Ha-Shilth-Sa Newspaper October 8, 2020

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INTERESTING NEWS Canada’s Oldest First Nations Newspaper - Serving Nuu-chah-nulth-aht since 1974 Canadian Publications Mail Product Vol. 47 - No. 19—October 8, 2020 haas^i>sa Sales Agreement No. 40047776

Extinct breed of wooly dog found in archeological dig Remains found in Broken Group Islands date back 3,000 years, showing a domesticated dog used by Tseshaht By Denise Titian Ha-Shilth-Sa Reporter Broken Group Islands, BC – An ancient breed of dog has been identified from a set of bones found in an archaeological dig site on Keith Island, or Kakmakimilh, in 2019. The University of Victoria, in partnership with Tseshaht First Nation and Parks Canada, conducted an archaeological excavation on the Tseshaht Reserve of Kakmakimilh in the Broken Group Islands. Tseshaht has hosted UVic students at their Broken Group Islands during the summer since 2016, where they conduct their archeological digs. Tseshaht has partnered with UVic Archaeologist Iain McKechnie, co-director Denis St. Claire, Parks Canada, Bamfield Marine Sciences Centre and Hakai Institute. The ancient wooly dog, also known as the West Coast Wool Dog, dates back 3,000 years and was bred by coastal indigenous peoples for its long, soft hair. This breed of dog would be shorn with sharpened mussel shells two or three times a year and its ‘wool’ would be spun and woven into textiles used for clothing, blankets and mats. The West Coast Wool dog is said to have looked like a small Akita or husky with its bushy, curled tail. It had an undercoat that was dense, making it suitable for spinning into a yarn that would be woven into textiles. The dogs were highly valued for their hair and the luxury items that could be made from it. Blankets and rugs woven from dog hair mixed with other materials like mountain goat or fluff from plants like fireweed were prestigious gifts at potlatches. According to Lydia Sigo, a Suquamish tribal member and the curator and archivist at the Suquamish Museum, there is a wool dog blanket at Burke Museum in Seattle. The blanket, more than 100 years old, is mostly intact with a large hole on one side. The West Coast Wool Dog is a true native breed, according to the Veterinary Information Network. There were at least two distinct pre-contact dog breeds: The West Coast Wool Dog and a common dog referred to in a research paper as village dogs. The village dog was a medium sized, short-haired coyote-like animal kept by Aboriginal people, sometimes used for hunting. The smaller, usually white, wool dog was kept separate from the village dogs in order to maintain the integrity of their breed and valuable coats. Evidence of the wool dog has been found in village sites along the Salish Sea on the east coast of

Submitted photo

The skull of a West Coast Wool dog was found on Keith Island in 2019 during an archaeological dig. Vancouver Island, Puget Sound and now, in Nuu-chah-nulth territories on the west coast of the island. From analysis of the bones examined at UVic, it was determined that the Tseshaht dogs were, not surprisingly, eating significant amounts of marine fish. “Specifically, anchovy, herring and salmon – amounting to approximately half of the food they consumed throughout their lives,” said Dylan Hillis, a UVic student who authored a research paper about the Tseshaht dog remains. Dr. McKechnie said it is important to know what the dogs were being fed, given their cultural importance. Their

Inside this issue... Pandemic-era overdose tally contnues.......................Page 3 Protest gives voice to wild salmon.............................Page 7 Leaders scrutinize NDP before election...................Page 11 Nations at war documentary series...........................Page 13 DAC fair cancelled due to COVID risk...................Page 15

diets prove that they were important to the people as they were fed especially valuable marine foods such as Pacific herring or various species of salmon and northern anchovy. The Tseshaht wooly dog and other dog remains unearthed at the Keith Island site date back 3,000 years. The scientists were able to prove through their research not only what the dogs ate but also how they were cared for by the Tseshaht. “Obviously, the role that humans took was substantial since dogs were not catching these fast-moving fish on their own,” said Hillis.

According to McKechnie there is archaeological evidence that the wool dog was bred in southern Nuu-chah-nulth communities. “[N]umerous other sites in Nuu-chahnulth and Makah territories had small wool dogs - (Tla-o-qui-aht, Tseshaht, Huu-ay-aht, Ditidaht) such that we should expand the concept of wool dog to include not just the Coast Salish area but also southern Nuu-chah-nulth communities,” he said in an email. He went on say that some of the earliest dogs found in archaeological sites throughout the coast are from 3,000-5,000-year-old deposits at the Ts’ishaa village site on Benson Island, an important Tseshaht origin site. “Domestic animals were a big part of the coast, and small wool dogs were the most abundant breed on the south coast of B.C. over the past 5,000 years,” McKechnie added. The West Coast Wool dog became extinct about 100 years ago. With the introduction of machine-made wool blankets brought in from the British Isles, the West Coast Wool dog lost its value. Tending the dogs and transforming their hair into yarn was both time consuming and labour intensive, while manufactured wool blankets could be purchased relatively cheaply with a few animal pelts. Around 1900 the last of the pure West Coast Wool Dogs were breeding with dogs brought in by settlers, bringing them and their village dog counterparts to extinction as a distinct native dog breed. The Broken Group Islands, isolated and mostly untouched by modern development, are a rich source of artifacts that tell thousands of years of pre-colonial history. In 2019 a geoduck shell was unearthed in an ancient clam pit on Keith Island, proving that Tseshaht harvested and ate the geoduck. Geoduck were excluded from the 2009 Nuu-chah-nulth fisheries court case victory because there was no solid proof that they harvested geoduck. The court argued that the species have only been harvested since the invention of modern equipment and there was no evidence that First Nations collected them. Dr. Iain McKechnie shared that two scientific reports were generated from the Tseshaht ancient dog remains. “The first is about dogs, wolves and other canids across the whole coast but including Nuu-chah-nulth territories; the other is about domestic dog diets from Tseshaht territory specifically and includes Denis St. Claire as a co-author,” he said.

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


Page 2— Ha-Shilth-Sa—October 8, 2020

Orange Shirt Day proceeds despite restrictions Annual event began in 2013 to recognize a residential school student who had her new orange shirt taken away By Eric Plummer Ha-Shilth-Sa Editor Port Alberni, BC - Staff from Teechuktl Mental Health recognized Orange Shirt Day on Sept. 30, while adjusting to COVID-19 restrictions. In recognition of residential school survivors, at 10 a.m. they walked from the Redford Street Quu’asa office in Port Alberni, along Fourth Avenue, stopping to sing in front of the Port Alberni Friendship Center and make an offering to children at the facility’s daycare. On route to the Harbour Quay the crowd also sang outside of the Thunderbird Building on Kingsway Avenue, where some former residential school students reside. The procession ended at the Harbour Quay for more singing and dancing. Packages were also handed out to people along the way, which include orange shirts with a design by Pat Amos, a branch of cedar and devils club to help ward off bad feelings and spirits. Orange Shirt Day was introduced in 2013, and has become a national event to recognise those who attended Indian residential schools. The movement is inspired by the story of Phyllis Jack Webstab, who had an orange shirt taken away from her on the first day at the St. Joseph Indian Residential School near Williams Lake, B.C. The brand-new shirt had just been given to the six year old by her grandmother.

Photo by Eric Plummer

Mariah Charleson, front, and Vina Robinson dance with others at the Harbour Quay in recognition of Orange Shirt Day on Sept. 30.


October 8, 2020—Ha-Shilth-Sa—Page 3

Pandemic-era overdose fatality tally continues Illicit drug deaths have surpassed B.C.’s homicides, motor vehicle fatalities, suicides and COVID-19 combined By Eric Plummer Ha-Shilth-Sa Editor Victoria, BC - Data recently released by the BC Coroners Service show that the COVID-19 pandemic is continuing to bring high numbers of fatal overdoses, with 147 suspected illicit drug deaths in August. This shows a 71 per cent increase over the deadly tally from August last year, but a continued decline from the results earlier in the summer. In May, June and July respective totals of 180, 181, and 176 have now been reported by the Coroners Service. Males account for 862 of the 1,068 illicit drug fatalities reported in B.C. over the first eight months of this year. The First Nations Health Authority has highlighted the extent that B.C.’s ongoing opioid crisis has affected Indigenous people, who face a fatality rate five times that of the rest of the province. In a recently released video interview Dr. Nel Wieman, FNHA’s deputy chief medical health officer, noted how the pandemic has brought a rise in overdoses, escalating the opioid crisis back to a level public health faced four years ago. “Over the years, from 2016 to 2019, we were actually making an impact,” said Wieman of the progress seen in recent years before COVID-19 hit. “Because of the pandemic, we are seeing an incredible rise to numbers that we haven’t even seen before.” Public health officials have pointed to the effects of limiting services to follow social distancing measures during the early months of the pandemic. Some safe injection sites, like The Harbour in Victoria, shut down their walk-in services altogether, instead offering mobile assistance for drug use. In June The Harbour reopened its Pandora Avenue location to

Photo by Eric Plummer

A crowd is often present on Pandora Avenue in front of the supervised injection site in Victoria, but in early April The Harbour closed its walk-in services to follow COVID-19 social distancing measures. In June the site reopened services. all others to be a factor in almost 90 per walk ins. people didn’t lessen their use of illicit cent of B.C.’s overdose deaths, accord“When we went into lockdown during drugs – but not as many were coming to ing to the coroner. Originally developed the pandemic, a lot of the prevention and the supervised location. pharmaceutically for pain management, harm reduction services had to either He finds this concerning, as these drug Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is up to shut down, reduce their services, reduce users weren’t given the opportunity for 100 times stronger than morphine. access,” said Wieman. “Treatment centres treatment they could otherwise reach out A minority of clients at Port Alberni’s were closed for a period of time. It took for at the OPS. A number of factors are at overdose site have their drugs tested for a while, I think, three or four months into play, including in some cases injections the pandemic, for services to again figure of cash from COVID-era government as- Fentanyl, using a dipstick method to yield either positive or negative results. out how they were going to operate under sistance programs, said Hewitt. “Over 80 per cent of the drugs that we these new public health measures.” “When an individual has drugs or subtest, test positive for Fentanyl,” said Port Alberni’s overdose prevention stance, it’s quite easy to have friends and Hewitt, adding that most of these clients site in Third Avenue has remained open a place to stay,” he said. opt to consume the drugs anyway after throughout the pandemic, although only The Coroners Service reports that Fena positive test. “We test not just what recently has traffic returned to its pretanyl has risen in prevalence since 2015. people think is heroin, but crystal meth, pandemic levels. Wes Hewitt, execuCocaine and methamphetamine are other cocaine, we’ve also tested marijuana that tive director of the Port Alberni Shelter common substances contributing to fatal is tested positive for fentanyl.” Society, believes that during the spring overdoses, but Fentanyl has surpassed

Rapid testing in Tofino COVID reported at ADSS By Eric Plummer Ha-Shilth-Sa Editor Tofino, BC - A rapid-testing machine has been installed at the NTC office in Tofino, and is expected to be able to confirm COVID-19 cases over the next month. Jeannette Watts, manager of the Nuuchah-nulth Tribal Council’s nursing program, said nurses are currently being trained to operate the GeneXpert in Tofino, one of three recently provided to different parts of province by the First Nations Health Authority. The machine tests nasopharyngeal swabs taken from a person’s nasal cavity. “You can do four tests in 50 minutes,” said Watts. “When you take the swab, within seven hours you should run it, or if it’s on ice or in the fridge it can last up to seven days.” The GeneXpert was installed in Tofino to serve Vancouver Island’s west coast First Nation communities. Some of these settlements are hours away from medical facilities, a remoteness that puts them at a vulnerable risk in the event of a COVID-19 outbreak. Watts said that the machine is part of her nursing team’s plan to handle any outbreaks in these remote communities. Once a positive case is confirmed by the GeneXpert, the Island Health communicable disease hub in Nanaimo would be notified, which then would involve NTC nurses to trace anyone who could have

been exposed. “If it identifies a positive case, then there’s immediate contact tracing that begins, and then there’s the establishment of trying to contain the disease,” said Watts. She added that the NTC nurses can move among Nuu-chah-nulth communities to fight the spread of the virus. “Because Nuu-chah-nulth has a collective nursing program - meaning all the nurses are employed by Nuu-chah-nulth we have the ability to move them around as need be,” said Watts. But under the guidelines of the B.C. Ministry of Health, not everyone can be tested for the virus. One must present symptoms of COVID-19, such as a fever, tiredness, the loss of smell and taste or a cough, for a swab to be collected. “Routine testing of those who are asymptomatic would significantly impact laboratory testing costs,” states information published by the B.C. Centre for Disease Control, “as well as health system costs such as staffing of testing centres and laboratories, and PPE requirements for staff collecting samples.” Following FNHA funding guidelines, the Tofino GeneXpert machine will be used specifically for Indigenous people. Other samples will be sent another COVID-19 testing machine, which is often in Victoria. Another GeneXpert machine is at the Port McNeill hospital, which has been operational sine late June.

By Eric Plummer Ha-Shilth-Sa Editor Port Alberni, BC - Classes continued on Oct. 5 at the Alberni District Secondary, after a notice was issued on the weekend that someone at the high school tested positive for COVID-19. Information released by Island Health states that the infected person was in the facility Sept. 14, 15, 17, 18 and 22, nearly two weeks before School District 70 notified the community of possible exposure at the large Port Alberni school. Two weeks is considered by public health authorities to be the maximum period that symptoms of the novel coronavirus can present themselves after infection. A news release from SD70 stated that the district learned of the confirmed case on Oct. 3. “Public health staff then initiated contact tracing to identify any individuals needing to self-isolate or self-monitor for COVID-19 symptoms, and a general notification to the school community was issued on Sunday, October 4,” stated the school district. “If you do not receive a phone call from public health officials, please continue to attend school and monitor for COVID-19 symptoms as per [B.C. Centre for Disease Control] guidelines noted in the daily health check form.” The district will not say if it was a student or staff member who was infected.

“For privacy reasons, we cannot give out further details,” stated SD70. Island Health’s protocol for handling coronavirus exposure in a school entails determining who was in close contact with the infected person, and informing these people to quarantine for 14 days to monitor if any symptoms arise. But even being in the same class as an infected person does necessarily mean that a person should isolate themselves due to risk, according to the health authority. “Only Public Health Nurses and Medical Health Officers determine who is a close contact,” said Island Health. “Learning groups, friends or other connections may not be determined to be a close contact.” Approximately one third of the school’s population is Indigenous, and news of the confirmed case alarmed many Nuuchah-nulth families. Numerous questions came to the Nuu-chah-nulth education workers who assist students at the school. They have told parents that there is so far just one confirmed case who was present at the school, and that Island Health will contact those who may have been exposed to the virus. School remains in session with health measures in place to limit transmission, and the Nuu-chahnulth education workers will continue to be available to assist families, according to Ian Caplette, the NTC’s director of Education, Training and Social Development.


Page 4— Ha-Shilth-Sa—October 8, 2020 Ha-Shilth-Sa newspaper is published by the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council for distribution to the members of the NTC-member First Nations, as well as other interested groups and individuals. Information and original work contained in this newspaper is protected by copyright and may not be reproduced without written permission from: Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council P.O. Box 1383, Port Alberni, B.C. V9Y 7M2. Telephone: (250) 724-5757 Fax: (250) 723-0463 Web page: www.hashilthsa.com facebook: Hashilthsa Ntc

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VIU works toward decolonization Transportation, childcare and affordable housing identified as three roadblocks By Karly Blats Ha-Shilth-Sa Contributor A Vancouver Island University (VIU) scholarship program for Indigenous students is working toward Indigenizing and decolonizing post-secondary institutions. The EleV Scholarship program aims to better support Indigenous learners in their post-secondary journeys and beyond by providing scholarships for youth aged 18-35, providing support services and removing barriers to education. The program is focused on providing nationmatched scholarships and culturally relevant programming and supports for Indigenous students using a co-creation approach. Indigenous Education Navigators provide holistic, wrap-around support to Aboriginal students, including coordinating closely with their nations as well as other university and social services. Since the program’s inception in 2017, some key insights and recommendations towards decolonization for post-secondary institutions have been raised by members of VIU’s Office of Aboriginal Education and Engagement. In the article, Lessons for Decolonizing Post-Secondary Institutions, published on VIU’s Office of Aboriginal Education and Engagement’s blog, co-authors Heather Burke, Sharon Hobenshield and Ariane Campbell write that one of the key findings through the Elev program has been that for many Indigenous students, completing post-secondary education is a winding path rather than a straight line. “Due to the systemic inequities caused by colonialism, trauma is more prevalent in the Indigenous student population and some are going through a healing journey alongside their learning journey,” they write. Sharon Hobenshield, director of VIU’s Office of Aboriginal Education and Engagement, said the three main barriers that cause roadblocks for Indigenous students during their educational journey are transportation, childcare and affordable housing. “I call them the big three,” Hobenshield said. “I think Indigenous students, many of our students, come from rural and remote locations and have families, so

“I think Indigenous students, many of our students, come from rural and remote locations and have families, so to find affordable housing is challenging within an urban context and there’s a lack of childcare as well.” ~ Sharon Hobenshield, Director of VIU’s Office of Aboriginal Education to find affordable housing is challenging within an urban context and there’s a lack of childcare as well.” Hobenshield said, through the EleV Program, the Indigenous Education Navigators work closely with Indigenous students to help navigate bigger issues like child care and housing, but also daily challenges like course enrollment and registration. “They’re making a difference,” Hobenshield said. Another insight learned through the EleV Program is that incorporating Indigenous values into the classroom can be impactful. “Indigenous students feel seen and heard when values such as reciprocity, whole person learning, and recognition that knowledge transcends the intellectual to the physical, spiritual and emotional realms are incorporated into the classroom,” state the authors in their blog. Hobenshield said that when VIU became a university, an academic plan was developed and within that plan, a core objective is Indigenous commitments. “Every program area has to speak to how it’s meeting that Indigenous commitment …it differs across the institution depending on the resources that people have, the relationships they have within the community and the discipline itself,” she said. “I think overall there’s definitely interest and commitment to working this way.” Another recommendation stemmed from the EleV Program is for post-secondary institutions to build deep relationships with Indigenous communities for ongoing listening and co-creation. “One of VIU’s fundamental values is working to build and maintain positive reciprocal relationships with Indigenous communities across the three

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Sharon Hobenshield language groups on Vancouver Island: the Coast Salish, Nuu-chah-nulth and Kwakwaka’wakw territories as well as the Métis Nation,” states the blog. “Cocreation with communities is essential not only for supportive programming, but also for educational content and curriculum.” Since 2017, 181 Indigenous students have received scholarships through the EleV Program and 53 of those students have graduated. Hobenshield said VIU works closely with the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council and Nuu-chah-nulth educators to collaboratively look at educational and employment pathways for students in the K-12 system. “Nuu-chah-nulth tells me that the majority of their students do come to VIU because of the close proximity,” Hobenshield said. Going forward, Hobenshield and her coworkers recommend that in order to move toward Indigenization and decolonization at universities, post-secondary institutions need to hear Indigenous voices within existing governance structures and see Indigenous people in faculty positions and leadership roles on campus. “We still need Indigenous people informing university curriculum, teaching and learning, research, policies and program development writ large if we are to see systemic change impacting students,” they write.

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!

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October 8, 2020—Ha-Shilth-Sa—Page 5

Fishing tensions blamed on federal mishandling Atleo cites racism in the DFO, but fisheries minister insists the department is commi•ed to respectful dialogue By Mike Youds Ha-Shilth-Sa Contributor Ottawa, ON - Government’s failure to negotiate in good faith and refusal to respect constitutionally protected Indigenous fishing rights is putting lives at risk, says MP Gord Johns. The NDP fisheries critic along with the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs are urging the federal government to defend Indigenous fishing rights after tensions among non-Indigenous fishermen led to acts of intimidation and threats against a Mi’kmaq lobster fishery. “These actions represent a serious and critical threat not only to the Mi’kmaq Nation’s welfare and safety but to the collective treaty rights and sovereignty of First Nations across the country,” the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs stated in a news release. Sipekne’katik First Nation opened its self-regulated lobster fishery last month, maintaining they have the treaty right to fish for a moderate livelihood throughout the year. The early opening, prior to the federally regulated season, stirred resentment among hundreds of non-Indigenous fishers, some of whom used their boats to intimidate, threaten and harass the Mi’kmaq fishers. Boats came dangerously close to colliding while Mi’kmaq traps were cut or stolen. A second Mi’kmaq lobster fishery opened Oct. 1 amid calls for creation of a new co-management approach to address conflicts. Johns is urging the government to intervene before the situation worsens. “From the Nuu-cha-nulth on the west coast to the Mi’kmaq on the East Coast, the Liberals have spent millions on lawyers to fight Indigenous fishing rights,” Johns told the House of Commons. “And time and time again, the courts have upheld Indigenous rights. Now, the Liberals are talking out of both sides of their mouths,” said Johns. “By trying to play both sides, they’re leaving DFO officials without a clear mandate and putting lives at risk. While the courts have consistently backed First Nations, reaffirming constitutionally protected rights, successive Conservative and Liberal governments have knowingly sent negotiators to the table emptyhanded, Johns said. That tactic has created conflict on the water and the docks between user groups. He cited a 2018 B.C. Supreme Court ruling, which found that “Ottawa failed to allow the regional (DFO) staff to engage meaningfully and wholeheartedly in the negotiations.

House of Commons video still

Member of Parliament Gord Johns recently raised the issue of First Nations right to fish commercially in their own waters in the House of Commons. “Will the minister finally back up her claims that she supports self-determination by actually upholding inherent and constitutionally protected rights,” Johns asked. “Right now, the government’s No. 1 priority is making sure people stay safe in southwest Nova Scotia where the tensions are quite high,” Fisheries Minister Bernadette Jordan replied. “We believe the best way forward is through respectful and collaborative dialogue. We are working hard to make sure that we uphold those treaty rights.” UBCIC said it supports the Mi’kmaq call for the minister, provincial authorities and RCMP to uphold the law: “Government inaction and indecision must not bolster and condone the infringement of Mi’kmaq rights and further acts of hostility and violence.” Out west, the five T’aaq-wiihak nations — Ahousaht, Ehattesaht/Chinehkint, Hesquiaht, Tla-o-qui-aht and Mowachaht/ Muchalaht — have much in common with the Mi’kmaq. They, too, have an inherent right to catch and sell fish traditionally caught in their territories but have not seen significant catch alloca-

tions since the court affirmed that right in 2009. Recognizing a common interest, Nuu-chah-nulth and Mi’kmaq representatives have collaborated, acting as court intervenors for one another, which allows them to comment on proceedings. There have been incidents involving racism and harassment on the West Coast as well, said Wickaninnish, Cliff Atleo, Ahousaht lead negotiator. “There is racism by DFO. There’s no doubt about how the government stood by and watched,” Atleo said, referring to tensions in Nova Scotia. The Mi’kmaq fishery was supported by a Supreme Court decision in March, he pointed out. “It’s not the first time DFO and the government of Canada have shown their colours against our people,” Atleo said. “They refuse to negotiate, although they call it negotiation.” He isn’t optimistic that government intransigence will end anytime soon. Conflicts over Indigenous fishing rights can only be resolved when the federal government listens to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who has acknowledged that systemic racism exists within institutions, he noted. Trudeau pledged again in

September’s Speech from the Throne, to tackle the issue. “We just have to keep plugging away,” Atleo said. “We keep fighting, keep asserting, keep exercising. We have a strong interest in having a say in management.” David Murphy, who operates Murphy Sportfishing Charters along the Island’s west coast, believes west coast salmon roundtables have played an instrumental role in resolving conflicts and easing tensions that can arise between user groups. “Absolutely,” said Murphy, who represents the Sport Fishing Advisory Board at the table. “Everybody in the room is doing their best for the community as a whole. It’s very respectful. Without it, I don’t know where Port Alberni would be.” Seven roundtables meet to ensure fishing plans are co-ordinated, identify potential conflicts and, if possible, recommend solutions. The Area 23 roundtable, which includes representatives from each of the Maa-nulth First Nations as well as the Tseshaht and Hupacasath, has provided a model for others to follow, Murphy said.


Page 6— Ha-Shilth-Sa—October 8, 2020

Nootka Sound rallies to save vanishing ‘qiwah’ A chance meeting with Brazilian photographer Fernando Lessa boosts the steelhead project in the Gold River By Mike Youds Ha-Shilth-Sa Contributor Gold River, BC - Results from a snorkel survey last winter delivered an ominous clue about the status of Gold River’s winter steelhead run: Zero. No steelhead — “qiwah” in Nuu-chahnulth — were found when a crew coordinated by a half-dozen conservation groups went swimming in search of them along a six-kilometre stretch of the river in February. While there are probably some surviving fish in the Gold’s winter run, the findings could hardly be a surprise for those who have been watching a virtual collapse to single-digit counts in recent years. Visibility in the water was good, however, and this was the first time the count hit rock bottom. Not long ago, the same run supported Vancouver Island’s premier steelhead fishery before it had to be closed in 2018. The fishery was a tourism draw for recreational anglers and an important economic resource for the Village of Gold River. Historically, there were 5,000 winter steelhead. Area residents — including three First Nations, three villages, commercial fishers, hatcheries and others — are teaming with provincial conversation groups, determined to find ways to rebuild the run. Nootka Sound Watershed Society (NSWS) formed a task force in August to look at opportunities for restoring riparian and stream habitat while studying other possible causes of the decline such as predation. Uu-a-thluk, the Mowachaht/ Muchalaht First Nation, scientific and academic partners have also joined in what’s called the Solutions for Steelhead initiative. “It’s not just steelhead, it’s about the river,” said Karenn Bailey, stewardship co-ordinator for the volunteer-based society. The group considers winter-run steelhead to be “a canary in a coal mine,” Bailey said, referring to the concept that sentinel species provide a warning of wider environmental threats. Gold River also supports populations of summer-run steelhead that cross migratory paths with runs of sockeye and coho as well as resident trout. At one time, sockeye returns ranged from 30,000 to 50,000, but they too have declined. Steelhead, Oncorhynchus mykiss, are related to rainbow trout but behave like Pacific salmonids. They’re giving humans a wakeup call, NSWS believes. That’s the message they hope to convey to build financial support for initiatives to restore fish habitat. Some research has been done in the past, but not a comprehensive analysis, Bailey said. “It has to be a collaborative approach,” she explained. “Part of this [is] finding out where it’s best to invest. That’s what’s going to bring the steelhead back.” That along with a little good fortune. Bailey was headed to Tahsis last summer when she coincidentally crossed paths with Fernando Lessa, a roving Brazilian photographer who specializes in documenting freshwater fish and habitat. Lessa emigrated to B.C. from his home country four years ago and has made his mark in conservation with a book, Urban Salmon (2017), and the documentary, The Heart of the Fraser (2019), an environmental plea for the river’s threatened ecosystems. He was scouting for freshwater opportunities, looking for rivers closer to their natural state than the lower

Photo by Fernando Lessa

A snorkel team of biologists enumerates steelhead in Gold River on northwestern Vancouver Island. Fraser, when he encountered Bailey. Recognizing an opportunity, she convinced him to visit Gold River and photograph summer-run steelhead during enumeration counts. NSWS partnered with the Steelhead Society of B.C. to cover costs for the twodays of shooting. The results, captured in early September, will be used to promote Solutions for Steelhead. “I believe photography is one of the few things that bring together passionate people with different mindsets,” said Lessa, a fly angler who also holds a biology degree. “Everybody loves a beautiful picture. I believe photography can bring to this conversation between different groups and make everyone work together.” Despite his experience as a photographer, this wasn’t an easy assignment. In habitats that border them, but also expan- of logging and improve in-stream fish two days, he swam with 19 fish during sive areas of old-growth forest habitat habitat, building on success working the snorkel count and tallied a total of 42. surrounding salmon streams, recognizing with salmon habitat in a half dozen other “They would not give me many chancthe complex ecological interrelationships Nootka Sound streams. es,” he said. “I think the secret was that within the entire coastal forest ecosystem. Another component of the project would I had an amazing team with me and they Dunlop feels existing protections for involve developing a list of priorities for took me exactly where the fish were,” he freshwater fish habitat are ineffective steelhead restoration and enhancement said. “They knew where to go and how to with no regulations to ensure sediments projects in area watersheds. Toward this approach the steelhead. They were holdchurned up by logging and road congoal, they’ve tapped EcoFish Research, ing in a single pool. Just a beautiful fish. struction are contained. Collectively, the which specializes in spatial modelling Really, really nice to see them.” hereditary chiefs of Nuu-chah-nulth have that considers climate change and cumuThose, however, were summer-run suggested B.C. consider the salmon park lative environmental effects. steelhead. To photograph the winter run concept for broader application to protect Lesso’s short video on Solutions for would be impossible, Lesso said. The salmon streams provincewide. Steelhead and the Gold River can be summer run remains healthy, providing Contingent on funding, the plan is to viewed at www.facebook.com/watch/?v= further clues as to what may be affecting begin riparian silviculture treatments next 330081584915463&extid=0vZME7YyC their winter counterparts. year in an effort to reverse the impacts bDP7dlr. Meanwhile, NSWS is pursuing funds through the B.C. Salmon and Innovation Fund. “We’re in early discussions with the provincial and federal governments and developing some kind of strategic plan,” Kent O’Neill, NSWS president, said last summer. They envision a steelhead sanctuary at Muchalat Lake, 16 kilometres upriver from the estuary and part of the Gold-Muchalat river system. Their plan dovetails with the salmon park proposal developed by the late Walter Michael, Nuchatlaht Tyee Ha’wilth, and Roger Dunlop, Uu-a-thluk northern region biologist. The idea behind salmon parks is to protect not only stream channels and riparian


October 8, 2020—Ha-Shilth-Sa—Page 7

Flotilla protest gives a voice to wild salmon Tofino event organized in response to DFO measures for the Discovery Islands fish farms east of the island By Melissa Renwick Local Journalism Initiative Reporter Tofino, BC - Under dark, stormy skies, dozens of boaters and kayakers gathered in the Tofino Inlet this past Saturday for a wild salmon flotilla in protest of the surrounding fish farms. Tsimka Martin organized the event in response to the 19th recommendation of the 2012 Cohen Commission’s report. The recommendation calls for the prohibition of the Discovery Islands fish farms by Sept. 30, 2020, unless the operations are proven to pose only a “minimum risk of serious harm to the heath of migrating Fraser River salmon.” Frustrated by government-inaction, Martin was moved to give a voice to wild salmon and to stand in solidarity with her “east coast relatives.” “It seems like the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) is only listening to industry,” she said. “It does not seem like the government is going to act on those recommendations.” In a press release, DFO said that it has completed nine peer-reviewed, scientific risk assessments to determine the impact of interactions between wild Pacific salmon and pathogens from salmon farms to inform their response to Cohen Commission’s recommendation. “The results of these assessments concluded that the transfer of these pathogens pose a minimal risk to abundance and diversity of migrating Fraser River sockeye salmon in the area,” read the release. This year saw the lowest Fraser River sockeye salmon return on record,

Photo by Melisa Rewick

Tsimka Martin rallies boaters and kayakers together in the Tofino harbour to protest against the fish farms on Sept, 26. approach to aquaculture. according to the Pacific Salmon future.” “We recognize the concerns raised by Commission. By offering a space for community partners that these particular farms may “Our ancestors didn’t leave us with fish members to voice their concerns, Martin not be the best fit for this location nor for hopes that collectively, people will confarms,” said Gisele Martin, from the Tlao-qui-aht First Nation. “They left us with the adjacent communities,” she said in tinue to fight for the species in peril. the release. “We will be consulting with biodiversity. They left us with extended “As a member of Tla-o-qui-aht and as a each First Nation within the Discovery family and our extended family includes member of Nuu-chah-nulth, I feel that it’s Islands area, and the information and wild salmon.” really important for our cultural longevviews they provide will inform my deciFederal Fisheries Minister Bernadette ity,” she said. “[Salmon are] integral to sion on whether or not to renew licences Jordan said that the government is comthe health of the ecosystems, which our for these farms this December, and in the lives are bound to.” mitted to an area-based management


Page 8— Ha-Shilth-Sa—October 8, 2020

2020 B.C. Provincial election: Candidates answer quest BC Liberal Party

Kelly Darwin Langford Juan De Fuca

Helen Poon Mid island-Pacific Rim

Norm Facey North Island

All Liberal Party candidates submitted a collaborated answer.

COVID-19 In June the provincial government entered Phase 3 of its COVID-19 recovery plan. This allowed sectors of the economy to reopen, but was followed by a wave of coronavirus infections over the summer. Did B.C. reopen its economy too soon? Do you feel more restrictions are needed this fall than what is currently in place to be•er control coronavirus infection? Opioid crisis Over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, progress in reducing the number of overdose deaths has been lost, with the highest monthly tallies of fatalities on record this summer. What is B.C. neglecting in the opioid crisis? What needs to be done to reduce the number of fatal overdoses we’re seeing?

Old growth logging According to the BC Ministry of Forests, approximately half of the timber harvested each year is from old-growth trees. Does the province need to continue to rely on oldgrowth logging to sustain the forestry industry?

Justice system Over the last decade, the proportion of people being incarcerated in B.C. who are Indigenous has gone up. What does the province need to focus on provide a justice system that be•er serves its Aboriginal citizens?

We need to fight the COVID-19 pandemic and not each other, in the best interests of all British Columbians. Instead John Horgan called an election just as we enter the second wave of the pandemic. We value and respect the advice of the Provincial Health Officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry, and public health officials.

No person, no home, no comm it has disproportionately impac how we engage and connect wi While our communities are be of this global pandemic, John H tion. There is no legitimate just an opportunity and putting thei ans’ health. As a registered nurse who has virus, restrictions and health m are not taken lightly and are ba our economy has suff sibly, striking a balance betwee our health. This fall will be tou from Dr. Bonnie Henry while a together, even if we are apart.

It is clear the NDP-Green approach is not working. On addictions, there are 68,000 BC youth living with a substance use disorder, but only 24 publicly-funded treatment beds designated for youth. When it comes to opioids, there has been no new money to fight the crisis. On mental health, 84,000 BC children have been diagnosed with a mental health disorder, but two-thirds are not receiving the needed treatment. The NDP Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions has the smallest budget of any Ministry, smaller than John Horgan’s Premier’s office. It is more important than ever that we provide a pathway for people to get off drugs, in addition to existing harm reduction efforts. The lack of robust supports provided by John Horgan’s NDP for individuals struggling with mental health and addictions issues is not only failing these individuals, but the communities they live in. A BC Liberal government will treat the cause to prevent the harm: clearly recognizing that addiction is a medical disorder, and ensure a focus on public health and safety in the treatment of people suffering from addictions.

As a mental health and addict the poisoned drug supply has o COVID-19 public health measu while many services to support The FNHA has highlighted th face a fatality rate fi advocating for a model of care Sadly - what’ brothers, sisters, cousins, uncle need to do more. Dr We’re ready to act - we will pro support services, increase hous more spaces in treatment and In peers and those in recovery to b

We understand the importance of BC’s old-growth forests and their place in the broader ecosystem and biodiversity health. Roughly 70% of all old growth on BC’s coast and the Island is protected from harvesting. We believe that proper forest and biodiversity management policies need to be shaped by local consultation and evidence-based decisions made based on the best available science.

B.C., and Canada for that mat dustry since settlers fi secret how crucial this industry communities. But the current m We need to preserve, protect, a to come. Old-growth forests ar inextricably tied to our thriving This industry has suff this industry to survive, then w ing, to harvesting, logging, to t entire supply chain. BC Greens prioritize ecosystem resilience. and value-added manufacturing communities that thrive for gen

The BC Liberals are 100% committed to ending racism, including anti-Indigenous racism, both in society and in our systems of government. We would work with Indigenous communities to improve access to culturally relevant, sensitive, and appropriate resolution processes. That’s why while in government the BC Liberals supported First Nations Courts across BC, including in Duncan. Proper funding for legal services also has to be available. We also need more Indigenous people working inside the justice system so that people from within the justice system understands Indigenous people and cultures.

The Government of B.C. need entrenched, and sometimes hid Numbers from the Legal Servic for about one-in-three legal aid before the courts. been taken away and had their Over the last few years I’ve w nities on the importance of buil of lives by the colonial justice There are many models in Ca tice in Indigenous communities desire to move forward with a for their people. to make it happen - self-determ need to implement UNDRIP


October 8, 2020—Ha-Shilth-Sa—Page 9

nswer questions relevant to Nuu-chah-nulth voters Green Party of BC

Evan Jolicoeur Mid island-Pacific Rim No person, no home, no community is immune to this invisible virus. And we know it has disproportionately impacted Indigenous communities and families. It has shifted how we engage and connect with each other. While our communities are being faced with the health, social and economic impacts of this global pandemic, John Horgan put politics over people and called this snap election. There is no legitimate justification for this election. This is about the NDP seeing an opportunity and putting their thirst for unchecked power ahead of British Columbians’ health. As a registered nurse who has spent years working in public health, I know how the virus, restrictions and health measures are impacting our communities. These decisions are not taken lightly and are based on the best available evidence at the time. It’s true our economy has suffered and I believe our staged approach was done as safely as possibly, striking a balance between supporting people to get back to work and protecting our health. This fall will be tough - we need to continue to follow the steady guidance from Dr. Bonnie Henry while also taking care of each other. We are always stronger together, even if we are apart.

As a mental health and addictions clinician, I’m well aware of the devastating impact the poisoned drug supply has on our communities. An unintended side-effect of the COVID-19 public health measures, caused many drug users to increasingly use alone, while many services to support them closed down and laid off staff. The FNHA has highlighted the extent this crisis has affected Indigenous people, who face a fatality rate five times that of the province. Dr. Bonnie Henry has for years been advocating for a model of care that supports drug users rather than criminalizing them. Sadly - what’s lost in the monthly number of overdose deaths are the stories of our brothers, sisters, cousins, uncles, aunts, those lost in the system and in the streets. We need to do more. Dr. Henry has laid it out. The NDP have chosen to ignore her advice. We’re ready to act - we will provide funding and resources for harm reduction and support services, increase housing options, safe use sites and a safe supply. We need more spaces in treatment and Indigneous healing centers, while providing training for peers and those in recovery to be part of the solution to join in on this fight.

BC New Democratic Party

John Horgan Langford Juan De Fuca

Josie Osborne Mid island-Pacific Rim

Michele Babchuck North Island

All NDP Party candidates submitted a collaborated answer.

We know many people are feeling worried about COVID-19 and uncertain about what the future might hold. This is especially important for Indigenous communities, where COVID-19 could potentially have devastating impacts. Since the early days of the pandemic, John Horgan’s government has followed the advice of Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and the First Nations Health Authority - including when and where to reopen in B.C. We have kept dialogue open with Indigenous communities. If re-elected, that is what we’ll continue to do, as we work diligently to protect people’s health, invest in the services people rely on, and provide financial security and stability for families, communities, and businesses in B.C.

Reducing overdose deaths has been a top priority for our government. Before the pandemic, B.C.’s evidence-based efforts were making a difference - seeing the first drop in the rate of overdose deaths since 2012. Indigenous-led solutions must be a key component of the opioid crisis response in home and urban communities. Our government has funded $40 million to upgrade and build First Nations-run treatment centres, including one right here on Vancouver Island, $23.5 million for land-based healing, and $44 million to the First Nations Health Authority to support the overdose emergency response. When COVID-19 hit, the crisis escalated. We responded by increasing access to prescription medication alternatives, doubling the number of youth treatment beds in B.C., increasing the number of overdose prevention sites, and providing more outreach teams, like “the Moose”, a mobile outreach unit in the North Island. Many communities here on the Island have been impacted greatly by this crisis and that is why, as we now deal with two public health emergencies, a re-elected BC NDP government will keep accelerating B.C.’s response across the full continuum of care: prevention, harm reduction, safe prescription medications, treatment, and recovery. We have much more work to do.

B.C., and Canada for that matter, has had forestry and logging as a foundational industry since settlers first came to these lands. Here in Central Vancouver Island, it’s no secret how crucial this industry is to the livelihoods of our families and health of our communities. But the current model does not work. And has not worked for a while. We need to preserve, protect, and respect what is left of the old world for generations to come. Old-growth forests are vital parts of Indigenous culture, biodiversity and are inextricably tied to our thriving tourism industry. This industry has suffered a lot of boom and bust over the decades, and If we want this industry to survive, then we need to close the loop -- from planting, to managing, to harvesting, logging, to trucking and processing, we need to regionalize the entire supply chain. BC Greens will support funding to communities so that they can prioritize ecosystem resilience. By creating community forests, locally owned mills, and value-added manufacturing, we will all benefit from healthier forests, and forestry communities that thrive for generations to come.

Under the BC Liberals we saw irreplaceable old growth forests cut down and raw logs shipped off for processing abroad. We know that many communities depend on forestry - but we are committed to doing things differently. Our Government brought in independent experts - Garry Merkel and Al Gorley, to do a strategic review of old growth forests and forestry in BC. Their report called for a new approach. As a first step, they called for a stop to logging of at-risk old growth forests while this new approach was developed. We responded by announcing the immediate protection of 9 areas in BC - almost 353,000 hectares - including Clayoquot Sound and McKelvie Creek. Moving forward, we will continue to consult with First Nations and protect additional high-risk old-growth forests where we have the consent of Indigenous communities. The next step in improving old-growth management is to adopt a government-to-government approach with full involvement of Indigenous leaders, governments and organizations in proposed changes. That is why a re-elected BC NDP government will work with Indigenous leaders and organizations, labour, industry and environmental groups to create a new, holistic approach to protect old-growth forests for the benefit of all British Columbians.

The Government of B.C. needs to take a step back and take a hard look at the deeply entrenched, and sometimes hidden, systemic discrimination in the justice system. Numbers from the Legal Services Society of B.C. indicate Indigenous people account for about one-in-three legal aid criminal cases and about one in four in family cases before the courts. The numbers are staggering. A whole generation of our youth have been taken away and had their futures ruined. This needs to stop. Over the last few years I’ve worked with Coast Salish and other Indigenous communities on the importance of building capacity and resilience in the face of ongoing theft of lives by the colonial justice system. There are many models in Canada and in B.C. that support a traditional model of justice in Indigenous communities. We need to provide increased funding to Nations who desire to move forward with a community-designed and led restorative justice model for their people. The government’s role should be to provide the resources and funding to make it happen - self-determination and self-governance over their own affairs. We need to implement UNDRIP to its fullest. Reconciliation is an ongoing journey.

For too long, Indigenous peoples have been over-represented in our criminal justice system. The NDP came into government committed to changing things and we took action. We worked collaboratively with the BC First Nations Justice Council to develop a First Nations Justice Strategy to ensure the justice system better serves Indigenous people. One component of the plan is the creation of First Nations Justice Centres across B.C. These justice centres offer Indigenous people a place to go to get help navigating the justice system and support in dealing with the police and the Ministry of Children and Family Development. We have already opened 3 centres in Prince George, Prince Rupert, and Merritt. A re-elected NDP Government will work with the First Nations Justice Council to open 12 more. We also took action to support the re-building of Indigenous justice systems. In September our Government invested $14 million to create a new National Centre for Indigenous Laws at UVic. It will be home to the first Indigenous law program in the world to combine the study of both Indigenous and non-Indigenous law, and help Canada build a new nation-to-nation relationship based on the recognition of Indigenous legal traditions.


Page 10— Ha-Shilth-Sa—October 8, 2020

NCN leaders scrutinize NDP as voting day approaches Li•le progress on the Indigenous Peoples Act, but gambling revenue and Bamfield road mark improvements By Eric Plummer Ha-Shilth-Sa Editor Less than three weeks before the Oct. 24 provincial election, Premier John Horgan unveiled the NDP’s platform, rich with promises to help families recover from economic losses from the COVID-19 pandemic. But as the Horgan seeks to follow the last three and a half years of minority government with the Green Party by solidifying a majority in the B.C. legislature, the jury remains out over the NDP’s capacity to benefit the province’s Indigenous citizens to the same degree as everyone else.

of First Nations, and made B.C. the first province to pass legislation based on the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. But progress on enacting the new law has been slow, observed Judith Sayers, president of the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council. “What we have not seen is implementation of that law,” she said. “There’s been a lot of really good words put in place by this government, a lot of expectations built that I don’t think they lived up to.” “It’s been slow. From Ahousaht’s perspective there’s been some challenges with some nations’ interpretation of Bill 41,” noted Greg Louie, chief councillor of the Ahousaht First Nation, adding that the government’s ability veto matters remain a concern with the legislation. “There is some concern with how it may still favour the province.” Sayers noted recent pieces of legislation involving mines, child welfare and clean energy that failed to consult with First Nations, which is a requirement under DRIPA. The minority dynamic prevented these laws from being passed, said NTC Vice-President Mariah Charleson.

Robert Dennis Sr. Robert Dennis Sr., chief councillor of the Huu-ay-aht First Nations, believes that since the NDP-Greens came into power in the summer of 2017 the overall economic standard for people in the province has improved, but Aboriginal citizens remain far behind. “If you look at median income of the average British Columbian, there’s quite a gap between us and them,” he said. After 16 years of majority rule under the B.C. Liberals, the Green-NDP alliance brought in lofty expectations to empower First Nations. Mid-Island MLA Scott Fraser was named minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation, who oversaw the passing of Bill 41 in November 2019. The Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act affirmed the self-determination and territorial rights

Mariah Charleson “When the NDP tried to push through these acts amending them, the B.C. Greens listened to First Nations, they understood our concerns, and they put a stop to it,” she said. One accomplishment the government can take into the election is a 2019

agreement that provides seven per cent of the province’s revenue from gambling activities to First Nations. This amounts to approximately $200 million annually among 203 tribal governments. Then in September of this year the province announced the paving of the 90-kilometre logging road to Bamfield. This came after years of lobbying from the Huu-ay-aht and Bamfield community, and the news came almost year after two University of Victoria students were killed in a bus crash on the road. The Huu-ay-aht have also lost eight members on the dangerous passage since the road opened in the 1970s. With a budget of $30.7 million, $5 million is being provided by the Huu-ayaht, who expect that a safer route to their village of Anacla will boost economic ventures. “The road gives the Huu-ay-aht an opportunity to participate in the local economy in a more significant way,” said Dennis - although be believes that the minority government held up the process. “If NDP was a majority, I think the road would have gone through a lot sooner.” Horgan has said that the decision to call the election, which goes against language in the NDP-Green agreement from 2017, was made partly due to challenges in progressing government initiatives without a majority. But some Nuu-chah-nulth leaders see this need for compromise as a benefit to the nations. “I think it has been good, I haven’t seen it being unstable,” said Sayers of the past three and a half years. “John Horgan wants a majority to do things he wants to do, but then who’s going to hold him back when he does things that we don’t think he should be doing?” “I know that Ahousaht put a lot of pressure on this government,” said Louie. “We were very cognizant of the minority government...with the election looming in the back, it was always on our radar.” It was during an annual provincial gathering of First Nations representatives and government officials last year that Ahousaht councillors and hereditary chiefs notified the province of the need to start reconciliation negotiations, which includes a long list of outstanding matters with the First Nation. Two meetings were held before the election was announced.

“There’s greater accessibility,” said Louie of the last provincial government.

Greg Louie “We have always had Scott Fraser on speed dial, and he’s been open - when he’s available - to give us a minute or two.” Sayers isn’t convinced that the NDPGreen government has been better for First Nations than the Liberals. “I think overall they want to work with Indigenous people - but I don’t know if they don’t know how, they don’t have the patience, or they just can’t live up to the expectations of things that we think exist in UNDRIP and in the declaration,” she said. “Reconciliation, all of those things we haven’t seen happen.”

Judith Sayers

Phrase of the week: Kwiicukwi%a+%is^ Pronounced ‘kwis cuu kwil alit ish’, this means, ‘the weather is changing now’. Supplied by ciisma.

Illustration by Ivy Cargill-Martin


October 8, 2020—Ha-Shilth-Sa—Page 11

Huu-ay-aht forges ahead with centre for mothers Twelve-unit supportive residential facility designed to keep children out of foster care, while helping families By Melissa Renwick Local Journalism Initiative Reporter Port Alberni, BC - Huu-ay-aht First Nations declared a public health emergency in March 2018 as 21 per cent of the nation’s kids were in foster care. By making a concerted, intense effort to reduce the number of Huu-ay-aht children in care through the nation’s Social Services Project, numbers have since decreased, said Shannon Zimmerman, the nation’s director of child and family wellness. “In saying that, we still have too many kids in care,” she said. Continuing in their fight to bring their children home, Huu-ay-aht First Nations and the Port Alberni Mother Centre Society have been working with BC Housing to develop an Aboriginal Mother Centre. Oomiiqsu will provide a space and platform for families to have realtime support, with a focus on cultural programming. “Removing children from the care of their mothers negatively affects parentchild attachment and adds another layer of trauma to families,” said Zimmerman. “A 24-hour staffed resource where mothers and their children will live and receive individualized, wrap-around and culturally appropriate support, will reduce trauma by decreasing the number of Indigenous children going into care.” Due to the intergenerational trauma inflicted on Indigenous communities through colonization, residential schools and the Sixties Scoop, the family unit has been devastated, said Zimmerman. “There’s been a high incidence of sub-

Photo by Eric Plummer

Huu-ay-aht Councillor Edward R. Johnson, right, stands with Executive Director Connie Waddell at the future site of Oomiiqsu, a supportive residential facility for the First Nation’s mothers and their children, at 4305 Kendall Avenue in Port Alberni. chah-nulth, will offer a 12-unit residential away – they’ll be able to be in the same stance abuse, domestic violence, mental program for mothers and their children, facility as the mother does work – as the health issues [and] involvement with the criminal justice system,” she said. “All of aged 12 and under. By placing a focus on parent do work. It’s a way of keeping early intervention, the nation is aiming to families together.” these things that stem from that intergenestablish a preventative approach. Construction has yet to begin, as it is erational trauma have really resulted in Access to cultural support staff and contingent on securing operational and there being a disproportionate amount of elders will allow families the opportunity funding approvals, but land has been purIndigenous kids in care.” to practice their traditions and to learn chased by BC Housing, said Zimmerman. Across the country, other Indigenous more about their cultural values in an “A lot of our culture and language were communities are facing a similar trend. environment where they are supported, extracted from our people,” said Johnson. Indigenous kids comprise just 7.7 per said Zimmerman. “This is an opportunity to extract those cent of Canada’s children aged 0 to 14, “There’s going to be lots of opportunity negative teachings and bring our people yet 52 per cent of those in foster homes for healing, for growth,” said Huu-aytogether and bring our people home.” are First Nations, Métis or Inuit, accordaht Councillor Edward R. Johnson. “It’s ing to the 2016 census. Oomiiqsu, which means mother in Nuu- going to eliminate children being taken

Somas Hall demolished after over 70 years in community By Eric Plummer Ha-Shilth-Sa Editor Port Alberni, BC - The hall that once was considered the heart of the Tseshaht community came down on Sept. 30, after standing on the First Nation’s reserve for over 70 years. The Somass Hall was demolished within four hours, leaving an empty site where generations of Tseshaht people recall a building that once served as the hub for community gatherings. The hall was built by Bloedel, Stewart and Welch at the end of the Second World War, recalled Tseshaht elder Cody Gus in information distributed by the First Nation. “They were using the old railroad tracks that ran alongside the Somass River on our land, so they built the hall for us,” he said of the forestry company. “The road is there now.” The building had not been used for several years, after it was deemed unsafe due to moisture affecting the structure, but for many years the Somass Hall hosted a variety of events, including weddings, parties, lahal games, treaty meetings, fisheries discussions and potlatches. Artwork stretched down the walls from the hall’s florescent-lit ceiling, including the Thunderbird Man painting by Master Touchie from the Yuułuʔiłʔatḥ First Nation. “It’s where I found my calling to be a singer,” said Robert Scott Watts in a Tseshaht publication on the hall. “When I first started to attend the community dancing spirit practices there was just tons of people that came on a regular basis, average of 40 if not more every week. Some of my fondest memories

Photo by Eric Plummer

The Somass Hall hosted cutural events for generations. The hall was demolished on Sept. 30, after standing on the Tseshaht Reserve since the end of the Second World War Annie Watts witnessed for her children. cially Miss Alberni, that were stored were in that hall, where I first ever hinki“All three of our kids graduated at that under the hall,” she said. “When there its danced, where I learned to dance the hall, Haahuupayak School held their was lahal, we as kids would challenge Thomas Transformer dance.” each other to see who was brave enough “Dancing Spirits used the hall for almost graduations there,” she said. “This is where they proudly received their Indian to flip the lights off and someone would all their dance practices and functions,” names.” grab some of the cash.” recollected Jessica Sault. “Many people Some remember two canoes stored “My great grandfather, Sam Campbell, would come up every Wednesday to sing carved them,” said Jessica Sault of the and dance. Our culture was revived at the under the hall, including Peggy Tatoosh, who played in the vessels while adults canoes. “They were called Miss Somass Somass Hall and is still strong today.” and Miss Alberni and he gave them to his This cultural revival included the giving were engaged in lahal gambling. “We used to play in the canoes, espegrandsons, James and Willard Gallic.” of Nuu-chah-nulth names, a practice that


Page 12— Ha-Shilth-Sa—October 8, 2020

President’s message to Nuu-chah-nulth-aht Hello Everyone! We are now into fall, some children have gone back to school, and we are into cold and flu season. I have continued to work with B.C. to get them to provide us information, services and equipment our Nuu-chah-nulth Nations need to prevent the risk of COVID-19. As you are aware, one of our nations did contract one case of COVID and that community has worked very hard to keep it to the one person. They have utilized all the resources available to them like NTC nurses, Island Health, First Nations Health Authority(FNHA) and have been successful in keeping it to one case. Many of our communities have put in place pandemic plans and taken many measures to prevent the virus spreading. Some communities have had screening checkpoints at the entrance to their communities. Some ran out of money in order to do so. We have finally received funding guidelines from FNHA and nations can be reimbursed for expenses incurred from April 1-September 30. Problem is we don’t know if there will be further funding to continue doing this. I will follow up politically on this. Nuu-chah-nulth, Heiltsuk and Tsilhqot’in have filed an application to the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner to get the province to provide us with locations of where there are confirmed cases of COVID in towns next to our communities. The minister of Health can do this when there is a risk of significant harm to an affected group of people. The hearing of this matter is October 22. We have been working at a high level in government to pursue what we need for prevention of spreading of COVID that will save lives and at our last meeting we made some progress and are cautiously optimistic that the B.C. government will work with us. I have done many media interviews regarding our needs as First Nations in Covid as the B.C. government has not been very cooperative or collaborative and need to bring public attention to this. I continue to work with Martha Martin over the killing of her daughter by a police officer in Edmundson, New Brunswick. There was a rally at the legislature on Labour Day weekend. I spoke and met the Victoria chief of police who is the only person of color who is a police chief. We are asking police how they see the system needs to change from their experience. We also met with Jaghmeet Singh and Gord Johns. We need to find justice for Chantel. I am on the First Nations Gaming Commission and a co-chair. We give direction to the negotiation team and provide political support when needed. We completed a 23-year agreement (plus for two years we had an interim agreement). First Nations need to be aware that the fourth year of gaming revenue sharing, B.C. will be clawing back money as we were overpaid in year two. Due to COVID, casinos were shut down from March 15th, 2020 so there was a lot of lost revenue. If this continues, amounts being paid to First Nations will continue to decrease. We are in a provincial election. Premier Horgan thought he didn’t have a stable government. Part of this was because he couldn’t get some laws through and a few other things. What I have to say about this government is that they said a lot of good things about working with First Nations, including working on a nation

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to nation basis, reconciliation and passed Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act (DRIPA). Unfortunately, they do not put into action things they committed to. In this last sitting, B.C. tabled several pieces of legislation without any notice to First Nations, absolutely no consultation and basically said that they didn’t need to. DRIPA says that B.C. must bring all B.C. laws to be consistent with UNDRIP. They should have started immediately doing this. There were many excuses given, COVID, no approved action plan, but none of that are good reasons not to move ahead with their own law. The three laws included amendments to the Clean Energy Act, Mental Health Act and Mines Act. The Mental Health Act amendment would have had any of our youth held for seven days after an overdose to get an assessment. This would have been detrimental and there are many other ways to deal with an overdose. Horgan has been saying publicly when he gets back in as government, he will continue with this law, despite the objections from many groups. Clean Energy Act amendments were crucial to stop because it allowed B.C. to define clean energy anyway it wanted and could include brown energy. Also, they wanted to do away with self-sufficiency, which meant B.C. could buy power from other jurisdictions. They could buy power from First Nations but they prefer to buy power from Alberta or the US. This way of doing business that is contrary to their own promises, laws and not what we want. Old growth is also an important issue for Nuu-chah-nulth. Our nations have been asking for shared decision making or consent before decision making, as is provided in DRIPA. So far, none of that has happened. The province has set aside 54 trees and nine old growth areas. For NCN there is only one area set aside for protection and that is Clayoquot Sound. This needs to be an election issue in preserving old growth for spiritual sites, ecosystems but those decisions need to be made by each First Nation, not by B.C. We started a reconciliation project with the federal government, talking about overall Nuu-chah-nulth issues, not First Nation-specific issues. Some First Nations are negotiating their own agreements. Due to COVID, we stopped having community meetings. We want to know if people are interested in doing more discussions over Zoom. We have until the end of March to finish this project. Take care of yourself and your families and stay safe! Kekinusuqs Judith Sayers

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October 8, 2020—Ha-Shilth-Sa—Page 13

NCN featured in documentary TV series Nations at War The APTN series delves into trading ba•les over Nootka Sound in the 1700s from an Indigenous perspective By Denise Titian Ha-Shilth-Sa Reporter Canada – Aboriginal Peoples Television Network is airing season two of a documentary TV series called Nations at War. Writer and director Jason Friesen collaborated with creator/writer Tim Johnson to share the history of the battles and events that changed the Indigenous landscape of North America to what it is today. Johnson, a non-Indigenous man, grew up on the East Coast of Canada and learned about Aboriginal history there while Friesen is Métis and native to British Columbia. Together, the two men bring together stories from across North America about Indigenous history told from an Indigenous perspective. “We’re both story tellers and these stories are epic,” said Johnson, adding that old history books are not written from the perspective of Indigenous peoples and oral history is not included in the texts. “Indigenous peoples in history are often portrayed as second-level characters in stories,” said Friesen. The part that hasn’t been told historically, he went on to say, is that they were smart people. “They had established trade networks and they played a part in incredibly monumental events,” he added. For example, in season two of Nations at War, the story of Captain James Cook’s 1778 meeting with Mowachaht Chief Maquinna at Yuquot (Friendly Cove) is shared using museum archive images and computer-generated animation. The story goes on to the 1790s when the fight between Spain and Great Britain over trading rights with the ‘Nootka’ came to a head. It was Maquinna who stepped in to keep the peace, likely averting a global war and culminating in the Nootka Convention – an agreement stipulating

APTN photo

Nations at War Season 2 started in September. One episode examines conflict in the late 1700s in Nootka Sound. that Great Britain and Spain would share access to Nuu-chah-nulth territory and the coveted sea otter pelts. Other Nuu-chah-nulth stories are told in season two including the Tonquin-Tlao-qui-aht incident and the KingfisherAhousaht incident. With the computer-generated action scenes, the film engages the viewer in a dynamic way. “It’s a good learning tool and schools are reaching out us,” said Friesen, adding that they hope to get the series into edu-

cational curriculum. Each segment is about 20 minutes long and, according to Friesen, there is a lot of history crammed in. The viewer will walk away with a better idea of how the power shift between Indigenous North America to the European settlers happened. “This series gets the conversation going. It may get non-Indigenous people to take a look at their own history and I think it is important to show the strengths of the Indigenous people,” said Friesen. He noted that past history books portrayal of

Indigenous people is not flattering. Season two of the Nations at War series is currently airing on APTN, which started Sept 19 at 7 p.m. Check online for scheduling or view missed episodes at https://www.aptn.ca/nationsatwar/ Season one of Nations at war is also available for viewing on the APTN website. There will be a season three of Nations at War going into production very soon. “It’s a lot of work but it’s very rewarding,” said Friesen.

Tribunal on expropriated Ahousaht lands resumes By Denise Titian Ha-Shilth-Sa Reporter Ahousaht, BC – The Specific Claims Tribunal court action launched by Ahousaht against the Government of Canada over lands they say were wrongly taken from the nation will resume Oct. 7. The hearings will be shared remotely via the video conferencing application Zoom. Ahousaht is seeking the return of land and/or compensation for specific parcels of property within their traditional territory that they say were wrongly taken by settlers or government. Ahousaht Chief Councillor Greg Louie stated that the hearings will allow Ahousaht elders to be questioned in a manner that keeps them safe during the pandemic. “We wanted to do it at the T-bird Hall (in Ahousaht) but the judge did not want to compromise anybody’s safety,” said Louie, noting the hazards of gathering during the COVID-19 pandemic. According to court documents, Ahousaht filed the Additional Land Applications for Ahousaht Settlements Specific Claim with the Department of Indian Affairs in November 2011. The claim was made “in respect of breaches by Canada relating to the pre-emption of Indian settlements and fishing stations located on Blunden Island, Vargas Island, Flores Island, the head of Warn Bay on

Bear River, Bare Island and Pretty Girl Cove”. Ahousaht has fought for these sites for decades, claiming they were wrongfully expropriated. Historical records show that some of the homes located at the sites in question were either taken over by settlers who moved into Ahousaht-built houses while the owners were away, the homes were burnt down or otherwise destroyed. From 1927 to 1951 the Indian Act prohibited the used of band funds to sue the government. As a result, claims by First Nations that Canada was failing to respect its commitments were largely ignored. The Specific Claims Tribunal, established on Oct. 16, 2008, is part of the federal government’s Justice at Last policy. As a joint initiative with the Assembly of First Nations, the tribunal is aimed at accelerating the resolution of claims in order to provide justice for First Nations and certainty for government, industry and all Canadians. The last SCT hearing was held in Ahousaht Apr. 30, 2019. The court heard testimony from Tyee Ha’wilth Maquinna (Lewis George) and from elder Louie Frank Sr. Chief Louie said that in this continuation of the SCT hearing, lawyers will interview Ahousaht elders, gathering their knowledge on the location and history of

Photo by Denise Tirian

Ahousaht Ha’wiih carry out protocols at the start of the Specific Claims Tribunal held in Ahousaht Apr. 30 to May 3, 2019. Elder David Frank explained to the Judge who the Ha’wiih (chiefs) are and what is rightfully theirs. From left to right: Chief John Keitlah Jr., the two grandsons of Maquinna, Harold Little Sr., speaker for Maquinna, Tyee Ha’wilth Maquinna (Lewis George) and Judge William Grist. Ahousaht territories. Ahousaht members are invited to watch the proceedings via Zoom. Only the lawyers, the judge and the witnesses will have the ability to speak during the hearing. There will be four Ahousaht witnesses sharing oral history about Jenny’s Beach, north of Ahousaht

at Shelter Inlet. In order to view the proceedings, you must install the Zoom application to your device. Email info@ahousaht.ca or visit the Ahousaht Facebook page for links and passcode to the hearings. The hearings will take place Oct. 7-8 beginning at 10 a.m. each day.


Page 14— Ha-Shilth-Sa—October 8, 2020

Iskwew Air joins Tla-o-qui-aht Tribal Parks Allies Vancouver-based airline commits to one per cent fee for operating in the Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation’s territory By Sam Laskaris Ha-Shilth-Sa Contributor Tofino, BC – Teara Fraser, the first Indigenous woman to start her own airline company in Canada, has joined the Tla-oqui-aht Tribal Parks Allies. Fraser, a Métis woman who lives in Vancouver, founded Iskwew Air last year. Iskwew is the Cree word for woman. Iskwew Air, which is based out of the Vancouver International Airport, provides charter services to communities throughout British Columbia. Earlier in September Fraser flew to the Tofino-Long Beach Airport to participate in a ceremonial signing agreement with Tla-o-qui-aht officials. The Tribal Parks Allies are groups of businesses that recognize they are operating in Tla-o-qui-aht tribal parks and that they are supporters of both the land and community visions of the First Nation. “Reciprocity is one of our values,” Fraser said of Iskwew Air. “We’re always thinking how can we be reciprocal in the traditional territories we visit.” Fraser said she only became aware of the Tla-o-qui-aht Tribal Parks Allies recently through a social media post. “I looked at it and thought, ‘What is this agreement about?’,” Fraser said. “I did my research of course and looked at others in the program.” Other allies include the Tofino Arts Council, Tofino Resort and Marina, Clayoquot Biosphere Trust and Long Beach Nature Tours. Fraser decided to fly to Tofino and take part in an official ceremonial signing as she joined the Tribal Parks Alliance. “I thought it was important to be welcomed into their territory in a good way,” Fraser said. “It was important for me to go there and give my word.” A short video of the day was recorded and can be viewed here: https://www. youtube.com/watch?v=HRlvYYZ2HGk The signing ceremony included Julian Hockin-Grant, the Tribal Parks Allies coordinator, and Gisele Martin, a member of Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation and a tribal parks guardian. “There’s something really important here about how conversations can happen and how businesses can get involved,” Fraser said. This marks just the second year of existence for the Tribal Parks Alliance. “Tribal Parks, though, has had allies for decades and decades,” Martin said. “The first ones were declared in 1984.” Martin is grateful to those businesses who have joined the alliance since last year. “I think it’s a wonderful opportunity for people operating in First Nations,” she said.

Photo by Wonderful Ida

Teara Fraser, on left, is the founder and owner of Iskwew Air, which joined the Tla-o-qui-aht Tribal Parks Alliance earlier this month. Pictured with Fraser is Gisele Martin and Julian Hockin-Grant. Fraser is thankful she is now one of the allies. “It’s important because when we go to Tofino-Long Beach Airport, we’re arriving there as guests,” she said. “There is prosperity that exists and results from being on their land and their territory.” In the agreement signed in September, Iskwew Air upholds the ecosystems maintained and protected by Tla-oqui-aht guardians and memberships by agreeing to follow certain criteria. These include the fact Iskwew Air recognizes that the First Nation manages its territories and continues to protect vital ecosystem services. The agreement also details that using Tla-o-qui-aht territorial land results in economic, social, cultural and ecological costs to the First Nation. “I’m really grateful to have a clear way to honour and respect the territory that we are guests on,” Fraser said. In its signed agreement, seven points have been identified in ways Iskwew Air will contribute in its newest partnership. For starters, it will acknowledge the unceded rights title of the Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation and target a one per cent gross ecosystem fee, which will be paid to the Tribal Park department. Iskwew Air will also advocate and portray First Nations stewardship in all media, include the Tribal Park Allies logo in its publicity and maintain business

practices which follow the Tribal Parks land vision and plans. Iskwew Air representatives will also report any territorial concerns to Tribal Parks staff. And they’ll educate not only themselves but their staff and guests about issues, including local history, politics and reconciliation. In the video made during the day of the signing agreement, Martin said people have a vital role to play. “Humans are not exempt from having strong ecological roles and responsibilities in this land, just like bears, wolves, deer and salmon,” she said. “And all the plants and animals have gifts that they bring, things that they contribute to the community that is the spirit of this place.” Martin also believes it’s key to sign

agreements detailing roles and responsibilities for all. “The papers are important because it is the modern way of joining the Tla-o-quiaht Tribal Parks Allies,” she said. “But I think even older than that is the oral and the heartful way because we are an oral culture here and it’s our actions that are most important, not just what we sign. So the signing is important, the papers are important, but the actions are especially important and I’m looking forward to seeing what happens in the future.” Martin also believes the partnership with Iskwew Air will prove to be fruitful. “I feel we are holding good things in our hearts,” she said. “And good things are going to come for everybody involved.”

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October 8, 2020—Ha-Shilth-Sa—Page 15

Checking up on those who need it to prevent isolation The DAC Health Ability Fair is cancelled due to COVID-19, but wellness concerns are more prevalent than ever By Eric Plummer Ha-Shilth-Sa Editor Port Alberni, BC - Organizers of a health fair for Nuu-chah-nulth-aht are urging people to reach out to elders and those with disabilities to ensure isolation doesn’t worsen amid challenges tied to the COVID-19 pandemic. As with just about any annual gathering these days, the Disability Access Awareness Committee (DAC) Health Ability Fair has been cancelled due to the risk of coronavirus exposure during the large, two-day event. For several years the DAC fair has provided a format for information sharing to help those with disabilities or health challenges. The event also acts as a forum for Nuu-chah-nulth to bring their health-related concerns to participating providers, covering a variety of topics ranging from diabetes or heart disease to mental health or available benefits. Tseshaht elder Helen Dick has been involved with the Disability Access Awareness Committee since the initiative began 22 years ago and serves as chairperson. She finds that the health fair’s cancellation brings more reason than ever for people to check on their elderly loved ones as COVID-19 preventative measures have forced many seniors inside. “That should not prevent family and relatives to phone the elder,” she said. “People with disabilities, keep in touch with them. You can put a package of some kind together, put it on their doorstep, let them know that you’re there for them if they need help.” DAC Coordinator Florence Wylie noted that those who would most benefit from the health fair are particularly vulnerable to isolation. “What we’ve observed over the years is that quite often many people with disabilities spend a lot of time alone,” she said. “We have heard stories of the feelings of sadness, loneliness, they have disclosed situations of financial abuse, physical abuse, verbal abuse. The health fair gives participants the opportunity to come together, reconnect with friends and family, to learn and share a meal together, be uplifted and have some fun together. We make it as welcoming as we can, as they are the special guests and we receive a lot of positive feedback and people look forward to the next year’s gathering.” Dick stressed the need to ensure that those who are confined to their homes are getting the health assistance they need. “They don’t like to ask for help, but you need to do that, because that’s the only way they’re going to get that assistance,” she said. “Our people are so used to being silent. They’d rather suffer.” “Some of them don’t like going to see the doctor, they don’t like the hospital because it reminds them of a past trauma, some have said it reminds them of the residential school,” added Wylie. Over the years of running the health fair the need for advocacy has become apparent, as a history of feeling excluded from the health care system has left many Nuu-chah-nulth-aht with little confidence that they will receive the help they need. Dick recalls running into a friend in Port Alberni five years ago who had just been discharged from the hospital five days after abdominal surgery. “They didn’t call his family, they didn’t call the band, they got a taxi and let him off,” she recalled. “He didn’t know where to go, didn’t know what to do.”

During DAC’s early years committee members took shops to different communities, but it became apparent that a centrally-located gathering would be the most viable avenue to support Nuu-chahnulth-aht with disabilities. Participation in the health fair increased, and in recent years a growing number of agencies have become involved, including the RCMP, First Nations Health Authority, Canadian Mental Health Association and Teechuktl Mental Health – a department within the NTC that is giving particular attention to seniors these days. During the pandemic Teechuktl Manager Vina Robinson has had her staff regularly calling to check in with elders. “Basically, just to say ‘hi’ to them and help with that loneliness,” she said. “They’re not able to get out anywhere, especially with their age and their families are discouraging them from going anywhere.” Teechuktl’s team has sang traditional songs outside of elders’ residences to uplift their spirits. Since the spring staff have also performed songs online to give Nuu-chah-nulth-aht a healthy dose of their ancestral culture while large gatherings remain prohibited. Online women’s sessions have also been held, and a men’s gathering via Zoom is being planned. Robinson hopes that the pandemic doesn’t last through next year. “I think that if it doesn’t change in the next while, then it is going to become a really big challenge,” she admitted. “We’re social people, we like to get together, we have big parties just within our families, we have gatherings, we have celebrations, we have our potlatches. We can’t do that, so that’s leaving a big void within us.” The message from Helen and Florence, to those who were looking forward to the

File photos

Joe Tom, right, and Barney Williams escort Gerry Elvis Barrett to perform during a DAC Health Ability Fair at the Alberni Athletic Hall. Pictured below are (front row) the late Gord Taylor, late Mae Taylor, Helen Dick, Florence Wylie, (back row), Ida Mills, the late Bernice John and Ruth Charleson. 2020 Health Ability Fair is to stay well, stay healthy and they look forward to

when they will be able to gather sometime in the future.


Page 16— Ha-Shilth-Sa—October 8, 2020


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