to be on a breathing machine. Her baby was delivered by emergency cesarean section. The mother remains sedated in hospital, unaware that she had given birth. Thompson warns people to take the pandemic seriously. “The one time I let a guest come over and someone careless comes in,” she said. She fought for her life and is grateful to have bounced back. At one point she required a walker to get to the bathroom and even standing for a shower was incredibly diﬃcult. The road to recovery will be long as Thompson’s lungs heal, and she regains her strength. “I have to use puﬀers every day, and my lungs are still not healed,” she said. “You
Inside this issue... Who gets to come into the hospital?...........................Page 3 Reﬂective feathers given out......................................Page 6 Port Alberni shelter protest update........................Pages 8-9 Drawn out US election drama..................................Page 11 Nuchatlaht court case...............................................Page 15
don’t think it’s going to happen to you or someone you’re close to. I know a lot of people saying it is fake and people are just trying to control you.” She wants people to take the pandemic seriously. “I went 7 days without knowing I was a carrier; and when I get out of the hospital, I know people will be looking at me diﬀerently now. They’ll be judging me,” she added. The doctors warned Thompson that there is no cure or vaccine or even immunity from COVID-19. “What’s going to happen is you’re going to get sick and you’re either going to live or die. If you live, your lungs are compromised, making it more dangerous if you get sick again,” she said. Adding to her worries, Thompson has been oﬀ work for more than three weeks. The seasonal nature of her job and the pandemic has complicated her attempts to apply for employment insurance and she doesn’t know how she will cover her December rent. “Now the bills are piling up and I don’t know how they will get paid,” said Thompson, adding that she is not physically or mentally capable of going back to work right now. “I am talking with EI now, they are looking at my case.” Thompson has launched a crowdfunding eﬀort seeking ﬁnancial donations to help get to the end of the year. If you would like to help Denise Thompson, please make contributions at: https://www.gofundme.com/f/helpreplace-income-after-hospital-stay
Port Alberni, BC – One staﬀ member at Tsawaayuus (Rainbow Gardens) has tested positive for COVID-19, Island Health stated in a media release dated Nov. 17. “Island Health has declared a COVID-19 outbreak at Tsawaayuus (Rainbow Gardens) long-term care home located in Port Alberni,” reads the statement. Rainbow Gardens is a not-for-proﬁt facility operated by the WestCoast Native Health Care Society. Opened in 1992 with 30 long-term care beds it has since expanded to include 14 more long-term care beds, ten assisted living units and 20 senior’s aﬀordable housing units. It is home to both Indigenous and non-Indigenous senior citizens. Island Health says no residents at the facility are experiencing symptoms and communications with residents and their families is underway. The staﬀ member that tested positive is self-isolating at home. The entire site is closed to admissions, transfers and visitors. In a notice to families, Tsawaayuus says it is working in partnership with Island Health and the Ministry of Health to implement safety and preventative measures for COVID-19. “Our priority is to protect our residents and staﬀ based on current recommendations,” reads the notice. It goes on to say that they are making changes to provide the best possible care to their residents. “At this time, only essential visits are allowed (for residents who are critically ill or receiving end-of-life care),” states the Tsawaayuus website. Cleaning and infection control measures have been enhanced while staﬀ and residents will be screened twice a day. Eligible visitors must pass screening criteria and visits are limited to one visitor per resident. Children and youth who are school aged and younger are asked not to visit at this time. Family members are asked to refrain from sending food and gifts to Tsawaayuus as an added protection measure. Island Health has worked with Tsawaayuus (Rainbow Gardens) leadership and staﬀ to identify anyone who may have been exposed and is taking steps to protect the health of all residents, staﬀ and families, said the health authority.
If undeliverable, please return to: Ha-Shilth-Sa P.O. Box 1383, Port Alberni, B.C. V9Y 7M2
Page 2— Ha-Shilth-Sa—November 19, 2020
West coast communities brace for another storm season BC Hydro reports the frequency of severe storms has doubled in recent years, but few residents are prepared By Melissa Renwick Local Journalism Initiative Reporter Toﬁno, BC - A warning was by Environment Canada on Nov. 16, as “storm” force winds of 48 to 63 knots were expected to blow through the west coast of Vancouver Island. It came as no surprise to Dianne Ignace, who has been moving all of her belongings oﬀ the beach at Usk-tua to the 14foot tideline for the past several weeks. “We usually don’t get tides more than 13.1-feet or 13.5-feet at the max during the winter,” she said. “But when there’s a real big storm – and we’re expecting big ones – we try for the 14-foot tideline.” According to a recent report from BC Hydro, there has been a 117 percent increase in storms that it has responded to over the past several years; rising from 52 in 2014 to an average of 113 over the past three years. The report, titled Stocked up, but unprepared: How COVID-19 preparation has created a false sense of storm season security, found that nearly 20 percent of British Columbians think that they are more prepared for winter storms because of COVID-19. But the study also points out that over half of British Columbians do not have an emergency preparedness kit. The BC Hydro document states that 44 percent of those surveyed “indicated they have stocked up on household supplies for the pandemic, leading to a sense of preparedness. However, many of the supplies that British Columbians have stocked up on cannot replace the contents of a well-stocked emergency kit, which
Photo by Melissa Renwick
A storm rolls over Chesterman Beach in Toﬁno, on Nov. 4. The Nov. 16 storm caused power outages throughout the coast. should include a ﬁrst aid kit, bottled opportunities to leave the remote peninFor the Hesquiaht First Nation members water, non-perishable food, a ﬂashlight, sula safely. living at Hot Springs Cove, it is business extra batteries, and an emergency plan.” Keeping a close watch on the weather, as usual. During the last stretches of dry weather, Ignace recently timed her last journey to “There’s nothing really extra that’s Ignace’s son, Jeﬀery, was busy cutting Port Alberni ahead of the storm. Stocking done in the wintertime,” said Hesquiaht’s ﬁrewood from a four-foot diameter log up on canned goods, groceries and diesel, elected chief Joshua Charleson. “Other that was sitting on the beach in front of the haul will carry her through the next than people stocking up a little bit more their home in the Hesquiaht Harbour. three months. on groceries when they go to town, it’s “We’d love to get all of that [wood] The Ignaces are not alone in their eﬀorts just getting ﬁrewood ready and cleaning up and oﬀ the beach before the 13-foot to winterize their property. chimneys.” tides,” said Ignace. “Logs can go whizElmer Frank, Tla-o-qui-aht Emergency In order to prepare for this year’s storm zing by here 30 and 40 miles an hour if Operations Centre chair, said that the naseason, BC Hydro is recommending havit’s stormy during those tides. It is scary – tion is sending out notices to its members ing a contingency plan with your housevery. Sometimes it gets pretty nasty.” about possible power outages. hold, as going to public spaces during a As the days become shorter and the Beyond that, “we’re doing a lot of long-term outage will be more diﬃcult winds less predictable, there are fewer prayer – a lot of sun dances,” he joked. this year.
November 19, 2020—Ha-Shilth-Sa—Page 3
Who gets to come into the hospital now? Facilities are strictly limiting those who can enter, but the visitation restrictions vary across Vancouver Island By Eric Plummer Ha-Shilth-Sa Editor Vancouver Island, BC - More consistency is needed in determining who is permitted to accompany a loved one admitted to hospital, says those working closely with Nuu-chah-nulth families seeking emergency health care during the COVID-19 pandemic. Island Health says hospitals currently follow measures that were announced May 21 limiting those accompanying and visiting patients to “essential visits”. This includes “compassionate care” for a critical or terminal illness, as well as visits that are deemed “paramount” to a patient’s physical care and mental health. The essential visitor could be assisting in feeding, mobility, personal care or communication with hospital staﬀ, according to the Island Health guidelines listed to help control the spread of COVID-19 in facilities. These visitors are screened for coronavirus symptoms upon entry and instructed when to sanitise their hands and wear a face mask, states the health authority. But what falls within these parameters is at the discretion of hospital staﬀ, a pandemic-era reality that has brought unpredictable restrictions for some seeking to support their loved ones under emergency care. As the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council’s nurse navigator, Lesley Cerny works closely with Nuu-chah-nulth-aht to help them navigate through the health care system. Despite Island Health’s regionwide essential visitor policy, she’s seen
diﬀerences from one hospital to the next over the course of the pandemic. “There was one critical situation where none of the family were allowed in with someone - and then when I spoke to people in other hospitals they explained that that wouldn’t have happened,” said Cerny. “I think it just speaks to local variations.” “How does it evolve that there are situations where someone is unconscious or in a critical state and a family member is not allowed in?” she asked. “What local decision making goes into something like that?” According to Island Health, this decision falls on hospital staﬀ. Essential care needs are identiﬁed to determine if visits are permitted, but decisions are also based on environmental factors like “the amount of physical space available related to the number of people required in the care area” as a well as “current risks of transmission and the availability of personal protective equipment,” wrote the health authority in an email to HaShilth-Sa. “Responses to COVID ﬂuctuate,” noted Cerny. “They ﬂuctuate because the epidemic is ﬂuctuating, and they also ﬂuctuate because diﬀerent understandings of how to apply those by diﬀerent staﬀ.” This is particularly evident at the Nanaimo Regional Hospital, where Vancouver Island’s ﬁrst COVID-19 outbreak was declared on Nov. 11. Five staﬀ at the facility tested positive, part of the autumn wave that has brought B.C.’s active cases to 6,589 as of Nov. 17. The surge in new infections has put the province’s ability
to eﬀectively trace the source of cases in “jeopardy,” said Provincial Health Oﬃcer Bonnie Henry during a press conference. But as the health care system works to keep the novel coronavirus out of hospitals, other factors to ensure a patient’s well being cannot be overlooked, said NTC Vice-President Mariah Charleson. She’s seen facilities take diﬀerent approaches to visitors throughout a day, an inconsistency that creates diﬃculty for those travelling to a hospital from a remote coastal community. “The initial guidelines that they are giving family members are changing depending on who’s on,” said Charleson. “That’s causing a huge amount of concern - particularly for people who are far away from home, people who may not have a vehicle. So they’re cabbing the hospital, they’re not allowed to visit, so they’re cabbing back.” Island Health said it recognises spiritual and cultural needs are essential, and that staﬀ are working with families to accommodate. “Having more than one designated family member/support person at a time during a visit that is not doing end of life circumstances requires an exception consultation and further discussion with the care team,” wrote Island Health communications of its assessment process. “That mental and spiritual aspect is often lacked when we look at these rules,” noted Charleson. “There needs to be a little more ﬂexibility in understanding that people who travel from rural, remote communities, they’re far away from home, the traditional food, traditional
Mariah Charleson practices and oftentimes people’s health deteriorates really quickly when they’re removed from those things.” Cerny cautioned that those with experience in the residential school system can be triggered in a more regimented hospital setting. “That can be really problematic,” she said. “When people talk about their families and the importance of connection, that is something really fundamental about who they are in terms of feeling okay, feeling well. I think that sometimes takes a back seat to this emphasis on all these measures to protect with COVID.” As of Nov. 17, B.C. had recorded 23,661 cases of COVID-19. Of these conﬁrmed cases, 310 have ended in death, comprising 1.3 percent of those reported to be infected. The median age of fatality is 85, according to the B.C. Ministry of Health.
Tourism groups ask Lower Mainland not to visit By Eric Plummer Ha-Shilth-Sa Editor Toﬁno, BC - Fears of COVID-19 have made two communities on Vancouver Island’s west coast that normally market themselves as tourist destinations ask those from B.C.’s hardest hit regions to not visit. On Friday Nov. 13 a joint message came from the District of Ucluelet, Tourism Ucluelet and the Ucluelet Chamber of Commerce for residents in the Fraser and Vancouver Coastal Health regions to “avoid all non-essential travel to and from these regions until November 23rd.” “Visitors that are scheduled to travel to Ucluelet from these health regions between now and Nov. 23 are asked to speak to their accommodation provider to reschedule their trip until it is safe to travel,” states the media release. Then over the weekend the same message came from Tourism Toﬁno. “If you are a resident of the Vancouver Coastal and Fraser Health regions, please note that non-essential travel out of these regions is not recommended until Nov. 23 at 12:00 p.m.,” states the press release from Tourism Toﬁno. “Please understand that the current COVID-19 situation remains ﬂuid, with government regulations and health guidelines changing rapidly.” The autumn has brought exponential growth in the number of active COVID-19 cases in British Columbia, rising from under 1,700 to over 6,000 from mid September to mid November. The most cases have been detected in the Lower Mainland and Fraser Valley, leading Provincial Health Oﬃcer Bonnie Henry to declare that from Nov. 7 to 23 travel to and from these regions should be limited
Photo by Melissa Renwick
A pedestrian walks through the intersection at First Street in Toﬁno. to essential purposes only. This means no recent messages from Ucluelet and Totrips for sports, social or tourism purﬁno follow the Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation poses. tightening measures back to its Phase In an eﬀort to stop transmission, Dr. One response to the novel coronavirus. Henry also declared that residents in On Nov. 5 the First Nation announced these regions are restricted from havthat only residents of Tla-o-qui-aht coming social visits in their homes, although munities were allowed in, with an excepthose who live alone can welcome the tion for essential service providers. Those “safe six” people who are part of a limwho live in Ty-Histanis, Esowista and ited social bubble. Wedding and funeral Opitsaht are asked not to travel beyond receptions are banned, while ceremonies the Highway 4 junction unless it’s “esare restricted to close family members. sential to health and wellness”. Group ﬁtness sessions have also been “Members who want to move home halted for the two-week period, which after a time away will have a mandatory includes yoga, spin and dance. 14-day quarantine when returning home,” After a busy summer when most locals reads a bulletin from the Tla-o-qui-aht observed more visitors than usual, these Emergency Operations Centre.
A 9 p.m. curfew is in place for the Tlao-qui-aht communities, with no social gatherings permitted. “We encourage you to be extra protective and cautious when visiting elders or other vulnerable people,” states the bulletin. “Please limit visiting to between 8 a.m. and 7 p.m.” The last possible COVID-19 exposure announced by Island Health for the Toﬁno region occurred Oct. 27 at the Toﬁno Brewing Company between 5 and 7 p.m. Announced on Nov. 5, this incident was deemed to be “low risk”, but anyone at the Brewery during this time is advised to watch for symptoms.
Page 4— Ha-Shilth-Sa—November 19, 2020 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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Haahuupayak Elementary shortens week Measure taken for COVID-19 stress, class hours remain the same with longer days By Melissa Renwick Local Journalism Initiative Reporter Port Alberni, BC - In response to the pandemic, faculty at Haahuupayak Elementary School mobilized to try and minimize the added layer of stress imposed on students. A poll was circulated among staﬀ, students and families, asking whether they’d like to see the school week cut down from ﬁve days to four. “It was almost unanimous across the board,” said principal Nancy Logan. After presenting the idea to the school board, it was quickly passed and Nov. 2 marked the ﬁrst four-day week for the First Nations elementary school in Port Alberni. By adding a half hour to each day, the instructional hours remain the same. “We know that we have layers of trauma already within our school setting,” said Logan, adding that the pandemic intensiﬁed those strains. Placing a focus on trauma-informed practices, Haahuupayak aims to create safe, respectful and compassionate learning environments by considering the emotional wellbeing of its students before drilling them with academics. “We know that kids are overwhelmed, stressed out and anxious,” said Logan. “Shut-down kids are kids that are not learning.” Acknowledging the student’s feelings and supporting their “big emotions,” allows for a more productive learning space, she said. Cheyenne Sam’s daughter, Lydia, started her ﬁrst year at the school as a kindergartener. “I trust the school and they reassured me of their safety plans,” said Sam. “I was so back-and-forth with putting my girl into school, but her ﬁrst year is kindergarten – I didn’t want to take that away from her.” Now, Lydia comes home and counts her ﬁngers in Nuu-chah-nulth. “She’s always excited to show me something – even if it was a painting she did,” said Sam. “She always has something to share.”
Photo by Denise Titian
To lessen anxiety caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, Haahuupayak Elementary has shorted it’s school week to four days. Pictured are the school’s Grade 7 graduates from 2019. To accommodate 40 students who are tive for her kids. in immune compromised situations, The additional 108 students have been the school created a distance-learning separated into classrooms of 12 to 14 program. kids. Each class is its own learning group, Letitia Charleson’s daughter has asthma which is a collection of students and staﬀ and her youngest son has respiratory isthat remain together throughout a school sues. term and primarily interact with each “We were a little bit worried and conother. cerned that if we were to get COVID-19 Lunch breaks and recess are staggered in our household that it would be really to keep interactions with diﬀerent learndetrimental for the two of them,” she ing groups at a minimum. said. “It’s not ideal,” said Logan. “But we Taking precautionary measures to keep are also ﬁnding less conﬂicts and less them safe, she enrolled her children in the misunderstandings when we don’t have distance-learning program through the everybody all together all at once. That’s school. a little bit of a bonus.” While homeschooling has been a “major Only time will tell how eﬀective the adjustment” for the stay-at-home mother, shorter school week is on managing stress she feels supported by the distance-learn- levels of students, families and faculty. ing teacher who is quick to reply to any “It’s a temporary response to try and adof her questions. dress wellness and self care,” said Logan. Unlike Haahuupayak, Charleson said “We have to be at our best to be able to that sticking to a routine with a Monday provide the best.” to Friday schedule has been most eﬀec-
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November 19, 2020—Ha-Shilth-Sa—Page 5
Children’s mental health at stake amid COVID-19 Simon Fraser research points to the long-term aﬀects of lockdown isolation that could extend into adolescence By Melissa Renwick Local Journalism Initiative Reporter A new study has found that COVID-19 will have signiﬁcant consequences on children’s mental health. Researchers at Simon Fraser University are urging government to invest in the province’s youth mental health services system so that children’s symptoms don’t extend through to adulthood. As the province went into lockdown in March, children were stripped from their friends, their recreational activities and their ability to move independently in the world. The result created layers of trauma and anxiety that are not eﬀectively being addressed, said Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation education manager, Iris Frank. “How would we have known that a pandemic would happen and change our world just like that?” she said. “This is all so huge and new.” As Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation moved back to Stage One of their recovery plan at the beginning of November, additional layers of trauma were added, said Frank. “We’re a gathering people,” she said. “We really value our culture and our history. Not being able to gather as an immediate family is a big cause of the stress.” While the nation is aware of the added anxieties that COVID-19 has imposed on its youth, the inability to have in-person workshops and counselling sessions makes it diﬃcult to address their speciﬁc needs. With over 100 elementary students, spanning throughout Esowista, TyHistanis and Opitsaht, along with 40 high school students, Frank said “there is a real need to develop a strategic plan.” “The nation is doing the best they can and adding resources to try and ﬁll the gaps,” she said. “We have to learn how to work with technology to help our youth. How do you manoeuvre in a virtual world?” The recent report, titled COVID-19 and
Photo by Denise Titian
Children play outside Wood Elementary this fall, days after a COVID-19 case was reported from the school. been a “major adjustment.” The stay-atthe traumas that First Nations communithe Impact on Children’s Mental Health, ties are already faced with, spawning an home mother said she sympathizes with was released by Simon Fraser Universiother parents who are working full-time increase in violence and addiction. ty’s Children’s Health Policy Centre and and trying to juggle both. “Our youth are seeing and witnessing a sponsored by the Oﬃce of the Represen“My biggest advice to parents is really lot of these things and it’s deﬁnitely taktative for Children and Youth. It found be patient with yourself – be kind to ing a toll on our youth,” he said. that the pandemic might particularly afyourself,” said Frank. “Don’t be so hard The report also warns that the mental fect Indigenous children, who disproporon yourself and equally so, [on] your health of parents and guardians needs tionately experience traumas associated children. Reinforce that this isn’t forever; to be considered. Economic losses due to colonialism. it’s just for now. And it’s so we’re all safe to COVID-19 have become prevalent “Indigenous families and communities when we come out of it.” and families who were in more precaricontinue to demonstrate strength, inRather than being prescriptive as to how ous economic circumstances before the novation and resilience but they are also government should implement services, pandemic are faced with new challenges, aﬀected by historical and ongoing coloWaddell said she hopes the report will nialism and experience many pre-existing said Waddell. help the “incoming government think “We’ve had parents who have experiadversities,” said Dr. Charlotte Waddell, about the kinds of public policies and enced loss of income,” said Frank. “That director of the Children’s Health Policy investments they need to put into place in crippling anxiety in a household aﬀects Centre and report author. “These condiorder to address the signiﬁcant impact on not only the children, but the parents tions are also recognized as putting chilchildren and youth.”“What those sertoo.” dren’s mental and physical health at risk. The education manager said that parents vices actually look like and how they are It will be important for policy-makers implemented within communities should are not “wired” to be teachers and that to note that COVID-19 may exacerbate be done in full consultation with commuthe added expectation has only comthese inequities and that working with pounded the stress and anxiety within the nities,” she said. “There will be no ‘one Indigenous communities and leaders to size ﬁts all’ solution; rather, services must address these harms will beneﬁt child and family unit. be tailored to eﬀectively serve commuLetitia Charleson attests that homeyouth mental health.” schooling her children in Port Alberni has nity members.” Huu-ay-aht Councillor Edward R. Johnson echoed that sentiment and said that the pandemic has only heightened
Tla-o-qui-aht moves back to Stage One of recovery By Melissa Renwick Local Journalism Initiative Reporter Toﬁno, BC - As COVID-19 cases in B.C. begin to surge, the Tla-o-qui-aht Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) and council have shifted gears. In an eﬀort to keep their most valuable members safe, the nation announced that it is moving back to Phase One of their recovery plan. On Nov. 5 the province announced that 425 new cases of COVID-19 were recorded in B.C over the last 24 hours. The majority of new cases were recorded in the Fraser Health region and Vancouver Coastal Health region, with seven cases conﬁrmed on Vancouver Island. Provincial Health Oﬃcer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced that no new deaths were recorded, but the number of active cases had risen to 3,389, with an additional 7,519 people isolating due to exposure. “Our recovery plan may diﬀer from the B.C. recovery plan due to our high number of vulnerable members and our unique remote location, in a popular tourist destination,” read a press release from Tla-o-qui-aht’s Emergency Operations
Centre. The EOC will continue to meet regularly to discuss the evolving circumstances around COVID-19 within the region and beyond. “The COVID-19 cases are increasing across British Columbia and even increasing on Vancouver Island,” said Elmer Frank, Tla-o-qui-aht EOC chair. “We took it upon ourselves because of recent events to ensure that we maintain COVID-19-free communities in Tla-oqui-aht territory. We want to continue ensuring that we’re ramping up our measures to continue that success that we’ve been having over the last eight months of the COVID-19 pandemic.” The return to Phase One means that members who want to move home after spending time away will have a mandatory 14-day quarantine upon their return. Entrances into communities will continue to be gated, allowing only residents and essential workers beyond the checkpoints. A 9 p.m. curfew is still in eﬀect and community members who live away from home are asked not to visit at this time.
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Reﬂective feathers given out to protect pedestrians Vehicle collisions with walkers nearly double in the winter due to poor visibility, according to ICBC records By Denise Titian Ha-Shilth-Sa Reporter Port Alberni, BC – Lower Third and Fourth Avenues in Port Alberni bustle with activity both day and night. Now that winter is approaching and the nights are getting longer, chances of pedestrians being struck by vehicles increase dramatically. Const. Elizabeth O’Conner of the city’s RCMP Indigenous Policing Service notes that there have been fatal vehicle collisions with pedestrians in Port Alberni over the years. A recent fatality occurred about a year ago; it involved a Nuu-chahnulth woman crossing Third Avenue near the Safe Injection Site on a dark night when she was struck and killed. About two weeks ago another woman, intoxicated on drugs, wandered out into the dark street at Bute and Third Avenue, very nearly getting hit. “It was witnessed by police oﬃcers,” said O’Conner. “It is dark this time of year, increasing the risk of vulnerable people to be struck by a vehicle,” she added, noting that there have been two hits in recent weeks with one person seriously injured. The RCMP, in partnership with ICBC, are now oﬀering free, clip-on, white feather reﬂectors. The vinyl reﬂectors can be clipped in jacket zippers, hats, any outside clothing, making the wearer more visible in the darkness of the night. According to ICBC, crashes involving pedestrians nearly double this time of year, and part of the reason could be lack of visibility. “When darker days and poor weather become part of the daily grind, it’s naturally more challenging for drivers and pedestrians to see each other,” says ICBC. Reﬂectors are making a comeback and are an important tool in keeping pedestrians safe by making them more visible at night. Becki Nookemis, the NTC’s Teechuktl (Mental Health) harm reduction coordinator, received a batch of the reﬂective feathers from the RCMP and ICBC which she will be giving out to the people that her team serves. Every second Tuesday the Harm Reduction Team sets up tables at the entrance to Dry Creek Park on lower Fourth Avenue where they barbeque burgers and hot dogs. But with the pandemic forcing so-
Photo by Denise Titian
Vehicle collisions with pedestrians nearly double in the winter due to poor visibility, reports ICBC - particularly in Port Alberni, which has seen fatalities in recent years. Now these reﬂective feathers are being distributed by Teechuktl Mental Health and the RCMP to help walkers be more visible at night. cial distancing, visitors are handed packaged food along with any of the supplies they have on hand. Gina Amos is also on the Harm Reduction Team. She says the team hands out the food in packages along with bottled water and clean supplies, including Naloxone kits. They will also deliver Naloxone training to anyone that wants it. Naloxone reverses the eﬀects of illicit drugs in the event of an overdose. Const. O’Conner says that 250 feathers have been given out so far and there are many more available. The little gifts are popular and people may want to take more than one feather. “It opens doors; when you oﬀer a gift then you may be able to get a little chat,” said O’Conner. People are attaching the little feathers to their jacket zipper pulls and one woman
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wears them as earrings. The feathers are available from the NTC Teechuktl Harm Reduction Team and the RCMP Indigenous Policing Service team members. This December the Teechuktl team will host a feeding the people event, but with a social isolation twist. “The Feed the People event will be very diﬀerent with Covid,” said Vina Robinson, Teechuktl Manager.
This year the team is collecting clothing, food and toiletries donations as usual at their oﬃces at the corner of Redford Street and Fourth Avenue in Port Alberni. The food will be prepared at the Alberni Athletic Hall then packaged up. “The RCMP and the Harm Reduction Teams will deliver food to the people,” said Robinson.
November 19, 2020—Ha-Shilth-Sa—Page 7
Hot Springs Cove hydro project construction begins COVID measures have contractors staying outside remote community on a barge, while 10 locals are employed By Melissa Renwick Local Journalism Initiative Reporter Hot Springs Cove, BC - After over a decade of trying to secure funding, the ﬁnal phase of construction for Hot Springs Cove’s Ah’ta’apq Creek Hydropower Project is underway. As a windstorm blustered through the west coast, prompting a warning from Environment Canada, its need became all the more apparent. Every month, the community barges trucks full of diesel through Clayoquot Sound. Residents within the remote village depend on the fuel to power and heat their homes. It racks up a price tag of over half a million dollars each year and poses an ongoing risk of a spill within the region. Not having to barge diesel will help protect the environment, said Hesquiaht First Nation tribal administrator, Norma Bird. Once the hydro dam is operational, it is anticipated to cut the community’s diesel usage by 70 to 75 percent, said Kass Harbottle, Barkley Project Group Ltd. assistant construction manager. It is a major step forward for the tiny community, but Hesquiaht’s elected chief Joshua Charleson has “mixed feelings” about the project moving forward. When he stepped into his new position in March, the late chief Richard Lucas had already laid out most of the groundwork. “It would have been absolutely amazing if late chief Richard Lucas, who spent a lot of time and a lot of energy creating relationships to get these agreements
Photo by Eric Plummer
Residents of Hot Springs Cove rely on the local supply of diesel to power generators, a dependence that costs the First Nation over half a million dollars annually. to where they are, was able to see the members employed through the project, barge. project actually come to fruition,” said from COVID-19 monitors to environ“Most of our population up there is vulCharleson. mental monitors. nerable and impacts of COVID-19 could Located in a remote region of the counThe project’s communications reprebe quite severe if it does get into the comtry, there are not a lot of employment sentative, Ruth Charleson, moved to Hot munity,” said Charleson. opportunities within Hot Springs Cove. Springs Cove three years ago and said Despite the pandemic, the elected chief “He made sure that was at the forethat the community hopes to have one big remains hopeful that the project will be front of the design of this project,” said celebration upon its completion – COoperational by September 2021. Charleson of the late chief. “I’m very, VID-19 depending. “There’s a huge check list of things that very happy and very fortunate that I get In order to keep community members the group of people who have been workto work with such a great group of people safe and to move construction forward, ing on this have completed to highest of that have made this project go forward.” contractors are living outside of the vilstandard to make sure that there will be Currently, there are 10 community lage of Hot Springs Cove on a ﬂoating no unexpected surprises,” he said.
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Tents evicted as third-party review into Port Alberni Shel Island Health evicts tent residents living outside shelter, housing some in local hotel rooms, as city scrambles for options wi By Karly Blats and Eric Plummer Ha-Shilth-Sa Contributor & Editor Port Alberni, BC - A third-party review looking into recent allegations against the Port Alberni Shelter Society (PASS) is now underway and is expected to take several weeks for completion. Meanwhile, a tent settlement that gathered in protest outside of the shelter for the last few weeks was disbanded by Island Health on Nov. 13. Graham Hughes has led the protest, and has remained at the camp since Oct. 23. He said that the tent residents were given a no-trespassing order the evening before the eviction began. “Island Health has given us the eviction notice, but also given us some options to get people some housing for the time being,” said Hughes. “We are having funded hotel rooms, it looks like for six days while we ﬁgure out this investigation and what we can do for a longer-term placement for people.” Hughes expects that the hotel accommodation will give people a reprieve from sleeping outdoors as cold, wet weather descends on Port Alberni. “Last night, just with the rains that we’re having, tents are starting to ﬂoat and bog down, people are getting sick from mould in sleeping bags,” he added. “For a few days they’re dry, they can have showers and get cleaned up.” It was the City of Port Alberni that initiated the eviction by informing Island Health that multiple bylaws were being broken and “that immediate action was expected and required,” according to Island Health in an email statement to Ha-Shilth-Sa. “The city informed Island Health that it would take enforcement action if the property was not brought into compliance,” wrote the health authority, which owns the property where the tents were set. “Any personal items not claimed and removed from the site will be placed in a secure storage locker. Those at the site will be informed of who to contact to claim their items.” ‘Arms length’ investigation The third-party review was secured by BC Housing after the group of protestors brought forth several allegations against the shelter society and called for an investigation. In an emailed response, BC Housing stated they are committed to following up
Melanie Charley (above) warms up with others at an encampment outside the Port Alberni Shelter Society’s facility on Eighth Avenue. The growing taken down Nov. 13, after an eviction notice was given by Island Health, which owns the property. on all concerns regarding the projects and societies that they support. “Due to the allegations, it is important that the review be conducted at arm’slength from BC Housing, which is why we secured a third-party contractor to conduct an independent review of the expressed concerns related to the Port Alberni Shelter Society,” states the response. BC Housing disclosed they will not be commenting further on the review until it’s complete. Allegations that have arose against the shelter society include staﬀ abusing their positions in working with the disadvan-
taged. Advocates are also calling for a list of banned ex-shelter residents to be reviewed and the creation of an appeal process for those who are banned. In a Nov. 3 media release Brigitte Knoll, chairperson of the board of directors for the Port Alberni Shelter Society, said the society is committed to working with BC Housing and the third-party reviewer. “We look forward to the results of their review as we are conﬁdent that they will aﬃrm the essential work being done here,” Knoll said in the release. “The focus of PASS remains on continuing to provide critical services to those who need us. I
“People have got to look at them as human beings, not just trash. There’s people here with mental health issues, and it’s not their fault. They make mistakes.” ~ Melanie (April) McCarthy acknowledge and thank our community for their ongoing support.” Hughes hopes that the development will pressure local agencies to open unused buildings for the homeless, including closed public schools. “I feel like we’re ﬁnally gaining traction, but the horrifying thing is this is just a fraction of the whole population that isn’t getting housed,” he said at the tent settlement outside the shelter. “The closest public bathroom that is accessible to anyone is at the information centre at the entrance to town.” ‘It’s not their fault’ Melanie (April) McCarthy lives near the shelter in Port House, a subsidized residential building run by the Canadian Mental Health Association. She came to the tent settlement to support those living there. “I’m independent, I want to be independent, but I understand these people. I was on the streets for 32 years,” said McCarthy, who is a member of the Yuułuʔiłʔatḥ First Nation. “People have got to look at them as human beings, not just trash. There’s people here with mental health issues, and it’s not their fault. They make mistakes.” McCarthy’s niece was living at the tent
November 19, 2020—Ha-Shilth-Sa—Page 9
lberni Shelter Society allegations underway
bles for options with winter descending
Photos by Eric Plummer
ility on Eighth Avenue. The growing tent settlement was
settlement, but on Nov. 13 she hadn’t seen the young woman for two days. “My niece is out here, and she’s addicted to heroin,” said McCarthy. “She’s very smart, but she’s just messed up right now and I worry about her every day. I wait here and hope that she shows up, because when she’s here she’s safe. Out there you don’t know if she’s going to OD and go down. Is someone going to be around with a Narcan kit?” Hughes noted that although the Island Health staﬀ came to disband the tents, their presence led to some people getting support with addictions. “Even just today by having the presence here, we’ve had one person signed up for Suboxone and two other people put on a detox list,” he said. “Having populations in a place where people can reach them, allows them to have those options for transfer to services that we don’t have
here.” Advocates in the community are proposing the old shelter facility, just down the road from Our Home on Eighth, be opened temporarily until a more permanent housing solution comes to fruition. Lisa George, homeless advocate and operator of the New Leaf Supportive Housing, said in a letter to Port Alberni city council and other stakeholders that it has been petitioned as a solution to reopen the old shelter site to house the vulnerable individuals living in the tent city community outside Our Home on Eighth. “If the old shelter site, oﬀering up to the 48 existing beds, could be accessed or any other appropriate facility for that matter, I would like to oﬀer my knowledge and ability,” George said in her letter, which stresses the need to get people oﬀ the streets. “Organizing volunteers, staﬀing models, grants, funding options, food service and day-to-day site operations are within our organization’s capacity. Insurances, registrations, licenses and legalities will be a challenge to obtain when the urgency is in the forefront, concessions may need to be discussed.” Wes Hewitt, PASS executive director, said the former shelter site has been opened by BC Housing for the past year for overﬂow when the new shelter facility is at full capacity. “[The former shelter] has been open at diﬀerent points throughout the year but it’s only open, it’s only set up and staﬀed at 5 p.m. if we have over the capacity at the new [shelter],” Hewitt said. “When the main shelter is full, it opens up for 12 beds…12 spaces is what it’s funded for.” Hewitt said BC Housing only provides funding for 12 beds because that’s what they ﬁgured maximum capacity would be. He said they’ve never had a need for 48 beds. Hewitt said he doesn’t know whether the
individuals camping outside the new shelter site are banned from staying at the shelter or not. He also couldn’t provide comment on the third-party review. City lacks power to enforce At a Nov. 9 Port Alberni city council meeting, mayor Sharie Minions said although the former shelter facility isn’t the best option to house people, she recognizes it could be used temporarily for homeless individuals who need a place to stay immediately. But council doesn’t have the authority to direct the building owner to open the shelter at full capacity. “The former shelter site is actually owned by Port Alberni Shelter Society as opposed to the new shelter which is owned by BC Housing and operated by the shelter society,” Minions said. “I don’t think BC Housing could step in and operate the shelter society’s site because BC Housing doesn’t own it. So I think it would have to
be a conversation with the shelter society, but I have made them aware of the expression of interest.” In order to bring change for the community’s homeless population, Minions said council’s power lies in advocacy. “Our power is in explaining the needs and reminding BC Housing and other organizations of the need, and I know that most of those conversations are through me, and council may not be aware of all of them, but I will reassure council that I am bringing these needs forward regularly,” Minions said. “I know that the conversation has become very public since the protest has been going on in front of the shelter, but I think it’s important for the public to know that this need is one that the city and myself on behalf of council has been bringing forward to BC Housing since well before this protest happened.” Minions said there is a clear need for more low-barrier housing in the community and that there are way too many people with nowhere to go. “It is not the shelter society’s obligation or responsibility to house every single person in our community. The provincial government and BC Housing have that responsibility and they choose the contractor that they want for that work and approve the work that is going on,” Minions said. “I think that this council has done a fantastic job of showing our willingness to be an active partner in housing projects through donation of land to multiple diﬀerent projects.” Minions added that she believes the shelter society have put in an application to demolish the old shelter site and build a new facility speciﬁcally for aﬀordable housing for seniors. “Their application was what’s called Blisted by BC Housing, which is what I’ve been told any ways…they are basically expecting to be funded with the next round of funding that comes forward and BC housing has been working with them on
that application, but no commitment at this point,” Minions said. “At this point that building still stands and if there was a will to do it and a will for BC Housing to fund it, to my understanding it could certainly be open and could house people in the interim.” A future in ‘the ghetto’? Another temporary housing solution for the community’s most vulnerable came from the Nov. 9 council meeting from property owner Randy Brown. Brown owns the rental property on Fourth Avenue that he said is commonly “known as the ghetto.” “We have an emergency on our hands here in Port Alberni, this is about the homeless,” Brown told council. “The stigma about these people being trouble makers is wrong. These people are mentally ill and are drug addicts. People need compassion, not ﬁnger pointing. The shelter is a $10 million building and is great but these people don’t ﬁt into the rules and/or have been banned from the shelter.” Brown proposed bringing 15 travel trailers onto his property on Fourth Avenue to house the most vulnerable for the winter months, using the city’s water and septic and connecting to hydro. “My property is ground zero, close to the safe injection site. People feel safe here or they wouldn’t be here,” Brown said. Brown said two well-known homeless individuals who are frequently seen sleeping on the bench outside Dairy Queen and on sidewalks around town are already living in a trailer on his property. “In just three days I’ve collected over 40 names of people looking for housing that would not be welcome or would ﬁt into the shelter,” Brown said. “Also, in three days I’ve collected a petition of 74 names of people in town that support my plan. The issue here is these individuals are marginalized, traumatized and do not ﬁt into the strict rules and guidelines set forth by the shelter. This is a temporary solution to support vulnerable population through the winter months.”
Staﬀ from Island Health took down the tents on Nov. 13, placing any unclaimed belongings in storage.
Page 10— Ha-Shilth-Sa—November 19, 2020
How to make simtchu (dried dog salmon)
Supplied by ciisma.
The salmon are filleted starting at the spine using a c^itaq+ (fish knife - ‘che tak alth’)
The last @aaq (dog salmon - ‘hark’) caught going up the rivers are used to make simtchu The salmon skins are splayed open with cedar sticks and hung at the highest part of the k’uu%uw’i> (smoke house - ‘koo ii wilth’)
Once dried, the simtchu can be stored in a cool, dry place, like a puuskyuu +’ah=iqs (bentwood box - ‘pos quu tlah hirks’)
When it’s time to eat simtchu, one must first scorch the skin side of the fish over an open %ink (fire - ‘ink’)
Peeling strips of flesh off of what’s left of the skin, you can enjoy the deeply smoked flavor of salmon dipped in +’aqmus (seal oil - ‘tlak mis’) Lay the simtc^uu (dried salmon skin - ‘simtchu’) on a brown paper bag and roll everything from the bottom upward
Illustration by Ivy Cargill-Martin
1. @aaq - dog salmon - ‘hark’ 2. c^itaq+ - fish knife - ‘che tak alth’ 3. k’uu%uw’i> - smoke house - ‘koo ii wilth’ 4. puuskyuu +’ah=iqs - bentwood box - ‘pos quu tlah hirks’ 5. %ink - fire - ‘ink’ 6. simtc^uu - dried salmon skin - ‘sim t choo’ 7. +’aqmus - seal oil - ‘tlak mis’
November 19, 2020—Ha-Shilth-Sa—Page 11
Drawn-out drama has US voters glued to screens Nuu-chah-nulth neighbours south of the border feel heat of Amercian election emotions, rhetoric and racism By Mike Youds Ha-Shilth-Sa Contributor Seattle, Wash. - As a bitter U.S. presidential election dragged on, Seattle residents with Nuu-chah-nulth ties were anxiously glued to their screens, gripped with a mixture of hope and anxiety. Chad Charlie, Ahousaht ﬁlmmaker, comedian and activist, watched polls trickle in on Friday morning, Nov. 6. Like countless millions of others, he expected the election outcome would be called after three days. The wait was nerve wracking but at least an end was in sight, or so it seemed. “I have conﬁdence in a Biden win, but it’s very anxiety driven right now,” Charlie said. He planned to pick up a bottle of champagne to celebrate a Joe Biden/Kamala Harris victory, waiting for the ﬁnal call in a high stakes electoral horse race. Much more is at stake than who occupies the White House. For the ﬁrst time, Charlie felt it best to equip himself with a ﬁrearm. “I’m black and Indigenous, so it’s very important for me to understand how this aﬀects me and my community,” he explained. “To me, it’s really important to understand their thoughts behind all this and to vote against white supremacy. Thousands and thousands of Indigenous kids are in cages because of Donald Trump. Thousands and thousands of Indigenous migrants were sent back to their countries because of Donald Trump.” With emotions running on high, angry rhetoric ﬂowing in both directions and people confronting one another in the streets, America seemed at times to tread closer to civil chaos. “Three weeks ago, I went out and bought my ﬁrst pistol,” Charlie said. “People get so violent. It’s pretty ugly.” A multi-media storyteller, Charlie thinks of himself as “a very understanding person,” one who regularly converses with Donald Trump supporters. Many say
Chad Charlie, an Ahousaht ﬁlmmaker, comedian and activist, lives in Seattle. they respect Trump because he speaks his conﬁdence in the U.S. electoral process, mind, but the man’s words are troubling. citing hearsay of fraud without solid “I feel like this is a point where we get evidence. Days after major TV networks away from the Trump era,” he said. “Lots declared a Democrat victory, the numbers of conservatives are looking at Joe Biden clearly trending in Biden’s favour, he still as a Trojan horse of socialism. The way I refused to concede. see Donald Trump, he was a Trojan horse “I ﬁnd it hard to believe anything he of racism.” says,” said Randy Belleque, who hails Throughout the drama, the incumbent from the Ka:’yu:’k’t’h’/Che:k’tles7et’h’ president seemed intent on undermining First Nations. “It’s crazy. It’s a crazy time in the U.S.” The Seattle resident was trying to do quick math in his head as counts rose on the screen. “I’m somewhat on the edge of my seat,” he said. He voted for Biden, but his social circle includes Republicans as well as Democrats. He has witnessed growing political tensions, the racist dog whistles coming from the U.S. president. “It’s his hidden messages: ‘You guys stand by. I’m going to need you’,” Belleque said, alluding to Trump’s ominous reply when asked during a TV debate whether he would condemn white supremacists and militia groups showing up at Black Lives Matter protests. Some Republican friends have been showing oﬀ their guns. One told him he “had his sites on me.” “He apologized,” Belleque added. “We’re both passionate about both of our sides.” While he doesn’t feel personally threat-
ened, Belleque is glad for dual American/ Canadian citizenship. “I can always escape this country,” he added, his thoughts turning to Kyuquot, where he grew up, the coast where he worked aboard a ﬁshing boat for 15 years. “That’s where I am going to retire, move back to Kyuquot or Port Alberni. Up there, it’s a friendly atmosphere. I love the elders up there in Canada when you go to visit. I think of Canada as a peace-loving country.” The Makah of northwestern Washington State share a common ancestral bond with their Nuu-chah-nulth neighbours to the north. TJ Greene, Makah tribal chairman, was also closely watching election results. “It’s certainly been an interesting week,” Greene said, stressing that Makah council maintains a nonpartisan position in the election, preferring not to compromise paramount interests of tribal politics and sovereignty. In previous elections, they have budgeted for political contributions and reported on candidate’s records as they relate to Indigenous treaty rights. This time, due to budget restraint resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, they “zeroed out” that expense, Greene said. They ensured, however, that members did not have to leave the community to vote. This was critical during a strict closure of property and businesses since the start of the pandemic in March. Others mailed in their ballots. “There’s no concern of voting fraud and we don’t agree with that at all,” Greene said. Many U.S. tribes lean Democratic rather than Republican, he noted. There are issues on which Republican administrations are felt to hold more respect for sovereign Indigenous interests. Democrats, on the other hand, are seen as more supportive with social programs, he said. For the time being, though, the pandemic remains top of mind for the Makah government. “It’s certainly not perfect,” Greene said. “We’re learning how to do things better every day. Our mission right now is not to lose one single life to COVID. We’ve made some pretty hefty sacriﬁces, but we’re prioritizing our needs and services.” Living on the Olympic Peninsula, distant from civil unrest that has shaken U.S. cities for months, Makah are not immune to political conﬂict. That much was clear in a recent confrontation over what some believed to be an Antifa camp near one community. “It’s a reminder that those feelings are out there, and that we were surrounded by them more than what people were prepared to admit at the time,” Greene said. As the election plays out, the possibility remains of a deepening political divide in the U.S. “I’m a very optimistic person, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t going to be some tough days ahead,” he said.
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Page 12— Ha-Shilth-Sa—November 19, 2020
A male school teacher has been suspended following several complaints from parents about inappropriate conduct at Kyuquot Elementary Secondary School.
Kyuquot teacher suspended after drunken ramblings By Denise Titian Ha-Shilth-Sa Reporter Kyuquot, BC – A male school teacher has been suspended following several complaints from parents about inappropriate comments, verbally abusing students and showing up to class in a drunken state. On Nov. 5 high school students raised the alarm, alleging that the teacher showed up to class drunk. One student hit the record button on his cellphone, which he kept hidden in a binder. The audio recording captured the voice of the teacher, who was rambling on about mating monkeys. Kyuquot Elementary Secondary School is a small one with just over 50 students. That morning there were 6 students in the Grade 10 – 12 class present in the classroom. Concerned parent Allison Vincent said the audio recorded was played for the school principal before it was shared on social media and then posted on YouTube. “We ﬁnd out that it’s not the ﬁrst time he’s gone in smelling like alcohol or marijuana,” said Vincent. She describes the teacher as callous, with “a disgusting sense of humor”. She has said that she and other family members have lodged complaints about the teacher over the past year. “Last year my brother’s grandson was hit on the back of the head by that teacher,” said Vincent. She advised her brother to take the matter to the school trustee but doesn’t know if that was resolved. “I don’t know the outcome except that he wasn’t let go.” Irene Joseph’s children attend KESS but are instructed by other teachers, including Joseph’s daughter. “Regardless, it did impact her because she heard the video. The mention of her class hurt her,” said Joseph. She went to say that she, as a parent, works hard to build her children up, telling them they
are capable and smart. Joseph said her daughter was troubled by what she heard the teacher saying about her relatives attending other classes in the school. “This incident not only impacted the class, it also impacted our community,” said Joseph, adding that she is grateful the school staﬀ took immediate action. “I have faith that the right steps are being taken. This teacher is responsible for himself. His behavior is unacceptable.” SD84 Superintendent Lawrence Tarasoﬀ conﬁrms that the matter is under investigation. “I really can’t comment beyond the information in my letter to parents,” Tarasoﬀ wrote to Ha-Shilth-Sa. In the letter to KESS parents and guardians dated Nov. 6, Tarasoﬀ indicates that he has been made aware of a very serious incident at the school and that parents are concerned for their children’s safety. As a result of the report, Tarasoﬀ immediately suspended the teacher from duties for an indeﬁnite time under Section 15.5 of the School Act. “I can assure you that the indeﬁnite suspension will remain in place pending a full investigation and due consideration of the results of that investigation by the full Board of Education,” Tarasoﬀ wrote. He goes on to say that the children’s safety is important and he invites parents to contact him with their concerns. In an update memo to parents, Principal Marty Szetela has arranged both cultural and emotional support for the students. “We will be having a dialogue with students to allow us to hear how they have been aﬀected to put us in a better position to support their needs,” he wrote. The Nuu-chah-nulth Education Worker, Daisy Hanson, is working on plans for traditional healing ceremonies that may include brushing and counsellors are being brought in to assist the students. In addition, Brian Lucas, a Quu’asa Wellness Worker has ﬂown into the village to assist.
Photo by Melissa Renwick
Mike White lowers the Canadian ﬂag in front of the Royal Canadian Legion Branch #65, in Toﬁno on Remembrance Day, on Nov. 11, 2020.
Toﬁno commemorates Remembrance Day with intimate ceremony By Melissa Renwick Local Journalism Initiative Reporter Toﬁno, BC - A small crowd gathered in front of the Royal Canadian Legion Branch #65 in Toﬁno for a commemorative demonstration in the morning on Remembrance Day. Maintaining social distancing, around 30 people stood in silence to witness the ceremony. The event, which normally draws nearly 300 community members together, signalled the sign of the times. Tuned into Tuﬀ City Radio, “O Canada” played through speakers, which was followed by two minutes of silence. The radio station hosted a Remembrance Day service for the ﬁrst time through song, poetry and stories. It was a way to bring the community together through airwave to honour those who have given their lives to defend the country. While Jess Harris, Toﬁno Legion sec-
retary, cancelled the Remembrance Day parade and community luncheon to dissuade people from gathering in groups, it was important for her to commemorate the day amid the pandemic. “This is the reason why [the legion] exists,” she said. “This is really important to us.” Following the safety protocols set out by B.C.’s Ministry of Health, the ceremony was roped oﬀ from the public to ensure proper social distancing measures were being met. The legion will remain closed until B.C. Provincial Health Oﬃcer Bonnie Henry advises otherwise, said Harris. Mike White, who has participated in Remembrance Day celebrations in Toﬁno for the past 15 years, paid tribute by lowering the Canadian Flag in front of the legion’s cenotaph. Although the crowds weren’t like they normally are, at least the sun was shining, he said.
Klecko’s - +ekoo Klecko klecko to our boy Joey John for helping cut wood for the winter. - Ray Williams and family
------ Notice ----The Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council has been doing it’s part to take health and safety measures to prevent the risk of COVID-19. Safety protocols have been put into place for the past several months, and the leadership have held meetings virtually via zoom. The normal practice is to hold an Annual General Meeting in September of each year, however, due to COVID-19, this was not possible this year. As the alternate plan, there will be a virtual zoom meeting held of the Society members held on November 24, 2020. The BC Societies Oﬃce has legal requirements that a meeting is to be held, and in order to comply with funder contracts, this needs to be done. The NTC leadership are committed to hosting a Tribal Council Meeting, once it is safe to do so and there is no further risk of COVID-19. We hope that you are all staying healthy and look forward to seeing you again soon.
November 19, 2020—Ha-Shilth-Sa—Page 13
Ahousaht gets federal funding for rescue boat New vessel will boost First Nation’s ﬂeet, which currently uses ﬁshing and residents’ boats for emergencies By Sam Laskaris Ha-Shilth-Sa Contributor Port Alberni, BC – Thanks to more than $200,000 in federal funding, Ahousaht First Nation will soon be able to enhance its marine safety capabilities. The Canadian government announced Nov. 6 that it will be providing $214,156 to the Nuu-chah-nulth First Nation so it can add a search and rescue boat, as well as some required equipment, to its existing emergency services. During the announcement it was also revealed Nisga’s Nation would receive funding, more than $300,000, to also purchase a search and rescue boat and equipment. Ahousaht’s Chief Councillor Greg Louie said construction of its new boat has actually been taking place for a few months now in Port Alberni. “It’s being built right now,” he said. “It will be a little while yet.” Louie is hoping the local boat will be completed by next March or April. And then it will be operational and ready for use by the local search and rescue team, which currently utilizes two of its own ﬁshing boats as well as some other community member boats during its missions. Louie said Ahousaht’s search and rescue team has about 10 fully trained members, who work with the Canadian Coast Guard to protect area waters. The Canadian government has been working with Indigenous coastal communities, through its Oceans Protections Plan, to enhance marine safety and shipping so it can better protect the country’s waters. As part of this plan, the Indigenous Community Boat Volunteer Pilot Program was launched in 2017 via the Canadian Coast Guard. The pilot program is a
Photo by Keith Atleo
People gather on Bartlett Island on Sept. 11, 2018, one of many searches Ahousaht members undertook after Travis Thomas disappeared from the Island earlier in the summer. Next year the First Nation’s search and rescue ﬂeet expects to receive a new specialized vessel. four-year project. Since they are members sinking of Leviathan II, a whale watching of the Canadian Coast Guard Auxiliary, boat. Six people died in that accident near Indigenous communities are provided Toﬁno. with funds to buy boats and equipment to “A rogue wave hit the boat and ﬂipped it increase their marine safety capabilities. over,” Louie said. “Ahousaht was ﬁrst to Louie is pleased to see that repeated rethe scene. It was our guys in their small quests from his First Nation for a search boats. We did have talks with the coast and rescue boat were ﬁnally answered guard back then. There was more presthis year. sure then to try and get a boat for us.” “Ahousaht had been advocating, on beLouie is pleased a new search and half of our community, and talking with rescue boat for his First Nation will soon the coast guard about this for a number of become a reality. years,” Louie said. “We felt there was a “It will be very helpful,” he said. need for it.” “There’s so many people that come into Louie said the urgency for his First the community.” Nation to have a search and rescue boat And, on occasion, some of these indibecame extremely evident in the fall of viduals send out distress calls while out 2015, following the well-documented on the water.
Louie was unable to provide an exact number of distress calls that occur yearly. “It varies,” he said. “And it depends on the weather. Within the last month there was probably three. Most of them are late at night.” And in order to be prepared for such calls, local search and rescue members are provided with ongoing training. In fact, a four-hour, evening training session was held in the second week of November. “They’re keeping their skills sharp,” Louie said. Bernadette Jordan, the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, said Indigenous communities have played a key role as members of the Canadian Coast Guard Auxiliary as they not only protecting their own residents but mariners as well. “Indigenous coastal communities have been stewards of the environment including oceans and shores for generations, and are unquestionably vital to Canada’s marine safety system today,” she said. “The program provides necessary funding and equipment to support their eﬀorts.” Minister of Transport Marc Garneau said the federal government is committed to working with Indigenous coastal communities in their eﬀorts to protect oceans and waterways. Garneau believes coastal environments and marine shipping are safer now thanks to various programs in the Oceans Protections Plan. “Indigenous communities in their region have a signiﬁcant role in implementing the Oceans Protection Plan,” Garneau said. “This additional funding will expand search and rescue capabilities for the residents of British Columbia and play a meaningful role in emergency response and waterway management.”
Transition from open net-pen salmon farming has begun By Melissa Renwick Local Journalism Initiative Reporter The federal government says it is moving forward in transitioning away from open net-pen ﬁsh farms in coastal British Columbia. In an online press conference on Nov. 12, Terry Beech, parliamentary secretary to the minister of ﬁsheries, announced that moving towards more sustainable technology is a priority. “What that technology is and what best ﬁts for British Columbia over the near future is part of what needs to be examined,” he said. Many wild paciﬁc salmon stocks are in peril. This year saw the lowest Fraser River sockeye salmon return on record, according to the Paciﬁc Salmon Commission. “We know that open net-pen ﬁsh farms aﬀect wild stocks,” said Beech. “Much of the debate is around how much the farms aﬀect those stocks and what is an acceptable level of risk.” In consultation with Indigenous communities, aquaculture industry and conservation stakeholders, Beech said he is approaching the issue with “urgency.” “This has been a controversial issue where [for] some people, the only solution is to have all of the pens out of the water yesterday,” he said. “For others, they would hope to see the industry as it is expanded. I think a responsible path is going to [be] navigating multiple stakeholders.”
During the federal election, the Liberal Party’s campaign platform promised to phase out open-net ﬁsh farms in coastal waters by 2025. Canada’s ﬁsheries minister, Bernadette Jordan, was given a mandate to establish a plan by then. While Beech said that the government is “beginning the transition now,” it is still unclear what the end game will look like. “Part of going into meaningful consultation is not predetermining the outcomes,” he said. In 2018, Canada’s aquaculture section generated almost 25,000 full time jobs, mainly in coastal, rural and Indigenous communities, said Beech. Aquaculture is a key component to the Canada’s blue economy, which promotes the use of marine resources for economic growth. An independent report recently published by RIAS Inc., an economics-consulting ﬁrm, concluded “if Ottawa and Victoria are able to provide a predictable policy approach, salmon farmers in B.C. are poised to help lead Canada’s blue economy and recovery from COVID-19 by directly investing $1.4 billion in innovation, new technology, and infrastructure through 2050,” read a release. Almost half of all ﬁsh consumed by people today comes from aquaculture, said Beech. “Both in our economy and in our diet, aquaculture meets a clear and growing demand,” he said. The transition will be geared towards complementing the Department of Fish-
In an online press conference on Nov. 12, Terry Beech, parliamentary secretary to the minister of ﬁsheries, announced that moving towards more sustainable aquaculture technology is a priority. nourish our people, our land and our eries and Oceans’ Wild Salmon Policy. whales. They are a core piece of biodiver“Wild salmon aren’t just a signiﬁcant sity that we must not just work to protect economic driver in British Columbia, but work to restore their populations to they are part of our cultural identity as a traditional levels of abundance.” province,” said Beech. “They feed and
Page 14— Ha-Shilth-Sa—November 19, 2020
Tic Tac Toe Players pieces - cut out and play!
November 19, 2020—Ha-Shilth-Sa—Page 15
Nuchatlaht await their chance to prove territorial title First Nation’s claim has faced delays as the province works to contest historical occupation on Nootka Island By Eric Plummer Ha-Shilth-Sa Editor A small Nuu-chah-nulth nation still awaits its day in court to prove Aboriginal title over its traditional territory, while the province prepares a case against the Nuchatlaht’s historical occupation of Nootka Island. It’s been nearly four years since the 161-member First Nation ﬁled its statement of claim to the BC Supreme Court, seeking Aboriginal title over approximately 20,00 hectares of land on Northern Nootka Island, territory that includes the village site of Nuchatlitz. Nuchatlaht Councillor Archie Little said the claim is about taking ownership over the First Nation’s resources, thereby controlling access and sharing of the land. “Why we’re doing what we’re doing is at one time we were okay, and we want to get back to being okay,” said Little during a recent online presentation of the title claim, which was hosted by the Wilderness Committee. “It’s sad to see most of our resources go across seas, and have our people who are suﬀering from medical issues because we don’t eat the natural resources that we’re so rich with.” The legal test of the claim hinges on proving continued occupation of the land since 1846, the date that the British Crown asserted sovereignty over the area. Part of the Nuchatlaht’s case is evidence that Tyee Ha’wilth Jordan Michael is the direct descendent of a man who met John Kendrick at Tahsis Inlet in 1789, an American sea captain who documented the encounter. The case is being led by Jack Woodward, who for decades worked on the Tsilhqot’in’s successful assertion of Aboriginal title in central British Columbia, which was upheld by the Supreme Court of Canada in 2014. During the online presentation Woodward said that the Nuchatlaht’s time on northern Nootka Island follows the criteria of historical continuity of habitation set out in the Tsilhqot’in decision. “They stayed there against all odds,” said the Nuchatlaht’s lawyer, “through the storm of colonization.” In its submission to the court, the prov-
Photo by Eric Plummer
Part of the Nuchatlaht’s court case is evidence that Tyee Ha’wilth Jordan Michael is the direct descendent of a man who met John Kendrick at Tahsis Inlet in 1789, an American sea captain who documented the encounter. ince argues that the First Nation’s use of steep and densely forested upland areas, Nootka Island has not been so consistent. and steep, rocky, exposed shorelines.” “The Nuchatlaht, prior to and at the date “There are not now and for many years of sovereignty and at all material times, there have not been Nuchatlaht resident was comprised of loosely aﬃliated, communities in the claim area,” consmall, localized family groups, some of tinued the province’s submission. “The which were territorially displaced from Nuchatlaht groups…were not known to areas outside of the claim area by other eﬀectively assert and defend territory, Indigenous peoples, and did not excluincluding the claim area, and other Indigsively occupy the claim area,” stated the enous peoples claimed and used tracts of province’s statement of claim. land and resources in the claim area.” Any claim over the land is weakened by The province’s dispute of the Nuchatthe fact that the Nuchatlaht mostly relied laht’s title claim shows a “blatant disreon marine resources, argues the province. gard” for the Declaration on the Rights “The claim area includes pervasive geo- of Indigenous Peoples Act, legislation graphic features which historically and at the government passed in Victoria a year the date of sovereignty and at all material ago, said Chief Michael. The new act foltimes limited or prevented access,” said lows the United Nations Declaration on the submission, noting northern Nootka the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which Island has terrain of “high elevation, aﬃrms that “Indigenous peoples have the
right to the lands, territories and resources which they have traditionally owned, occupied or otherwise used or acquired.” “It seems to be falling on deaf ears on everybody in the government and the courts,” said Michael. Woodward noted that when Britain declared sovereignty over Nootka Island the Nuchatlaht were expropriated from their land without compensation. All forest on the island was declared property of the Crown, which brought in over a century of logging. Now Western Forest Products holds the provincially recognised forestry tenure over the claim area, which the company is subcontracting out to smaller logging operations. In its statement of claim to the court, Western argues that the continuation of this tenure is in the best interests of the “economic development of British Columbia.” “WFP is a major employer and contractor on Vancouver Island and one of the largest sources of employment and economic activity in the claim area,” wrote the forestry company. “They’re defendants because they’re going to lose everything,” commented Woodward, who expects that if the Nuchatlaht gain title over their traditional territory forestry licences would collapse “like a house of cards.” “I imagine they’ll turn around and sue the province for their loss,” added the First Nation’s lawyer. Little spoke of the need to better use his nation’s natural resources, thinking ahead for how the land will be seven generations in the future. “At the rate we’re going, we’ll be two generations and we’ll have nothing,” he said. “The ﬁrst question I want to ask after we win is, how do we work together? How do we make things better? How do we ensure that everyone beneﬁts from the wealth of Nuchatlaht nation?” Those who want to help the Nuchatlaht’s cause through donations or advocacy can send their support to the Wilderness Committee at https://www. wildernesscommittee.org/take-action/ support-nuchatlaht-nation
Mowachaht/Muchalaht road restriction begins By Eric Plummer Ha-Shilth-Sa Editor Gold River, BC - Access restrictions began Nov. 6 for the highway running south of Gold River, as Mowachaht/Muchalaht responded to a breakdown in negotiations with Western Forest Products over the road that passes through the First Nation’s reserve. The decision to block the forestry company’s vehicles from passing through was announced by the Mowachaht/ Muchalaht’s Council of Chiefs. Highway 28 passes through Ahaminiquus, Indian Reserve No. 12, and ends at Muchalaht Inlet. The First Nation stated that the restriction will only apply to vehicles serving Western Forest Products; the general public will still be permitted to pass through. “This is NOT a blockade!” stated an announcement from the First Nation. “It is MMFN’s legal right to say who can use their roads and have access through their reserve lands.” The road was built through the reserve
over 50 years ago without consulting the First Nation, providing forestry companies a route to a log sort on Muchalaht Inlet, where timber is loaded and transported to oversees markets. In recent years the Mowachaht/Muchalaht and Western have failed to reach an agreement on compensation to the First Nation for the continued use of the road through its reserve. The forestry company stated that it has been in ongoing discussions with the Nuu-chah-nulth nation and are “working in good faith to quickly resolve this complex issue.” Now the First Nation is talking to the B.C. Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure “towards an acceptable compensation agreement” that considers the road being built without consent. This is planned to be a peaceful protest without aggressive behaviour. “We do not want protestors to physically join us,” stated the Mowachaht/ Muchalaht. “We ask that environmental organizations assist us by writing letters of support and provide updates for us through their social media page.”
Highway 28 runs south of Gold River, through the Mowachaht/Muchalaht First Nation’s Ahaminiquus reserve, to Muchalaht Inlet.
Page 16— Ha-Shilth-Sa—November 19, 2020
Wellness and Staying Health Over Fall and Winter
Keeping our immune system strong should be a primary focus, especially given current world events. Food can be used as medicine, to give our bodies the nutrients it needs to support our immune system and keep us feeling well. Here are some of my top tips for staying well over the colder months.
Limit Processed Foods and Focus on Protein and Zinc 30
Processed foods weaken our immune system by taking the place of more nutritious foods. If we ﬁll up on processed foods, particularly processed carbohydrates such as white bread, cereal and white rice, we are taking the place of more nutritious foods such as whole grains, vegetables and protein foods such as nuts, seeds, eggs, ﬁsh, seafood and meat. Foods high in protein are especially important for our immune system because our whole immune system is based on protein. If we are not ge"ing enough, we run a higher risk of ge"ing sick. Protein foods, such as seafood, lean meat, nuts and seeds are also very high in zinc which is a mineral that has been shown to be protective against viruses. In addition, research suggests that a high dose zinc, taken within 24 hours of ﬁrst cold symptoms, helps to reduce the duration of your cold. Ask your pharmacist, doctor or dietitian for more info. Zinc is a co-factor in immune reactions and protein assists in building immune cells. Try to eat more pumpkin seeds (pepitas), or any nut, seed and seafood in place of processed carbohydrates such as white breads and cereals.
Keep Blood Sugar Levels In Check
For those living with diabetes, or even pre-diabetes, having high blood sugar levels can increase our chances of ge"ing sick. When our blood sugars are high, our body goes into an inﬂammatory mode which weakens our immune system, making it easier for us to catch a cold or ﬂu. To top it oﬀ, once we are sick our blood sugars levels may increase further! When we have a cold or ﬂu, our body sends out hormones to ﬁght the infection. The downside – if you have diabetes, this makes it harder for you to use your body’s natural insulin properly, and your blood sugar levels may rise. This nasty cycle can be prevented by regular monitoring of your blood sugar levels, and staying away from foods that can cause large spikes in blood sugar levels, especially soda, juice, energy drinks and vitamin waters. Speak to your doctor or dietitian about the best way to check your blood sugars. High blood sugars can increase our chances of ge!ing sick, and once we are sick this can push our blood sugars up further. If you have diabetes, check your blood sugars regularly.
Supplement With This Important Nutrient
Vitamin D is so important; not only does it help our bodies absorb more calcium from the food we eat, supporting strong bones, it also may have a protective role against some cancers. Vitamin D is also well known to support the immune system, which is especially important during the colder months when we can’t get enough vitamin D from the sun (from October to March) and our immune system needs some additional support. The Recommended Dietary Allowance for Vitamin D is 600IU per day, and up to 800IU for elders (70 years and older). Food sources are very limited – vitamin D is found mostly in oily ﬁsh such as salmon, herring, ooligans, grease and seal oil. It is diﬃcult for us to get enough from food unless we are eating these foods everyday. Some doctors recommend a higher intake of vitamin D supplementation per day to help protect against viruses such as COVID and inﬂuenza (the ﬂu). Best to speak with your doctor on the right amount of vitamin D for you. We can’t get enough Vitamin D from the sun from October to March, making supplementation very important. Vitamin D plays an active role in promoting our immune system. *You can speak to a doctor from the comfort of your own home by using the Doctor Of The Day virtual services through FNHA. Simply call 1-855-344-3800 to speak to a doctor, free of charge. Remember, that supplements such as vitamin D (and many others) are covered under our Paciﬁc Blue Cross plan with a prescription from a doctor.
Remember to Not Stress, Sleep Well and Be Active Our bodies are resilient, but sometimes life takes it’s toll. Along with not fueling up with healthy foods, stress, poor sleeps and inactivity can all also play a role in weakening our immune system. Sometimes we don’t have control over everything, so focus on what you can control – whether it be nutritious food, supplementation of vitamin D, ge"ing enough sleep, participating in 30 minutes of physical activity most days, or managing stress triggers. If you would like some additional support, the NTC nurses, dietitians, counsellors and cultural workers are here for you. Do what you can! Sleep well, manage stressful triggers, focus on nutritious foods, and move your body!