Ha-Shilth-Sa Newspaper October 22, 2020

Page 1

INTERESTING NEWS Canada’s Oldest First Nations Newspaper - Serving Nuu-chah-nulth-aht since 1974 Canadian Publications Mail Product Vol. 47 - No. 20—October 22, 2020 haas^i>sa Sales Agreement No. 40047776

Lobster fishery violence sparks concern on west coast Same ‘racist policies’ in Nova Scotia are faced by Nuu-chah-nulth nations, says Ahousaht’s fisheries negotiator By Mike Youds Ha-Shilth-Sa Contributor As ugly threats and intimidation give way to violence against a Mi’kmaq lobster fishery on Canada’s East Coast, Nuuchah-nulth leaders are demanding that Ottawa upholds the law. NTC President Judith Sayers said she has been shocked by images captured over the past week showing tense confrontations between Indigenous fishermen and non-Indigenous protesters blocking their path in Nova Scotia. On Saturday, a Mi’kmaq lobster storage facility was destroyed by fire, sending what police are calling a “person of suspicion” to hospital with serious injuries. “I think anybody looking at that really finds it shocking,” Sayers said Sunday. “It’s shocking that nothing is happening with the RCMP and it’s shocking that nothing is happening with DFO to try to support the Mi’kmaq fishermen.” Sharing a common interest with the Mi’kmaq in asserting Indigenous fishing rights, the five T’aaq-wiihak nations — Ahousaht, Ehattesaht, Mowachaht/ Muchalaht, Hesquiaht and Tla-o-qui-aht — threw their support squarely behind the M’ikmaq last week. “We support what goes on back there because we are dealing with the same attitudes and same approach by the government,” said Wickanninish, Cliff Atleo, lead negotiator for Ahousaht First Nation. “It’s just not acceptable. The government, because of their racist policies, seems to find it easy to stand by and watch non-

Indigenous people violate the law, violate the Canadian constitution, and it’s OK for them to do that. They say it’s too dangerous for them to go out on the water… but what is it like for the Mi’kmaq?” Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council, based on a common bond with the Mi’kmaq in asserting Indigenous fishing rights, is urging Canadians to speak out against the violence and destruction of property. “It is not enough for Prime Minister Trudeau, Public Safety Minister Bill Blair, Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller and Commissioner Brenda Lucki to say systemic racism exists,” Sayers said in a statement released Monday. “They must act now and direct the RCMP to deal with this They must act now and direct the RCMP to deal with this situation to protect Mi’kmaw, and ensure DFO works with the Mi’kmaw to implement their constitutional right to a moderate livelihood in the lobster fishery.” Meanwhile, Tla-o-quiaht donated $1,000 and urged 14 other Nuu-chahnulth nations to follow suit. “Thank you for implementing your fishery plan,” said Tla-o-qui-aht Councilor Terry Dorward, Tweeting his moral support for Mi’kmaq rights on the weekend. “It has a rippling effect right across the country.” “All Canadians should be astounded by these consistent acts of outright hate, racism, and violence,” added Mariah Charleson, NTC vice-president. “We cannot allow this to be accepted and tolerated, all governments need to act immediately.”

Sipekne’katik First Nation photo

A Mi’kmaq fishing boat heads out on the water in southwestern Nova Scotia.

Drug deaths point to need for more support services By Melissa Renwick Local Journalism Initiative Reporter The number of recorded illicit drug deaths in British Columbia has increased by 112 per cent this September compared to the same month last year, according to the BC Coroners Service. The province announced 127 fatalities in September alone. While it did see a 15 per cent decrease from the number of deaths in August, Kevin Hollett of the BC Centre on Substance Use communications said that it’s too early to extract any kind of trend. “We wouldn’t really know if there’s something else that’s going on until we start to see two or three months worth of trends,” he said. The return of key harm reduction

services – including increased access to overdose prevention sites and drug checking services – may account for the reduction in deaths in September compared to August, said a spokesperson from the BC Coroners Service. People between 30 to 59 years old represent those most affected, with males accounting for 80 per cent of the deaths in 2020. First Nations people face a fatality rate five times greater than the rest of the province. Vancouver, Surrey and Victoria continue to experience the highest number of illicit drug deaths within the province. The BC Coroners Service attributes the increase in deaths since September 2019 to a combination of factors, including increased isolation during the pandemic and reduced access to key harm reduction

Inside this issue... Justice for remote communities..................................Page 3 Pacific salmon explorer expands................................Page 7 Hospital changes needed to serve elders..................Page 10 Growing Bamfield’s economy..................................Page 13 Foster parent comes full circle.................................Page 15

services. “The response to the pandemic to reduce infection has led to a reduction in access to services – some services are operating on reduced hours or have closed,” said Hollett. “The drug supply has [also] been really impacted and it’s become more potent and toxic as a result.” Last month, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry issued a public health order that allows more health professionals to prescribe safer and more accessible alternatives to the street drug supply, in an effort to help slow down the province’s overdose crisis. “We know the pandemic has only made the street drug supply in B.C. more toxic than ever, putting people who use drugs at extremely high risk for overdose,” said Henry in a release. “Giving physicians

and nurse practitioners the ability to prescribe safer pharmaceutical alternatives has been critical to saving lives and linking more people to treatment and other health and social services.” The legal framework around illicit substances needs to be reassessed as an immediate response to the overdose crisis, said Hollett. “We need to do a lot provincially and nationally to develop that substance abuse systems of care,” he said. “That means investing in addiction medicine training, making sure there is more clinicians and health care providers across the province – specifically in rural and remote communities who can start to help connect people to harm reduction services, connect them to medications and connect them to recovery services.”

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


Page 2— Ha-Shilth-Sa—October 22, 2020

Floating dry dock project seeks government funding The $65-million initiative is projected to boost Port Alberni‘s employment, with 55 new Indigenous apprentices By Melissa Renwick Local Journalism Initiative Reporter Port Alberni, BC - For over two years, the Port Alberni Port Authority (PAPA) has been forging ahead trying to secure provincial and federal government funding to build a floating dry dock within the city. In partnership with the Canadian Maritime Engineering Ltd (CME) and the Floating Dry Dock Community Committee, PAPA boasts that the construction project would create “significant labour, income and training opportunities for the region.” Dry docks are used for lifting large ships and boats out of the water so that they can be inspected, repaired and maintained. The estimated $65-million project is anticipated to reduce Port Alberni and its region’s unemployment rate by 9 per cent, increase employment income by at least 2 per cent, and create at least 80 new jobs over the four-year construction timeline. “The market need for a floating dry dock in Port Alberni is clearly identified, diverse, sizeable and expanding,” said Zoran Knezevic, president and CEO of the Port Alberni Port Authority, in a press release. “As a location, Port Alberni has a number of advantages including a proven, Canadian private partner in CME; ample supply of skilled trades labour and willing training partners; a growing marine cluster; and is in sheltered waters easily accessible by any size vessels, makes it an ideal location for the project.” No preliminary studies on the environmental impact have been conducted.

Photo by Denise Titian

A proposed dock project on the Alberni Inlet would take advantage of the area’s deep water on the shore of Port Alberni. Knezevic said that PAPA is trying to whether they plan to support the project the first three years. The program aims to secure the funding first. as all B.C. government communications target at least 25 per cent female partici“The increase of boat traffic will not are “limited to health and public safety pation. necessarily be of significance,” he said. information during the election period,” Knezevic said that the “legacy” project “We are talking about a ship or two a said a spokesperson. would transform the “blue collar commonth. This port used to handle much If the project were to proceed, a new munity” by creating good paying jobs, bigger volume, so we haven’t done any training program partnership between establishing long-term careers that will studies in that regard [yet].” North Island College, the Nuu-chah-nulth allow people to “live here and afford to B.C.’s Ministry of Transportation and Tribal Council and CME would create at live here.” Infrastructure would not comment on least 55 new Indigenous apprentices over


October 22, 2020—Ha-Shilth-Sa—Page 3

Pandemic limits access to justice for remote communities Courts use videoconferencing for appearances, but some fear this could affect the consideration of sentences By Eric Plummer Ha-Shilth-Sa Editor The COVID-19 pandemic is causing widespread disruptions to how First Nations can access the justice system, and court restrictions are being felt most strongly by those in remote communities. After the World Health Organization declared the respiratory disease a pandemic in March, courthouses across British Columbia were closed to in-person hearings. Some urgent matters were still heard by video conferencing and telephone, as the judiciary adjusted to how it would serve the public while limiting contact between people to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus. By the early summer many provincial courthouses reopened with limitations on the number of people who could attend proceedings, while civil jury trials were suspended until October 2021, with any proceedings held before this date to be heard by judge alone. This allows courts to limit coronavirus exposure and “minimize the impacts of delays,” according to the B.C. Attorney General. But now approximately two thirds of those in provincial jails are awaiting a decision on their charges, said Doug White, chair of the B.C. First Nations Justice Council.

Photo by Melissa Renwick

The Tofino Community Hall, which also acts as the community’s courthouse, is normally part of the region’s court circuit. the west coast locations, but mainly by remotely connecting with people through the use of videoconferencing technology. The court is in Ucluelet for two days this month, and scheduled for another two days in Tofino in November. Limited internet service has challenged the ability of many First Nations to remotely connect to courts, putting those

Along with the increased use of technology, this has helped the courts to catch up to the point where “there are no great

“By dealing with an individual outside of the community context, I’m losing all of the community context” “It’s just people waiting ~ Alexander Wolf, for trial, it’s not people that Provincial Court Judge have been found guilty” ~ Doug White, delays,” said Alexander Wolf, the provinB.C. First Nations cial court judge for Port Alberni and west communities. But he has concerns Justice Council coast over what is being lost by the absence of

Doug White “It’s just people waiting for trial, it’s not people that have been found guilty,” he said. “It’s a grave situation. The pandemic has caused real challenges in terms of the normal flow of information and communication between accused and prosecutors.” The provincial court circuit that regularly comes to Uclulet and Tofino to serve the region’s west coast communities has also been disrupted, causing major delays for those in remote locations like Ahousaht. “There definitely has been postponement,” said Ahousaht Chief Councillor Greg Louie of those awaiting court appearances. “There’s always been a real concern on our part for the lack of a presence of a justice system - a properly functioning justice system - in remote communities,” added White, noting that this pre-existing problem has worsened with the pandemic. “When we think about women’s safety and prevalence of sexual assault, sexual offences, when something happens and you have to call for help and you’re in a remote context, in some parts of the province…it could be days before police arrive.” The court circuit has since returned to

in faraway settlements at a disadvantage in their access to justice. But fortunately for Ahousaht the community erected a new TELUS tower in late 2019, enabling widespread cellular service and highspeed internet. “It’s been a real bonus during this COVID,” said Louie. “We’re probably doing videoconferencing sometimes six hours a day.” In recent weeks the First Nation received an offer from a Crown counsellor to allow for more virtual appearances. “She is going to be making an affidavit to the judge to have this happen, possibly in November,” said Louie. As many expect the pandemic to continue through 2021, an expanded reliance on remote connectivity appears to be a means to increasing access to the courts for those who live far from urban centres, says Doug White, chair of the B.C. First Nations Justice Council. Efforts to open Indigenous justice centres across B.C. have been curtailed by COVID-19 restrictions, leading the council to work on a proposal for a virtual justice centre to assist First Nations. “Working with various technology companies and getting funding for government, the plan is to get a number of lawyers in place to be able to be available to Indigenous people virtually,” he said. To help clear up a backlog in cases, six new provincial court justices were appointed in July, including three judges who agreed to return from retirement.

in-person appearances, particularly as the judge considers sentencing alternatives to jail time. “By dealing with an individual outside of the community context, I’m losing all of the community context,” he said, noting the importance of others who can offer better avenues to help rehabilitation. “The reason that we have courts in communities is because each community has an individual need, an individual personality. We’re attempting to respect that.” “You have to balance the circumstances of the offence with the circumstances of the offender,” added Wolf. The judge also fears that remote connectivity could become a mainstay for those in faraway locations, as the provincial government looks for ways to save justice system costs. “I would sat that those communities

Alexander Wolf have less access to justice as a result of the circuit pulling out,” said Wolf. “In this time of fiscal restraint because of COVID, we can’t lose access to justice, because we’ve seen that take place all over.” Another justice issue is access to parole officers, regular visits to Ahousaht that stopped in March. “Before COVID they were coming to the community every two months,” said Louie. “Ahousaht is requesting to possibly come a bit more frequently.” Melinda Swan, Ahousaht’s deputy chief councillor, added that parole officers have now resumed visits to Ucluelet and Tofino. “They’re preparing safety plans for coming to Ahousaht, so they will submit that to leadership,” she said.


Page 4— Ha-Shilth-Sa—October 22, 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

LETTERS and KLECOS Ha-Shilth-Sa will include letters received from its readers. Letters MUST be signed by the writer and have the writer’s full name, address and phone number on them. Names can be withheld by request. Anonymous submissions will not be accepted. We reserve the right to edit submitted material for clarity, brevity, grammar and good taste. We will definitely not publish letters dealing with tribal or personal disputes or issues that are critical of Nuu-chah-nulth individuals or groups. All opinions expressed in letters to the editor are purely those of the writer and will not necessarily coincide with the views or policies of the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council or its member First Nations. Ha-Shilth-Sa includes paid advertising, but this does not imply Ha-Shilth-Sa or Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council recommends or endorses the content of the ads.

2020 Subscription rates: $35 per year in Canada and $40 per year in the U.S.A. and $45 per year in foreign countries. Payable to the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council. Manager/Editor/Reporter Eric Plummer (Ext. 243) (250) 724-5757 Fax: (250) 723-0463 eric.plummer@nuuchahnulth.org Reporter Denise Titian (Ext. 240) (250) 724-5757 Fax: (250) 723-0463 denise.titian@nuuchahnulth.org Reporter Melissa Renwick (416) 436-4277 Fax: (250) 723-0463 melissa.renwick@nuuchahnulth.org

Audio / Video Technician Mike Watts (Ext. 238) (250) 724-5757 Fax: (250) 723-0463 mike.watts@nuuchahnulth.org Editorial Assistant Holly Stocking (Ext. 302) (250) 724-5757 Fax: (250) 723-0463 holly.stocking@nuuchahnulth.org

DEADLINE: Please note that the deadline for submissions for our next issue is October 30, 2020 After that date, material submitted and judged appropriate cannot be guaranteed placement but, if material is still relevant, will be included in the following issue. In an ideal world, submissions would be typed rather than hand-written. Articles can be sent by e-mail to holly.stocking@nuuchahnulth.org (Windows PC). Submitted pictures must include a brief description of subject(s) and a return address. Pictures with no return address will remain on file. Allow two - four weeks for return. Photocopied or faxed photographs cannot be accepted.

Province of BC photo

Ahousaht Tyee Ha’wilth Maquinna, Lewis George (centre), walks next to Jolene Dick during the B.C. Cabinet and First Nations Leaders’ Gathering on Nov. 6, 2019 in Vancouver. During the gathering Ahousaht chiefs and elected councilors informed provincial officials of the First Nation’s intention to begin reconciliation negotiations.

Ahousaht on the road to reconciliation Negotiations delayed by provincial election, but framework expected in December By Denise Titian Ha-Shilth-Sa Reporter Ahousaht, BC – The Province of British Columbia was set to begin negotiating a new relationship with Ahousaht in early October, but Premier John Horgan called a snap election forcing a delay in talks with the First Nation. Elected Chief Greg Louie told HaShilth-Sa that Ahousaht was not upset that negotiations would be on hold until after the election on Nov. 19. “This provides us with an opportunity for our team to do more work in preparation for future meetings,” Louie stated. On Orange Shirt Day, Sept. 30th Premier Horgan said in a media release, “We all share the responsibility of reconciliation. Today we recognize and name the harmful legacy of residential schools and systemic racism to Indigenous peoples, and honour the resilience of survivors and communities.” Under the NDP-Green government, B.C. is the first province in Canada to pass legislation to implement the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous

Peoples. The province also established a long-term agreement to guarantee 25 years of revenue-sharing with First Nations and is the only province to fund on-reserve housing. Chief Louie said that the parties had been preparing for reconciliation negotiations for several months. “Last November Maquinna (Ahousaht Tyee Ha’wilth Lewis George) told them (provincial government) that he’s ready for reconciliation negotiations,” said Louie. Ahousaht put together a team of advisors that consist of both hereditary chiefs and elected council members. In addition, two negotiators have been named: Greg Louie and Tyson Atleo. Louie stated that negotiations would have moved forward earlier if the pandemic hadn’t struck. The plan was for the teams to meet weekly to discuss topics of interest like health, education, economic development, youth and elders. They had hoped to reach an agreement of some form in December 2020. According to information from the

Legal Information

COVERAGE: Although we would like to be able to cover all stories and events, we will only do so subject to: - Sufficient advance notice addressed specifically to Ha-Shilth-Sa. - Reporter availability at the time of the event. - Editorial space available in the paper. - Editorial deadlines being adhered to by contributors.

provincial government, it is their vision to reach agreements with First Nations that are mutually beneficial and close the socio-economic gap that separates Indigenous peoples from other British Columbians. A broad range of agreement types can contribute to achieving reconciliation and creating economic opportunities for First Nations. What topics will be up for discussion? “Everything,” said Louie. He estimates there are more than 45 topics of interest to discuss including health, education, homelessness, youth and elder programing. Louie says the negotiating teams will meet at locations outside of Ahousaht every two weeks until Dec. 20, 2020. The meetings will be held in-person in a large ballroom where people can be properly spaced according to pandemic safety advice. Louie anticipates that come Dec. 20 the teams will have created a framework agreement.

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 46th year of serving the Nuu-chah-nulth First Nations. We look forward to your continued input and support. Kleco! Kleco!

The advertiser agrees that the publisher shall not be liable for damages arising out of errors in advertisements beyond the amount paid for space actually occupied by the portion of the advertisement in which the error is due to the negligence of the servants or otherwise, and there shall be no liability for non-insertion of any advertisement beyond the amount paid for such advertisements


October 22, 2020—Ha-Shilth-Sa—Page 5

Hearings on Ahousaht lands detail historical use Court proceedings were held for two days in October, with testimony recalling se•lement in multiple locations By Denise Titian Ha-Shilth-s Reporter Ahousaht, BC – The Specific Claims court action launched by Ahousaht against the Government of Canada over lands they say were wrongly taken from the nation resumed for two days of hearings held over video conferencing. According to Tyee Ha’wilth Maquinna and other Ahousaht elders, the nation has fought consistently over the past several decades for the return of important sites that they say were wrongfully alienated from Ahousaht through government mechanisms, like the Pre-emption Act, timber licenses, cannery leases, parks and private ownership. Pre-emption was a method of acquiring provincial Crown land by claiming it for settlement and agricultural purposes. Over the course of the two days of court proceedings on Oct. 7 and 8, Ahousaht people reiterated that they have never ceded the lands that were alienated from them via various government land-use programs. Generation after generation of Ahousaht leadership has fought to have several parcels of land returned to their Ha’wiih. Many of the parcels had Ahousaht homes constructed on them that stood as late as the 1950s, as reported by witness testimony. Blunden Island At one point in the proceedings, Hasheukumis, (Richard George, son of Tyee Ha’wilth Maquinna) said he was sitting in for his father during the proceedings. Judge William Grist allowed him to make a statement which, he said, would be allowed into the record.

Photo by Eric Plummer

October proceedings with the Specific Claims Tribunal heard testimony about settlement throughout Ahousaht territory. Hasheukumis spoke of the history of Blunden Island in Ahousaht territory and the great battles that took place there. Blunden Island sits northwest off the coast of Vargas Island in Clayoquot Sound; both are included in Vargas Provincial Park. “At one time there were only 40 Ahousaht left and they fenced themselves in on Blunden Island,” he stated. It was from there that they fought to defend Ahousaht territory. “Kleeushin was the head chief of Ahousaht; I will be the 17th (head chief) when the seat passes to me,” said Hasheukumis. He went on to say that Kleeushin defended the island fiercely and blood was shed. “And then the McKenna McBride Com-

Humility. Respect. Compassion. Strong community values are at the core of everything I do.

This is an opportunity to do politics differently. The old way is not working. We need people in government who genuinely care for people, the environment and the economy. I have a long history of being of service to others including as a registered nurse and community health and addictions clinician, entrepreneur and spending more than a decade in politics. As your MLA, I will continue to be a bold and passionate advocate and ally on the path of reconciliation. This election is about us. It’s about our youth, our communities and our environment - walking this journey together.

mission came and took Blunden away from Chief Billy, who was a descendant of Kleeushin,” he continued. Hasheukumis said that he needed to state strongly that in Ahousaht’s eyes, Blunden Island has always been theirs. “Blunden is sacred, it is where we come from…it is Ahousaht,” he said. Besides Blunden Island, Ahousaht is fighting for the return of or compensation for several important sites on the fringes of Flores Island, including sites in Shelter Inlet, Sydney Inlet and Warn Bay. Jenny’s Beach Ahousaht witnesses were allowed to speak about their knowledge of the history of the various sites included in the claim. Ha’wilth James Swan spoke to what his father and grandfather told him about Manhousaht territory and Jenny’s Beach. Manhousaht is one of the smaller nations that amalgamated with Ahousaht. Jenny’s Beach is the name of a Manhousaht site located in Shelter Inlet, northeast of Flores Island. Swan testified that his relative Jenny lived there; he didn’t know her Nuu-chah-nulth name. He stated that the site was important for many reasons. It was where Manhousahts harvested a variety of shell fish and fin fish. Jenny, he stated, lived there yearround and it was there that she handed her title to Luke Swan, who was James’s grandfather. “It’s important for my family because that is where the transfer of chieftainship ceremony happened,” Swan told the court. While Jenny lived in Shelter Inlet permanently, many Ahousaht families still moved from village site to village site, following the food resources and seasons. Swan testified that his late grandfather lived in many places including Opnit (adjacent to Maquinna Park/Hot Springs Cove), Hot Springs Cove, Hisnit and Pretty Girl Cove. “They moved to access the resources and lived in many places; he was living in Hot Springs Cove when he got his seat,” said Swan. Swan was asked to identify known clam beds in the Shelter Inlet area. He identified the areas but said he couldn’t recall their names. “My father and grandfather used to talk in native; I didn’t learn it,” he said, adding that the places have names that he has saved in his records. Homes and smokehouses Harvey Robinson was the next Ahousaht witness to testify. He stated that his moth-

er’s name was Elsie and that she came from the Little family. Robinson said he heard family history about Jenny’s beach from his mother. “I took her for a boat ride to have her show me places where they lived,” Robinson testified. One place was the Jenny’s Beach, where he said his mother’s family would harvest clams, oysters and fish in the fall and winter months. Robinson’s grandparents, William and Mary Little, along with their children spent fall and winter months at Jenny’s Beach where they would smoke their clams, oysters, chum and Coho salmon. “My mother told me there were other family cabins and smokehouses there,” said Robinson. When asked which families were there he answered the Swans and Louies. When the weather warmed up, the Little family moved to their other homes at Opnit or Pretty Girl Cove. The third witness was Aaron Blake Evans, a researcher hired by Ahousaht to prepare reports that support Ahousaht’s specific land claims. He introduced two reports from 2010 and 2020. Blake described himself as a researcher, archeologist and anthropologist. He compiled information from archives, records and various other sources regarding alienation of lands from Ahousaht. His report dated Sept. 1, 2010 looks at that history using letters, maps, and documents that show the transaction history of the parcels of land. In his testimony, Blake showed several historic maps drawn by ship captains and archived government land maps, many of which indicated that Ahousaht people had homes and smokehouses in places like Blunden Island, Pretty Girl Cove and Shelter Inlet. Some of the lands were taken through the Pre-emption Act. The Specific Claims Process was introduced by the federal government in 2007 to accelerate the resolution of land claim issues. The process is intended to ensure impartiality and fairness, greater transparency, faster processing and better access to mediation. At the close of Blake’s testimony, Justice Grist indicated that there was still another Ahousaht man that is waiting to testify and that there was hope that there could be a site visit in spring or summer 2021, but scheduling would be difficult with uncertainty about the COVID-19 pandemic. Alex Hughes, counsel for Canada, said the Crown is preparing an expert report that they expect won’t be ready until the summer or fall of 2021.


Page 6— Ha-Shilth-Sa—October 22, 2020

Plastic plan lacks targets, funding, critics say Ban aims to divert three million tonnes of trash, but an incoming wave of pandemic waste is expected next year By Mike Youds Ha-Shilth-Sa Contributor Vancouver Island, BC - A federal plan to eliminate plastic waste by 2030 lacks the urgency and dollars to protect marine ecosystems on the receiving end of an ocean current conveyer belt along the Island’s west coast, say critics. In 2020, urgency is more critical than ever with a wave of PPE — personal protective equipment — and other pandemic waste expected to wash ashore next year along the coast, said Capt. Josh Temple of Coastal Restoration Society (CRS) and Clayoquot CleanUp, two not-for-profit groups. “While it’s encouraging government is finally getting to this point, I’m hesitant to remain optimistic that it’s really going to make a difference along the B.C. coast,” said Temple, who is engaged in marine debris retrieval. “We need a partnership with the federal and provincial governments, marine industries, charitable foundations and First Nations.” A national strategy on zero plastic waste, announced Oct. 7 by Environment Minister Jonathan Wilkinson, includes an integrated management plan to stem the flow of three million tonnes of plastic waste that Canadian throw away each year. Single-use plastics will be banned next year. “Our plan embraces the transition towards a circular economy, recycledcontent standards and targets for recycling rates,” Wilkinson said, promising the plan will “protect wildlife and waters, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and create jobs.” “We also intend to ban plastic bags, straws, stir sticks, six-pack rings, cutlery and hard-to-recycle take-out containers,” the minister said. Temple has heard promises before without seeing results on the water. Funding doesn’t reach the people actually doing the work, he said. “The lack of funding from the provincial and federal governments is a real problem here,” Temple said. “The Canadian record on recycling is deplorable. Absolutely it’s a step in the right direction, but in terms of meaningful difference, which is important to the future of marine diversity and the coastal environment, this is not really making a difference.” He points to local cleanup efforts since 2017, which have removed 900,000 kilograms (two million pounds) of waste from Clayoquot Sound at a cost of $1.5

Photo by Coastal Restoration Society

A marine debris cleanup gathered material from Vancouver Island’s coast in 2018, one of many that lacked federal funding. then he’s raised the issue 79 times in the million. Only $1,000 of that came from could be similarly funded, bringing more House of Commons. While applauding the provincial government through B.C. jobs to coastal communities, Johns sugParks. There has been no federal funding. the new plan as a sign the government is gested. finally aware of the seriousness of the isThe Clayoquot Sound mariner has While unveiling the plastics plan, sue, he said there are still no clear reducspecialized in protecting marine environWilkinson also announced funding for 14 tion targets or plan to phase out plastic ments for most of the last 30 years. In Canadian-led plastic reduction initiaproduction. the one sound alone, his crew typically tives. UBC research on consumer choices “In Canada, only nine percent of plastics is among those projects, but west coast sees anywhere from 300,000 to 500,000 are recycled while the public overwhelm- cleanup is not. pounds each year, “and we’re not even ingly supports more recycling,” he said. keeping up,” Temple said. Dianne Ignace of Hesquiaht First Nation “To make a meaningful dent we’re talk- “It’s choking out our ecosystems.” has been actively engaged in local shoreGovernment has also targeted derelict ing $200 million,” he added. line cleanup efforts with her late husband fishing gear, another threat to west coast They handle projects along the Island’s Dave. She feels the onus should be on ecosystems, without holding industry to west coast and beyond, contracting with consumers to clean up their act. First Nations and other coastal communi- account with a polluter-pay system. In“People have to be conscious more of ties for vessels and labour when possible. dustry — and by extension, consumers of ways to reuse plastics rather than throw products provided by industry — should People welcome the jobs in late fall and them away,” Ignace said, citing disposbe paying, not the taxpayer, Johns insists. able coffee cups washing up on beaches early spring, usually slow times for emJohns has criticized the Liberal govployment on the coast. as a prime example. ernment over the absence funding for a Plastic waste has only increased in volPlastic shopping bags, on the other lengthy list of groups leading the charge ume in recent years along the west coast, hand, will be missed on the west coast, against plastic waste. He agrees the situTemple said. At the same time, scientists where paper bags don’t hold up to the ation has taken on greater urgency as a have gained a clearer understanding of rigors of travel by sea, she said. result of COVID-19. Now is the time to how plastic affects marine life. “I don’t think that helps people; plastic act. A 2015 study found up to 9,000 plastic bags get reused and they get reused a “We’ve never used more plastic,” Johns lot,” Ignace said. “It would be more benparticles per cubic metre of seawater off said. “It couldn’t be more important and the B.C. coast, particles small enough to eficial to get rid of plastic bottles.” more timely. We need to capture it and be ingested by phytoplankton, a foundaPolystyrene foam from shipping condeal with it.” tion of the food chain. These are containers and single-use plastic bottles are He sees an opportunity for greater insumed by zooplankton and make their among the most common forms of maway into fish, as many as 91 particles per volvement by Indigenous groups through rine waste seen in west coast waters. the Coastal Guardian Watchmen program, day in returning adult salmon. The federal government invites feedlinking it to recent funding for retrieving Courtenay-Alberni MP Gord Johns back on its zero plastics plan. Comderelict fishing gear, another grave threat tabled Canada’s first plastic reduction ments will be accepted until Dec. 9 at to marine life. The $8.3-million Ghost legislation through a private members’ ec.plastiques-plastics.ec@canada.ca. Gear Fund backs 22 projects across the bill three years ago, motivated by the Regulations will be finalized by the end country for two years. Plastic recovery Hanjin marine debris spill in 2016. Since of 2021.


October 22, 2020—Ha-Shilth-Sa—Page 7

Pacific Salmon Explorer expands into Southern B.C. Data tool gives visual insight into 150 salmon groups to improve conservation, as some stocks face extinction By Melissa Renwick Local Journalism Initiative Reporter In effort to maintain a diversity of salmon populations within B.C., the Pacific Salmon Foundation (PSF) has launched its newest instalment of the Pacific Salmon Explorer. The online data visualization tool provides new insight into the current health of 150 unique groups of salmon populations. Known as conservation units, these groups are characterized by sharing similar habitat, occupying the same area, sharing genetic similarities and similar life histories. By expanding the database into southern B.C., the Pacific Salmon Explorer now contains data and assessments for 80 percent of all conservation units within the province. “It gives us some insight into the current health of salmon,” said Katrina Connors, Pacific Salmon Foundation director. “This is really important because you can’t develop conservation or management strategies to protect at risk populations if you don’t know what their current status and trends are.” Including populations that may not be central to the fisheries, Connors said that the data tool looks at supporting a diversity of salmon populations, “because together, having this diversity is what makes salmon as a species more resilient.” Leaning on involvement from First Nations organizations, such as the Nuuchah-nulth Tribal Council, Connors said they are better able to inform the impact of future threats.

Photo by Melissa Renwick

Sockeye salmon that have travelled 500 kilometres from the ocean, up the Fraser River and into the Adams River, return to spawn. Department of Fisheries and Oceans Can“Local First Nations know a lot about ada’s (DFO) management approach under these local salmon populations and the Wild Salmon Policy is to aggregate a they’re able to validate the data that exbunch of individual salmon populations ists,” she said. into much larger conservation units. Eric Angel, Uu-a-thluk Fisheries Pro“From a western science conservation gram Manager, said that he initially met and resource management perspective the Pacific Salmon Explorer with some that might be fine, but this idea of exscepticism, worrying that the data might changeability of habitat and species is exbe misleading. tremely problematic for Nuu-chah-nulth While Angel said that he admires PSF and Indigenous peoples more generally,” for taking the lead and demonstrating that you can do “good, interactive salmon Angel wrote in an email. “Individual salmon creeks are the responsibility of data and mapping online,” he continues specific individuals and Ha’wilth – they to have some reservations. are not interchangeable.” There are over 100 streams, creeks and Uu-a-thluk Fisheries recently submitted rivers that support, or supported chinook a grant proposal to DFO’s new fundsalmon populations on the west coast of ing initiative, the Indigenous Habitat Vancouver Island. Instead of accountParticipation Program. Angel is hoping ing for all of those distinct streams, the

that the funding will allow them to build something similar to the Pacific Salmon Explorer for Clayoquot Sound, but “at a much finer scale.” Careful to note that there is a need for middle-scale projects, like the Pacific Salmon Explorer, he worries that the “aggregation of data just totally obscures individual variations that are really important to talk about.” While their approaches are different, Connors and Angel both argue for a more centralized system for salmon analysis. “A lot of the nations are leading the way in terms of doing these geographical surveys, but it hasn’t really been centralized across broad areas, like Vancouver Island,” Connors said. “We really need to collectively invest in a centralized platform for storing and making data accessible in order to allow tools like this to exist.” Angel echoes her sentiment, saying that there’s a “crying need” for a common platform, but that it comes with challenges. “There’s a huge amount of abuse of data and science in fisheries management because people want to be able to use the numbers to make an argument that’s in their favour,” he said. Continuing in their fight to save the salmon, Connors hopes to expand the tool so that it includes Haida Gwaii, and trans-boundary watersheds with southeast Alaska. “Having this information available is really critical to being able to actually get to the crux of what the issue is,” said Connors. “We’re getting there.”


Page 8— Ha-Shilth-Sa—October 22, 2020

Ahousaht man provides support to Victoria’s homeless popu The COVID-19 pandemic has brought widespread government efforts to move people into hotel rooms, but tents keep appearing By Denise Titian Ha-Shilth-Sa Reporter Victoria, BC – The sidewalks and businesses of Pandora Street in downtown Victoria, once buzzing with people, have quieted down considerably since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Prior to March, hundreds of homeless people were camping on the grass medians in tent cities, allowing for easy access to support services operating in the area. But city bylaw enforcement and pandemic safety measures have forced the homeless indoors or to other areas. By late spring, enforcement officers descended on the area, clearing campers and their debris away. The tents are gone from the median, having moved to designated parks around the city, most notably Central and Beacon Hill Parks. But still, a few gravitate toward Pandora Street, where they mingle, maybe share a smoke and a coffee at the various outreach service centres there. Some do their illicit drugs at the location. Today there is a sense of being caged as one walks down Pandora Avenue. The grassy boulevards and business entrances are now surrounded by tall metal fencing in an effort to keep people out. The signs of the caging say it is closed for remediation. Herb Dick, 38, of Ahousaht knows many of the Indigenous street people that congregate on Pandora or in the encampments. He works for an outreach team delivering food, services and support to the Aboriginal people living in the street. In pre-pandemic days, Dick said he would start at 5:30 a.m. making what he called “goodie bags” to hand out. Each bag was filled with snacks and harm reduction supplies. He would deliver the bags to people living in encampments around the city in about five locations. No decrease in tents Back in 2018, The Homeless Hub counted 1,525 people in Victoria without a place to live. Even though dozens of shelter units and government-purchased hotel rooms have been filled this year, the number of tents does not decrease for long. Currently Dick says that there are an estimated 270 tents in various parks in Victoria. “People (across Canada) think B.C. is warm so they come here,” said Dick. Efforts to get the homeless indoors for the winter have been working, and people are accepting accommodations offered to them, but it seems more are coming into the city from other places. Dick says since the start of the pandemic there have been huge changes in downtown Victoria. Since people cannot go to a soup kitchen to eat due to social distancing guidelines, food is now being prepared, bagged and delivered to those in need. “There are six or seven agencies all offering support services like harm reduction and wellness checks,” said Dick. He noted that the provincial government bought four hotels in Victoria in an effort to get people off the street and they are filled. He said it is mostly Indigenous people that moved into hotel rooms, adding that he didn’t know if it was by design or if Aboriginal people are just more willing to get off of the streets than other people. Dick said that there are some that have been in the streets for decades and there are a few people that don’t want to leave the streets.

Herb Dick works closely with Victoria’s homeless population. He has seen the pandemic disrupt people’s usual means of accessing food and other su The streets make you unrecognizable Sept. 28 was a warm, sunny day at Victoria’s Central Park, located on Vancouver Street behind Crystal Pool. It had rained the day before and many of the people living in the encampment had clothing and sleeping bags slung over the chain link fence that surrounds the park. There is a single blue port-a-potty beside the fence next to an overfilled dumpster. Small clusters of people mill around some tents, but it is mostly quiet on a Monday afternoon. According the Dick, this is the time of day everyone is resting under the warmth of the sun; they mostly go out at night. As he prepared to make his rounds, Dick advised that there were two Nuu-chah-nulth people living at that particular encampment, but their tents were gone that day. Dick said he hoped that they had been transitioned into hotel rooms, where they would have meals delivered to them. Still, groups of support workers from different organizations make their way from tent to tent. There were at least 50 tents in Central Park, and many more in the picturesque gardens of Beacon Hill Park. You can’t knock on a tent flap so outreach workers announce themselves as they approach. Most outreach workers offer food, harm reduction kits, nursing services and assistance to get into whatever accommodation is available. One team approached an open tent with a man and woman inside. They called out, announcing who they are and asked if they needed anything. The man asks for a Naloxone kit and the woman asks if the nurse could check her injured ankle. The team gives the couple the kit, yogurt and a cigarette in what was a friendly exchange. Dick says that Indigenous people make up about five per cent of Victoria’s population, but he estimates that about 50 percent of the homeless people are Indigenous.

“There’s at least a few dozen Nuu-chahnulth here,” Dick said, noting that sometimes even close relatives can be hard to recognize. “The streets beat you up. They look good sometimes but can deteriorate fast.” Why does he do this kind of work? “There is a personal part that draws me to this,” Dick told Ha-Shilth-Sa. “I have had losses in my immediate family (to the streets); I guess I could have been here too.” Dick lost a brother and other close relatives to the streets. “We were absolutely devastated by the loss and it hit home because there was no difference between us and the ones we lost,” he added. He and his wife were on the same path. “I was tired of going in circles…I was part of the problem and I decided enough was enough,” he shared.

‘COVID is like a magnifier’ A recent Point-in-Time (PiT) count of the homeless supports Dick’s estimation of the number of Aboriginal peoples on the streets. A count was conducted in March 2020 in Victoria. At the time there were 1,523 homeless individuals. Of that number, 35 per cent - or 299 individuals identified as indigenous. According to the 2016 census 4.7 percent of Greater Victoria’s population identified as Indigenous. It is believed that the most recent PiT count is an underestimate as people may have been avoiding contact with others at the start of the pandemic. The top reasons for displacement, according to the Greater Victoria Coalition to End Homelessness, are the high cost of rent, low income and lack of housing inventory. Other contributing factors include job loss, family break-up, mental illness, addictions


October 22, 2020—Ha-Shilth-Sa—Page 9

meless population New study gives help to the homeless

but tents keep appearing in city parks

By Karly Blats Ha-Shilth-Sa Contributor

Photo by Denise Titian

means of accessing food and other support services.

(PiT) count of s estimaoriginal peoples as conducted in At the time there dividuals. Of that 299 individuals According to the of Greater Victod as Indigenous. ost recent PiT e as people may act with others at

placement, accordia Coalition to End gh cost of rent, housing inventory. rs include job loss, illness, addictions

Lump payments were given to those without addiction issues, but some experts warn that cash could prove dangerous for those who are unable to manage their habits

and lack of affordable housing. The coalition identifies other factors that put Indigenous people at risk for homelessness such as having been in foster care and/or residential schools. “Much of the literature shows the interrelated connections between the effects of colonization and residential schools with homelessness,” says a report by the coalition. More than half of the Indigenous people experiencing homelessness in Victoria have been in foster care. Even with no end in sight, Dick remains positive. He is moving onto a new job. Sept. 28, was his last day of outreach work. “I am moving to housing support,” he said, adding that he was excited to help people move indoors. Still looking for solutions, Dick said he envisions a safe gathering place for Victoria’s Indigenous homeless population. “I hope to have a First Nations room somewhere in the downtown area that would offer support services to people in need,” said Dick. For now, they are focusing on getting people off the street to help with detox and medical treatment. If there is a silver lining, Dick, says it is this: “COVID is like a magnifier showing the public what is wrong with our society.” He said that there is a resilience in the street community; “a sense of community that is missing from our (mainstream) values. They look out for one another.” Dick pointed out that some agencies serve only certain groups in the encampment while others do not discriminate, serving everyone that needs it. “People down here have a First Nations way of handling things; they will give you their last dollar if you need it more than they do,” said Dick. He believes this kind of thinking could change western mentality.

Vancouver, BC - A B.C. research project that gave thousands of dollars to homeless individuals on the Lower Mainland is helping to break stereotypes about people living in poverty. The New Leaf Project (NLP), a joint study started in 2018 by Foundations for Social Change, a Vancouver-based charitable organization, and the University of British Columbia gave 50 people experiencing homelessness on the Lower Mainland $7,500 each. This amount is benchmarked against the 2016 annual income assistance rate in B.C. Cash transfers were deposited into participants’ bank accounts in one lump sum which NLP researchers say is based on evidence that a lump sum of money has more potential to transform someone’s life than a sequence of small payments. In their Impact Report that was published this year, researchers for the NLP call this method direct giving and claim it has been proven to empower recipients to find housing and purchase goods that improve their lives, while restoring dignity, confidence and a sense of well-being. Research has also found that cash transfers do not increase spending on alcohol, tobacco and drugs. The 50 homeless individuals were randomly selected after being screened and assessed for program eligibility. They were between the age of 19 and 64, had been experiencing homelessness for at least six months and didn’t struggle with extreme addiction or mental health issues. Participants also received life coaching, various workshops and self-affirmation exercises. Sixty-five other homeless individuals were chosen to participate in the study but did not receive any cash. Data collected from the research compared results from the cash recipients against the non-cash recipients. According to the Impact Report, participants completed questionnaires at one, three, six, nine and 12 months after receiving the cash. Data from the study indicates that, on average, cash recipients move into stable housing faster, spend fewer days homeless, retain more than $1,000 in savings through 12 months and increase spending on food, clothing and rent. Grant McKenzie, director of communications at Our Place Society in Victoria, said the NLP helps highlight the strengths of individuals in the homeless community. “I also think it really shows the need for those individual assessments and to look at people as individuals,” McKenzie said. “I think too often the general public can look at people who are homeless or people who are struggling as a group rather than the individual within that group. Every individual has their own story and their own strengths and their own weaknesses.” McKenzie said had the cash recipients been in active addiction the results would likely be very different. “So many of the people we see who are struggling with addiction, the addiction takes over. You’re no longer dealing with that individual, you’re dealing with the addiction and that addiction drives everything and those bad decisions,” McKenzie said. “When you do those individual assessments, you can tell that amount of money can be life changing for one group but it could be a death sentence for another group. That’s why you definitely need to be

Photo by Eric Plummer

A woman regularly sleeps on a bench on Third Avenue in Port Alberni, a section of the city where homelessness is prevalent. would be a happy ending but I’m sure that able to assess people on an individual basis some of them would be.” to see what would work.” According to the 2018 B.C. Homeless McKenzie added that people often dismiss Count, there are about 7,600 homeless giving homeless individuals money bepeople living in the province, with 38 percause they believe the money will be spent cent identifying as Indigenous. Port Alberni on drugs or alcohol. recorded 147 people experiencing home“I think that’s the first thing the majority lessness that year, with 48 percent identifyof people think, whereas we know that’s ing as Indigenous. not the case. At Our Place we see so many Wes Hewitt, executive director with the people from different walks of life and even Port Alberni Shelter Society, believes a though addiction has such a visible pressimilar project could work in Port Alberni, ence, because it is so disturbing for most as long as the individuals chosen didn’t of us, that’s still just a percentage of the have substance use issues. people who are struggling out there.” “We do have many people (living in Port The NLP reports that over 12 months, Alberni) that do not have substance use cash recipients reduced spending on goods issues that are homeless,” Hewitt said. “We such as alcohol, cigarettes or drugs by an run across several a year who would work average of 39 percent. well in that program.” Data from the study also shows that 67 Hewitt echoed McKenzie in saying that percent of cash recipients are food secure giving individuals experiencing addiction after one month compared to just over 20 issues that amount of money is unwise. percent of the non-cash group. “Giving people $7,500 works with a The cash group also moved out of homelessness faster than the non-cash recipients. certain demographic within the continuum. It works very well with the people that are For the cash group, days homeless dropped homeless - and COVID is a good example from 77 percent to 49 percent in the first of it - that are forced into homelessness month, while the non-cash group increased because of monetary issues,” Hewitt said. from 64 percent to 78 percent. “Somebody who has real tough substance McKenzie said not having stable housuse issues, it is something different. It’s ing and living each day wondering where sort of my feeling with the CERB money you’ll be sleeping at night puts you into that went out, we actually signed a bunch survival mode. “Once you can get in more stable housing, of people’s death warrants with too much access to substances.” you can then get out of survival mode and Overall, Hewitt believes the research really start to look at how can I get back project was a great way to shed new light into the workforce or how can I deal with on homelessness. my addiction,” he said. “You’re no longer “Anything in the way of research is alhaving to depend on all those other surways a positive thing,” he said. “We always vival instincts and because you’re in a safe kind of look for new methods and new space, that plays a big part on your mental things that address homelessness because health as well.” McKenzie said he believes a similar study homelessness has been around since time itself.” like the New Leaf Project could work in Moving forward, the team at Foundations Victoria or on Vancouver Island as long for Social Change plan to expand the cash as the participants were assessed and not transfer project in the Lower Mainland to chosen randomly. an additional 200 plus people experienc“I know there are definitely people where ing homelessness, with a fundraising goal this is the last place they thought they of $10 million. They also hope to be able would end up and that kind of hand up can to deliver the project to other cities across make a huge difference with somebody’s Canada. life,” he said. “I don’t think every story


Page 10— Ha-Shilth-Sa—October 22, 2020

Hospitals need changes to be•er serve elders Be•er advocacy and cultural competency training needed to alter a discriminatory system, according to FNHA By Eric Plummer Ha-Shilth-Sa Editor Port Alberni, BC - A “culture shift” is needed at the West Coast General and other hospitals to better meet the emergency needs of Nuu-chah-nulth elders, according to a new report from the First Nations Health Authority. With input from Island Health and a group of more than 60 individual participants, the Report on Recommendations for Trauma-Informed and Culturally Safe Emergency Care identifies discrimination in the health care system that Nuu-chahnulth people rely upon. The report speaks of elders avoiding emergency care due to fear of being misunderstood – or of being triggered due to childhood experiences in the residential school system. “I am a residential school survivor and the impact of residential schools has made a huge difference in how I relate to the medical profession at the hospital,” reads an account from Daisy Georgina Laing, one of the many Nuu-chah-nulth elders who contributed to the report, first over two days in 2017, then two years later for an update. Laing noted being re-traumatized while at the hospital. “When I talked about myself being held down over the top of a table, I thought I was going to be raped again,” she said in the FNHA document. The report notes that many elders feel intimidated when entering the hospital, and that healthcare workers need to better understand how trauma affects access to emergency care. Hospital staff need to be “self reflexive about their level of cultural humility, which will further enable cultural safety,” states the document. But in the age of the COVID-19 pandemic placing unprecedented demands on healthcare workers, requirements for professionals to take more time to understand the backgrounds of individual patients could prove challenging. The shortage of doctors in the Alberni Valley is another issue that existed long before the pandemic. The College of Physicians and Surgeons of British Columbia lists 32 family doctors in the area of approximately 25,000 residents, averaging one physician for every 781 residents.

FNHA photo

Elders and health partners discuss recommendations at Continuing Our Journey gathering. From Left to Right: Cary-Lee Calder, Pam Rardon, Sheila Leadbetter, elder Marie Samuel, elder Ray Samuel and Kateri Deustch. As the Nuu-chah-nulth Nursing Program’s health promotion worker, Matilda Atleo has been working with elders in need of medical care for years. She finds that the current state of the medical system discourages elders from having their concerns met. “The way they talk about it is, their doctors don’t listen,” said Atleo. “They make accusations. There was an elderly couple, and the woman has had rheumatoid arthritis for years. [The doctor was] calling her a drug addict, telling her she just wants drugs.” The FNHA report calls for mandatory “cultural safety and trauma-informed” training for all hospital staff, which promotes respect for First Nations spirituality. But Atleo cautions that a generalized education in sensitivities for Indigenous patients might be missing the specific history of the Alberni Valley. “When it comes to the cultural safety, it should come from this area,” she said, noting that someone providing this training at West Coast General isn’t Nuu-chah-nulth. “One of the guys that’s doing it for Island Health isn’t even from

around here…It’s more generalized.” A full-time Aboriginal Liaison nurse works at West Coast General, but the FNHA report stresses the need for elders to have 24-hour access to people who can accompany and speak up for them when medical care is needed. The report notes that elders tend to be stoic with their health issues, and any expression of suffering could be an understatement. “We need an advocate, we need someone that can actually just help these people when it comes to trying get medication,” said Atleo. “Our elders really need someone to be able to go in with them.” But the report does note some improvements between the initial workshop in 2017 and the follow-up session in 2019. In November of that year the West Coast General opened the All Nations Room, a space where families can gather to share traditional healing practices and ceremonies, such as prayer and ritual cleansing. This development came from a 2014 recommendation by the hospital’s cultural safety committee. “The All Nations Room will increase the representation of Nuu-chah-nulth people

and culture in the physical environment of the West Coast General Hospital, and will support First Nations people to feel more at ease in the hospital setting,” stated Brennan MacDonald, FNHA’s executive director for Vancouver Island, when the room was officially opened. Respect in the health care setting is the long-term hope for Tla-o-qui-aht elder Barney Williams, who served as a cultural advisor for the FNHA report. He spoke of the need to create an environment “so that I and my grandchildren can walk into a hospital anywhere and be treated like a human being, versus feeling less than.” Atleo tries to bridge the gaps with the medical community by developing relationships of mutual understanding. “My own personal approach is the more health professionals I know, I’m going to invite them to my house. I’m going to get them to learn about us, talk about some of the assumptions they have that aren’t really true,” she said. “My hope is that one health professional will talk to another health professional and say, ‘Gee, these First Nations have sure been through a lot’.”

Phrase of the week: +uu%ii%a> mixtak@aqkin h=aam’aamah=sak Pronounced ‘clue ee alth mith tuc ark kin ha ma suk’, this means, ‘remember our elders, check on them’. Supplied by ciisma.

Illustration by Ivy Cargill-Martin


October 22, 2020—Ha-Shilth-Sa—Page 11

Editorial space paid for by Opioid Dialogues and PASS(Port Alberni Shelter Society) Our Opioid Crisis -------Bandaids versus Surgery Through working on Harm Reduction, Sobering Sites, Overdose Prevention Sites, Agricultural Market Gardening Programs, Housing and Food Distribution, and by utilizing contact methods to link clients into other organizations and services, some progress has been made in our current Opioid Crisis. This could be called the Bandaid versus Surgery approach. Bandaids help with superficial bleeding. Bandaids help prevent infection. Overdose Prevention Sites and Harm Reduction programs help save lives and prevent disease. All of these programs are valuable, but they are only bandaids, and don’t provide the “surgery” that is needed. Surgery is needed for internal causes, Real Recovery Programs are needed for our Opioid Crisis. Real Recovery programs which actually have long term success, don’t drain the taxpayer and don’t bankrupt the families of those suffering in substance use. A Real

Recovery Facility

PASS has been doing research recently regarding substance use and our Opioid Crisis. PASS has been focussed on providing supports and prevention in our Community, but we are also focussing on the Recovery Sector, as this is one of the many solutions needed in what is currently a very fragmented network.

PASS has researched and visited several Therapeutic Recovery models currently in operation around the globe. Two Successful Opioid Recovery Models are: the Portuguese Model : 20 year track record the Italian Model : 40 year track record PASS has also visited and/or consulted with the following organizations: • Red Barn Academy, Utah • TOSA, Salt Lake City • TROSA, N. Carolina • Habilitat, Hawaii • John Volken Academy, Surrey, B.C., Washington, Arizona • Our Place Therapeutic Community, View Royal • Kristiansand, Norway

San Patrignano The Mission, the Values, the Mechanics of Operation San Patrignano is one of the largest and most recognized Therapeutic Communities, operating since 1978 near the city of Rimini in Italy. Several other facilities have modelled their practices upon this very successful model. SP is a remarkable organization located on 650 acres in the beautiful green hills overlooking Rimini, a beach resort town in central Italy on the Adriatic Sea. They are a recovery community that started in 1978 and now have 1400 recovering addicts and homeless who stay and work at San Patrignano at no cost to themselves for 3 to 4 years. San Patrignano takes no money from the government, but runs a series of social enterprises (or training schools) that cover about 50-60% of the costs of the community;they also receive private donations from some wealthy donors and corporations to cover the balance.

Strategies for sustainability 50 Social Enterprises Olive oil, Wine, Cheese, carpentry, leatherwork and textiles Corporate Services Events, Catering, TED Talks, Consulting, Communications Fundraising Individuals, Philanthropists, Charity Events, ...

Sustainability of San Patrignano Some of the products which they make are being sold in supermarkets across Italy and their printing press has large printing contracts with Loreal, Ferrari, and other large Italian and European firms. They have a large agricultural sector, growing olives, producing olive oil and olive oil products, dairy products, cattle,pigs and subsequent to that cured hams, woollen and leather goods and resulting high end fashion accessories. People with substance use issues come to San Patrignano at no cost to themselves to learn how to change their behaviours so they can live and work a productive, fulfilling, sober life filled with honesty, accountability and love. The program is built upon the three main pillars of hard work, brutal feedback, and intensive community life that effectively changes the ununderlying behaviours that led to the challenges in their lives. One of the remarkable things about San Patrignano is that they take such a holistic approach to help every segment within the drug culture. If you are living on the streets, they welcome you. If you are an addicted teen boy or girl, they have a place for you. If you are a mom who is pregnant or who has kids and struggling with addiction, you can come bring your kids and both will become part of the community. If the addict has HIV, they have a medical centre to help out. All of this at no cost to the participant. In a study by the University of Bologna, they found that 72% of the people they surveyed who completed their stay at San Patrignano remained drug free 5 years later. Drugfree.org states that only 10% of people who go through traditional rehabilitation programs remain drug free as a comparison. Rewards through work – All of the activities of the program are fundamental educational instruments because they can give gratification but at the same time demand engagement in progressive responsibilities. While there are tremendous people at work in Canada attempting to address the issues and tragedies of substance use, the current programs of recovery...which we often mistakenly refer to as treatment – are routinely, due to financial or capacity issues, too difficult to enter into and too short to give long term help. Clients of our current “treatment” programs in Canada (if they manage to get into them) often just get cleaned up enough to return to the street, to their previous neighbourhoods and to their previous lifestyles. Therapeutic Recovery Communities (T.R.C.’s) have been evolving around the globe over several decades. PASS is planning to develop a Therapeutic Recovery Community on our Shelter Farm in the Alberni Valley. We are looking to our Community for dialogue and ideas. If you are interested in providing support, in contributing ideas, in fundraising, work , volunteer involvement, or in simply engaging in a dialogue, let us know of your interest in attending a virtual event later this year. See our follow up notices here, visit our Opioid Dialogue program on our website of pashelter.org. Please reach out by visiting Opioid Dialogues at our website of pashelter.org


Page 12— Ha-Shilth-Sa—October 22, 2020

Job Opportunity - Rebuilding the Circle Coordinator Healing the Effects of Sexual Abuse in Families Program

Photo by Melissa Renwick

A burn mark is left on a piece of driftwood on Chesterman Beach in Tofino, on Saturday, Sept, 12, 2020.

Tofino considers banning fires on all local beaches By Melissa Renwick Local Journalism Initiative Reporter Tofino, BC - After being the subject of debate for years, Tofino is considering a ban on beach fires. Following an unprecedented summer of tourism in the coastal town, Mayor Josie Osborne and councillor Duncan McMaster brought the motion forward to council on Sept. 28. Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation Tribal Administrator Saya Masso said that he can understand the rationale and motivation behind it. As beach fires increase so too does foraging along the shorelines for brush and driftwood, he said. “It’s a very tough one to manage and I understand the plight the district is facing trying to develop a bylaw for it.” Tofino councillor Britt Chalmers voted to put the issue to council. It was in a move to continue the engagement process and to get a better sense of the community’s attitudes towards the ban. Provoking mixed reactions from locals, Tofino resident Ryan Orr was compelled to create an online petition opposing the fire ban. Since it was posted online on Sept. 30, it has garnered over 2,000 signatures, with over 400 from locals, he said. “I think a lot of local residents enjoy fires and do so responsibly – in many cases leaving the beaches cleaner than when they found them,” he said. “It’s an important part of the social fabric of our community.” Tofino’s fire chief, Brent Baker, said that beach fires have been an ongoing issue for many years and that this year was largely no different than years past.

“I think there’s a lot of proposals that are being thrown out there,” he said. “None of them are the ultimate solution and none of them are the worst solution. I think the biggest component here is the human factor. It’s not one group of people or another, it’s all of us as a community – that includes visitors and residents.” The fire chief said that the yearly increase of fires along Tofino’s beaches has led to more people voicing concerns over “the state in which people’s fires are being left.” He said that many beachgoers are unable to meet either the provincial or municipal requirements for having a beach fire, which includes completely extinguishing the fire with water and packing in your own firewood. Council will meet again next week to vote on Oct. 13, after considering public feedback. Chalmers said that staff would work with the Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation as a bylaw is created. “We’re not going to tell our people that they can’t practice their Indigenous title and right within their own traditional territories,” said Terry Dorward, Tla-oqui-aht Tribal Parks project coordinator. “If that includes having a fire, then we’re going to support our people in their cultural right.” Entering the meeting with an open mind to determine what is best for the community, Chalmers remains “on the fence.” “The opposing views are making it hard because I see both sides of it,” she said. “Really understanding what we want to lose – that community life, or the environmental and health aspects. The tradeoff between the two is what I’m seeing right now.”

To the Tla-o-qui-aht First Na•on, On behalf of the Li•le family, I would like to express my gra•tude for all you did for my family a•er the tragic loss of our beloved Luke Li•le. Luke was a widely liked man. Despite the suffering in his childhood, a•ending residen•al school and all the effects that has on a person, he was a wise and caring man. He was tradi•onal and hard-working. He will be missed. Though my father was not an official member of your na•on, you made him feel welcome, you took care of him. Words cannot express our eternal gra•tude, for giving him a home, and his final res•ng place. Your condolences meant a lot, and your hospitality and gi•s will not be forgo•en. To the people who took •me out of their lives to prepare and serve our meals, prepara•ons for the service, offering rooms in their homes for our family to stay during prepara•ons, the monetary contribu•ons. In the midst of our grieving I couldn’t have imagined ge!ng through this sad •me without all the help of your people. From the bo•om of my heart, I thank you. Klecko klecko, Louise Li•le and family

Position Summary: This position provides coordination services for the Nuu Chah Nulth Family to engage for, create, and pilot programs intervening with sexual violence in Indigenous communities. The coordinator will provide support, guidance, and coordinative capacity all the while approaching the community work from an empowering and supportive practice perspective. This position practices from an Indigenous worldview that recognizes and respects the values, beliefs and customs of individuals, families and communities as well as adhering to best practices current to the field. This position focuses on the development and coordination of community-based services as requested by the community and the partners engaged. The position also provides consultation to Nation-based leadership, Health Leads, and partners regarding information and referral to external resources, navigation of relevant systems and partners as well as implementation of relevant internal resources. Primary Responsibilities: 1. Serves as part of Kackaamin team to provide overall systems expertise, community development, curriculum and program development, and reports to the steering committee and Executive Director of Kackaamin Family Treatment Centre Society 2. Serves as part of an inter-disciplinary team that works closely with community, cultural leaders, community programs, elders, healers, and clinical specialists 3. Provides regular updates and consultation to stakeholders regarding capacity needs, anticipated risks, issues and any other related activities or needs expressed by community and partners; 4. Manages scheduling, engagements, and program development by including identifying additional partners, engaging existing partners, and recording and developing possible curriculum development players. This is done through engagements, meeting coordination, and management of clinical specialists. 5. Assesses and documents systemic barriers and challenges identified as potential pre-disposing factors related to the incident 6. Collaborates with First Nation Leadership and Health Leads regarding systemic challenges and barriers. 7. Ensures client/family/community confidentiality and privacy in accordance with professional regulatory guidelines and following standards of practice and legal requirements 8. Performs other related duties, as assigned Qualifications: Education and Experience • Master’s degree in Social Work, Child and Youth Care, Leadership, Public Health, or related field • 5 to 7 years of recent, related experience in health care setting or an equivalent combination of education, training and experience. • Advanced training and experience in working with and in Indigenous communities • Knowledge of the full range of services needed to impact the epidemic of sexual abuse and sexual assault which includes working with both victims and their families and offenders and their families. • Knowledge and experience working with family and community intervention Occupational Certification • Current valid B.C. driver’s license • Criminal Record Check required Experience • Familiarity with traditional healing practices, customs, values and traditions of local First Nations • Extensive knowledge of sexual abuse and complex trauma • Knowledge of various meeting and coordination modalities • Knowledge of relevant socio-historical events relevant to First Nations in Canada • Knowledge of the importance of critical reflection in practice • Excellent communication skills Knowledge Skills and Abilities • Cultural safety and agility • Actively uses critical self-reflection in practice • An understanding of rural and remote communities and their inherent challenges and barriers • Practices from an individual/family/community perspective • Balances western and traditional Indigenous worldviews in practice • Aware of and applies professional ethics and approaches to resolve ethical dilemmas • Ability to establish and maintain strong working relationships with a variety of allied professionals, formal and informal community leaders, and knowledge keepers and/or Elders. • Physical ability to perform the duties of the position Closing date will be November 13th, 2020 @ 4:30pm Email resume to Executive Director Lisa Robinson lisa.r@kackaamin.org


October 22, 2020—Ha-Shilth-Sa—Page 13

Taking back Bamfield through economic resurgence Huu-ay-aht are looking to economic growth, beyond yesterday’s empty promises from an Alberta developer By Melissa Renwick Local Journalism Initiative Reporter Bamfield, BC - When Huu-ay-aht First Nations Chief Councillor Robert Dennis Sr. thinks back to the ‘80s and ‘90s, he remembers Bamfield as a boomtown. In those days, the motel was full; you’d have to drive around in circles to find a parking spot and it was near impossible to get a boat moorage, he recalled. Trevor Cootes has similar memories. The then 20-year-old was stationed at the Pachena Bay Campground in 1998 and ruminates it as a time of great excitement – Bamfield “was very much full of energy,” he said. Cootes eventually moved on to pursue guiding, the same time the notorious Alberta businessman Jack Purdy began buying key properties within the community. When Cootes made his way back to Bamfield in 2012, he returned to a place that he no longer recognized. The once busy streets were empty, lodges were closed and buildings were crumbling. The silence was penetrating. Like a ghost town, it was “dead quiet,” he said. It was what locals now refer to as “the Purdy time,” or “the Purdy model.” Purdy made great promises of investing into Bamfield’s economy, but development plans were never realized. “I think Bamfield residents, as well as business owners in Bamfield, were definitely feeling very unsure about the future of the Bamfield economy with seeing such a drastic downturn,” said Cootes. “The Purdy time” was heightened by the reduction of allowable catch for chinook salmon. Canada’s Department of Fisheries and Oceans decreased the daily recreational limit from four salmon to two around 1990. With the commercial and recreational fisheries down and nowhere for tourists

Photo by Heather Thomson/Huu-ay-aht First Nations

Justine Mack works at a gas bar in Anacla. With a eye to economic resurgence, in recent years the Huu-ay-aht have been developing properties around Bamfield. to eat or sleep, the atmosphere was “very bleak and it was very quiet,” said Cootes. At that time, the nation only owned the campground, the east government dock and a small gas bar in Pachena Bay. Despite the unpredictable future of Bamfield, Huu-ay-aht First Nations continued to look forward, never doubting the territory that had always provided for them. When they signed the Maa-nulth Final Agreement in 2011, the tides began to change. It meant that Huu-ay-aht First Nations was provided “decision-making power,” said Cootes. “We needed to develop an economic

model,” said Dennis. “I always looked at the Huu-ay-aht treaty as our economic plan. We had to increase the amount of financial resources we had, we had to create governance structures so that business models would be able to work in our territory and certainly, we had to have natural resource allocations, particularly in fishery. We had to develop our own model and make that model work.” In 2015, Cootes was elected on council and was tasked with developing the nation’s economic portfolio. When 11 “Purdy properties” went up for sale, the nation bought them as a package deal in January 2016. They included four key operations –The Bamfield Motel and The Kingfisher Lodge, Ostrom’s Lodge and an undeveloped airport. Since then, the area has slowly come back to life. “The vision for Huu-ay-aht is definitely an approach of having short, mid-term and long-term objectives on how we want to build a strong Huu-ay-aht economy,” said Cootes. “When these 11 parcels of land came to us, they immediately offered Huu-ay-aht more businesses, more rev-

enue opportunity [and] more job opportunities for our citizens.” Now, there is a job for everyone living in Anacla. “We don’t have much of an unemployment rate at all,” said Cootes. “If anybody can work, they are working.” With job opportunities in hospitality, Belinda Nookemus has returned to work on her homeland for the past three summers. “It was exactly what my soul needed to be around – family and my home community,” she said. “It’s reassuring that in a split second you can do something you really love and always wanted to do and [the nation] will help get you there.” While COVID-19 did disrupt Huu-ayaht’s business operations and the Pachena Bay Campground remains closed, Cootes isn’t sweating. He said that their business operations are financially stable and that the primary focus during the pandemic was the safety of their citizens. Rather, as he thinks of the future, excitement radiates through his voice. “We have very large control over our decisions and our destiny, “ said Cootes. “It’s a good place to be in.” Recently, it was announced that the 90-kilometre logging road to Bamfield would be paved. Not only will the new road address long-standing safety issues, it will allow Huu-ay-aht to shift some of its reliance on resource development to tourism development, said Dennis. Key to that is the Kiixin Village and Fortress National Historic Site of Canada. It is one of the few places on the B.C. coast where the original posts from longhouses still stand, said Cootes. For the last three years, the nation has been offering free tours of the ancient village site as a pilot project. It is a stepping stone for Huu-ay-aht to incorporate their stories and culture into their tourism offerings. “We were almost killed off at Kiixin,” said Cootes. “But we have a resiliency about us that keeps us afloat through our histories. Wars, famine – all these things have happened to Huu-ay-aht, but there’s always been this resilience of coming back.” Cootes reflects on the past 15 years with the same spirit as his ancestors. “We’re at such a milestone, pivotal, significant time in Huu-ay-aht,” said Cootes. “It’s that resilience coming back again.”


Page 14— Ha-Shilth-Sa—October 22, 2020

Old growth logging faces ‘paradigm shift’, says report Amid opposition to the practice, industry group and union warn that harvesting restrictions will lead to layoffs By Eric Plummer Ha-Shilth-Sa Editor Those who form a government after the Oct. 24 election will inherit a province in the midst of a “paradigm shift” in how it sees ancient forests, according to an independent panel report released this fall. Compiled by veteran foresters Al Gorley and Garry Merkel, the Old Growth Strategic Review Panel Report was released Sept. 11 after four months of crossprovince consultation, including meetings with Nuu-chah-nulth representatives on Vancouver Island. The report notes that Indigenous peoples are destined to be “key players” in how old-growth forests are managed in the future, and observed a transition among the public from a human-centric view of using ancient trees to a widely held belief that old-growth forests present critical value to all living things. The report also noted a shift from the belief that old-growth trees are renewable to the view that they cannot be replaced in many cases. Gorley and Merkel pointed to a lost public confidence in how the B.C. government has implemented previous old-growth management plans, including one announced back in 1992. “If the public feels that the system is not looking after their interests, the predictable response is increased mistrust and opposition to many activities carried out by that system, demands for increased participation and control over decision making, along with large swings in support for political parties,” wrote the foresters. “These reactions are intensified when communities feel that values and conditions important to their survival are threatened — a theme that we heard from a wide range of individuals and groups.” Opposition to how the province is handling ancient trees was highlighted during an annual general meeting of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs in late September. A passed motion calls for old-growth forests to be designated as “heritage habitats”, and cited low enforcement standards that jeopardise salmon-bearing streams and other wildlife. “Despite Vancouver Island’s old-growth forests approaching extinction, the government agency BC Timber Sales and private corporations are responsible for the logging of irreplaceable swathes of

Photo by Eric Plummer

Logging in the Nahmint Valley has been highlighted by the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs, which recently raised the issue of some of the largest and oldest trees in the province being cut during recent years in cutblocks south of Sproat Lake. ancient trees, including those in Nuuchah-nulth territories and the Nahmint Valley in Hupacasath and Tseshaht First Nation territories,” reads the motion, which was moved by Chris Syeta’xtn Lewis of the Squamish Nation and seconded by Tla-o-qui-aht Councillor Terry Dorward. The UBCIC motion accused the logging industry of taking advantage of economic limitations many First Nations face. “The current landscape of old-growth logging has been exacerbated by years of the B.C. government fostering an economic dependence on old growth for First Nations communities by arranging agreements for revenue sharing, employment, joint ventures and tenures in old growth timber in contentious areas,” reads the motion. The UBCIC stated that 30 soccer fields of old growth forest are being cut down each day in B.C., but the BC Forestry Alliance disputes such criticism of the industry. The industry group targeted the

henna artist By Aleesha Sharma Book your henna session for community events, weddings, birthday parties, school events or any special event.

Phone: 250-730-1262 or 250-720-3096 E-mail: aleesha_sharma1@hotmail.com

Sierra Club of B.C. for a recent antilogging campaign. “Fact is, forestry in B.C. is responsible and well-regulated, and this campaign could unfairly harm tens of thousands of working families and the nearly 10,000 businesses that support forestry in British Columbia,” said spokesperson Carl Sweet. “In fact, in recent years more than 80 percent of old growth logging in B.C. has taken place in the Interior and almost all of that was to remove dead trees killed by the mountain pine beetle.” “With over 500,000 hectares of protected old forests on Vancouver Island alone, there is no danger of old growth disappearing,” added Sweet. Although Gorley and Merkel’s report notes that B.C.’s economy is “heavily dependent” on harvesting old growth trees, changes are required to conserve the province’s ancient forests. Their recommendations include better information for the public on forest conditions and trends, as well as the need to “declare conservation of ecosystem health and biodiversity of British Columbia’s forests as an overarching priority” with legislation. The United Steelworkers Wood Council of B.C. is sceptical of the report, and

accused the panel of being biased to the input of environmental groups. The union organization stresses that B.C.’s forestry jobs must not only be protected, but increased. “It’s concerning that the old growth report is largely silent on the issues raised by workers, industry and communities and completely silent on possible socioeconomic impacts,” said Jeff Bromley, USW Wood Council chair, in a statement. “Further restrictions on harvesting rights in the working forest will ultimately result in layoffs and hinder the growth and viability of the industry. It needs to be understood that the first and often only casualty of these type of initiatives are workers, families and the small, rural, resource-dependent communities in which they live.” According to the Old Growth Strategic Review Panel Report, 23 percent of B.C., or 13.2 million hectares, is covered with old growth trees, less than the area taken by “young” and “mature” trees. One third of these old-growth stands are protected. The report defines old growth trees to be over 140 years in the Interior and more than 250 years old on the West Coast.

TSESHAHT MARKET GATEWAY TO THE PACIFIC RIM

Have You Moved? If you should be getting a copy of the Ha-Shilth-Sa paper delivered to your home, please contact : Holly Stocking at 250-724-5757 or holly.stocking@nuuchahnulth.org

Hours of operation - 7:00 am - 10:30 pm Phone: 724-3944 E-mail: claudine@tseshahtmarket.ca Find us on Facebook


October 22, 2020—Ha-Shilth-Sa—Page 15

Port Alberni foster parent comes full circle After years of struggling with addiction, a grandmother embraces sobriety to take care of children in need By Denise Titian Ha-Shilth-Sa Reporter Port Alberni, BC - October is Caregiver Appreciation Month in British Columbia and Usma Nuu-chah-nulth Family & Child Services is celebrating by delivering gift baskets to its 146 care givers. Each basket has Indigenous-inspired creations, like home-canned salmon and jam. In previous years Usma would celebrate care givers by hosting a dinner and offering prizes and gifts. But with the pandemic still posing a danger, they had to come up with alternative plans. Care givers - or foster parents as they are otherwise known - go through a rigorous screening process before they can open their homes to children in need. Usma has caregivers in many of the Nuuchah-nulth communities and also in Port Alberni; but they need more. Usma, which means “precious one” in the Nuu-chah-nulth language, is a delegated Aboriginal agency; this means that child protection services for Nuuchah-nulth First Nations is provided by the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council. There are non-Indigenous families that provide foster care but it’s preferred that Aboriginal children in care go to Indigenous homes when possible. For that reason, there are care homes made up of extended family members of the children. These are usually grandparents or other extended family that have stepped up to care for children in need. They are referred to as out-of-care givers that are not usually included in the Caregiver Appreciation events. This year, Usma has made the decision to recognize them. On such home is that of Rita Watts, a Hupacasath grandmother now raising five children ranging in age from six months to 10 years. Watts is candid about her past and why caring for foster children is important to her. She shares that she was in a relationship and her partner was fed up with her addiction to drugs and alcohol. She said that while she never considered herself an alcoholic, she didn’t realize until later that it was a problem. Her addiction to crack cocaine was more concerning. “I would be at the crack shack four days of the week,” she admitted. Then came the day when her partner had enough. He told her to quit or get out. “I didn’t believe him so I went out,” she said. The next thing she knew, her belongings had been sent to her mother’s house. “I had to beg to get back home; I had to promise that I would give it up and get help,” Watts said. And so, Watts began her journey to sobriety by reaching out to the NTC Quu’asa program, which uses traditional, cultural and spiritual practices to support mental and emotional healing for former residential school survivors and their

Photo by Denise Titian

Rita Watts is now raising five children, ranging in age from six months to 10 years old. families. Through counselling work Watts said she dealt with childhood traumas. “It didn’t bother me then, but when I realized what I had to put up with as a child I vowed it would end here,” she said. Watts suffered abuses as a child and vowed that she would not allow those things to happen to children in her care. Less than a year into sobriety, Watt’s son and his girlfriend had a baby. Both were drug addicted and were neglecting their child. “The baby’s diaper was soaking wet and her bottom was bright red, so I took it upon myself and kept her,” she said. It wasn’t long before she got a call from Usma. “I was called to a meeting with Usma and they asked me to bring the baby,” Watts recalled. She was livid when she learned that they would be taking the baby from her and placing her in another foster home. “I was one angry person when I first

Port Alberni Friendship Centre

started with them,” she admitted. She recalls loudly cussing an Usma employee out. When things settled down, Usma contacted her again, advising her that they believed she needed to do more work since she was just starting out in her sobriety. “I was told I needed to get more help before I could be a guardian to my granddaughter,” Watts said. Usma provided the support she needed, getting her to Kaackamin Family Treatment Center. By going there, she was allowed to have her granddaughter with her. Watts continues to work on herself, going to counselling and a women’s group at Quu’asa. The greatest thing about Quu’asa, says Watts, is they let you vent, they tell you to get it out of you. “COVID sucks because I haven’t been able to go to women’s group since COVID started,” she said. After successfully completing treatment, Watts was granted guardianship of

her granddaughter, who is now a bright, happy seven-year-old. Watts has cared for many children in her large home over the years. One of the most challenging came earlier this year when another granddaughter desperately needed her help. Watts received a call from the hospital; her newborn granddaughter was born, addicted to heroin and needed a home. She went to the hospital to meet her granddaughter. They baby’s head was flattened on one side. “Because the baby was high on heroin all the time, she couldn’t move enough,” said Watts, adding that the doctors hope that her head will eventually become more round. Even worse, the doctors didn’t know if the baby would survive withdrawals. “She was sent to Nanaimo hospital in a special ward,” said Watts. The baby is doing much better now and lights up when her older sister comes in to chat with her. In hindsight, Watts says she appreciates the support Usma has given her and her family. “Usma really works with me,” she said. “When you foster children in care, Usma gives you total support – recreation, Christmas bonus, counselling, day care, anything that the child needs, they will pay for it.” If you get guardianship of a child, there is less support. “It’s as though they are your own,” said Watts, adding that she has guardianship of one grandchild. “It’s a god’s blessing to make sure children are safe.” Now sober nearly eight years, Watts is confident she will never go back to addiction. “I had some triggers – the loss of my mother and brother - but I am loving life now. What happened to me as a child, I never want that to happen to any other child,” said Watts. “I wouldn’t change my life for anyone, my grandchildren are the most important things in life.” “The sound of their laughter, just to hear them, makes me happy,” she continued. “When they’re away the house is too quiet.” When the children are out, Watts will go with a friend to check up on the street people. She will hand out Naloxone kits, jackets, food, whatever she has to offer. She tearfully recalled an encounter with a child hanging out at the Safe Injection Site. “The other night, there was this girl, she looked 12, standing under the eaves at the SIS, it was raining hard,” said Watts. “We asked her if she was okay and she kept saying she was okay.” Watts said they gave the girl a blue jacket. A day later they learned that the girl sold it to a drug dealer. While things like this make her cry, she vows she will continue to care for children. “I will do this ‘til the day I die.”

Les Sam Construction

Volunteers Needed Need work experience? The Port Alberni Friendship Centre is looking for interested applicants for various positions. Hours per week vary. Call 250-723-8281

Residential . Commercial & Architectural Structures Construction Management & Consulting Forming & Framing Ph/Txt: 250.720.7334

les sam@shaw.ca


Page 16— Ha-Shilth-Sa—October 22, 2020

Zooming into 2020!!! Nuu-chah-nulth people are great at adapting to change, especially the fluent speakers working with the language program coordinator ʔuuʔułtaapʔuƛ Elsie Antuna. Dealing with the COVID 19 pandemic there has been a lot of different learning, how to get on zoom, getting comfortable being on-line and they are rocking it! We would like to take this time to raise our hands and thank these very special fluent speakers.

Please enjoy some of the sayings of our Elder’s. Let’s help each other, lets strengthen our languages! ʔaapḥii - kind, generous, friendly

ƛupiinaał - Helen Dick Tseshaht

n̓an̓aačtuk observant of everything around you

ƛ̓umłka - Harry Lucas Hesquiaht

ʔiisaakst̓ał respecting each other ʔaniicn̓aas - Tom Curly Ehattesaht

Kaamatḥ - Levi Martin Tla-o-qui-aht

ʔaapḥiimis kindness

šiččiisʔuƛ – Dorothy Shepherd Ditidaht

ciqy̓akukqin our language

tupaat – Julia Lucas Hesquiaht čiisma - Patricia Frank Ahousaht

ḥakt̓uw̓a - Tim Sutherland Ahousaht

naaʔuuct̓ał - sharing with each other

hinii ḥaaḥuupčumis give teachings

qiiqiiqiiya - Willard Gallic Tseshaht

Digitization! Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council successfully received a grant through First Peoples Cultural Council and are now able to work in collaboration with the Quuquuatsa Society. We have been working together to get 50 years of NTC meetings digitized! “The DIGI project” has been a vision for the tribal council and the Quuquuatsa society for some time now. We are pleased to announce that we are on the project and plan on extracting the language. Once the language is compiled it will be reviewed and then translated with a long-term goal of creating language lessons and sharing what we have with the nations. Keep an eye out for more to come! Sharing resources! Every time we lose a fluent speaker we feel like we are running out of time. We would like to take this opportunity to invite sharing of resources. If you have anything to share that will help the learning and strengthening of our languages. Please feel free to contact us any time.

%uu%u+taap%u+ Elsie Antuna Language Program Coordinator P: 250.724.5757 ext. 278 Cell: 250.735.4827 PO Box 1383 (5001 Mission Rd.) Port Alberni, BC V9Y 7M2 E: Elsie.Antuna@nuuchahnulth.org


Millions discover their favorite reads on issuu every month.

Give your content the digital home it deserves. Get it to any device in seconds.