Ha Shilth Sa Newspaper October 21st, 2021

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INTERESTING NEWS Canada’s Oldest First Nations Newspaper - Serving Nuu-chah-nulth-aht since 1974 Canadian Publications Mail Product Vol. 48 - No. 20—October 21, 2021 haas^i>sa Sales Agreement No. 40047776

Physical work begins on Bamfield road upgrade An improved, safer, chip-sealed surface is expected to be complete on the 77-kilometre route by the fall of 2022 By Eric Plummer Ha-Shilth-Sa Editor Bamfield Main, BC - After decades of lobbying – and multiple fatalities – construction work on the road to Bamfield is beginning, with a hard surface over the entire 77-kilometre route expected to be complete in a year. On Oct. 18 leaders from the region’s forestry companies, governments and First Nations gathered at the Blenheim Gravel Pit with golden shovels in hand, marking the start of the heavy lifting that will lead to a safer road to Bamfield and its surrounding communities. Hosted by the Huu-ay-aht First Nations, the gravel pit is the first of five planned to be used for building shoulder sections of the road that runs south of Port Alberni. Huu-ay-aht Chief Councillor Robert Dennis Sr. explained that the gravel pit is within the area where the First Nation’s people lived for centuries. He said that an improved road into the territory is key to any development. “This is going to change how we do business in our land,” said Dennis. “This means that we no longer have to depend on forestry, or just depend on fisheries. We can now diversify our economy.” “When our nation says we are open for business, we can say that because the hereditary leaders give the head nod to opening our lands, to continue our historic ties with our neighbouring tribes,” said Tayii Ḥaw̓ił ƛiišin (Head Hereditary Chief Derek Peters). “The objective of our hereditary leaders has always been to work closely with government, local governments, federal and provincial governments, business and industry.” A harder, more durable, chip sealed surface is expected to cover the road by the fall of 2022. This is a one-and-a-half-inch combination of layers of liquid asphalt and rock chip, explained Kevin Gordon, senior project manager with Parsons, the contractor undertaking the road resurfacing. “They spray a layer of asphalt, then they put rock chip on top,” he said. “They roll it, then they put another layer of asphalt the liquid, not the mixed rock.” The chip sealed process has benefits over pavement, noted Gordon. “It’s flexible, so it will take, whereas pavement is rigid, you get those cracks,” he said. “This is more flexible, so it can take some of the wear and tear.” Designs that have been underway over the last year also entail paving approximately 15 kilometres of the road, covering steeper sections that require a harder

Photo by Eric Plummer

Tayii Ḥaw̓ił ƛiišin, Derek Peters, speaks at the Blenheim Gravel Pit on Oct. 18, as leaders from various levels of government as well as the neighbouring Tseshaht marked the start of work that will lead to a safer, stronger surface on Bamfield Main. surface. This additional paving work is neighbouring village of Anacla since “Previous governments failed us, and expected to be complete by the fall of the early 1970s, said Dennis. Countless this government came to the table work2023. people have lost their lives on the treach- ing with Huu-ay-aht to come through The route will also be widened to eight erous passage, which becomes signifiwith this,” he said. metres in most parts, explained Gordon, cantly more hazardous during the heavy Currently 85 per cent of Huu-ay-aht with signs alerting drivers to curves and rains each fall and winter, while dust can members live away from their home tersteel barriers to improve safety. be blinding for drivers in the dry summer ritory, but ƛiišin hopes that an improved The chip sealing is expected to start in months. Eight Huu-ay-aht members have road will enable more of his people to April, but over the wetter fall and winter lost their lives on the road, including consider returning to the birthplace of months gravel can be placed on the ƛiišin’s grandfather, the late Tayii Ḥaw̓ił their ancestors. shoulders. Art Peters. “There was a time when we fought hard “By the end of the winter, in early Years of hopeful meetings with governover many years to try to get government spring, we’ll have all the gravel in place ment officials turned to action after the representatives to come set foot on our so the contractors will be able to move tragedy of Sept. 13, 2019, when a bus soil,” noted ƛiišin. “Things have changed ahead quickly,” said Gordon, noting with 45 University of Victoria students and things are going in the right direction that sections under construction will be and two teaching assistants slid off the now.” limited to a single lane as the project pro- road, rolling down an embankment. North of Coleman Creek a portion of gresses. “When they do it they can work Students Emma McIntosh Machado and Bamfield Main lies in Tseshaht territory, on one side of the road, so there will be John Geerdes, both 18, lost their lives, on leading the Huu-ay-aht to reach out to single-lane traffic in sections, but they a journey that was planned to be an antheir neighbouring First Nation for apwill be moving fairly quickly, like normal nual trip to the Bamfield Marine Sciences proval in upgrading the road. On Oct. 18 highway construction.” Centre. Tseshaht hereditary and elected leaderThe project is budgeted to cost $30.7 In November of that year Premier John ship were present for the ground-breaking million, including $25.7 million from the Horgan visited the crash site and came to event. provincial government and $5 million Anacla to meet with Huu-ay-aht leaders, “You’ve heard a lot about reconciliation, from the Huu-ay-aht, a financial injeccommitting to a plan to improve the road. about Huu-ay-aht reconciling with the tion that was the first to be committed to Bamfield Main is owned by the province province, the ACRD and Bamfield and the road upgrade, said Mid Island-Pacific and forestry companies, a fragmented the City of Port Alberni, but what’s really Rim MLA Josie Osborne. management that has been cited as a exciting with our Ha’wiih and our coun“This is laying a strong foundation for challenge to pave the road in the past. But cil is us reconciling amongst ourselves as the community of the Huu-ay-aht, for in the fall of 2019 both Western Forest nations,” said Tseshaht Chief Councillor Anacla, for Bamfield, for the people of Products and Mosaic sent letters of enKen Watts. “I look forward to the invitathe Alberni Valley region out to the west dorsement to the province as the urgency tions to the House of Huu-ay-aht, inviting coast,” said Osborne, who is also B.C.’s of improving the road’s safety escalated. our citizens down and not having to minister of Municipal Affairs. Bob Beckett is director for the Alberni worry about driving the road.” The Huu-ay-aht have been lobbying for Clayoquot Regional District’s Electoral an improved road to Bamfield and their Area A, which includes Bamfield.

Inside this issue... Float plane hits water taxi...............................................Page 2 Virtual Justice Centre for Indigenous Peoples................Page 5 Preparing for storm season.............................................Page 6 Working to keep children with family............................Page 9 Tla-o-qui-aht reach ‘milestone’ deal with B.C.............Page 11

If undeliverable, please return to: Ha-Shilth-Sa P.O. Box 1383, Port Alberni, B.C. V9Y 7M2

Page 2— Ha-Shilth-Sa—October 21, 2021

Photo by Ken Brown

Emergency services crowded the First Street dock on Oct. 18, after an incident left float plane passengers in the water. The passengers were helped out of the water to board the boat of Ken Brown (below).

Tofino float plane collides with Ahousaht water taxi Transportation Safety Board investigating incident in Tofino harbour, while no serious injuries were reported By Denise Titian Ha-Shilth-Sa Reporter Tofino, BC – A Tofino float plane struck an Ahousaht water taxi near First Street Dock in Tofino on the afternoon of Oct. 18. “I’m still shaking,” said witness Ken Brown of Ahousaht. Brown had his boat tied up at the First Street dock and heard the collision, which he said occurred between 4:15 and 4:30 p.m. on Oct. 18. Rocky Pass, skippered by Ahousaht’s Chris Frank, was just arriving in Tofino with Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council nurses who were working in Ahousaht that day. “It was the big plane, the Beaver,” said Brown, adding that the accident occurred about 200 to 300 feet off of the First Street dock. “The plane made the boat come to a complete stop and I could see the terrified look on Chris’ face.” Jumping to action, Brown asked his young deckhand to untie the boat so they could go help. Brown pulled up alongside the sinking plane but, he said, as the pontoon filled with water the plane started leaning away from his boat. Brown noticed that the propeller was still trying to turn, and he backed up his boat to approach the plane on the opposite side. “The nose started sinking so I backed up as hard and fast as I could, then the wing came down on my cabin, skimming my boat,” said Brown, who said he has paint from the plane on his boat. He and his deckhand were able to rescue five people from the water, as the plane

they were aboard sunk. Brown said it appeared to be a family of four with the pilot aboard the plane. The survivors were treated and released from Tofino General Hospital. An adult male thanked Brown as he drove his vehicle down to the First Street dock to collect his family. Brown was among the first rescue boats that arrived at the scene of the capsized whale watching tour boat, the Leviathan II on Oct. 25, 2015. Twenty-seven people were aboard the vessel. They were watching wildlife on a reef when they were struck broadside by a rogue wave, tossing passengers into the frigid ocean. Brown had been out fishing with a friend when they spotted the distress flare and went to investigate. They, along with other rescue boats pulled 21 people out of the water that day. Sadly, six lives were lost. “With the 11 people we rescued from the Leviathan, these four people make it 15 lives I’ve saved,” said Brown. Everyone aboard the water taxi were safe. The following morning, Madison Riddoch of Tofino Air confirmed that it was one of their planes that collided with the watercraft. She said that the plane was landed when the incident occurred and that the pilot is doing well. “This has been a hard time for our team and for our passengers,” she told Ha-Shilth-Sa. “Tofino Harbour is a high traffic area.” On behalf of Tofino Air, Riddoch said they are grateful there were no serious injuries. Tofino Air is working closely with

the Transportation Safety Board. Dean Campbell of the Transportation Safety Board of Canada told Ha-ShilthSa that they are aware of the occurrence and are gathering information. “The event is being assessed to determine the next steps,” said Campbell in an email. “We are able to confirm that the float plane experienced a collision with commercial water taxi on landing. There were no apparent injuries.” “We will work with boat operators and

the airlines to improve safety,” said Riddoch. Tofino Air is grateful to the community and the emergency responders that rendered assistance to the people involved in the accident. The plane was pulled ashore. Tofino Air said they are still unsure what will happen to the aircraft. The water taxi was able to resume service the day after the accident.

October 21, 2021—Ha-Shilth-Sa—Page 3

Ahousaht relaxes safety rules as cases decline Active COVID cases drop to three in the remote community, schools remain closed, but safety plans developing By Denise Titian Ha-Shilth-Sa Reporter Maaqtusiis, BC – The order to close the Ahousaht village of Maaqtusiis to nonresidents has been lifted as COVID-19 numbers dropped from 23 cases in mid September to three, elected chief Greg Louie said in a video update to membership on Thursday, Oct. 7. Active cases have since dropped to one, as of Oct. 18. The update, delivered via live video on social media, began with Chief Louie sending condolences out the families of loved ones lost in the past few weeks. The video was recorded on the evening of Oct. 7 after the third funeral that week. The recent losses were not COVIDrelated. But both Louie and Councilor Melinda Swan reminded people to remain vigilant and practice safety measures, like frequent handwashing, mask wearing and social distancing. She noted that 71 people had recently recovered: 49 in Ahousaht and 22 members living away from home. Active cases amongst members living off reserve have also declined to seven. Louie reminded everyone that people are still awaiting test results and the numbers change every day. “We ask people to remain calm and be supportive and respectful,” said Louie. Both the high school and elementary school remain closed, but safety plans are in the works for when they open. This includes provincial heath officer’s orders to wear masks. Louie said that all children age nine and over will be required to wear masks in public places in accordance with provincial health orders. When school restarts, all school staff and children from Kindergarten to Grade 12 will be required to wear masks at school. They will practice social distancing when at school.

Photo by Courtenay Louie

Ahousaht Chief Councillor Greg Louie receives his vaccination for COVID-19 in the First Nation’s village in January. “We have to remember that our children should contact the band office to arrange under the age of 11 are not vaccinated… deliveries. let’s keep them safe,” said Louie. “We ask people to stick to your social “Our people have done well in getting bubbles,” said Swan. our numbers down,” said Swan, addBut what that means exactly is not clear. ing that Ahousaht numbers came down “We will leave that to your discretion, quickly thanks to the cooperation of com- but we don’t want to see 50 people in a munity members. house for a birthday party,” she added. The village is now open to non-resiAhousaht has implemented a safety plan dents, meaning Ahousahts living away for water and land taxi operators. Water from home may come and visit with fam- taxis have installed partitions between the ily as long as safety measures are being seats and the boat is to be sanitized after observed. every trip. Same with land taxi service Swan asked people that are isolating in providers. the community to leave a tote outside for In addition, if a household member is repeople to drop care items off for them. quired to isolate due to illness or COVID In addition, if they wish to receive care contact, then the entire house must go packages from the administration, they into isolation. Taxi service providers cannot operate their taxis themselves until their isolation period is over. Ahousaht has posted its safety plan and guidelines both on its web page and on its Facebook Ahousaht Administration page. Ahousaht’s Holistic Center, Chachum Hiiyup, will resume its pancake breakfasts with up to 12 guests at a time. Elders’ luncheons are still on hold.

Both Ahousaht’s fitness centre and food purchase centres are open with safety protocols in place. People wanting to schedule appointments for COVID and/or flu vaccines may call Chachum Hiiyup at 250-6709558. They may call the same number for mental health/addictions support. According to health officials, the best defense against COVID-19 is vaccination. One vaccine shot offers some protection, the second shot brings the best protection against COVID. The province is now offering third shots to a certain sector of the population. According to the First Nations Health Authority, some people with compromised immune systems need a third dose to complete their initial vaccine series. “People with moderately to severely compromised immune systems generally have lower antibody responses from the initial two-dose COVID-19 vaccine series. The third dose can help build antibodies,” said FHNA in an information bulletin. They go on to say that this third dose is not the same as a booster dose. Booster doses, they wrote, bring antibody levels back to a high protective level if they had decreased over time. “Most people who have had both doses of COVID-19 vaccine are protected and do not need a booster dose at this time,” they said. In their COVID update on Oct. 19, provincial health officials stated that there were 560 new cases for a total of 4,913 active cases in British Columbia. In the 24-hour period from Oct. 18-19 five people died, including one from Vancouver Island. For the same period, Island Health reported 61 new cases on the Island for a total of 516 active cases. The province has delivered 4,126,000 first doses of vaccine to eligible residents over the age of 12. That’s 89.2 per cent completion. As for second doses, 83.5 per cent, or 3,870,709, have received immunization as of Oct. 19. Louie thanked the people for their cooperation and reminded them of a community cleansing ceremony on the morning of Oct. 8, 2021.

West Coast General’s ED expansion starts to build Photo submitted by VIHA

COVID-19 outbreak at Tofino General Hospital By Denise Titian Ha-Shilth-Sa Reporter Tofino, BC – Island Health has declared an outbreak of COVID-19 at Tofino General Hospital. In a statement issued Oct. 12, Island Health said, “Four patients have tested positive for COVID-19 related to this outbreak. The outbreak at TGH is limited to the inpatient unit.” Island Health immediately implemented precautions including enhanced cleaning. They are working on contact tracing and are in communication with patients, family, and hospital staff. “We would like to reassure the community that TGH remains open and ready to provide safe care; if you require emer-

gency care, please do not hesitate to visit the emergency room immediately,” said VIHA in a statement. According to VIHA media relations person Dominic Abassi, “the hospital remains open for necessary admissions, the ED is open and TGH is a safe place to seek care.” Tofino General Hospital has five medical in-patient beds and ten emergency room stretchers. It offers outpatient ambulatory care, telehealth, emergency care and obstetrics on an emergency basis only. The tiny hospital serves Tofino, Ucluelet, Ty-Histanis, Esowista, Opitsaht, Ahousaht, Hot Springs Cove and Hesquiaht as well as all areas in between.

By Denise Titian Ha-Shilth-Sa Reporter Port Alberni, BC – Construction barriers are up at Port Alberni’s West Coast General Hospital as construction to expand the department begins. Built in 2001, the West Coast General Hospital serves not only residents of Port Alberni, Tseshaht and Hupacasath First Nations but also people from outlying towns and villages. “West Coast General Hospital is an important part of the community for residents in the area including Port Alberni, Tofino, Ucluelet, Bamfield, Hupacasath and Tseshaht First Nations, Uchucklesaht Tribe, Huu-ay-aht and Ditidaht First Nations, Yuułuʔiłʔatḥ Government, Toquaht, Tla-o-qui-aht, Ahousaht and Hesquiaht First Nations,” said Adrian Dix, Minister of Health. The Emergency Department at WCGH typically sees 25,000 patients per year – that is just over 68 patients a day. When complete, the department will be

expanded by 244 square meters (2,626 square feet). According to the provincial government, improvements will feature three new patient exam beds, extra space for patients awaiting tests and results, improvements to the triage and admitting area and a dedicated entrance for ambulances. In addition, there will be a more secluded, private space for patients needing emergency mental health care. The new seclusion room will provide added security and privacy. Currently, a space near the Emergency department entrance is used for such cases. The $6.25 million cost of the project will be split three ways between the provincial government, which is providing $2.55 million, the West Coast General Hospital Foundation which is contributing $2 million and the Alberni-Clayoquot Region District which is providing $1.7 million. The expansion is expected be completed in December 2022.

Page 4— Ha-Shilth-Sa—October 21, 2021 Ha-Shilth-Sa newspaper is published by the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council for distribution to the members of the NTC-member First Nations, as well as other interested groups and individuals. Information and original work contained in this newspaper is protected by copyright and may not be reproduced without written permission from: Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council P.O. Box 1383, Port Alberni, B.C. V9Y 7M2. Telephone: (250) 724-5757 Fax: (250) 723-0463 Web page: www.hashilthsa.com facebook: Hashilthsa Ntc

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Team tasked to target health care racism Ministry of Health plans for cultural competency training for front-line workers By Melissa Renwick Local Journalism Initiative Reporter A task team has been created to help resolve Indigenous-specific racism in British Columbia’s health care system. It comes in response to one of the 24 recommendations made in the In Plain Sight Report, which identified that Indigenous peoples in B.C. have inequitable access to health-care services. In the report, Independent reviewer Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond said thousands of interviews created a picture “of a B.C. health care system with widespread systemic racism against Indigenous peoples. This racism results in a range of negative impacts, harm, and even death.” The In Plain Sight Task Team’s mandate is to lead the implementation of the remaining recommendations in the report. Thirty-three members were appointed by the Ministry of Health, in consultation with Indigenous health care partners. They are a “diverse group of First Nations and Métis leaders, health system experts, health care professionals, nurses and doctors,” said the ministry. The group consists of Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples and includes representation from the First Nations Health Authority (FNHA), the Union of BC Indian Chiefs, and the First Nations Leadership Council. “Racism has been able to hide ... [but it] affects the health outcomes of many of our families,” said Tsartlip First Nation elected chief Don Tom, a task team member and vice-president of the Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs. “We have incredible work we need to do, to tackle and dismantle hierarchy, and bring our best selves to the table. I hope that 20 or 30 years from now, we can look back and say, ‘Do you remember there was a time when racism was affecting Indigenous peoples? And this is when it stopped.’” The task team gathered for the first time on May 12, and met bi-weekly for the first few months, according to the ministry. They now meet monthly. In between meetings, the ministry said feedback is shared through online surveys, tools and emails. Moving forward, smaller working groups are being created so task team

Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond members can “methodically make progress and create action plans for the recommendations that can be implemented with system partners,” said the ministry. Upon reviewing the task team for the first time, Mariah Charleson, Nuu-chahnulth Tribal Council vice-president, said she was concerned by the lack of Nuuchah-nulth representation. While Tom has Nuu-chah-nulth ancestry, Charleson said he is not a member. “I respect [Don Tom],” she said. “I respect him as a leader, but he’s not a registered Nuu-chah-nutlh member.” Charleson said she worries “the specific needs” of Nuu-chah-nulth peoples won’t be advocated for without representation. According to the ministry, task team members have expressed a desire to create a united voice that reflects their shared goal of ensuring all the recommendations are implemented. “It’s going to be up to leaders across the province to hold them accountable to what that mandate states,” said Charleson. Health care workers need more cultural competency training, which takes time. But hospitals in B.C. are at 79.2 per cent total capacity, according to the ministry’s

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data provided from Oct. 7. Despite the health-care system being on the verge of becoming overwhelmed by COVID-19 patients, the ministry maintained that “this training is as important as life support training.” “Indigenous specific racism is life and death,” said the ministry. “Education is one tool we can use to eradicate it. The recommendations addressing the findings related to education and training of health professionals working [are] critical and extensive and we are in the early stages.” A Health Care Workers’ Survey that was conducted as part of the In Plain Sight Report identified that over two-thirds of Indigenous respondents experienced discrimination based on their ancestry. Meanwhile, more than one-third of nonIndigenous respondents claimed to have witnessed interpersonal racism or discrimination against Indigenous patients, their families or friends. “We acknowledge that the harm to Indigenous people by our health system is known and has been perpetuated against Indigenous people for generations,” said Adrian Dix, minister of Health, in a release. “The task team will support the province as we fulfil our commitment to make the real, meaningful changes needed to ensure we address systemic racism in the health-care system and root out its toxic effects on people and communities.” In partnership with the Health Standards Organization, FNHA developed a cultural safety and humility standard that is under public review to address Recommendation 8. Additional actions include public apologies by all health authorities, as well as a formal apology by the British Columbia College of Nurses and Midwives. According to the ministry, next steps include Indigenous leaders being appointed to leadership positions in the health care system. “Our progress is not where we had hoped it would be yet, but there has been significant learning in the process with our Indigenous partners and it is slowly building,” said the ministry. “Change at this level needs to be done in an intentional and systematic way in order to affect improvements where it is needed the most, at the point of care.”

Ha-Shilth-Sa belongs to every Nuu-chah-nulth person including those who have passed on, and those who are not yet born. A community newspaper cannot exist without community involvement. If you have any great pictures you’ve taken, stories or poems you’ve written, or artwork you have done, please let us know so we can include it in your newspaper. E-mail holly.stocking@nuuchahnulth.org. This year is Ha-Shilth-Sa’s 47th year of serving the Nuu-chah-nulth First Nations. We look forward to your continued input and support. Kleco! Kleco!

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October 21, 2021—Ha-Shilth-Sa—Page 5

Virtual Justice Centre for First Nations opens in B.C. Online service offers free support, with the aim of declining Indigenous overrepresentation in the justice system By Melissa Renwick Local Journalism Initiative Reporter A new Virtual Indigenous Justice Centre (VIJC) is offering Indigenous peoples in B.C. access to legal services online for free. The initiative is a collaboration between the BC First Nations Justice Council (BCFNJC) and the province. It initially began as a response to COVID-19 but will continue to have a life beyond the pandemic, said Renzo Caron, BCFNJC provincial director of Indigenous justice centres. “Throughout the pandemic, we’ve seen how expanding the use of technology across the justice sector makes it easier for people to access the services they need,” said David Eby, Attorney General. “This VIJC will provide culturally appropriate supports to address the over-representation of Indigenous peoples in our criminal justice system, including remote communities across the province.” Improved access to legal services allows Indigenous peoples to take a preventative and proactive approach to legal matters. If dealt with early-on, Caron said legal issues are easier to manage and more likely to be resolved. The virtual centre offers a range of services to those who may otherwise not be eligible or have access to legal aid. People living in rural and remote communities are provided with legal advice and representation for family and criminal court cases. Additional support is offered to clients in other legal proceedings “which could reasonably lead to imprisonment or a child becoming in need of protection,” said the ministry. “Being able to quickly access legal

advice and representation from anywhere in the province, especially for remote and rural areas that are typically underserved, is a key aspect of a fair justice system,” said Doug White, BCFNJC chair. “In many cases, this kind of legal access can be life changing for not only individuals, but their families and communities as well.” Staffed by three lawyers, a navigator and a legal assistant, the virtual justice team will work with the court to encourage alternative dispute resolution processes. Rather than going through the formal court system, mediation and restorative justice methods will be championed, if appropriate. Indigenous peoples will also have access to social, housing, transportation, health assistance and wellness support. “We may not be able to [offer] that support in itself but are able to help people navigate how to acquire that support,” said Caron. “Often, that type of preventative approach can help people receive better outcomes.” In March 2020, the BC First Nations Justice Strategy was created in consultation with First Nations communities across the province. It was designed to reflect their vision and priorities “to transform B.C.’s justice system,” said the ministry. Along with the virtual centre, three Indigenous Justice Centres (IJC) were created in Merritt, Prince George and Prince Rupert. Locations for an additional 12 centres have not yet been disclosed. Caron said the BCFNJC anticipates adding three IJCs per year. “I don’t think that’s unreasonable as far as workload and the challenges to get these centres going,” he said. “Vancouver

Doug White Island is on our radar.” Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council VicePresident Mariah Charleson has long been advocating for a justice centre in Port Alberni. The coastal city acts like a gateway for many west coast communities, including Tla-o-qui-aht, Ahousaht, Huu-ay-aht, Ucluelet and Tseshaht First Nations. While she said the virtual centre is a “great” tool for Nuu-chah-nulth peoples who live in rural and remote communities who don’t have access to a lawyer, it doesn’t fill the need for a physical location in Port Alberni. “It’s going to take a multi-layered approach,” she said. One of the recommendations from the Coroner’s Inquest into the death of Jocelyn George advocated for a “justice centre in Nuu-chah-nulth territory to address the over-representation of First Nations people in custody.”

George was only 18 years old when she died of heart failure after spending a night in custody at the Port Alberni RCMP detachment in the summer of 2016. A 2019 report from the Department of Justice Canada stated that incarceration numbers for Indigenous peoples are “worsening year-by-year.” Indigenous inmates in federal institutions increased from 20 per cent of the total inmate population in 2008 and 2009, to 28 per cent in 2017 and 2018, despite Aboriginal peoples only representing 4.1 per cent of the total Canadian population, read the report. “First Nations people are way, way, way overrepresented in the B.C. justice system,” said Charleson. “This is just one tool that I’m really hoping our people do use.” The overrepresentation is attributed to a variety of factors resulting from colonization, socio-economic marginalization, and systemic discrimination, according to the department of justice. “It’s a continuous cycle,” said Charleson. “A long history of trauma, colonization [and] the attempted genocide of our people are all the reasons why we’re so overrepresented.” The free services are funded by the province, and Caron said the federal government is stepping in to support capacity building. “It’s very important that steps are being made,” said Caron. “We’re making headway, but some of the larger work is going to [transpire] in the next few years.” Individuals can contact the virtual centre to book an appointment by calling 1-866786-0081, or emailing: virtual@bcfnjc. com

Indigenous youth to benefit from program extension By Sam Laskaris Ha-Shilth-Sa Contributor Jennifer Charlesworth is pleased to see action is being taken to continue supporting youth and young adults throughout the province. It was announced late last month that the B.C. government would be extending COVID-19 emergency measures, thus providing continued access to the Agreements with Young Adults (AYA) program until March of next year. “It’s been extended in recognition young people are disproportionately affected by the pandemic,” said Charlesworth, who has served as the province’s Representative for Children and Youth since October of 2018. The government had announced emergency measures for the AYA program in March of last year. These measures have been extended a few times. In March of this year the government had declared supports through the program would continue until the end of September. A few days before those measures were to expire, it was announced they were being extended once again until March 31, 2022. The program allows those who have transitioned from foster care to better access supports for life skills, education, mental health and rehabilitation. Almost two-thirds of those in the province’s foster care system are Indigenous. Despite the disproportionately high number of Indigenous people in foster care, Charlesworth said a very low percentage of them had been accessing AYA supports. More are doing so now.

“I think it’s good news,” Charlesworth said of the latest government extension of emergency measures for the AYA program. “And the other thing is they are now being more successful engaging more Indigenous people.” Like others in the program, Indigenous youth and young adults can receive support on issues such as goal-setting, money management and improving their mental health. They can also be connected with elders to receive additional guidance and support. Also, those in the AYA program can now continue to access housing supports until the end of next March. Besides ministry staff, some Indigenous agency workers are able to assist those who are either seeking support or require additional information. Charlesworth said the province’s AYA program has existed for at least 15 years. Besides emergency measures first implemented last year, eligibility for the program has also been extended. “We have said there are a number of things that can be done to further support young people into adulthood,” she said. “My sense is what (government officials) are doing is experimenting. I hope they will use this in how to go forward.” Provincial officials estimate more than 1,700 young adults will be eligible to benefit from housing and AYA emergency measures between March of 2020 and next March. For those who are Indigenous, they can receive support for cultural learning. This can include things such as learning land-based practices, language education, family mapping or connecting with

Jennifer Charlseworth elders, cultural knowledge keepers or cultural mentors. Mitzi Dean, the minister of Children and Family Development, said the government realized another AYA program extension was required. “All youth transitioning to adulthood need support and strong relationships to help them thrive, and young adults from care can benefit from additional support to set them on a positive path,” Dean said. “We know what a tough time this has been for young people, and that’s why, in response to feedback from youth, we are extending our pandemic measures and making access to mental-health services more flexible so that more youth can get the help they need.” Lorena Bishop, the executive director of the Federation of BC Youth in Care Networks, was also pleased to see another program extension. “We are so glad that the flexible access

to the AYA program has been extended again,” Bishop said. “Young people transitioning from care, like all young people, need a safety net as they enter adulthood. It has been very beneficial for youth from government care to have some of these essential supports that they need. This is an important step to creating a comprehensive support system for youth leaving government care.” Meanwhile, it was announced Oct. 14 that the provincial government is taking yet another important step to help youth in foster care. During the next two months almost 4,000 youth in government care will receive a free iPhone, not only to help them stay connected with family and friends, but also to provide them with improved access to online resources, opportunities and services. Dean said youth in care have frequently told government officials that they don’t have access to required technology. “Access to a phone can support youth in building their self-esteem and sense of belonging, and help them to maintain important hereditary and cultural connections, as well as enhance their safety, so they can call for immediate assistance if they ever need it,” Dean said. “As we continue to slowly emerge from the pandemic, having a phone can help to alleviate the feelings of loneliness and isolation for young people.” The Phones4Youth program will distribute smartphones from Telus to those who are 13 and older in B.C. care. As of August of this year, there were almost 5,200 children and youth in government care in the province.

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The west coast braces for another stormy season By Melissa Renwick Local Journalism Initiative Reporter Tofino, BC - The west coast could be bracing for a stormier winter than normal as the climate pattern La Niña is back for a second straight year. Marked by the natural cooling of sea surface temperatures in parts of the Pacific Ocean, La Niña intensifies winds and rainfall. In preparation, BC Hydro has increased their vegetation management budget to tend to hazardous trees that may fall and cause power outages during a storm. “We know we will never eliminate outages completely,” said Ted Olynyk, BC Hydro’s Island spokesman. “What we hope to do is lessen the impact on our customers – whether that’s reduce the frequency, the duration of outages, or provide them the right information.” British Columbia has more trees per kilometre of utility line than anywhere else in North America, said Olynyk. And on Vancouver Island, he said there are more trees per kilometre of utility line than anywhere else in the province. “We know we’re going to get more storms,” said Olynyk. “We have to make sure we’re doing more to protect the system and doing our best to keep the lights on for our customers.” It can be especially challenging for crews to access power lines running through wilderness areas to remote communities, said Olynyk. Sometimes utility poles need to be transported in by helicopter, or new roads need to be punched in to access fallen trees. “Rain conditions may not be favourable

Photo by Melissa Renwick

A storm rolls through Tofino, on Chesterman Beach, on Nov. 17, 2020. to do any flying,” said Olynyk. “Then it On an individual level, Frank said many takes longer to determine what the probfamilies have back-up generators in the lem is and get crews in there.” event of a power outages. Stormy winter seasons are nothing new “We’ve just learned to adapt,” he said. to the Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation, located “Our winters are getting stronger and on the west coast of Vancouver Island I think that everyone has been getting near Tofino. more prepared themselves.” “For the most part, it’s something that Due to changing weather patterns, the we grew up with around here,” said Canadian Coast Guard advised small Elmer Frank, Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation vessel operators leaving docks to share emergency preparedness coordinator. their trip plans with a family member or “We all just learned to be prepared for someone on shore. the worst.” “Owners should also check on their The nation has evacuation plans in place vessels regularly over the winter to help in the event of high tides or river floods prevent storm damage, adding additional that puts their communities at risk, said lines and anchors, ensuring scuppers are Elmer. cleared, and clearing snow and ice when

safe to do so,” the Coast Guard said. “Under Canadian law, vessel owners are responsible for their vessel at all times. In the event of an emergency, mariners should contact the Coast Guard radio on VHF channel 16. The information provided will help the Coast Guard to prioritize the response. “Risk to life is always our highest priority,” said the Coast Guard. “Some of the other factors we take into account include: type and size of vessel, location, and how much fuel is onboard.” Tasked by the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre, the Coast Guard responds to around 3,000 search and rescue incidents on B.C.’s coast every year. While there are fewer calls in the winter because fewer vessels are on the water, weather conditions make the search and rescue calls higher risk, said the Coast Guard. Having gone through an extended drought period this summer, Olynyk said that trees are still in distress from the lack of moisture. Vegetation management and residents’ patience helps, but Olynyk said there are some things out of our control. “We realize that’s kind of the contract we have with Mother Nature,” he said “We’re going to get these big storm events and we have to make sure we’re all prepared to do our best to handle them. At the end of the day, these storm events are just snooze alarms – we have to realize we live in a very active seismic area. It’s one thing to prepare for storm events that can knock out power for 24 to 72 hours, or longer, but it’s making sure we can all be prepared for …. when the big one hits again.”

Officials monitor impacts of record-breaking summer By Sam Laskaris Ha-Shilth-Sa Contributor There’s no denying 2021 was a recordbreaking summer in terms of temperatures on Vancouver Island. Though the heat has obviously subsided now, thus eliminating immediate dangers to forests and streams, plenty of analysis is still taking place. “With the change to a typical fall weather pattern, most of the summer’s impacts relating to the high temperatures and low streams flows in the West Coast and Alberni Valley area have been alleviated,” said a spokesperson with the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development. The Ministry is responsible for the stewardship of provincial Crown land. “Precipitation is refilling groundwater aquifers and surface water bodies; the air and water temperatures have cooled considerably since mid-September and there are sufficient flows to allow for salmon spawning migration throughout the area,” the ministry added. “It remains to be seen how fast ecosystem values and water supplies return to normal, which is part of the ongoing outreach and monitoring efforts undertaken by the regional ministry staff.” It wasn’t just the heatwave which affected area streams. “This, combined with the general lack of rainfall for the June to September time period, resulted in significant negative impacts to aquatic and riparian ecosystems, even in a typically wet region such as the west coast of Vancouver Island,” said the ministry. “Most of the effects were immediate, with one to two

weeks, and increased water temperatures directly, which further reduced dissolved oxygen levels and decreased water levels in most streams.” Needless to say, many were caught off guard by the record-breaking temperatures that were registered throughout the province. During one day in June, it was a record 42 degrees Celsius in Port Alberni. Several other communities in the southern half of Vancouver Island had temperatures in the high 30s and low 40s. Almost 60 weather records were broken throughout the province on a single June day. “The length and severity of the heat wave this summer went beyond what was predicted,” the ministry said. “Environment Canada and BC River Forecast Centre can provide reliable weather and streamflow forecasts three to five days in advance, but the seasonal models do not have the capacity to predict extreme weather events such as these.” Though surprising, prolonged aboveaverage temperatures do have a believed cause. “Such extreme events are to a large extent unpredictable, and scientific evidence is mounting that their increased severity and frequency is related to climate change,” said the ministry. A rating scale from 0 to 4 exists for drought levels. Portions of the province hit drought level 4. Action was taken, however, at level 3. “It was communicated to local municipalities and First Nations governments, water use communities, hydropower producers, recreational water users and the agricultural and forestry sectors to take

Julia Caranci conservation steps to reduce the impact on the environment,” said the ministry. The ministry added steps need to be taken in order to properly deal with future record-breaking temperatures in upcoming summers. “The frequency of extreme weather events such as this is predicted to increase in the future, so the identification of most impacted systems is of paramount importance,” it said. “Increased summer monitoring efforts and staff resources may be employed in the west coast region and Alberni Valley to allow for collection of additional flow, temperature, fish population and aquatic habitat data. “This would allow for a more complete understanding of summer low flow and high temperature concerns in the area and their effects on both environmental health of streams and the status of water

supplies.” Julia Caranci, a fire information officer who works out of the Parksville station for the Coastal Fire Centre, said numerous factors contributed to this year’s record summer temperatures. “We broke all kinds of records at all of our weather site stations,” said Caranci, after speaking to a meteorologist employed by the centre. Besides the Coastal Fire Centre, the province has five other regional fire centres. All of them are further divided into zones with numerous stations each. The Coastal Fire Centre is responsible for about 16.5 million hectares of land, including Vancouver Island, Haida Gwaii, the Gulf Islands and the Lower Mainland. Caranci said there were close to average spring temperatures this year but precipitation levels were only 30-40 per cent normal. Persistent outflow winds in the early spring then contributed to earlyseason fire conditions. An exceptionally strong ridge of high pressure, which resulted in the ‘Heat Dome’ during the summer, exacerbated fire conditions. Warm and dry temperatures continued throughout July and August. “The south-island zone was particularly dry this summer,” Caranci said. “So, the fire danger rating went up to extreme in August.” Caranci added some active fires continue to smoulder but are not deemed serious. “Our fire danger rating is very low in all areas, which we’re very happy about,” she said.

October 21, 2021—Ha-Shilth-Sa—Page 7

‘Economic reconciliation’ through forestry After historically being left out of the industry in its own back yard, the Huu-ay-aht are gaining a leading role By Eric Plummer Ha-Shilth-Sa Editor Anacla, BC - After generations of watching others mismanage their forests, the Huu-ay-aht are seeing themselves in a different position, with a growing stake in Crown land and plans to double the number of citizens employed in the industry. “Economic reconciliation” was the topic recently addressed during an Island Wood Industries forum in Port Alberni on Oct. 12, which began with words from Huu-ay-aht Chief Councillor Robert Dennis Sr. and Shannon Janzen, chief forester and vice-president of Partnerships and Sustainability with Western Forest Products. Along with Huumiis Ventures, a limited partnership wholly owned by the Huu-ay-aht, Western shares tenure over Tree Farm Licence 44, a 140,000-hectare section of Crown forest inland from Barkley Sound. Contingent on the approval of its citizens, the Huuay-aht are looking to have a 51 per cent ownership stake in the TFL 44. Western works with 45 First Nations across British Columbia, but Janzen notes that the company’s partnership with the Huu-ay-aht is the first to share a tree farm licence. “This is the largest one that we’ve worked together on,” she said of the collaboration with Huu-ay-aht. “It really is having aligned interests, understanding each other, figuring out a model that works for both parties, and just moving forward together.” The relationship was solidified in 2018, when the First Nation and Western signed a reconciliation protocol. Since then, the partnership has relied on “a willingness for both parties to change,” said Dennis. “We used to go to the table with entitlement before. ‘This is Aboriginal title, this

is our land’,” recalled the First Nation’s chief councillor. “We really pushed the entitlement agenda, and more recently we decided to have a business agenda, and that’s been the big change for us.” Their Oct. 12 presentation marked a departure from times when the Huu-ayaht had no say in how forests in their territory were being managed, with no involvement in the lucrative business being conducted in their own backyard. This historical inequality was highlighted nearly five years ago in a ruling that came from the Specific Claims Tribunal, a judicial body formed by the federal government to settle matters with First Nations when a resolution has not been reached. The case went back to 1938, when the Huu-ay-aht surrendered all marketable timber on 1,110 acres of reserve land in Barkley Sound to the federal government “to sell in terms most conducive to our welfare,” according details in the tribunal ruling. Four years later the feds issued a 21-year harvesting licence to Bloedel, Stewart and Welsh, but despite a significant rise in lumber prices, by 1948 no timber harvested from the reserve had been sold. At that time the Huu-ay-aht asked Canada to cancel the licence with the logging company, but to no avail. The tribunal awarded $13.8 million in compensation to the Huu-ay-aht for Canada’s breach in its duty to the First Nation. Over the years industrial forestry did develop in Huu-ay-aht territory, and the post-war Vancouver Island giant MacMillan & Bloedell held tenure over TFL 44 from 1955-1999. But by the end of this term logging practices had taken their toll on the Sarita River, considered the most important of the 35 streams in the First Nation’s territory. Sixty-two per cent of the watershed was logged, including nearly all of its flood plain.

Shannon Janzen What made matters worse was that the Huu-ay-aht saw little economic benefits from the forestry activity. “We had zero participation in the forest industry,” recalls Dennis of the 1990s. But in recent years participation has grown to 44 Huu-ay-aht citizens, who work in mills, harvesting or Western’s office. The First Nation hopes to have another 50 of its members employed in the industry in the coming years, a goal that could be reached with mentoring from experienced forestry contractors. “A lot of the contractors are willing to mentor our people so that they can operate viable businesses,” said Dennis. “It’s going to require the initiative and ambition of Huu-ay-aht people to form contracting companies and submit their names for contracts.” With multiple companies in operation, forestry currently accounts for 60 to 75 per cent of the total revenue generated by the Huu-ay-aht Group of Businesses in any given year. Janzen looks back to 2017 for the critical change that occurred between West-

ern and the First Nation, when the Huuay-aht purchased the company’s dryland log sorting facility and three properties in Sarita Bay for $3 million. “There was a big licence holder in our territory. We finally asked ourselves if there was a way we could partner with Western and realise an economic benefit through there,” said Dennis. “I went to Western, not with my hand out, but I went to Western saying, ‘I want to partner with you. What can this mean so I can start to realize the economic benefits that Western realizes?’.” “At first we were a bit standoffish in thinking, well, this is a core part of our operation, how can that happen in a way that works for both of us?” recalled Janzen. “We just sat down together and committed to finding solutions that work for everyone. It’s a departure from how we’ve done business in the past. It’s required a lot of trust and collaboration.” Partnering with the Huu-ay-aht has required the forestry company to “think about a whole different path” as it operates in the First Nation’s territory, explained Janzen. “I think our job going forward, as practices have changed over the last 20 years, is to ensure that we’re maintaining stream health and integrity,” she said. To help mitigate historical damage in Huu-ay-aht territory, last year Western committed to investing $375,000 towards restoration work in the Sarita, Pachena and Sugsaw watersheds. Within the First Nation’s treaty settlement lands, $5 from each cubic metre harvested is set aside for watershed renewal. Dennis has already seen an improvement in the salmon-bearing streams. “We’re seeing a dramatic increase in wild salmon when we do a study of the young smolts in the river, that number is increasing dramatically,” he said. “This year we had a really good chinook run.”

Injunction temporarily back in place for Fairy Creek By Eric Plummer Ha-Shilth-Sa Editor Vancouver, BC - Days after the B.C. Supreme Court denied a request to continue an injunction against protestors interfering with forestry activities near Port Renfrew, another judge has heeded the concerns of Teal Cedar Products, granting a temporary extension to police enforcement. On Friday, Oct. 8 the B.C. Court of Appeal heard the application from Teal Cedar Products, which holds tenure over Tree Farm Licence 46, a nearly 60,000-hectare section of Crown land that spans forest in the territories of the Pacheedaht and Ditidaht First Nations. Justice Sunni Stromberg-Stein agreed to extend the court order for another month, which bars people from interfering with road building and logging operations in the area. Teal Cedar’s legal counsel told the court that not having the injunction in place poses irreparable harm to the company’s business interests. Access to the area is urgently needed to prepare the roads for the winter to prevent washouts, explained Teal Cedar Products’ lawyer Dean Dalke, while an estimated $1.27 million worth of felled timber lies on the forest floor awaiting transportation before the elements degrade its value. Harvesting additional timber before the winter is also

needed to keep mills running and prevent job losses, argued the lawyer. The court injunction was in place from April 1 to Sept. 26, resulting in over 1,100 arrests as thousands flocked to the remote area to protest old growth logging. Under the coordination of the Rainforest Flying Squad, blockades have been in place since August 2020 to prevent logging in the Fairy Creek watershed, considered one of Vancouver Island’s last valleys untouched by industrial forestry. In late June the region’s First Nations stepped forward to assert authority over their territorial resources, when the Pacheedaht, Ditidaht and Huu-ay-aht First Nations signed the Hišuk ma c̕awak Declaration. This document was accompanied with a notice to the provincial government to grant a two-year deferral of all old growth logging in the Fairy Creek and Central Walbran areas while the First Nations undertake their own forest stewardship plans. The province quickly complied with this request, but protestors have continued to have a strong presence in the area out of concern that many other sections of old growth remain unprotected. The Pacheedaht First Nation has repeatedly asked protestors to leave their territory, but to no avail. In late September Justice Douglas Thompson ruled against the 12-month extension Teal Cedar requested, citing threats to civil liberties and freedom of

Photo by Melissa Renwick

A tree-sitter, who goes by Pony, said she spent four days in a hanging structure to delay the logging of old-growth forest near the Caycuse blockade, on May 20, 2021. measures trench on civil liberties in a the press during police enforcement of substantial way.” the court order. Now another court decision on the “I considered the infringements of civil conflict is expected Nov. 15, when the liberties to be unjustified, substantial and B.C. Court of Appeal is set to weigh the serious,” wrote the judge in his decieconomic value of extending the injuncsion. “It goes without saying that unlawtion on a more permanent basis against ful measures imposed by those given the public concern of preserving more of authority to enforce the court’s order the island’s oldest trees to mitigate the does no credit to the rule of law or the effects of global warming. court’s reputation, especially when those

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Program launched for elders to learn language skills Offered at VIU, the Literacy Circle will be tailored to what each individual Indigenous student wants to learn By Karly Blats Ha-Shilth-Sa Contributor Nanaimo, BC - Vancouver Island University (VIU) has launched a new program for Indigenous elders, for residential and day school students, as well as 60s scoop survivors who want to learn basic language skills such as reading and writing. The new program, called the Literacy Circle, began Oct. 18 at the Nanaimo Campus. It’s a seven-week, self-paced course that offers students individualized education based on what they want to learn. The program came about after Coast Salish Elder Linda Jack gathered friends and community groups to help her in a quest to learn how to read. The First Elders Training, Healing, Education, and Respect Society (FETHERS) was formed and the need was identified for a program that could meet unique educational needs. The group then approached VIU requesting such a program. Jack’s dad was a residential school survivor and she herself is a survivor of a day school – an experience that has left her without a proper education. “I’ve been trying to fight for education for quite a while. My parents didn’t have good education,” Jack said. “There’s a lot of elders and they’re going through the same thing and that comes from day school. There’s really a lot of people who don’t have a lot of education.” Jack said she’s been “living off memory” when it comes to getting by without knowing how to read or spell. For example, instead of reading street signs when she’s trying to get to a destination, she needs to remember buildings or other landmarks along the way. Through the Literacy Circle, Jack’s goals are to obtain her Grade 12 diploma and driver’s license. Jack experienced sexual and physical abuse during her time at day school and was torn from receiving even basic education. Eventually Jack made it to high school, but didn’t have any skills or education to allow her to be successful. She said teachers didn’t care and that she’s endured a lifetime of painful experiences stemming from not being taught to

Photo submited by VIU

Coast Salish elder Linda Jack has fought for better education for Indigenous elders and residential school survivors for a long time. She will now receive basic language skills through a new Vancouver Island University program. read or spell. “My dad was getting abused and sexually abused (at residential school), he didn’t know how to show love and it carried on to us, it goes on to the next generation and the next generation,” Jack said. “Then when I went to day school everything was happening there as well. It was like a nightmare being a child growing up. I came to be a bad alcoholic and I had to start learning how to get some counselling, but I finally made it through all these years.” Once Jack quit drinking, she began fighting for education. She continues to fight for the people that are no longer here and for the elders who still are. She said there’s even an 85-year-old elder enrolled in the Literacy Circle. “It was hard for me to walk around telling people I didn’t know how to read… but I got stronger and stronger each time and then I wasn’t afraid,” Jack said. “You won’t believe the amount of elders who

don’t know how to read or spell. It’s really painful to hear all their stories. I’m really happy that they’re all coming forward now.” Dr. Jean Maltesen, dean of academic and career preparation at VIU, said that despite elders’ horrible experiences with the education system, they want to be educated. “They want to be able to read to their grandchildren, read recipes, drive a car, fill out forms and participate in other activities that require reading, writing or arithmetic,” she said in a press release. “I was compelled to do something after witnessing the courage of this group of learners who want to return to education after what they’ve been through. We need to support all learners and even though this group have had horrific experiences with education, they still understand how important it is and are still willing to work through their trauma by trying again and participating in this learning

opportunity.” An Indigenous instructor who has worked within Maltesen’s faculty for a number of years has been hired to teach the tuition-free program. Classes will be capped at 16 students and tutors are also being brought in to further assist the students. While literacy programs are offered through VIU’s Adult Basic Education Program (ABE), Maltesen said those who have expressed interest in the new program “don’t really see themselves fitting into that model, particularly because there are specific outcomes we must meet, according to provincially articulated courses. These learners want to have some input into what they are learning and we can help with that.” Although the first seven-week course has already begun, Jack and others are hoping it will be successful and allow for the program to continue running, and even expand across the country.

Phrase of the week: %u%uuyumqas c’u%ich=%a+qum %u%uu%i> simanxsy’ie Pronounced ‘Ooh yin cas Ohh itch alt comb Ooh ohh hit Sim num x s yits’, it means We are going to go pick some winter huckleberries. Supplied by ciisma.

Illustration by Ivy Cargill-Martin

October 21, 2021—Ha-Shilth-Sa—Page 9

Huu-ay-aht’s Social Services Project makes strides Children in external foster care drops to as low as one in 2020, as nation looks for more mother centre funding By Melissa Renwick Local Journalism Initiative Reporter The Huu-ay-aht First Nations has released an independent evaluation of its Social Services Project that reveals the number of children in care is decreasing. Launched in 2017, the goal of the project was to ensure all Huu-ay-aht children grow up in safe and healthy homes that are connected to culture. When 21 per cent of the nation’s children were in foster care in 2018, Huu-ayaht declared a public health emergency. The nation subsequently secured $4.2 million over five years from the federal government and obtained $300,000 from the province to work towards bringing their children home. To determine the effectiveness of the project, independent consultant Dr. Suzanne Von Der Porten compiled feedback from 169 Huu-ay-aht citizens, executive council members, child and family wellness team members, as well as the nation’s social services task force. Overall, she said the data from 2020 indicated “many successes.” “This interim assessment is an important step in implementing the Huu-ay-aht vision for bringing and keeping children in the fold of family and community love, care, and culture,” said Maegen Giltrow, Social Services Panel member and legal counsel. “It is very rewarding to see that 64 per cent of Huu-ay-aht citizens who responded said they felt their family’s safety had seen some or great improvement from the Huu-ay-aht Social Services Project over the previous year. But the assessment is also an important guide to the substantial work that lies ahead.” Amidst the data collected, 32 per cent of Huu-ay-aht respondents said the Social Services Project has “greatly improved” their family’s safety. An additional 32 per cent said the project has created “some improvement” and 36 per cent said there was “no improvement.” When respondents were asked if they felt more supported in terms of connection to community, culture and cultural identity, 59 per cent replied “yes.” In November 2016, there were a total of 220 Huu-ay-aht children under the age of 17. Of those, nine were in the care of extended family and 25 were in external foster care. This number rose to as high as 48 children in care in 2018. Compara-

Photo by Eric Plummer

Huu-ay-aht Councillor Edward R. Johnson, right, stands with Executive Director Connie Waddell at the future site of Oomiiqsu, a supportive residential facility for the First Nation’s mothers and their children, at 4305 Kendall Avenue in Port Alberni. tively, there were a total of 271 Huu-ayaht children in January 2021. While 16 remained in the care of extended family, only seven were in external foster care – a number that varies month-to-month and dropped as low as one in 2020. The success of the project has also been measured by the number of Huu-ay-aht members reaching out for support, which over the past three months has averaged between 79 to 94 people each month. This has reduced the number of children in temporary care to one, according to the nation. These supports are offered to all Huuay-aht citizens, no matter where they reside and staff is working to ensure that all children in care have contact with family, culture and the nation. While the interim evaluation of the project indicated that progress has been made, 26 areas of focus were outlined. Securing operational funding for the Oomiiqsu (Mother Centre) in Port Alberni was at the top of the list. “The Oomiiqsu Mother Centre is our number one priority,” said Huu-ay-aht Councillor Edward R. Johnson. “And to

continue to promote our culture to our citizens. That was a huge ask.” Oomiiqsu, which means “mother” in Nuu-chah-nulth, emerged from one of the 30 recommendations outlined in the 2017 Social Service Project Report. Modelled after the Vancouver Aboriginal Mother Centre, it will host a 12-unit residential program for mothers and their children aged 12 and under. Access to cultural support staff and elders will allow families to practice their traditions and to learn more about their cultural values in an environment where they are supported. By placing a focus on early intervention, the centre will provide guidance and tools to keep families together and prevent children from entering care, said Huu-ay-aht First Nations in a release. There is an over-representation of Indigenous children in care across the country. Although Indigenous children comprise only 7.7 per cent of all youngsters aged 14 and under in Canada, they represent 52 per cent of those in foster homes, according to the 2016 census. The impacts of generational trauma and the aftermath of the residential school

system are some of the contributing factors that have led to this over-representation, said Johnson. “It is important that we hear what is important to our people and those who are helping to raise our children,” Johnson said in a release. “We are pleased to have heard from so many people and this will help us shape the program moving forward to ensure we are meeting the needs of the community so we can achieve our goal of bringing our people home and keeping our children safe and connected to their nation.” The results of the evaluation will help guide the program moving forward and serve as a benchmark for future evaluations. “It is encouraging to see the results of this evaluation as it shows we are on the right track,” said Tayii Ḥaw̓ił ƛiišin, Head Hereditary Chief Derek Peters. “We have to continue to move forward with our Ancient Spirit and Modern Minds, while honouring our sacred principles of ʔiisaak (utmost respect), ʔuuʔałuk (taking Care of), and Hišuk ma c̕awak (everything is one).”


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President’s message to Nuu-chah-nulth-aht Greetings to you all. We are now into fall with cooler temperatures and lots of rain. After our dry summer, it is a relief to Mother Earth, our sea resources and all of us. I extend my condolences to all who has lost a loved one in recent months. COVID-19 and the fourth wave have been affecting our communities once again. We had a few cases with the first wave and did pretty good but now there are a fair number of cases in some of our communities. Some have shut down to outsiders. B.C. opened the province too quickly and Canada opened the border. Some people that have been double vaccinated got COVID and the question of whether it is wearing off has arisen. The questions we are raising at the political level is do we need a third vaccine? If we need a third vaccine, will First Nations be a priority? There are no answers as yet but we are monitoring and lobbying for more health care services. I join others in asking all of you to get two vaccine shots if you are able to health wise. We need to protect ourselves and others as much as possible and keep being cautious with physical distancing and wearing masks. Your lives are important and I hope you do what you can to protect yourself and your families from COVID and all of its variants. The federal election happened as you know with another liberal minority. The cabinet will be revealed on October 26th so we know who we will be working with. I attended both the First Nations Summit and the Union of BC Indian Chiefs meetings where many subjects and issues were discussed and government officials attended so that we could ask questions. Topics included the need for a salmon advocate, implementing the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples by way of an action plan and changing laws, fracking, First Nation data governance and information centers, heritage protection and gaming. BCAFN, First Nations Summit and UBCIC all passed motions to review the health governance structure. The First Nations Health Authority has been doing all the health in the province for First Nations without any direction from the First Nations. When the Chiefs in BC wanted to take over health, their vision was to for First Nations to be the decision makers on health for our people. The FNHA has moved us further away from that and the B.C. and federal governments work with them on health and not our First Nations. As nations we are the rights holders and they should be working with us, not FNHA. A working group was put together to work with First Nations to make changes to the health governance. I am on that committee as well as Edward Johnson and Les Doiron, deputy chair of the Health Council. I will chair this committee. Francis Frank was acclaimed as a B.C. Treaty Commissioner for another two years. Kudos to him as he plays an important role at several treaty tables in the province. The National Chief RoseAnne Archibald visited the Mowachaht/Muchalaht community a few weeks back. She wanted to support the Nuu-chah-nulth right to a commercial fishery. She went out on the boats and experienced fishing and created awareness of our right and the need for the federal government to implement the right as the courts have upheld. We appreciate the support of the national chief

Obituaries Ray Williams and his family would like Nuu-chah-nulth people to know that his granddaughter, Amanda “Tuffy” Angeline Mary Williams, was laid to rest on Oct. 6 in Yuquot. She was born Feb. 24, 1987, and passed Sept. 16, 2021 in Vancouver. The ceremony was a•ended by close family, with a chant by Louie Johnson and Jimmy Johnson while Amanda was lowered down. A priest did not a•end, as the family laid Amanda to rest according to their tradi•ons. The ceremony was followed by a light lunch with family and close friends at Ray’s house. Klecko, klecko to those who helped bring Amanda home. Klecko, klecko to Margare•a James for providing soup and sandwiches.

and know she will work with us when we need her. Congratulations as well to the Tla-oqui-aht First Nation for entering into an agreement with B.C. to work on several issues that they lay out in the agreement, including getting back some of their land, tribal parks, shared management over their land and resources, recognition of their laws, and creating economic opportunities. All of this work they are setting out will lead to reconciliation. September 30th was the first ever National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. This was honoured in many ways across Canada by ceremonies, rallies, honouring residential school survivors and educational forums. Many non-Indigenous peoples joined in these events. I was able to speak to groups in Vancouver and Ottawa, did several media interviews and attended Tseshaht’s event that was held at Maht Mahs after their walk from Harbour Quay to the site of the former AIRS. It was an important day to let people know how much work still has to be done regarding truth and reconciliation. I attended a rally in Victoria with Martha Martin and her family, where she honoured families that had members killed by violence - some involving police, such as the death of her daughter, Chantel Moore. Justice for Chantel means never forgetting her memory and making changes to the justice system. Had changes been in place, her death would never have happened. The coroner’s inquest into Chantel’s death will be held December 6-10, where the circumstances of her death will be reviewed. Rodney Levi, was killed by police just over a week after Chantel, also in New Brunswick. The Coroner’s inquiry ruled his death was a homicide, though this does not mean there is blame. They made recommendations that if followed will help in the future. These include implementing mandatory cultural sensitivity and awareness training, having a liaison at each detachment that has a First Nation community in its jurisdiction, expediting the deployment of body cameras, increasing training from six to 12 months, and providing mandatory scenario-based suicide intervention training to cadets. I am hopeful the NTC policing committee will be finalizing their MOU with the RCMP soon and we continue to make changes in policing in our communities and for our members who live away from home. Our NTC AGM will be held October 26th and hope you can listen in via computer. Till next month, keep well, keep safe. Respectfully, Cloy-e-iis Judith Sayers


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October 21, 2021—Ha-Shilth-Sa—Page 11

Tla-o-qui-aht reach a ‘milestone’ reconciliation deal Negotiations begin with B.C., as land transfer, economic and tribal parks management plans are developing By Melissa Renwick Local Journalism Initiative Reporter Tofino, BC - Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation signed an agreement with the province that will guide future negotiations of reconciliation on Oct. 14. Located on the west coast of Vancouver Island near Tofino, the Nuu-chah-nulth nation has long been fighting to be acknowledged in their pursuit of reconciliation. “The signing of this important document represents 19 years of discussions,” said Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation Elected Chief Moses Martin, in a release. “We are pleased that we are finally moving forward on the path of reconciliation.” The hisiikcumyin pathway agreement will focus on a range of issues, from sustainable land stewardship, to protection of cultural heritage. Priority topics that have been outlined include the development of an economic diversification strategy for community-based job creation, Tla-oqui-aht’s stewardship of its tribal parks, language preservation and revitalization, as well as land transfers, among others. Not to be confused with a treaty agreement, Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation Tribal Administrator Jim Chisholm stated “we’re not relinquishing any of our rights.” This progress demonstrates the province’s willingness to “sit down and recognize that there are things owed back to First Nations,” added Chisholm. “It just sets the ground rules for how we’re going to negotiate going forward,” he said. “It’s a pretty basic document.

Photo by Eric Plummer

The Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation has communities on the west coast of Vancouver Island, including Opitsaht on Meares Island near Tofino. “Our work together must live up to the involve collaboration with community There’s nothing earth shattering in it.” name of the agreement, that we will work members, Tla-o-qui-aht Ha’wiih (herediThe hard work, he said, is yet to come. together,” said Murray Rankin, minister tary chiefs) and elders, said Chisholm. hisiikcumyin (pronounced his-seek-toThe next step is to sign a pathway agreeme-un) means “the way we should go” in of Indigenous Relations and Reconment with the federal government, he Nuu-chah-nulth. The name highlights the ciliation. “We will work side-by-side on matters like economic development and added. province’s commitment to the nation to environmental protection – items vital to “There’s a certainly a more genuine “move forward together on matters vital the nation and everyone in the region. interest [from] the governments to recto a prosperous future,” the Ministry of Outlining the nation’s “wants and oncile,” said Chisholm. “The pathway Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation needs” will be a lengthy process that will agreement is basically the start.” said in a release.

Tseshaht signs government-to-government accord By Denise Titian Ha-Shilth-Sa Reporter Port Alberni, BC – Tseshaht First Nation leaders and Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District officials gathered at the First Nation’s administration building to sign an agreement to improve communications and develop cooperative management of resources that Tseshaht has interests in. The agreement was signed Tuesday, Oct. 19. Elected Chief Ken Watts said the accord will give his nation a say in areas of Tseshaht interest like the Alberni Valley landfill, which lies adjacent to Tseshaht’s main inhabited reservation, as well as fee simple properties the nation owns. He noted that both organizations wish to move forward in a cooperative, respectful, and collaborative way. The government-to-government relationship aims to enhance opportunities for sharing information, improving communications, addressing specific concerns, while raising awareness and understanding of Tseshaht title, rights and responsibilities. The accord also speaks to the powers and limitation of the ACRD under the Local Government Act and Community Charter. “The TFN and ACRD each have distinct governance authorities and responsibilities towards their residents and members and acknowledge that the interests of persons living in their communities are best served by working together in the spirit of cooperation,” said the parties in a joint press release. The accord, they say, creates a new level of certainty for their communities and jurisdictions, beginning an important dialogue in anticipation of successful

Photo by Denise Titian

John Jack, board chairperson for the Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District, signs a government-to-government accord with Tseshaht Chief Councillor Ken Watts at the First Nation’s administrative building on Oct. 19. community development. It is a fortory),” said Watts in a press release. respect, first and foremost,” said John mal arrangement between the TFN and At the signing Watts said that the role of Jack, ACRD board chairperson, in a press ACRD that will establish a long-term elected chief and council is to assist the release. “From there, we will work to cooperative and collaborative governHa’wiih implement their inherent respon- have open, honest and respectful commument-to-government relationship through sibilities to care for their territories. nication with one another on a consistent effective communications. “This agreement will allow us to be mu- basis. We are honoured to walk the path “Tseshaht looks forward to building tually supportive in our roles as we carry with Tseshaht and to work to ensure that off our strong working relationship by out work that benefits all the people,” our decisions are ones that take into acformalizing this collaboration and partsaid Watts. count our common interest.” nership that will benefit the entire region, “This is a first step in cultivating a including on Tseshaht ḥaḥuułi (terrirelationship built on recognition and

Page 12— Ha-Shilth-Sa—October 21, 2021

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