INTERESTING NEWS Canada’s Oldest First Nations Newspaper - Serving Nuu-chah-nulth-aht since 1974 Canadian Publications Mail Product Vol. 48 - No. 19—October 7, 2021 haas^i>sa Sales Agreement No. 40047776
Photo by Melissa Renwick
Residential school survivor Alice George holds up a sign while marching through the streets of Toﬁno to honour the survivors and victims of the residential school system on the ﬁrst National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, on Sept. 30. Stories on pages 8 and 9.
Seniors see their pensions cut back due to CERB An MP expects to see more homeless seniors, as last year’s pandemic beneﬁts are cu"ing into their 2021 income By Denise Titian Ha-Shilth-Sa Reporter It seemed like a glimmer of hope in the dark days of pandemic – the federal government oﬀered free money in the form of CERB (Canada Emergency Response Beneﬁt) to help Canadians who lost income. The application process was easy and many people across the country received the beneﬁt in 2020, including some pensioners. Those eligible could have received $500 every seven days for up to 28 weeks. But what they may not have known is the CERB is taxable income and, if it was later determined that the recipient was not eligible for the CERB, it would have to be repaid. When the CERB expired in 2020, the CRB (Canada Recover Beneﬁt) was in-
troduced. That, too, is taxable income and is expiring in late 2021. What some of the lowest income pensioners may not have known is that their CERB beneﬁts in 2020 could aﬀect their pensions in 2021 as the federal government ‘clawed back’ the beneﬁts by reducing the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) portion of their pension. The GIS is a monthly beneﬁt available to low-income seniors. The amount of the beneﬁt is based on your annual income and is adjusted when your taxes are ﬁled. Following the latest tax season, some Nuu-chah-nulth seniors began reporting that their pensions were coming in short by several hundreds of dollars beginning July or August. “I had $500 taken oﬀ of my pension last month,” said Ahousaht elder Beatrice Sam. Disabled, Sam lives in an inde-
Inside this issue... Ahousaht closed to visitors.........................................Page 2 New name for A.W. Neill school................................Page 5 The power of Indian medicine....................................Page 7 Video game teaches children Ditidaht language......Page 10 Hod rod paddles........................................................Page 15
pendent living apartment at Tsawaayuus Rainbow Gardens in Port Alberni. Many of those seniors are afraid, wondering how long the reduced pension beneﬁts will be in place and why it is happening. More importantly, they are wondering how they will make ends meet until next summer. Some worry they will become homeless without enough money to pay rent. “This is scary for elders,” said Sam. “We don’t get much to begin with.” NDP MP Daniel Blaikie was re-elected in his riding of Transcona, Winnipeg. He has served as the Critic for Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion. He began raising the issue with Liberal Cabinet members as the snap election was called earlier this summer. Blaikie noted that people were not warned about this claw back.
“Nobody told them to hang onto this money because it would be needed the following year…it should have been written in bold type on their letters,” said Blaikie. The federal government explained in an email to Ha-Shilth-Sa that any earnings considered to be net income under the Income Tax Act is used to determine the amount of GIS. The GIS is a beneﬁt used to top up the pensions of very lowincome seniors. “Pandemic-related beneﬁts, such as the Canada Emergency Response Beneﬁt and the Canada Recovery Beneﬁt, are considered taxable income. These beneﬁts are therefore considered income for GIS purposes,” wrote Saskia Rodenburg, Media Relations Oﬃce, Employment and Social Development Canada, in an email. Continued on Page 3
If undeliverable, please return to: Ha-Shilth-Sa P.O. Box 1383, Port Alberni, B.C. V9Y 7M2
Page 2— Ha-Shilth-Sa—October 7, 2021
Ahousaht closed to visitors as COVID cases rise Active cases in the First Nation village rise to 18, prompting leadership to close the community to non-residents By Denise Titian Ha-Shilth-Sa Reporter Maaqtusiis, BC – An ongoing outbreak of COVID-19 has pushed the start day of Ahousaht’s elementary and high schools back to the second week of October. On Friday, Sept. 24, Ahousaht administration issued an update stating that there were 18 conﬁrmed cases in the village of Maaqtusiis, with an additional four cases away from home. One of those cases was reported to be hospitalized. On Monday, Sept. 27, the First Nation reported 19 active cases in the village with another 8 members testing positive for COVID-19 away from home. For this reason, Chief Councillor Greg Louie announced that Ahousaht is closed to non-residents until further notice. Both elected and hereditary leadership extended condolences to the family of Mark Jack, who passed away on the weekend. They noted that the decision to close the village came after the passing of the elder and former councillor. Louie said they would make exceptions for family members that are already enroute to the village that are not experiencing ﬂu-like symptoms. The secondary school principal issued an announcement stating that the Ahousaht Education Authority is taking the advice of B.C.’s medical health ofﬁcer and extending the school closures until Oct. 8. Free food distribution started shortly after the pandemic began, to help people access food without risk of exposure to the virus. But that ended several months ago. The nation continues to oﬀer food
Photo by Courtenay Louie
A rising number of COVID-19 cases in Ahousaht has delayed the start of the community’s schools and prompted leadership to bring back a no-visitor policy. Ahousaht residents were among the ﬁrst in B.C. to receive immunization for COVID-19 in early January, aligning with the province’s prioritization of First Nations due to how the coronavirus has disproportionally aﬀected these remote communities. purchase service where people can make getting two or three trailers for people a grocery order, pay for it, and have it that need to isolate. For now, if a person delivered to the village. has tested positive the entire household The grocery is being restricted to winmust isolate together for the duration of dow service to help prevent unnecessary the quarantine period, said Louie. person-to-person contact. The First Nation is concerned about resThe Ahousaht General Store is oﬀering idents that are partying. Louie says they to deliver ordered groceries to Mattie’s receive reports from members concerned Dock to further help people avoid unnec- that partyers are mingling and going from essary trips out of Ahousaht. house to house. Ahousaht administration is working on “People need to stay home and we need
the cooperation from family members,” said Louie. He asked them to monitor their family members and bring them home. “If you need support, call Cha chum hiyup at 250-670-9558 for support if you need it,” Louie implored. “We have children under the age of 11 who are not vaccinated and we have people whose immune systems are severely compromised.” Ahousaht administration is delivering food care packages to those that are isolating in the community, but they don’t have the names of people that tested positive. Swan noted that people can email firstname.lastname@example.org if they are in need of food and cleaning supplies. That includes members living away from home. Those needing support must provide proof of positive test result. Of its population of approximately 1,000, Ahousaht has vaccinated 508 adults in the village, 428 of whom are fully vaccinated. A further 57 youth ages 12-17 are at least partially vaccinated. On Friday, Sept. 24, there were 5,979 active COVID cases in BC, with 660 active cases reported by Island Health. From Sept. 9 – 22, 73 per cent of active COVID patients that required hospitalization were not vaccinated. Eight per cent of hospital cases were partially vaccinated and 18.1 percent were fully vaccinated. The BC Centre for Disease Control advises people that the two doses of PﬁzerBioNtech or AstraZeneca/COVISHIELD provide very good protection against the Delta variant, especially against severe outcomes.
Court rules against extending Fairy Creek injunction By Eric Plummer Ha-Shilth-Sa Editor Port Renfrew, BC - In the aftermath of a court injunction that generated over 1,100 arrests in Pacheedaht territory this year, the First Nation is reiterating an earlier request, asking protestors to leave the Fairy Creek area. A six-month court injunction prohibiting people from blocking logging or road building in the forest near Port Renfrew expired Sept. 28, and the B.C. Supreme Court denied an application from Teal Cedar Products to extend the court order for another year. The forestry company, which holds tenure over Crown land in southwestern Vancouver Island, had applied for an extension to continue police enforcement against the blockades. But in late September Justice Douglas Thompson denied this request, citing the infringement of civil liberties over the half year of police enforcement around Fairy Creek, an area considered to be one of the few watersheds on Vancouver Island untouched by industrial logging. Teal Cedar’s application to extend the injunction was disputed by the Rainforest Flying Squad, a collective of old growth activists who have held blockades in the Fairy Creek area since August 2020. “Methods of enforcement of the court’s order have led to serious and substantial infringement of civil liberties, including impairment of the freedom of the press to a marked degree,” wrote Thompson in his judgement. “And, enforcement has been carried out by police oﬃcers rendered anonymous to the protesters, many of those police oﬃcers wearing ‘thin blue line’ badges. All of this has been done in
Photo by Melissa Renwick
Police enforcement of a court injunction north of Port Renfrew generated over 1,100 arrests, including 110 individuals who were arrested more than once. Pictured are police at a blockade in May, shortly after enforcement began. the name of enforcing this court’s order, adding to the already substantial risk to the court’s reputation whenever an injunction pulls the court into this type of dispute between citizens and the government.” In the middle of the conﬂict, which has become one of Canada’s largest acts of civil disobedience, lies the Pacheedaht, a small Nuu-chah-nulth First Nation with vested forestry interests in their territory. With the Fairy Creek clash at its peak, the Pacheedaht and neighbouring Ditidaht and Huu-ay-aht First Nations issued the Hišuk ma c̕awak Declaration in June, a document signed by hereditary and elected leaders asserting authority over their lands.
“Together we declared that from now on, our First Nations will decide what is best for our lands, our waters and our resources from the sustainment and wellbeing of present and future generations of Ditidaht, Huu-ay-aht and Pacheedaht people,” stated Pacheedaht Chief Councillor Jeﬀ Jones after the court injunction expired. “The PFN reiterates our previous request that all protestors vacate Pacheedaht First Nation territory and allow our community to continue with the governance and stewardship responsibilities in our ḥahahuułi (traditional territory).” Along with the Hišuk ma c̕awak Declaration, the three First Nations demanded a two-year deferral of all old-growth logging in the Fairy Creek and Central
Walbran areas, time required for the communities to undertake forest stewardship management plans with their members. The provincial government quickly responded by agreeing to this two-year deferral, but protests continued through the summer out of concern that old-growth logging was occurring in other parts the region north of Port Renfrew. “While we continue to conduct this important work, and while the old growth logging deferrals remain in eﬀect, we respectfully reiterate our request that all protestors vacate PFN territory to allow us to conduct this work in peace,” stated Chief Jones. “We also request that the protestors take this opportunity to rethink their protesting strategy with a view to ceasing all disrespectful, damaging and illegal activities.” Teal Cedar Products plan to appeal, but in the meantime police enforcement will be driven by complaints, said Sgt. Chris Manseau of RCMP media relations. On Oct. 1 this resulted in another three arrests after a report of people blocking workers from forestry roads into the Fairy Creek watershed. “When police arrived, eﬀorts were made to negotiate with the group to allow industry vehicles to pass through,” stated an RCMP press release. “Several individuals refused and three were subsequently arrested for mischief and obstruction.” “Our numbers in the area have dropped down signiﬁcantly,” said Manseau, noting that oﬃcers had been brought in from across B.C. to enforce the injunction. “Members that are now in the area are going to follow up on any complaints in the vicinity looking at their powers under the Criminal Code.”
October 7, 2021—Ha-Shilth-Sa—Page 3
$1.5 million for residential school survivor supports Provincial funding designated for helping those whose past trauma has been triggered by discoveries at sites By Melissa Renwick Local Journalism Initiative Reporter Victoria, BC - The provincial government is allocating $1.5 million to address the need for culturally safe and traumainformed support for residential school survivors, their families, and communities. Dispersed between three Indigenous service providers, the funding is part of the $12 million BC Residential School Response Fund that was promised after the remains of 215 children were revealed at the site of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School in May. With the funding, the Indian Residential School Survivor Society will be enhancing their 24/7 cultural support line through added counselling and cultural support staﬀ. Tsow-Tun Le Lum Society will be providing more in-person health and cultural support. And the Métis Nation British Columbia will add resources to its Métis Counselling Connection Program, such as providing 10 free counselling sessions for Métis participants. “It’s so important for Indigenous people to have access to the supports that they can trust,” said Murray Rankin, minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation. “Supports that understand the impact of the residential school system.” Leading up to Orange Shirt Day on Sept. 30, Rankin said it’s a time to acknowledge Canada’s “true history” and honour the strength and resilience of those who attended residential schools. “This is a time of reckoning in British Columbia and across Canada,” he said. “We must ensure as a government, as a society and as individual British Columbians that we stand with Indigenous people and recognize the truth of our colonial system. This truth has long been known. It was well documented by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. We will continue to put communities and survivors at the centre of our response – to listen and to respond to what they need.”
Photo by Melissa Renwick
In the spring the Best Western Plus Tin Wis resort in Toﬁno set up a memorial to remember the 215 children who were found buried at a site near the Kamloops Indian Residential School. The resort invited community members to visit their totem pole and leave a pair of shoes or a stuﬀed animal. Colette Trudeau, Métis Nation British who is the First Nations Health AuthorFollowing the news from Kamloops, the Columbia senior director of operations ity’s vice-president of Community Health ministry said Indigenous service providand administration, said it’s imperative and Wellness, Programs and Services, ers have seen a signiﬁcant increase in to have Indigenous-led support so those said it doesn’t go far enough. demand for mental health and cultural seeking services aren’t being further trau“There is still much more that needs to wellness support. matized by someone who “doesn’t truly be done to provide culturally safe health Angela White, executive director of the understand.” and wellness supports for those directly Indian Residential School Survivors So“It’s about having someone on the other impacted by the Residential School ciety, said that in the days following the line who’s Indigenous, who understands system, and to support the intergeneradiscovery, their call line was “inundated their lived experience, has cultural tional impacts that the Residential School with over 500 to 600 calls” between the competency associated with having these system continues to have on B.C. First working hours of 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.. types of conversations and that empathy Nations and their communities,” she said. Similarly, KUU-US Crisis Line Socithat comes with these conversations,” The Indian Residential School Survivors ety executive assistant Cindy McAnerin Trudeau said. Society’s 24-hour crisis line is available said the Port Alberni-based organization While the provincial funding has come at 1-866-925-4419. doubled their call volume after the chilat a “critical time,” Sonia Isaac-Mann, dren were found.
Pension cuts not aﬀected by day school se"ements Continued from Page 1 “A person’s GIS entitlement is re-calculated at the beginning of each payment cycle, which runs from July to June, and is based on the previous year’s income,” Rodenburg added. She went on to say that every year in July seniors have their GIS adjusted to reﬂect changes in their net income. “This ensures the beneﬁts go to the most vulnerable seniors,” she said. In order to qualify for GIS, you must be Canadian, age 65 or over and collecting OAS. If you’re single, widowed or divorced, your maximum annual income is $19, 248. If you have a spouse or common-law partner, your combined maximum income is $25,440 if your spouse receives OAS and $46,128 if they do not receive OAS. MP Blaikie objects to the claw back. Seniors received these funds in an extraordinary circumstance and now their incomes are decimated, he said. “We’ve asked the government to consider the CERB extraordinary income and not count it in the GIS calculations,” said Blaikie. “All seniors on GIS live in poverty,” he noted. “There’s going to be a lot of homeless seniors, and this doesn’t serve
anybody.” According to Service Canada, if a senior applied for and received the CERB or CRB and it caused a reduction of the GIS portion of their monthly pension cheque, the reduction will remain in place until July 2022, after the next tax season. But there’s a chance that pensioners affected by the cutback may have their GIS recalculated. “GIS clients who received CERB beneﬁts delivered by Service Canada under the Employment Insurance Act may be able to have their GIS beneﬁt paid based upon their estimated income for the current calendar year rather than based upon their actual income from the 2020 calendar year if their pension income has reduced or their employment income has ceased due to retirement,” says Service Canada. They go on to say that this is not the case for CERB and CRB delivered by the Canada Revenue Agency. People who received the CERB or CRB beneﬁts under the Employment Insurance Act and wish to have their GIS beneﬁts recalculated based on their estimated income for the current calendar year are advised to contact the Old Age Security call centre at 1-800-277-9914. But Blaikie said the government seems
determined to cling to the claw back. Now that the election is over, Blaikie is waiting on a cabinet shuﬄe. He plans to continue to pressure the Liberal government to stop the claw backs on Canada’s most vulnerable citizens. As for settlements received through the Federal Indian Day School class action lawsuit, seniors can rest easy knowing that their pension is safe in this case. According to the Federal Indian Day School website, payments from the Settlement Agreement provides that there should be no impact on beneﬁts, including social assistance, OAS, and CPP. “The Canada Revenue Agency makes it clear that litigation damages for personal injuries are not taxable income. Further, they will not impact social beneﬁts,” reads the Federal Indian Day School website. That includes the Canada/Quebec Pension, Old Age Security (OAS) and Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS). “Litigation payments for personal injury, including psychological harm, are exempt from the Canada Revenue Agency’s deﬁnition of income,” continues the website. “The OAS pension is a monthly payment available to seniors aged 65 and older who meet the Canadian legal status and residence requirements. Low-income
Beatrice Sam seniors are also eligible for the Guaranteed Income Supplement which is added to OAS. Neither will be impacted.” The federal government announced that they will increase the Old Age Security (OAS) pension by 10 per cent for seniors 75 years of age and over as of July 2022. In addition, they will give eligible seniors a one-time taxable grant payment of $500. To qualify, the elder must be born before June 30, 1947, and be eligible for the Old Age Security pension in June 2021.
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Most of PA’s homeless are Indigenous Homeless count reveals majority of the valley’s unsheltered are long-term residents Karly Blats Ha-Shilth-Sa Contributor Port Alberni, BC - Port Alberni’s 2021 homeless count shows a drop in the number of individuals who identify as homeless, but of those, a signiﬁcant increase was reported in people who identify as Indigenous. Marcie DeWitt, Alberni-Clayoquot Health Network coordinator, told Port Alberni city council on Sept. 27 that this year’s 24-hour homelessness count recorded 125 individuals who identiﬁed as homeless, both sheltered and unsheltered. This is down from the 2018 24-hour count that saw 147 homeless individuals. “[A]lthough we did see a decrease in our numbers, we saw a big increase in the vulnerability of the individuals that were counted, so that was one of the most notable things that jumped out at me when looking at the summaries from both years,” DeWitt said. She added that individuals that identiﬁed as Indigenous went up from 48 per cent in 2018 to 65 per cent this year. That is compared to 17 per cent of the general population who identify as Indigenous. The 2021 tally included a night and day count done by service providers and outreach workers. Volunteers weren’t available this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. DeWitt explained that the night count consisted of counting anybody who might be in a sheltered bed, at a hospital, shelter, jail, detox facility, transition house or at any of the community housing partners. During the day, outreach workers would go to areas that are known to have homeless individuals gather, service organizations and to any programs that are actively seeing clients. Sheltered homeless individuals are deﬁned as people who do not pay rent and don’t have a place of their own where they could expect to stay for more than 30 days. Unsheltered homeless individuals are those living outside, including in alleys, doorways, parkades, tents, parks, vehicles or couch surﬁng. Data coming from this year’s count showed 11 per cent of those who identify as homeless have been experiencing homelessness for under six months and 73 per cent for one year or more. Ninety-
Photo by Karly Blats
A makeshift tent is set up outside the Wintergreen Apartment building on Fourth Avenue. ﬁve per cent of individuals that identiﬁed was the percentage of today’s homeless as homeless have been living in the com- population that either grew up in the fosmunity for at least a year and 73 per cent ter care system or was homeless for the of those had been in the Alberni Valley ﬁrst time in their youth. for 10 or more years. “It really highlighted for me how imThis year’s data saw an increase in seportant it is to be investing in our young niors, up to 18 per cent from 10 per cent people and looking for opportunity to in 2018. Nine per cent of respondents prevent homelessness 10 years earlier identiﬁed as youth (under age 25) and 74 than we kind of often think of taking care per cent were adult (age 25-54). of homeless people today,” Minions said. Fifty-seven per cent of respondents re“I think we really need to be proactively ported they experienced homelessness for investing in the young people in this the ﬁrst time as a youth and 60 per cent community as a way to really prevent the had been in foster care, a youth group homeless challenges of the future.” home or under a youth agreement. Later during the meeting, city council Fifty-ﬁve per cent of respondents disallocated $44,500 in funding from the closed substance use issues as a reason Union of BC Municipalities to increase for housing loss, 41 per cent said not programs for young people at the Gyro enough income, 25 per cent disclosed Youth Centre. mental health issues and 25 per cent DeWitt working on a poverty reduction reported an issue with a landlord. action plan for the Alberni Valley. She “We saw an increase in reported amount said some recommendations she has to of health concerns, so 58 per cent in 2018 help combat the homelessness issue inreported that they had two or more health clude having more diverse programming concerns and then in 2021 we saw 81 per and looking at ways the city and service cent of individuals presenting with two or providers can bring diﬀerent approaches more health concerns,” DeWitt said. “We for individuals. saw a lot less people who had employ“We do need a diversity of services to ment income and a lot more individuals meet peoples’ needs, our current services that had been looking at income assisdon’t meet everybody’s needs,” DeWitt tance and disability beneﬁts.” said. “And then looking at the ways we’re The top ﬁve reported health concerns supporting our whole population, so reby respondents were addictions issues at ally looking at our early interventions, 88 per cent, mental health issues at 61per how we’re supporting youth, how we’re cent, medical conditions at 50 per cent, supporting families as well. We can’t just physical disabilities at 44 per cent and 33 look at emergency housing, we also have per cent of individuals reported a learning to look at housing for those individuals disability. that are working. How do we keep people Port Alberni Mayor Sharie Minions said in their houses, how do we help them what stood out to her most about the data move from rental into ownership?”
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October 7, 2021—Ha-Shilth-Sa—Page 5
A.W. Neill is now Tsuma-as, departing from dark past New name for the Compton Road school now recognises First Nations and the river that connects Port Alberni Eric Plummer Ha-Shilth-Sa Editor Port Alberni, BC - In a shift away from recognizing a past leader who stood for “a white British Columbia”, the name of a Port Alberni elementary school has been changed to honour the river that connects the community. Today A.W. Neill was dropped from the school on Compton Road, which is now called c̓ uumaʕas (Tsuma-as) Elementary. Pronounced ‘tsu ma-as’, the new name gives a nod to the local First Nations who have lived oﬀ of the Somass River for generations. “c̓uumaʕas originally refers speciﬁcally to a small creek at the village site,” explained Tseshaht Councillor Ed Ross during the Sept. 29 name changing event. “The meaning of the term is cleansing, a washing down in reference to autumn rains swelling the little creek and washing away the remains of many ﬁsh gutted on the shore.” As the early autumn rain fell, the concept of cleansing seemed ﬁtting, given A.W. Neill’s legacy of supporting the residential school system and the segregation of Asian Canadians. Over the ﬁrst half of the 20th century, Alan Webster Neill was undeniably popular among voters in the region. He was elected as a representative in B.C.’s legislature in 1889 and 1900. He served as an alderman on the Town of Alberni’s ﬁrst council in 1912, then became mayor in 1916. This was followed by 23 years as a member of parliament, representing Comox-Alberni from 1921-45. Neill also worked as an Indian agent for the west coast of Vancouver Island, enforcing government policies of assimilation, including the attendance of Indigenous children in the residential school system. He was a vocal opponent of Asian immigration, pushed for ﬁshing licences to only be given to British subjects, and was a strong supporter of the internment of Japanese Canadians during World War II. “We stand for a white British Columbia,” said Neill during a speech in the House of Commons in 1922. Ironically, countless students who came from backgrounds Neill would have opposed attended the school over the years, some of whom spoke during the Sept. 29 event. Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council President Judith Sayers was a student in Grades 8, 9 and 10. “All of you children that have come here to witness this day, always remember that today a large black cloud was lifted for
Photo by Eric Plummer
On Sept. 29 a large crowd attended the name changing event for the school now known as c̓ uumaʕas (Tsuma-as), after School District 70 decided to drop the reference to A.W. Neill. Indigenous people from this school – and good place for us.” for everybody,” she said. “It wasn’t easy Samuel recalls making friends at A.W. being a First Nations people attending a Neill that he has kept to this day. school when you were very much in the “This was one of our ﬁrst long-time minority. Things have changed considercontacts with non-Indigenous people ably in this world.” here. Yes, there were some people who Ed Ross recalls his years at the school weren’t nice, but some of them were,” he after graduating from Haahuupayak, said. “Coming down that road, turning which is located on the Tseshaht reserve. that corner, we used to get all excited. “We weren’t taught that there were difThe guys used to start combing their ferent colours of people when we were hair. ‘We’re going to see the white girls. there,” he said of his time at HaahuuThey’re not our cousins’.” payak. The name change is the result of a But this changed when Ross moved on process that School District 70’s board of to A.W. Neill. trustees began six years ago. Board Chair “There was a bold line of First Nations Pam Craig explained that the unpopular name.” and white people,” he said. “There was a side of A.W. Neill’s legacy was brought “We are grateful for the research of Dr. lot of stereotypes.” to them by Christopher Stevenson, a But A.W. Neill also introduced some former Alberni District Secondary School Ian Baird, whose account of A.W. Neill’s history helped us understand how his former students to a larger world after student. More investigation into Neill’s treatment of Asian Canadians and his moving on from residential school. Wally past followed, as did consultation with support for Indian residential schools did and Donna Samuel stood up to speak the Tseshaht and Hupacasath First Nanot ﬁt with the district’s values and was of their time at Neill after attending the tions, the City of Port Alberni, parents Alberni Indian Residential School. and students, who brought forth ideas for not worthy of a school name,” said SD 70 Superintendent Greg Smyth. “I haven’t been out on this ﬁeld since a new name. “The school changing its name today is ’63 or ’64,” observed Samuel. “Coming “We had amazing responses from the a big day for me,” added Ross. “It’s a big to A.W. Neill, we didn’t know what the students, and their focus was on the enday because we’re walking and doing this name meant. It didn’t matter to us at the vironment and nature,” said Craig. “And together. Showing these kids what it’s time, it was just a place where we went then the talk came around the connection like to be together, that’s the Port Alberni to get educated, and it was a place to get and a river connecting us. That’s eventuout of the residential building. This was a ally how we ended up with the c̓uumaʕas I want to be a part of.”
“Today a large dark cloud was lifted for Indigenous people from this school - and for everybody.” - Judith Sayers, NTC president and former student at A.W. Neill school
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New land-based ﬁsh farm proposed in Gold River The proposed operation would use old pulp mill property, growing up to 3,000 tons of steelhead a year indoors By Melissa Renwick Local Journalism Initiative Reporter Gold River, BC - A new land-based steelhead ﬁsh farm is being proposed in Gold River at the site of a former pulp and paper mill that closed in the ‘90s. Ushered by Gold River Aquafarms, the development project would be a “win” for the small Vancouver Island village, said Gold River Mayor Brad Unger. “We haven’t had a major economic development push for a long time,” he said. “It’s going to improve our community.” With the potential to create 75 to 100 new jobs, Unger said he hopes they can get shovels in the ground “as soon as possible.” The company’s president, Rob Walker, has been working in the closed-containment aquaculture sector since the late90s. With the infrastructure that’s already in place, he said they can grow around 3,000 tons of ﬁsh per year. “I’m very used to growing ﬁsh within these systems,” he said. “We’re trying to set up a system that’s fully recirculatory and circular in nature, in the sense that we use all waste products. Hopefully, nothing will have to leave the property other than as a product.” For those who have concerns about standard aquaculture practices, landbased, closed-containment ﬁsh farming is considered to be the more sustainable solution to open-net pens in the ocean. Some scientists say open-pen farms transfer sea lice to wild populations, which has been attributed as a factor in the collapse of B.C.’s wild stocks. Both 2019 and 2020 saw two of the smallest Fraser River sockeye runs within the last 100 years, according to the Paciﬁc Salmon Commission. A recent poll from Insights West, the Paciﬁc Salmon Foundation and Wild First said 75 per cent of B.C. respondents believe that open-net salmon pens need to transition to land-based pens. The 2021 federal budget allocated $23 million over ﬁve years to develop a plan to transition from open-net salmon farming in B.C. by 2025. Part of that budget will be used to collaborate with Indigenous communities to pilot area-based management projects within the province’s aquaculture sector. In December 2020, former Fisheries and Oceans Minister Bernadette Jordan announced that all 19 ﬁsh farms in the Discovery Islands would be phased out by June 2022, and that no new ﬁsh could be transferred in. The Federal Court of Canada has since suspended the ban on restocking three ﬁsh farms in the Discovery Islands.
Image supplied by Walker Associates
Gold River Aquafarms is planning to set up a closed system growing steelhead where a pulp and paper mill used to run by Muchalaht Inlet. The project currently awaits regulatory approval. “The regulatory environment is right, the political environment is right, and the market wants it,” said Walker. Walker previously worked at AgriMarine Technologies Inc for nearly three decades, where he gained experience farming steelhead trout in Lois Lake, near Powell River. “[Steelhead] is a terriﬁc ﬁsh and it does very well in closed environments,” he said. “They can handle higher densities quite well, they grow rapidly, it’s local and the market acceptance is gaining.” From a management perspective, Walker said that closed-containment systems provide more predictable growing environments. Out in the ocean, temperatures, oxygen levels and algae blooms are constantly in ﬂux, he said. “Growing ﬁsh in closed-containment systems on land really addresses all of those issues,” said Walker. “It’s not to say that it’s easy. There are some technical issues that are very diﬃcult. As we try to synthesize nature, obviously there are some great challenges. But the technology is there, and it gets better all the time.” The project is currently at a stand-still
as they await permits from federal and provincial governments. A U.S. investor is backing the project, but Walker said if it takes too long to get licensed, “money will ﬁnd other homes.” “I don’t blame the regulators – they’re busy,” said Walker. “My beef is with this current system.” It’s very diﬃcult for small businesses with big ideas to succeed, he said. “Typically, they don’t have the ﬁnancial wherewithal to sustain themselves over the period [of time] it takes to get licensed,” he added. In 2020, the First Nations Leadership Council called for an end to all open-net pen salmon farming in the province. “We have known for years that open-net pen salmon farming is one of the main contributors to the massive decline in wild salmon stocks in this province,” said British Columbia Assembly of First Nations Regional Chief Terry Teegee. “The federal and provincial governments have been taking a piecemeal approach to this problem, with long timeframes for transition to closed containment pens, and only in a few places. We need to end salmon farming in our open oceans now to
protect both wild salmon and Indigenous ways of being from extinction.” According to the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, the water license application was submitted on Feb. 2, 2021. “Water licence applications are prioritized for review based on safety, environment, the economy, and the length of time they have been in the queue,” said the ministry. “The west coast region currently has a signiﬁcant backlog of water licence applications that are pending decision. Many of the backlogged water licence applications are of high priority in regard to economic interest.” New water license applications are normally assigned to a water oﬃcer within 12 months, but the ministry said timelines may vary depending on prioritization factors. “The application is doing exactly what the Department of Fisheries and Oceans wants - to get net-pens out of the ocean and move to land-based,” said Unger. “It’s kind of frustrating that it’s taking a while for it to go through the process.”
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Photos by Denise Titian
Stan Lucas, a Hesquiaht harvester and maker of traditional medicine, holds pieces of devil’s club in September, a time he usually begins to collect healing material.
Belief in Indian medicine gives it power: harvester Stan Lucas shares old medicinal plant knowledge he collected from elders across Nuu-chah-nulth territory By Denise Titian Ha-Shilth-Sa Reporter Port Alberni, BC – With summer over, Stan Lucas of Hesquiaht is focusing his attention on harvesting seasonal medicinal plants. The husband, father and grandfather will ride his bike several kilometers over Sutton Pass along Highway 4 to ﬁnd plants like devil’s club, wild crab apple trees and balsam trees. On Sept. 22 he was working on devil’s club medicine, which he says is nearing the end of its season. Lucas sits outside of his home with a stick of devil’s club that he just harvested. “Some people hang the stick over their door for three days,” he notes, as a form of protection. His hands, calloused, scuﬀed and stained, show how hard he works to produce traditional medicine, which he shares freely with elders and children. Lucas says it is important not to waste – to use every piece of the plant. The woody stalk has an outer and inner bark which is peeled and boiled for several hours, if not for days. “A weak brew can be used for colds, while stronger brew can be used to treat more serious illnesses like cancer,” he explains. Lucas says most medicines are boiled for four days and sit for four days before using. The soft, spongy, inner core of devil’s club is used to make pain cream to treat arthritis and muscle pain. “This is the real medicine,” says Lucas after scooping out the soft, white pulp and squeezing it between his ﬁngers. Lucas says the cream made from devil’s club pulp opens your pores, allowing your skin to breathe. The leaves, he says, can be used to treat
arthritis or general body aches. “You lay a giant devil’s club leaf on whatever hurts as you soak in a hot tub,” said Lucas. Skunk cabbage leaves can be used the same way to treat muscle or arthritis pain. They can also be used to treat migraine headaches. “You take the leaf and roll it between your hands,” Lucas says. This crushes the leaf, breaking its surface to release plant juices. “You cup the crushed skunk cabbage leaves to your nose and inhale it,” he says. “Devil’s club is one of our strongest medicines passed down for generations,” stresses Lucas, adding that people must be very vigilant when working with medicinal plants. Devil’s club has closely cropped spines covering almost every exposed surface of the plant, including the stems and the underside of the giant leaves. Most people wear gloves when handling it, but Lucas doesn’t. “The needles sting but I like that,” he says, adding that the needles get into your skin and deliver medicine into your body. “I can move better – my arthritis.” Having learned what he knows from elders from several diﬀerent Nuu-chahnulth nations, Lucas also learned of remedies that are no longer in use. “Our people used to trap bees and let them sting us to treat pain. This is good if you’re not allergic,” he explains. On the subject of allergies, Lucas plucked a couple of dandelion ﬂowers from his lawn. “We have medicine for allergies,” he shares. “Not many people know that dandelions are medicine. You take the root, dry it and grind it into a powder.” He is aware that some believe that
teachings of harvesting and producing Indian medicine should be kept secret, but he thinks it is important to share so that knowledge doesn’t get lost and, more importantly, because people need the medicine. “I learned how to harvest plants when I was a young boy,” says Lucas, adding they only harvested what they needed, when they needed it. Every season there is some form of medicinal plant that can be harvested. “I’ve always liked working with traditional medicines. I know what season to get plants, how to get them and where to get them,” he adds. Lucas brought out two bags of devil’s club medicine. One bag had the bark shavings, which will be boiled to make liquid medicine that he says is best for cancer. “I used to chew the white inner bark when I was a little boy to avoid strep throat,” Lucas recalls. His late father kept a big pot of devil’s club ‘tea’ brewing on the wood stove for days.
“He’d drink two or three cups in the morning and couple more throughout the day,” says Lucas. His father lived to be an elder, losing his life in a ﬁshing accident. “The longer it boils, the more bitter it gets,” says Lucas, adding that it’s the bitterness that a medicine maker is after… the more bitter, the better the medicine. The second bag had what he called “beads”. A stick of devil’s club was stripped of its bark, cut into small rounds and hollowed out. People wear the beads for protection, he said. Lucas credits elders for teaching him what he knows. He returns the favor by supplying them with whatever medicines they need. For Lucas, it is important to share generously the gifts he was given. “Lots of people don’t want to use Western medicine,” says Lucas. “Chemicals are the worst.” “I am trying to teach my kids about this too,” he shares. Lucas plans to head out again, hoping to get more devil’s club before its season is done.
Page 8— Ha-Shilth-Sa—October 7, 2021
National Day for Truth and Reconciliatio Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation holds march in Toﬁno, with gathering, stories By Melissa Renwick Local Journalism Initiative Reporter Toﬁno, BC - Gathered around the totem pole outside the Best Western Tin Wis Plus Resort in Toﬁno, dozens of community members from Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation and the surrounding area stood in silence for 2 minutes and 15 seconds. As the 215 children who never made it home from the Kamloops Indian Residential School were commemorated, only the sounds of nearby waves crashing onshore permeated the silence. This year, Sept. 30 marked the ﬁrst National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. The annual day of observance was a response to one of the 94 calls to action outlined in the 2015 Truth and Reconciliation Commission. To honour the day and bring awareness to the experiences of residential school survivors, Tla-o-qui-aht Community Health Liaison Nora Martin organized a march through the streets of Toﬁno. Led by Martin and other residential school survivors, the march began at the totem pole and ended in Toﬁno’s Village Green. It was followed by a skit performed by the survivors, who re-enacted their experience attending residential schools. Martin’s sister, Grace Frank, said the performance brought her right back to her time attending the Alberni Indian Residential School in 1968 and 1969, and Christie Residential School from 1970 to 1972. While onstage performing the role of a nun, Frank repeatedly told her fellow survivors to ‘shut up,’ and called them ‘dumb’ and ‘stupid Indians.’ “It’s exactly how I remember I was treated,” she said through tears. “I grew up being quiet … When I ﬁrst went to residential school, I spoke my language and every time that I spoke my language I got strapped and whipped. I have scars inside my hands and on my elbows. It was a living hell.” When the Tk’emlups te Secwépemc First Nation announced they unveiled the remains of 215 children at the former site of the Kamloops Indian Residential School in May, it sent shockwaves across the country. “All the unmarked graves really woke the world up,” said Frank. For many survivors, the discovery reopened old wounds, while others felt a weight lifted oﬀ their shoulders, said Martin. “This is what we’ve been saying,” she said. “For many years, we knew that those deaths occurred. That’s why it’s important to bring awareness to our experience.” Residential school survivor and Tla-oqui-aht First Nation elected chief Moses Martin said the new national day is one of frustration and hope. The story of Indigenous genocide has been told for generations, he said. And yet, community leaders must “beg” for resources to help those who are suffering, he added. “I’m hopeful that Canadians will open their minds and open their hearts and
try to understand where we’re coming from,” said Moses. Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council VicePresident Mariah Charleson also participated in the march. While remaining frustrated that it took over ﬁve years to implement the call to action, she described the national day as “historical.” “It’s a day speciﬁc to honouring and really committing ourselves to truth and reconciliation,” she said. “As more and more truths begin to come forward, it’s highlighting the reality that so many of our people have known. So, the educational piece is huge.” The day creates space for “truth sharing,” said Charleson. “As Indigenous people, we’re all impacted in some type of way,” she said. “What I ask non-Indigenous people to do is to be silent. To listen – to begin opening their hearts and their minds to the true stories of those directly impacted.” Then, Charleson said, it’s important to share “that true history” with others. “We need to change how we treat each other,” she said. “Together, we can conquer this.” Despite being the ﬁrst province in Canada to commit to implementing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, British Columbia did not recognize the day as a statutory holiday. As a result, those who work in the public sector may not have the time oﬀ to observe the day, or to engage in their culture, said Charleson. “This is critical,” she said. “We invite the province of B.C. to take action.” In a joint statement, Premier John Horgan and Murray Rankin, Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation, said they will be consulting with Indigenous leaders, organizations and communities over the coming months on how to best commemorate Sept. 30 in B.C. “We will also bring the business community, employers and labour groups into the conversation, so that they can participate in the planning in meaningful ways,” the joint statement read. “While we continue this engagement with the aim of formally recognizing this important day in B.C. in the future, this year, public service workplaces will be observing the statutory day of remembrance and reﬂection.” Despite that, some local businesses closed their storefronts in solidarity. The Factory’s co-owner, Lisa Fletcher, said they closed shop to help spread awareness about the national day. “It’s important that it gets recognized,” she said. The District of Toﬁno worked closely with Martin to help organize the event by coordinating diﬀerent services to ensure the walk went unimpeded, said Toﬁno Mayor Dan Law. “I’m glad that the country as a whole is ﬁnally listening to survivors and survivors’ families,” he said. “I hope and expect that community members will participate if they’re able – [to] take the day to very carefully listen to the stories of survivors, survivors’ families and the community as a whole. To begin
Tom Curley is comforted by Larry Baird after speaking to a crowd of people gathered in Toﬁno’s Village Gr tem on the ﬁrst National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, on Sept. 30. to understand the past and the ongoing eﬀects of the residential school system … and to carefully consider how best to move forward to help right these historical wrongs.” After ﬁnishing performing the skit, survivors took turns recounting their experiences and the resulting trauma that they continue to battle with today. Larry Baird was among them, and spoke to the crowd of people who were gathered in the pouring rain. “Today, I hear our ancestors,” he said. “They are crying.” As Martin reﬂected on the new day of commemoration, she said she was relieved. “It helps to conﬁrm that these things happened to us. Residential school happened to us. We’ve been ﬁghting to survive for many years. To this day we’re still dealing with the fallout from residential schools.”
Surrounded by Tseshaht Ha’wiih, members and their supporters, of Maht Mahs after the First Nation held an Orange Shirt Day wa
October 7, 2021—Ha-Shilth-Sa—Page 9
onciliation summons memories and hope Hundreds walk in Port Alberni to honour survivors and victims By Karly Blats Ha-Shilth-Sa Contributor
Photo by Melissa Renwick
eople gathered in Toﬁno’s Village Green to honour the survivors and victims of the residential school sys-
Photo by Karly Blats
wiih, members and their supporters, Trevor Little speaks outside Nation held an Orange Shirt Day walk on Sept. 30.
“It helps to conﬁrm that these things happened to us. Residential school happened to us. We’ve been ﬁghting to survive for many years. To this day we’re still dealing with the fallout from residential schools.” - Nora Martin, former Indian residential school student
Port Alberni, BC - A sea of orange shirts could be seen walking from Harbour Quay to Maht Mahs parking lot on Tseshaht territory today to honour both Orange Shirt Day and the ﬁrst National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. Orange Shirt Day, held on Sept. 30, is an Indigenous-led grassroots commemorative day that honours the children who survived residential schools and remembers those who did not. The National Day for Truth and Reconciliation honours the lost children and survivors of residential schools, their families and communities. The rain didn’t stop the hundreds of Indigenous and non-Indigenous participants who began at the Harbour Quay and ﬁnished by walking down the middle of the Orange Bridge to Maht Mahs gym. A large crowd gathered in the parking lot at Maht Mahs, around a ﬁre, for a reconciliation ceremony. “The turnout is great, especially for a rainy day. It’s an important day to people,” said Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council President Judith Sayers. “We’ve been celebrating Orange Shirt Day since 2013, so to me it’s still Orange Shirt Day even though we have a new name to add to it. I think especially in this year we need to come out and support one another, celebrate the (residential school) survivors and deal with the emotions of getting the children home from the unmarked graves and making an eﬀort to put the message out there.” Tseshaht First Nation’s Trevor Little spoke about the importance of Sept. 30, saying by standing together, people get stronger and the more the knowledge about what happened in residential schools comes out, the more teachers and leaders will be able to speak honestly about the past. “We can accept honesty now. It was a hard thing to do in my life, to accept honesty on my upbringing,” Little said. “[Survivors] were hushed for so many years, so we stand together with this knowledge and we get stronger together…because we gather, because we sing. The knowledge has been there for years but now we embrace it.” Martin Watts from Tsesashat said Sept. 30 is just a start in acknowledging and reconciling with the past. “Generations and generations of pain for our people that is still happening today, substance abuses that are still happening,” Watts said. “We need to stop it, we need to help. The easiest way to stop it is to teach the young children that there’s a better way in life.” Watts added that it’s important for people and especially youth to be proud of who they are. He said he’s grateful that there’s an understanding today by the local school districts about acknowledging the past and teaching Indigenous history to young people. Gord Johns, MP for Courtenay-Alberni, told the crowd that Sept. 30 is an important day to honour residential school survivors, those who didn’t make it home,
and their families. “Today is the beginning of healing, it’s the beginning of making sure that reconciliation isn’t just a check box, that it’s everyday and it belongs in each and every one of us,” Johns said. “Today we acknowledge the horriﬁc path. I want to say I’m sorry too for what’s happened… and we take responsibility for that by taking action.” Johns urged everyone to read the Truth and Reconciliation calls to action and apply them in their daily lives. “I will be going to Ottawa and asking them to create a timeline with respect of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) and implementing and using that as the framework as we walk forward together,” Johns said. Ken Watts, elected chief councillor of the Tseshaht First Nation, said it’s not only important to have reconciliation with the Crown and provincial government, but to show reconciliation from nation to nation. “As communities and nations we’re standing together like we haven’t done in a long time,” he said. “We talked about reconciling amongst ourselves, and also every Canadian playing a role. Each and every one of you play a role here today, whether it’s witnessing, whether it’s going home and educating your children about what happened, telling your neighbour or standing up when you hear something racist about our people.” Watts added that Tseshaht never asked for the Alberni Indian Residential School to be built on their territory, but the nation now has to face the repercussions of it. “We have to live with it now…but that’s why we’re coming here—to help people heal, to ask them to stand with us,” he said. “There’s some amazing survivors that I walked with today. The least we can do is walk a few kilometres in the rain when those people have been walking for all of us for years and carrying the weight of the school on their shoulders. It’s our responsibility to carry it on our shoulders now.” Watts said the Tseshaht have begun fundraising to build a memorial that would have the names of all the survivors, and those who didn’t make it home, from the Alberni Indian Residential School. They’ve already raised $37,000 with help from several local businesses. “McGill Engineering made a donation of $2,500, Paper Excellence donated $10,000 to our fund, Twin City Brewing donated over $1,400 and matching that was the realtor Dave Ralla,” Watts said, “Also matching that was Jays Lace it Up, they donated $1,500 and Cloud City donated $3,000 towards our fund.” A cruise planned by the Alberni Drag Race Association also saw $7,000 in donations go towards the Tseshaht fund. “Our plan is to create a memorial up here and have it covered under a gazebo so survivors and families can come up here any time of year and see their loved one’s names,” Watts said.
Page 10— Ha-Shilth-Sa—October 7, 2021
Video game teaches children Ditidaht language Game is designed to prepare three to six year olds for language classes at the First Nation’s community school By Melissa Renwick Local Journalism Initiative Reporter Nitinaht Lake, BC - Ditidaht First Nation has released a kid’s video game that takes players on a cultural journey by canoe through the nation’s traditional territory, oﬀ the coast of Vancouver Island. The game was designed as a tool to prepare children aged 3 to 6 for attending kindergarten at Ditidaht Community School (DCS), where they begin taking diiʔdiiʔtidq language classes. Through songs and traditional teachings voiced by community elders and speakers, children are provided with an opportunity to learn their traditional language “in a fun way,” said Tina Joseph, Ditidaht Kids research and production manager. “It’s hard to believe that something like this was developed so tailored to our children in our language,” she said. “To see the representation of my own people is amazing … it helps kids identify with culture and feel like they’re a part of something.” Illustrated scenes, such as community members hanging ﬁsh in a smokehouse, also expose children to traditional ways of life, said Joseph. “[Smoking ﬁsh] was and still is a huge part of our culture,” she said. “It sustains us and nourishes us.” Funded by the First Peoples’ Cultural Council (FPCC), Ditidaht Kids was created by DCS’ language department, which collaborated with ﬂuent elders, knowledge keepers, singers, historians, teachers, parents, and children. While gaming may not be a holistic method for language revitalization, FPCC Language Technology Programs Coordinator Kyra Borland said it’s an important tool that supports language revitalization eﬀorts. Not only is gamiﬁcation a “great way” to merge cultural roots with modern technology, Borland said it also makes language learning available to anyone living outside of the community who doesn’t have access to elders or knowledge keepers. “Making that context available is a really important way of reconnecting folks who have become disconnected from their community with the language
Amanda Peter uses the Ditidaht Kids video game after it was released. The game can be downloaded for free onto mobile devices. Critical to language revitalization is suprevitalization opportunities that exist,” going today.” porting Indigenous communities’ right to she said. In 2002, Jeﬀrey started taking language self-determination, said Borland. Since its release on September 23, there classes at DCS when she was 23 years “The ability to identify and meet [their] have been over 350 downloads of the old. At the time, she said the nation had needs without external interference is game, which is available for free through around 10 ﬂuent speakers. an important part of reconciliation in the Apple Store app, and will soon be “Now, we’re down to four,” she said. our country,” she said. “To give folks available through the Google Play app By continuing to speak her traditional the power to determine what, why, how, store. language, Jeﬀrey said she’s preserving when, and where language revitalization Debbie Jeﬀrey, who voiced one of the her elders’ teachings and making them will happen for them in their communigame’s characters, was ﬁrst introduced to accessible others. her language through her grandparents as Like many other nations along the coast, ties.” The other piece, Borland said, is providdiiʔdiiʔtidq language revitalization is a young child. ing nations with data sovereignty. challenging because there aren’t many By modernizing the tools used to teach “Having these games developed inﬂuent speakers left, said Ditidaht Kids language, the semi-ﬂuent speaker said it house by teams that are from the comProject Coordinator Dave Mason. will have a wider reach among the namunity allows the community to control “The normal means of [revitalizing tion’s younger population. where that data ultimately ends up,” she language] is to sit on your grandparents’ Jeﬀrey said previous attempts to teach said. knee and listen to them,” he said. “But language to her 8-year-old weren’t as efLooking back on the two-year project, that’s no longer possible because there fective as the video game. Jeﬀrey said it has been an “honour.” are so few speakers left.” “Now that she has the app downloaded, “Our culture is stored in language and Developing an adventure game that she’s hooked,” said Jeﬀrey. “It’s imporour work to save our language is gaining would allow kids to become acquainted tant to keep our language and culture with their language was one solution, said momentum,” she said. “This game is a alive … utilizing technology is deﬁnitely part of that work.” Mason. beneﬁcial as this is where our kids are
Phrase of the week: Qwac’ałʔišʔał ʕay’iičḥ huupʔatuʔaƛquu hupał Pronounced ‘qwa calth ish alth ah r ich who butt alt qu who pulth’, it means ‘autumn season sure brings beautiful sunsets’. Supplied by ciisma.
Illustration by Ivy Cargill-Martin
October 7, 2021—Ha-Shilth-Sa—Page 11
The Dock+ Food Hub opens for business in PA The former ﬁsh processing plant has been reinvented, now oﬀering a new commercial food production facility By Denise Titian Ha-Shilth-Sa Reporter Port Alberni, BC – An oﬃcial opening ceremony of an innovative new commercial food production service opened at Port Alberni’s waterfront on Oct. 1. Several dignitaries were on hand for the ribbon cutting ceremony of The Dock+, located at 3140 Harbour Road. The former ﬁsh processing plant has been reinvented and now oﬀers a commercial food production facility with a focus on local, sustainable foods. The Dock+ will have business tenants selling locally harvested and processed food like smoked salmon, seaweed products, and other items made from sustainably harvested produce and seafood. It is part of the BC Food Hub Network, whose mission is the help the province’s food and beverage businesses grow, innovate and commercialize. They do this by improving entrepreneur access to facilities, equipment, technology, technical services and business supports. “The Network is being developed in collaboration with industry, communities and post-secondary institutions to build provincial food and beverage processing while serving the regional and sector diversity of the province,” states the Ministry of Agriculture’s website. The celebration began with words of welcome from Hupacasath elder Ron Hamilton, who spoke on behalf of Ha’wilth Alton Watts. He thanked the organizers for inviting Hupacasath to the celebration, recognizing their rights in the Alberni Valley. Hamilton recalled that early residential schools attempted to make farmers of their Indigenous children. “They had us raising chickens, slaughtering pigs and cows,” Hamilton shared. He noted his late uncle Dr. George Clutesi said none of them became farmers. “When I was a small child, we would pick small, wild onions that we traded –
B.C. Minister of Agriculture Lana Popham and Shelly Chrest, chair of the Port Alberni Port Authority, cut the ribbon to oﬃcially open the Dock+ at Port Alberni’s Harbour Quay on Oct. 1. it was a valuable food commodity,” he we’re better when we work together.” Mayor Sharie Minions concurred, said, noting that nobody harvests them According to Chrest, the City of Port saying that with the recent purchase of anymore. Alberni secured funding from the Island the adjacent 43-acre Somass lands, the Hupacasath Councillor Jolleen Dick Coast Economic Trust, which made a potential is limitless. thanked the City of Port Alberni and the signiﬁcant contribution to The Dock+. “We are incredibly excited to work with Port Alberni Port Authority for their for“They took a dormant ﬁsh processing PAPA as we move forward,” she said. ward thinking and collaborative approach plant and transformed it,” said Chrest. The City of Port Alberni calls The in making the food hub a reality. Chrest also acknowledged government Dock+ promising future for the produc“In our language food is ha’oom,” she oﬃcials who helped make The Dock+ a tion, harvesting, processing and sales said. reality: Lana Popham, minister of Agrigrowth of local foods and natural prodHa’oom Fisheries Society was created culture, MP Gord Johns and MLA Josie ucts. to support the ﬁve Nuu-chah-nulth naOsborne. Minister Popham and Chrest oﬃcially tions implement their court-won right to Minister Popham said it has been her opened the facility with a ribbon-cutting ﬁsheries resources. dream to launch a regenerative agriculceremony followed by a public tour of “We are always having to ﬁght for food tural network to combat climate change The Dock+. resources,” she noted. and to bring back food systems. Tenants and businesses oﬀered up loKen Watts, elected Tseshaht chief, wel“There is space for Indigenous knowlcally harvested and or produced foods. comed people and gave a brief history of edge,” she said, adding that she hopes Flurer Smokery oﬀered up freshly the site that The Dock+ stands on. Ron Hamilton will take her to the place smoked candied salmon samples. Kove “This place is not only culturally imhe harvested wild onions one day. Ocean, a seaweed producer, gave away portant (having been used for important “It is important that the community gets popcorn seasoned with their bottled, ceremonies by the Tseshaht) but also access to resources in their area and bring dried sea spice. Wildﬂower Bakeshop & important economically for ﬁsh,” he said. it together…food brings people together Café had samples of fresh seafood apPAPA Chair Shelley Chrest thanked all like sitting around the kitchen table,” petizers while Eﬃngham Oysters oﬀered the stakeholders for being there. Popham said. fresh oysters on the half-shell. “The pandemic reminds us that we need Popham told the crowd that everyone To date, there are food hubs operating or each other in order to survive and thrive,” wants B.C. food so the possibilities for under development in thirteen communishe said. “The Dock+ exempliﬁes that economic development are endless. ties in B.C.
‘We can talk to it’: Pole’s name references ﬁrst woman By Eric Plummer Ha-Shilth-Sa Editor Port Alberni, BC - As its eyes look east toward the rising sun this autumn, the carver behind a totem pole recently raised by the Somass River is stressing the piece’s importance of honouring women. “The pole stands for our women,” said Tim Paul, who unveiled project on Sept. 18 at Port Alberni’s waterfront, “most importantly is language, the cultural teaching.” The Hesquiaht caver named the pole n̓aasn̓aasʔaqsa (pronounced ‘naas naas uksa’), referencing the ﬁrst woman. Paul recalls a story told by his aunt Alice Paul in 1989, when another totem pole he carved was raised in the Canadian Museum of History’s Grand Hall in Ottawa. “This is where she referred to the beginning, the ﬁrst woman, n̓aasn̓aasʔaqsa, because women are our knowledge keepers,” he recalled. “That’s where that name comes from. But deﬁnitely the pole is honouring our ladies.” What began as a windfallen cedar found in the forest of Huu-ay-aht territory eventually became the 37-foot piece that now stands over Port Alberni’s Victoria Quay. The project was initiated by the First Nations Education Foundation in 2018 to mark the United Nations International
Photo by Eric Plummer
Unveiled Sept. 18 by Port Alberni’s Victoria Quay, n̓aasn̓aasʔaqsa is now available for the public to see. The totem pole’s name was given in reference to the ﬁrst woman, according to its carver Tim Paul. Year of Indigenous Languages in 2019. at risk of being lost within a generation. Thirty-four of these Aboriginal languages When the pole was unveiled the educaexist in British Columbia. tion foundation noted that almost three quarters of the 60 or so Indigenous lan“If these languages become extinct, Inguages that are still spoken in Canada are digenous nations risk losing their cultural
identities forever,” stated the education foundation. n̓aasn̓aasʔaqsa stands on the site of Noopts’ikapis, a historical Tsehshaht village where people once lived by the Somass River. On a patch near a former helicopter pad, the pole is accessible to the public at the edge of San Group Property, where the company operates a sawmill. As has been in the case with his other totem poles, maintenance will be required as the elements take their toll on the piece, said Paul. “It will have to be touched up, as years, the weather and everything else gets a hold of it,” said Paul. “It will be up to the young people, the local tribes.” The pole has so far attracted considerable interest over its ﬁrst days of standing. Hundreds showed up for the unveiling on Sept. 18, and a Sept. 30 walk organized by the Tseshaht First Nation for Orange Short Day, or the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, is scheduled to stop at n̓aasn̓aasʔaqsa. “It’s alive now and we can talk to it,” explained Paul. “It’s really up to the young people now to approach that with all of the history, all of the names and all of the songs that are attached to it – that they lay out to making change, making a good life and good path for themselves.”
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Health beneﬁts of Nuuchah-nulth principles Nuu-chah-nulth Principles remind us to respect ourselves, our ancestors, our environment, and to be humane to all living things because everything makes our life possible. Principles:
his^uk%is^ c`awaak “Everything is one” is a well-known saying amongst Nuu-chah-nulth people and is the primary principle guiding the others. his^uk%is~ c`awaak is the foundation our peoples have built upon. Our principles teach us to look at things in their simplest form. The right to be comes from living in a manner that is sustainable. In order to survive and govern effectively, we must continue as strong people and have the resources to sustain those people and future generations.
%iisaak “Respect with caring” means not only respect for ourselves, but also respect for our environment and the right to live. %iisaak is a reminder that we are dependent on the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the food we eat. Like breathing, this respect must be an exchange, a reciprocal relationship of give and take. We must also respect others, their surroundings and ways of being, and recognize diversity as a strength and Nuu-chahnulth birthright.
hupiist`u> “Helpful and kind to one another” begings from within (helping yourself first) and being mindful of what you hope to make of each day. The positive outcome of practising this principle will ripple out and benefit community at large. An act of kindness and being helpful can also have an impact on yourself and those you have surrounded yourself with. Again, it is implied that we are also to be kind to the environment in which we live.
%uu%aa>uk “Taking Care Of” refers to caring for ourselves as individuals and the natural environment in which we live. Even today the basic needs of people are food, clean water, shelter and clothing, all of which we get from our environment. It is our duty to take care of this environment and maintain it, not only for the present, but also for future generations. This principle reminds us that we are part of the continuum of life. We need to think of what we are doing today and what we will model for our next generation, since it is up to the present to think of tomorrow. Source: Uu-a-thluk/Nuu-chah-nulth Fisheries Practices and Principles…Traditional Management Series.
Le•er to the Editor Our people barely survived smallpox and now we never have cases of it because of vaccines. And now that we’ve protected our elders, its time to protect our future generations, children that can’t be vaccinated because they are too
young. And tuberculosis was a problem of children in residential schools. We don’t need any more unnecessary deaths from a disease that has a vaccine -Barb Audet, Tla-o-qui-aht.
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Port Alberni Friendship Centre Volunteers Needed Need work experience? The Port Alberni Friendship Centre is looking for interested applicants for various positions. Call 250-723-8281
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Film with Tla-o-qui-aht carver in Vancouver festival Ten-minute piece delves into Joe Martin’s past as a logger and his role in protecting Meares Island’s old growth By Sam Laskaris Ha-Shilth-Sa Contributor Vancouver, BC – A ﬁlm featuring Tlao-qui-aht First Nation master carver Joe Martin had its world premiere on Wednesday, Oct. 6. But Martin was not planning to be at the screening, part of the Vancouver International Film Festival, which began Oct. 1 and continues until Oct. 10. Though he was also one of the writers for the short ﬁlm titled ƛaʔuukʷiatḥ (Tlao-qui-aht) Dugout Canoe, Martin has yet to view the ﬁnished product, which is 10 minutes long. “I haven’t seen it yet,” he said. “I’m carving a canoe right now. And I’m also working on two totem poles. I’m pretty busy.” Those unable to attend the world premiere can still watch Tla-o-qui-aht Dugout Canoe online. Canadian audiences can purchase ﬁlms being screened at this year’s festival up until Oct. 11 through the website www.viﬀ.org The ﬁlm was written and directed by Steven Davies, a Coast Salish ﬁlmmaker with Snuneymuxw and European-Canadian ancestry. Davies makes ﬁlms that centre on spiritual, cultural and political themes in order to reconnect with Indigenous histories and epistemologies. Davies made Tla-o-qui-aht Dugout Canoe through the National Screen Institute’s IndigiDocs program. This venture oﬀers Indigenous ﬁlmmakers who have a concept for a 10-minute documentary the opportunity to create their ﬁlm. Tla-o-qui-aht Dugout Canoe will be shown as part of a program through VIFF’s Short Forum. “I think it would be really sad, without having canoes around, dugout canoes,” Martin said in the ﬁlm’s opening scene. In the ﬁlm Martin tells viewers how he had started working as a clearcut logger when he was 18. He was employed at a logging camp on Kennedy Lake and was furious logging was taking place over a creek, thus destroying the salmon stream. “I refused to log a great big log over it, so they ﬁred me,” Martin said. “And
Photo by Tla-o-qui-aht Dugout Canoe
Tla-o-qui-aht carver Joe Martin is featured in a ﬁlm that is part of the Vancouver International Film Festival. actually, when I got ﬁred, it seemed there was a huge weight lifted oﬀ of my shoulders. I felt guilty about doing that.” Later on, in 1984, Martin was part of a blockade staged on Meares Island, located on Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation territory. Those who were also part of the blockade include Martin’s late father, his late brother Bill and his brother Carl. “We stayed there for three months,” Martin said. That’s also when his passion began. “We started carving canoes,” Martin said. “That’s why I’m still doing it I guess.” Martin said besides being an act of resistance a canoe is also a symbol of freedom. “I don’t see myself as an activist,” he said. “I’m just protecting our rights.” Martin is also glad he’s found a lifelong pursuit. “If I didn’t learn about making canoes, I think I would probably be dead by now,” he said. “I would have just got drinking
and drugging, or maybe in jail or something. But I’m glad I learned how to do this.” And it’s also extremely rewarding. “Transforming a tree into a canoe is certainly transforming it into a life,” Martin said. “And that’s really a satisfying feeling.” He also said canoe making fulﬁlls another important part. “If you’re working on canoes, you can certainly learn a lot about yourself,” he said. “Learning about patience and stuﬀ like that can be a challenge sometimes.” Martin is often assisted by others while making a canoe. The time required to carve a canoe depends on its size. Martin said to make a 22-foot canoe typically takes 15 days, if three individuals are working on it for 12 hours per day. Martin also said he enjoys passing on his knowledge. “I really like to inspire other people to work like this, to go out into nature and take only what you need,” he said.
“There’s one teaching left by our ancestors that says Mother Nature will provide for our need but not our greed.” Martin’s daughter Gisele is also featured in the ﬁlm. “I’ve been really lucky to witness what my dad does throughout my life, and it feels much deeper than just art, as art is perceived as something beautiful to look at,” she said. “It is like the practice of our traditional laws. It is our cultural lifeways that are being continued.” Martin considers himself lucky to be doing what he’s doing as a carver. “I feel like I’m very fortunate that I was able to learn to do this stuﬀ,” he said. “Making harpoons and paddles and all these things I learned how to do with my hands. It’s a blessing. But also, it’s a responsibility to pass that on. And it’s a huge responsibility. “Every time I carve a canoe it’s putting a canoe in the water that will serve our communities and families for years to come.”
Nuu-chah-nulth story retold on Knowledge Network By Denise Titian Ha-Shilth-Sa Reporter British Columbia – A new four-part documentary that shines a light on British Columbia’s complex multi-cultural history is about to debut on the Knowledge Network. The series features interviews with people from a variety of cultures knowledgeable about history from their perspective, including Nuu-chah-nulthaht Joe Martin, Cliﬀ Atleo Jr., and Carlos Mack. Produced by Leena Miniﬁe (of Gitxaala/ British ancestry), British Columbia: An Untold History begins in the late 18th century, following through the next two hundred years. Miniﬁe says she comes from a matrilineal culture: Gitxaala, Gispudwada (Killer Whale Clan) House of Wii’ta’lii. Her father has British lineage. She is a media, ﬁlm and television producer and digital strategist based in Vancouver. Miniﬁe is the CEO of Stories First Productions and has made projects that include ﬁlms, television series, documentaries, webinars, as well as radio. With her own diverse background, Miniﬁe thought it was important to examine
the history of the province from other perspectives. “It doesn’t centre around a white, male-oriented lens; we talked to academics, historians, people with cultural knowledge and people that lived it,” said Miniﬁe. “The project oﬀers a more inclusive and diverse perspective as told from those who have lived and studied B.C.’s shared past and features the voices of authors, historians, elders and descendants of historical ﬁgures.” “This is one of the ﬁrst times a series has covered racialized Indigenous history through pluralistic and multi-narrative lens,” she told Ha-Shilth-Sa. Dozens of people from many cultures were interviewed for the documentary, their stories pieced together like a quilt. The series was commissioned by Knowledge Network. “It highlights the history, the people, the families, the rebels and the dreamers that shaped this province,” say the producers. The series includes perspectives from Chinese, Japanese, Punjabi, black and European Canadians. The series begins with the Indigenous landscape before contact and takes the viewer through the colonization and
industrialization of the province. According to Miniﬁe, episode one looks at the early Indigenous resistance to settlers in B.C. and a war that prevented British Columbians from becoming American. Episode two examines the transformative history of labour and the ﬁght for equality by those who helped build this province. Episode three uncovers the myriad migrant narratives that helped turn B.C. into a centre for social activism. Episode four is where Tla-o-qui-aht’s Joe martin and Cliﬀ Atleo Jr. of Ahousaht appear. Both speak about the current political landscape as it relates to their respective nations. Miniﬁe says they talk about modern environmental and land movements in British Columbia. Titled Nature & Co-existence, Episode 4 examines how the history of British Columbia is inseparably fused with the history of natural resources. “The careful stewardship of the land by First Nations over millennia was disregarded when settlers arrived with industrial mega-projects. Indigenous peoples were among the ﬁrst to ﬁght deforestation, standing up against logging companies in Lyell and Meares Island,” say the
producers. “When the government oﬀered to designate the land as a national park, Indigenous leaders countered with an idea that had never been tried before: co-management. This push for co-existence succeeded, and today the land is jointly overseen by the Haida Nation and the provincial government, much like the Nuu-chahnulth in Clayoquot territory. First nation, non-Indigenous environmentalists, and Greenpeace set an example that spread across the world,” the producer says. Miniﬁe says Joe Martin and Cliﬀ Atleo Jr. were selected as interviewees because they are both very articulate and passionate about their perspectives in life. “I think it’s the biggest show like this ever premiered,” said Miniﬁe. More than two hundred stories were researched with 160 of them making it into production. Miniﬁe says not every interview made it into the show, but they can be found on the Knowledge Network website after Oct. 12. The series premiers Oct. 12, 9 p.m. on Knowledge Network. A new episode will be released each week. Visit the Knowledge Network website after Oct. 12 to stream online or to view more interviews.
October 7, 2021—Ha-Shilth-Sa—Page 15
Photo by Melissa Renwick
Rodney Sayers, a Nuu-chah-nulth artist from the Hupačasath First Nation, poses with a sample of his work in his Port Alberni studio on Oct. 4.
Hot rod paddles and lessons from the ancestors Rodney Sayers combines a dedication to passing on the teachings of his elders with a fascination of muscle cars By Melissa Renwick Local Journalism Initiative Reporter Port Alberni, BC - A sleek, hot pink paddle hangs on a wall inside the historic Mahon Hall on Salt Spring Island, oﬀ the coast of Vancouver Island. The art piece by Klehwetua Rodney Sayers is part of the Salt Spring National Art Prize’s 20212022 Finalist Exhibition. The prestigious biennial competition and exhibition of Canadian visual art received 2,700 submissions, which were narrowed down to 52 ﬁnalists from across the country, and abroad. Sayers was among them for the second time in the four years it’s been running. “Hot Rod Pink” is a continuation of the Hupačasath First Nation artist’s ongoing series that playfully intersects First Nations art with his fascination of motorhead traditions. The series is like a “hobby,” described Sayers, who regularly transitions his artistic practice between sculpting, metalsmithing and screen printing. “I’m just trying to bring some humour and I’m trying to have some fun with it,” he said. “My mantra is, ‘if it’s not fun, I don’t want to do it.’” While growing up in Port Alberni, Sayers became captivated by the ubiquitous street rods that roared through the city’s streets. “I was fascinated with them as an object,” he said. “They were shiny, and the paint was fabulous.” Only after Sayers heard them referred to as “muscle cars” for the ﬁrst time did he realize the machismo culture that surrounded them. To Sayers, the cars were merely “beautiful objects and sculptures” – much like traditional Nuu-chah-nulth paddles. Ronald Crawford, Salt Spring National Art Prize founding director, said Sayers was one of the ﬁrst artists he knew of that “combined contemporary concerns and First Nations iconography together.” “He uses pop culture and elements of mainstream Canadian culture and combines it with his own First Nations roots and upbringing,” said Crawford. “That’s
personally what I’ve found to be the most unique about Rodney’s work.” After graduating from the Alberni District Secondary School in 1981, Sayers drifted between Banﬀ and Whistler as a self-described “ski bum” for over a decade before he knew it was time to switch gears. He never had any ambition to become an artist. Rather, he was focused on becoming a better communicator to utilize the knowledge he had been given by his teachers. Throughout his childhood, Sayers spent a lot of time with elders and family members from Hupačasath and the surrounding Nuu-chah-nulth nations. At formal gatherings and feasts, he listened to the “old people talking” for countless hours and said he developed a deep appreciation for the command of oral history. Although he was never taught his language as a boy, that connection to his relatives and ancestors provided him with a rudimentary understanding. Art came into focus as a way to contribute to the “traditions of history keeping,” he said. In 1992, Sayers traded in his snow pants for textbooks to begin a two-year studio arts program at the former Capilano College. “I was trying to acknowledge and be grateful to the teachers who helped me,” he said. He went on to study jewelry making at the Alberta College of Art and Design in Calgary, where he learned meticulous hand skills. When working with jewelry, he said, a tenth of a millimetre is your margin of error. “I learned to see things diﬀerently,” said Sayers. “That went into my printmaking, that went into my sculpture, and that went into my thought process.” Sayers carried on to complete a masters in ﬁne art metalsmithing at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design before returning home to Port Alberni. In the early 2000s, he joined the Hupačasath language advisory group where he spent over 10 years working on language preservation by recording the
remaining ﬂuent speakers “until they all left,” he said. Through their teachings, he learned how to read, write and orate the language. That work kept him in Port Alberni, where he continues to live today. Sayers said that people often look at Hot Rod Pink and say, “it’s not traditional.” “How people want to describe or categorize my work is of no concern to me,” he said. “The tradition is embedded in the work. It may not look traditional, but art making is a tradition … and tradition has to evolve.” Oral language and Nuu-chah-nulth motifs, such as the thunderbird, are layered into his art. “If you can read it, it will tell you many things,” he said. “It’ll tell you secrets. It will tell you about the artist. It will tell you about where they’re from, or what they’re thinking about. Or it might tell you nothing if you can’t read it or have no interest in reading it.” When he becomes discouraged or grows tired, Sayers said he holds on to the words of the late-Jessie Hamilton and the other ﬂuent speakers he worked with as part of the language advisory group. “They said, ‘you have to keep using our language and making your artwork because you need to keep reminding people that we’re still here’,” he recounted. “I want people to see the work and hopefully it will speak to them on some level where they can be lifted up.” While Sayers’ work has evolved over the years, his intention has remained constant. “The materials inform my work,” he said. “The art-making tradition of the Nuu-chah-nulth people informs my work, the teachings from my advisors, my chiefs, and elders inform my work, the language informs my work, the land informs my work and the environment. It’s a language of contemplating all of those things and trying to capture them, even in small glimpses.” The exhibition on Salt Spring Island is running until October 25 and the award winners will be announced at a gala night on October 23.
Hot Rod Pink is part of this year’s Salt Spring National Art Prize Finalist Exhibition. Of the 52 ﬁnalists, Crawford said 12 First Nations artists are represented. For Sayers, making art is not only a “great privilege,” but an empowering tool for change. “I really believe that artists are going to lead the world into the future,” he said. “I believe that creative solutions have to come to the forefront to resolve our problems of climate change, of racism and all the social problems that are real.”
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