INTERESTING NEWS Canada’s Oldest First Nations Newspaper - Serving Nuu-chah-nulth-aht since 1974 Canadian Publications Mail Product Vol. 47 - No. 17—September 10, 2020 haas^i>sa Sales Agreement No. 40047776
Tseshaht back ﬁshing with DFO contract COVID-19 After an escalation of protests and two weeks of lost income, feds sign agreement case found on reserve By Denise Titian Ha-Shilth-Sa Reporter
Port Alberni, BC – The chinook ﬁshery on the Somass River may be half over, but that hasn’t dampened the spirits of Tseshaht ﬁshermen as they gear up to take part in the annual economic opportunity ﬁshery. Since early September Tseshaht members have taken part in demonstrations, frustrated that DFO hadn’t signed the annual EO (economic opportunity) agreement. Many members rely on the ﬁshery as a source of income and to pay back loans for their boats and gear. Lauren Girdler of DFO communications stated in an email to Ha-Shilth-Sa that EO agreements are intended to provide food, social, ceremonial and economic opportunities for First Nations, as well as greater certainty to Indigenous communities and other harvesters regarding allocations for salmon species and orderly management of the ﬁsheries. Tseshaht has been negotiating a new EO agreement with DFO but talks broke down over the course of the summer. The problem started earlier in the summer when DFO was setting allocations from the Somass River to diﬀerent user groups. The Tseshaht did not agree with the allocations. “Tseshaht did not consent to the commercial and recreations ﬁsheries,” wrote Hugh Braker, Tseshaht’s lead negotiator in a July 14 letter to ﬁsheries Minister Bernadette Jordan. The nation went on to ﬁsh sockeye under their Aboriginal right to priority access behind conservation needs. Without a signed EO agreement, they sold their catches on the roadside rather than to commercial buyers. Both Tseshaht and Hupacasath have, for the past 28 years, ﬁshed under EO agreements with DFO. When the chinook ﬁshery started in late August, both Tseshaht and Hupacasath signed EO agreements but DFO did not sign oﬀ of Tseshaht’s agreement. Braker indicated that it was the belief of many Tseshaht that DFO’s refusal to sign a new EO agreement was a form of punishment to the nation for ﬁshing sockeye from their territorial river. “Since the beginning of negotiations this summer, Tseshaht has become more convinced that the objective of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans is to penalize and punish Tseshaht,” Braker wrote in a Sept. 2 letter to Canada’s ﬁsheries minister, Bernadette Jordan. Tseshaht stood to lose an estimated $1.25 million in revenue by being barred
By Eric Plummer Ha-Shilth-Sa Editor
Ed Ross, a Tseshaht ﬁsherman who helped organize protests against DFO in Port Alberni in early September, revels in his catch after an EO agreement was reached between DFO and his First Nation. “Who needs raingear, boots and gloves?” he asks. from catching and commercially selling munity for uniting and standing together chinook from their territorial river. in solidarity for our right to ﬁsh and sell On Sept. 2 a convoy of pick-up trucks what was fought for by many generations arrived at Clutesi Haven Marina, some before us,” she wrote. used to block the boat ramp, preventing Chief Dick said Tseshaht is committed sports ﬁshermen from access to the ramp. to working with all stakeholders, sectors, The protest was just a day or two ahead and governments to ensure that future of Port Alberni’s annual Salmon Derby. generation are able to enjoy this sacred But on Sept. 7 Cynthia Dick, Tseshaht’s resource and they manage it in a sustainelected chief, issued a press release able way. stating that an economic opportunity Girdler said that DFO is committed agreement has been reached between her to reconciliation and working together nation and DFO. The EO agreement will with the Tseshaht and Hupacasath First be in place for the remainder of the 2020 Nations, including future negotiations tosalmon ﬁshery and for 2021. wards long-term agreements that address “Although this was a very challenging the multiple species of salmon that return time for Tseshaht First Nation, we would to the Somass River. like to speciﬁcally acknowledge our com-
Inside this issue... Chinook stalemate......................................................Page 3 Desire for schools to reopen.......................................Page 5 Assessing old growth forests.....................................Page 9 Teaching from inside the womb...............................Page 10 Cleanup of the Zeballos River..................................Page 15
Tsaxana, BC – On Sept. 2 a COVID-19 case was conﬁrmed in the Mowachaht/ Muchalaht First Nation, with eﬀorts underway to determine if more in the community have been infected. “As you may already be aware, one resident of Mowachaht/Muchalaht First Nation/Tsaxana has been diagnosed with COVID-19,” stated Dr. Mike Benusic, Island Health’s medical health oﬃcer for the central region in a Sept. 2 announcement. “Island Health communicable disease nurses have identiﬁed close contacts and are working with NTC nurses to ensure they are notiﬁed, assessed for symptoms and isolating.” “We are in contact with every health agency, the NTC, First Nations Health Authority and the provincial health, and following their guidelines,” said Ha’wilth Jerry Jack. “The case is very closely being monitored by Island Health with daily phone calls and/or visits to the home, with social distance of course,” added Renee Mitchell, acting administrator for Mowachaht/Muchalaht. “Others that may have been in contact with the person have been notiﬁed and are now in self isolation for the next two weeks as precaution and very closely being monitored.” This marks the second Nuu-chahnulth member to be diagnosed with the highly infectious respiratory disease, after Ahousaht announced a case in mid August. But that infection occurred on B.C.’s mainland, while this new case appears to be in the tight-knit reserve community of Tsaxana, next to Gold River. “We are intensely looking for other cases of COVID-19 in the community by closely monitoring those who have been exposed,” stated Benusic. “We may detect additional cases.” As of Sept. 8, the provincial government had tracked 1,386 active cases of COVID-19 in the province, 32 of whom are hospitalized. Mitchell noted that to keep the community safe, Mowachaht/Muchalaht’s council of chiefs have instructed the community to maintain social distancing measures and hold no gatherings. Members are directed to frequently wash their hands, use sanitizer and wear a face mask while out in public. “It is up to each family and household to ensure their own health safety during this pandemic,” said Mitchell.
If undeliverable, please return to: Ha-Shilth-Sa P.O. Box 1383, Port Alberni, B.C. V9Y 7M2
Page 2— Ha-Shilth-Sa—September 10, 2020
Tseshaht block boat access to Somass River First Nation prevents boats from entering river after DFO sits on agreement to catch and sell chinook salmon By Eric Plummer Ha-Shilth-Sa Editor Port Alberni, BC – Tension building over a summer of stalled agreements with Fisheries and Oceans Canada snapped when Tseshaht members blocked boat access to the Somass River on Sept. 2. By 5 p.m. a pickup truck sat in the way of the ramp into the Somass from the Clutesi Haven Marina, as a large gathering of Tseshaht gathered in support. The DFO’s refusal to sign an agreement with the Tseshaht caused the First Nation to miss the ﬁrst two weeks of chinook salmon ﬁshing on the Somass River, thereby forcing more families to rely on welfare, according to letters sent to Ottawa earlier in the day. This message came from Hugh Braker, the Tseshaht’s lead ﬁsheries negotiator, outlining an increasingly critical situation for many of the First Nation’s members who count on the chinook run for a livelihood. In his letter to Fisheries Minister Bernadette Jordan, Braker noted that regional DFO staﬀ were sitting on an agreement signed by the Tseshaht, a document drafted by the federal department’s own staﬀ. This plan for the Somass River has a combined allocation of over 18,000 chinook for the Tseshaht and Hupacasath – but only the Tseshaht’s neighbours had an economic opportunity arrangement with DFO. “Your staﬀ’s refusal to sign the agreement has already cost Tseshaht families hundreds of thousands of dollars as they have been denied access to their jobs for the ﬁrst two weeks of the chinook ﬁshery
Photo by Eric Plummer
Trevor Little speaks as Tseshaht members block the Clutesi Haven Marina’s boat ramp boat ramp on Sept. 2. season,” wrote Braker. “Your staﬀ’s acnot always agreed with the terms. But as tions are threatening to put hundreds of chinook continue to pass down the AlberTseshaht on welfare this year.” ni Inlet into the Somass, ﬁshing beyond In a letter also sent to Prime Minister moderate food, social and ceremonial Justin Trudeau, Braker noted that for the purposes runs the risk of confrontation last 28 years the Tseshaht have ﬁshed with federal boats while the current ecounder economic opportunity agreements nomic opportunity deal remains unsigned with DFO, although the First Nation has by Fisheries and Oceans Canada.
“In the last negotiation session with DFO staﬀ, the staﬀ suggested that Tseshaht sign an agreement eﬀective immediately and until March 2022. We were told we could negotiate the terms AFTER we signed the agreement,” wrote Braker. “I ask you minister, what other group, besides Aboriginal people, in Canada is told to sign an agreement ﬁrst and then negotiate in respect to that agreement after it is signed? I can assist you minister. None.” Besides over 18,000 chinook allocated to the Hupacasath and Tseshaht, the unsigned agreement sets commercial seine and gillnet allocations at approximately 18,000, with another 28,000 or so allotted to the sports ﬁshery, according to Tseshaht negotiators. This recent breakdown in negotiations follows the lack of an economic opportunity agreement between both parties for the sockeye ﬁshery in early July. This would have enabled the Tseshaht to sell their catch to commercial buyers, but by following the First Nation’s constitutionally protected Aboriginal right to ﬁsh from their territorial waters, the Tseshaht proceeded to harvest sockeye this summer, selling their catches on the side of the road. “While the Fisheries Act contains provisions for penalizing people who breach government regulations, your staﬀ have chosen to ignore those provisions and penalize Tseshaht by denying them an income,” wrote Braker in his last letter to the ﬁsheries minister.
September 10, 2020—Ha-Shilth-Sa—Page 3
Tseshaht protest before DFO oﬃce after no agreement Members lost income after missing ﬁrst two weeks of chinook run due to stalled negotiations with department By Eric Plummer Ha-Shilth-Sa Editor Port Alberni, BC - After leaving a meeting in frustration over the inability to get an agreement from DFO, Tseshaht members protested in front of the federal department’s Port Alberni oﬃce on Sept. 1 – with some stating that the First Nation will ﬁsh anyway while chinook are still passing through the Tseshaht’s home river. “We need an income this year,” said Martin Watts, part of Tseshaht’s negotiation team, noting that some of the First Nation’s boats could catch as much as $40,000 from the chinook run. “There is plenty of ﬁsh out there to allow it to open.” Fisheries and Oceans Canada allocated 18,000 chinook to the Tseshaht and Hupacasath First Nations, said Watts, 2,000 of which has already been caught since the ﬁshery began in the last week of August. He added that the seine and gillnet commercial groups have also been allotted 18,000, but their boats have already caught a combined total of 28,000 chinook from the Alberni Inlet, which the Somass River ﬂows into. The busy recreational ﬁshery is expected to catch another 28,000-29,000 chinook, said Watts. Many Tseshaht members have taken loans from the Nuu-chah-nulth Economic Development Corporation to invest in ﬁshing boats and gear – and the absence of an agreement with DFO that allows the First Nation’s members to sell to commercial buyers could become problematic. “If we don’t get an income from this ﬁshery, where does that leave us? Do they want us all to ﬁle bankruptcy?” asked Watts, noting that clashes with the federal department are a concern due to the number of DFO vessels on the water when the First Nation’s chinook ﬁshery opened in late August. “Explain to me why they had
Photo by Eric Plummer
Tseshaht members sing during a protest outside of Fisheries and Oceans Canada’s Port Alberni oﬃce on Sept. 1. full force out when we went ﬁshing last week.” After the Sept. 1 meeting Hugh Braker, the Tseshaht’s lead ﬁsheries negotiator, noted that a ﬁnal decision has yet to come from Fisheries and Oceans. “At the end of the teleconference I reminded DFO that Tseshaht has already signed this year’s agreement and we are waiting for DFO to sign,” wrote Braker in an online post for members. “Linda Higgins, the area manager for DFO, said they need more time to discuss the matter internally.” This breakdown in negotiations presents a continuation from the sockeye ﬁshery
that took place in early July. After low early-season forecasts predicted no openings, the expected run size was upgraded in June, leading DFO to allocate 13,000 sockeye to the sports ﬁshery while the Tseshaht and Hupacasath were allotted 20,800. But an economic opportunity agreement wasn’t made when Tseshaht didn’t agree to these numbers prescribed to its territorial river. By Canada Day the First Nation was on the water ﬁshing sockeye anyway, following its Aboriginal right for priority access that is recognized in Canada’s Constitution, selling their catches by the side of the road. “It angers me the fact that we can’t ﬁsh
right now,” said John Gomez, who like many at the gathering grew up on the Somass. “We’re passing on that gift that we have, that gift was given to us by our grandpas, by our uncles, and everybody before us.” “This ﬁshery is our life, and it aﬀects all of us – not just Tseshaht, it aﬀects Port Alberni, it aﬀects neighbouring communities - it aﬀects our families most importantly,” said Ed Ross. “I’m going to be on that ramp if we don’t see an agreement. If Tseshaht isn’t in the water, nobody is going to be in the water.”
Tseshaht’s sockeye stance led to chinook stalemate By Eric Plummer Ha-Shilth-Sa Editor Port Alberni, BC - On the day after Tseshaht members blocked boat access to the Somass River in protest of failed negotiations with DFO, the federal department is pointing to the First Nation’s position earlier this summer. Now the Tseshaht estimate to lose $1.25 million in lost revenue by not being permitted to catch and commercially sell chinook salmon on their territorial river, as an economic opportunity (EO) agreement remains unsigned by representatives from Fisheries and Oceans Canada. “It’s not fair to our people,” said Martin Watts, one of the First Nation’s ﬁsheries negotiators, as he stood by a pickup truck blocking ramp access to the Somass on Sept. 2. “There was to be an EO ﬁshery tonight, and they failed to sign an agreement with Tseshaht.” For most of the last 28 years, Tseshaht and neighboring Hupacasath have made formal agreements with DFO to catch and commercially sell diﬀerent species of salmon migrating up the Alberni Inlet and into the Somass River. “EO ﬁsheries agreements set out allocations for food, social and ceremonial (FSC) and sale as well as conditions that are intended to support the orderly man-
agement of the ﬁshery for all returning salmon stocks,” wrote Louise Girouard, the DFO’s regional director of communications. “These agreements are intended to provide greater certainty to First Nations and other harvesters to clearly set out allocations for salmon species.” This summer’s dispute goes back to the sockeye salmon run, which began in late June. DFO had set allocations for diﬀerent groups to harvest from the area, but Tseshaht did not agree to these numbers imposed on a river they had managed for thousands of years. “Tseshaht did not consent to the commercial and recreational ﬁsheries,” wrote Hugh Braker, the First Nation’s lead negotiator, in a July 14 letter to Fisheries Minister Bernadette Jordan. “I would note that the commercial and recreational ﬁsheries began before the Tseshaht ﬁsheries began. Tseshaht did not agree to that aspect either.” Without signing the agreement, members of the First Nation opted to ﬁsh sockeye under their Aboriginal right to priority access behind conservation needs. Instead of selling to commercial buyers, members sold their catches on the side of the road. But now the breakdown in negotiations has led DFO staﬀ to sit on a chinook agreement drafted by the department
that Tseshaht signed. This EO agreement sets allocations at 2,600 chinook for Maa-nulth nations, 18,100 combined for Tseshaht and Hupacasath, while commercial seine and gillnet boats are allotted a total of 18,100 – a ﬁgure some Tseshaht members say has been exceeded by 10,000 ﬁsh. According to Fisheries and Oceans, Hupacasath can commercially harvest under this agreement, but without the DFO signatures, Tseshaht cannot. “[W]e are now mid-way through the season for the chinook ﬁshery and the Tseshaht nation did not agree or follow provisions in the draft agreement for allocations and management of the sockeye ﬁshery which is now complete,” wrote the DFO spokesperson. “The absence of a signed agreement during the sockeye ﬁshery unfortunately created an unstable situation and was detrimental to other harvesters, including Hupacasath. EO ﬁsheries agreements with [First Nations] are a fundamental part of how the department ensures an orderly and well-managed ﬁshery for all involved.” “Since the beginning of negotiations this summer, Tseshaht has become more convinced that the objective of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans is to penalize and punish Tseshaht,” wrote Braker in another letter sent to the ﬁsheries minister
on Sept. 2. “Your ministry staﬀ are angry because Tseshaht objected to their actions and failure to address Tseshaht concerns earlier this summer.” Recent negotiations have also included agreements DFO has put to the Somass First Nations that would be in place for years. Hupacasath signed a four-year EO agreement, but Tseshaht did not, fearing that details of the arrangement would be altered by DFO as circumstances arose. “I ask you minister, what other group, besides Aboriginal people, in Canada is told to sign an agreement ﬁrst and then negotiate in respect of that agreement after it is signed?” asked Braker in his correspondence to Ottawa. With the absence of an economic opportunity agreement, the Tseshaht will be limited to harvesting for only food, social and ceremonial purposes, “but sale of ﬁsh will not be permitted,” said the DFO. “DFO remains committed to substantive negotiations over the fall and winter regarding Tseshaht’s outstanding concerns, and remains committed to authorizing food, social and ceremonial ﬁsheries for Tseshaht harvesters as appropriate based on returns and consistent with allocations,” added Girouard.
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Ahousaht classes begin Sept. 24 By Denise Titian Ha-Shilth-Sa Reporter Nuu-chah-nulth territories – Education oﬃcials have been working hard over the past few months developing plans to ensure a safe return to school for their preschool to Grade 12 students. While some parents and students are anxious for the school year to start, there are still many concerned about the chances of their child being exposed to the virus that causes COVID-19. The pandemic forced the closure of many schools following the March 2020 spring break. In some cases, students in smaller schools were able to return as long as social distancing and other safety precautions were in place. Following an extended spring break due to the pandemic, Ahousaht educators delivered an option that allowed students to continue their class work from home. But this required the teachers to compile materials while they and other education staﬀ sanitized the books and supplies and arranged for safe pick-up of the items. Ahousaht Director of Education Rebecca Atleo noted that the remote learning model Maaqtusiis School implemented in the spring had limited success. She said that one teacher with more than 20 students would send out work each week with only half the material coming back completed. Ahousaht has about 240 students attending classes from preschool to Grade 12. There is also a Headstart program operated by the Ahousaht Education Authority but the number of children going there this year is unknown. This year the plan is to open both Maaqtusiis Elementary and Secondary Schools on Sept. 24, after teachers return to the community for work on Sept. 14. Atleo noted that the teachers moving to Ahousaht from elsewhere will go into voluntary self-isolation for two weeks as a precaution. “We have had a few strategic meetings to ensure safety of everyone involved… kids, staﬀ community,” Atleo said. Beginning in May, Ahousaht’s education leaders began to strategize on how they would start the school year while keeping everyone safe. According to Atleo, they looked at everything from how people would enter the school, to sanitiz-
Photo by Curt McLeod
Children ride their bikes through Ahousaht during the community’s parade for school graduates in June. In the early months of the coronavirus pandemic students were provided with materials to learn at home, but this month in-person classes resume for Maaqtusiis Elementary and Secondary. ing surfaces, to keeping people socially areas,” said Atleo. distanced. She noted that the federal government “We did a deep clean of the elementary has injected $12 million into Canada’s school when the building was empty,” First Nations’ schools. she added. “We are waiting to see what portion is A back-to-school safety plan was coming to Ahousaht, and once we get developed in consultation with the First that, we can modify and amend plans Nations Health Authority and NTC nurse where needed,” said Atleo. Kelly Dennis. The AEA provides all Maaqtusiis “We sent school reopening plans to Elementary/Secondary students with supthem and are waiting on feedback from plies. While masks are not yet mandatory, First Nations Health Authority,” Atleo that could change. stated. “If FNHA recommends that they be In addition to sanitizing the AEA mandated to wear masks and the students (Ahousaht Education Authority) has can’t bring one, we will provide them,” ordered a bulk supply of masks for the said Atleo. students and face shields for staﬀ along The AEA will invite parents to mini with sanitizers. information sessions before school starts. “Three people will be hired to sanitize “We will be bringing experts in to share touch surfaces; they will be there everyinformation and answer questions of day school is in session to clean,” said parents,” said Atleo. Atleo. And if there’s a breakout in the commuThe AEA will also hire a full-time nity, the schools will follow the lead of school nurse. the band oﬃce. “We felt it would help parents feel more “If there were to be a breakout we’d comfortable knowing there is a health probably completely shut down,” she professional on site,” Atleo stated. noted. The nurse would assist students and staﬀ Atleo understands the concerns of on safety protocols and would be trained parents and advises them to heed B.C. to provide COVID-19 testing. Provincial Health Oﬃcer Bonnie Henry’s “We have received extra (government) words: “Be safe, be kind.” She urges funding to set up things like plexiglass people to get their information from a barriers and have done that in reception reliable source.
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September 10, 2020—Ha-Shilth-Sa—Page 5
‘Consistent desire’ for kids to return to school: SD70 School district prepares for return, but not all parents are willing to risk bringing COVID-19 into their homes By Eric Plummer Ha-Shilth-Sa Editor Port Alberni, BC - Despite widespread concerns over the spread of COVID-19, over 90 per cent of parents are planning to send their children back to school when classes resume this month in the Alberni Valley, Toﬁno, Ucluelet and Bamﬁeld. In a letter sent to parents on Sept. 4, Greg Smith, School District 70’s head superintendent, noted a strong desire among many families to have their children back in the classroom when facilities reopen for students on Sept. 10 and 11. As was the case across the province, SD70’s schools closed during the early weeks of the COVID-19 pandemic after the March break. Schools reopened as an option for parents later in the spring, but most families kept their children home to avoid contracting the incurable respiratory disease. The school district has stated that a hybrid classroom and home learning option like what was oﬀered in the spring will not be available this fall. “The response is not uniformly distributed throughout the district, but there is a clear, strong and consistent desire from parents to have their children return to their schools with their peers and classroom teachers this school year – even if it means waiting to see how the ﬁrst weeks go before sending their children to school,” wrote Smith. All schools are now required to maximise in-class instruction within guidelines set by the B.C. Ministry of Health. Part of these guidelines will be “learning groups” to limit the number of contacts students have during the day. For SD70’s elementary children, individual classes will serve as the learning groups. Each group of students will stay with each other throughout the day, including during outdoor recess and lunch periods. “Outside a learning group, appropriate physical distancing will remain the expectation,” wrote Smith. The arrangement is more complex for high school students attending Alberni District Secondary or Ucluelet Secondary. Morning classes will keep a learning group together, covering two courses of material over the ﬁrst eight weeks. But some mixing is expected in the afternoons, as teenagers from diﬀerent learning groups will be in the same classroom to study their elective options. This will require physical distancing and preventative requirements, such as wearing face
Not all parents are willing to risk coronavirus infection this fall, including Letitia Charleson, who is postponing college studies to educate two of her children at home. Pictured is Charleson with father Josh, Nuuchi Charleson, Maddexx George and Malyla Charleson. risk for my household. I feel like it’s masks. in the spring, the need for daily connecjumping a little bit too fast and I feel that Last school year 1,369 of SD70’s stutions with students became evident, as dents identiﬁed as Aboriginal, comprising many continued their schooling remotely. there should have been more smaller steps.” 30 per cent of the student population. Ten “Back in the springtime a lot of NEWs Adding to this concern is that CharleNuu-chah-nulth education workers are did a lot of cultural learning though other son’s daughter has asthma, and her onedistributed throughout the school district, means,” said Samuel. “They created year-old son is a risk due to respiratory who will be supporting these students videos, they created Powerpoints for the navigate through the new COVID-19 students to interact that way to learn how issues. “Common colds drain into his respirameasures. our people are traditionally. They were tory area as he’s been in the hospital in Richard Samuel, a cultural development very innovative during that time.” his ﬁrst year, just needing extra oxygen to supervisor who manages the NEW workAlthough most of SD70’s students are ers, said that the team is currently helping returning to full-time classes this Septem- get to his heart,” she explained. The mother has had to adapt by stepschool principals connect with students to ber, some have chosen to study through ping away from studies she planned to inform them of what the next school year the school district’s online platform for begin this fall at North Island College, will be like - even if families can’t be home studies, Distributed Learning, or instead serving as a full-time teacher for reached by telephone. other remote learning options. Samuel “They’re able to track them down her 11-year-old son and ﬁve-year-old said that the NEW workers will be daughter. through other means, like social media, supporting students who opt for home “I will just continue staying at home Facebook messenger, or any other kind schooling by providing material each focusing on our children’s education,” of means that they have,” he said. “They week and regularly checking in. said Charleson. “Each family and each have a personal connection with all of “The Nuu-chah-nulth education role these families.” primarily is for cultural learning opportu- household have diﬀerent priorities and diﬀerent choices.” Samuel noted that when studies resumed nities for students and teachers,” he said. For those parents who will be sending “When it comes to academic support, their children back on Sept. 10 and 11, we’re looking at student achievement entry into schools will be discouraged to where they work together with all school mitigate risk of infection inside the facilistaﬀ and work as a team to ensure the ties. The school district announced more student is achieving well academically GATEWAY TO THE PACIFIC RIM eﬀorts to clean and disinfect facilities, through the school year.” although there will be no new roles to Under normal circumstances two of check students or staﬀ for symptoms of Letitia Charleson’s children would be coronavirus infection. starting classes at Haahuupayak this If a student displays possible symptoms, month. But after the number of B.C.’s SD70 guidelines state that the child must active cases rose from under 200 to be immediately separated from others, more than 1,300 over the last two and a given a mask and arranged to be taken half months, the risk of infection is too home. Each school will have a designed great for Charleson’s family bear. As isolation room for this purpose, but the her daughter prepares to start Grade 1, Charleson is concerned with how quickly symptomatic child’s class will not be automatically quarantined. germs spread among young children. “Staﬀ responsible for facility cleaning “With my middle child, my daughter, must clean and disinfect the space where as soon as she started going to daycare, Hours of operation - 7:00 am - 10:30 pm the student was separated and any areas as soon as she went back to school, little Phone: 724-3944 used by them,” states the SD70 guidecolds and ﬂu would come back into the lines. household,” said Charleson. “Putting on E-mail: email@example.com top of that COVID-19, it’s just a huge
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Page 6— Ha-Shilth-Sa—September 10, 2020
Pandemic brings few changes for Kyuquot school But ongoing concerns for the community are to retain teachers and be•er engage families in formal education By Melissa Renwick Local Journalism Initiative Reporter Kyuquot, BC - As schools across the province of B.C. prepared to welcome students back for the new school year, administration staﬀ scrambled to normalize their new social reality. In the wake of COVID-19, schools in B.C. are required to divide their students into learning groups of 60 people, including staﬀ. Children will be segregated from their friends, unable to interact with students from another cohort. But in the small, coastal town of Kyuquot, this year will largely resemble years past. With only 44 students attending Kyuquot Elementary Secondary School (KESS), the remote institution is able to function as one learning group “Because we’re a small school I don’t think that there’s going to be a big impact on the kids educational experience,” said Martin Szetela, KESS principal. “In lots of ways, it’s going to be similar to what it was before COVID-19.” Building on the province’s $45.6-million investment to support a safe restart for B.C.’s schools, the federal government invested an additional $242.4-million. “This funding will allow schools to expand health and safety measures, purchase more personal protective equipment and increase capacity for remote learning,” said the B.C. Ministry of Education. Safety protocols will be implemented at KESS, such as prohibiting students from drinking straight from water fountains and physical contact is to be avoided, said Szetela. Following the Ministry of Education’s guidelines, schools will apply increased cleaning of high-contact surfaces like desks and chairs, along with additional hand hygiene. Students, staﬀ and visitors will be required to clean their hands before boarding school buses, entering school buildings, before and after eating, using the washroom and using playground equipment. “I think a challenge for us is going to be how to balance making sure the students know this has to be taken very seriously,” said Szetela. “And yet, we don’t want to traumatize them.” Although the impact of COVID-19 may be less severe on the isolated school, there are other challenges it faces on an ongoing basis. When Daniel Blackstone moved his family from Nanaimo to Kyuquot three years ago, he struggled with the new learning environment his kids were placed in. “The quality of education took a steep dive from Nanaimo to Kyuquot,” said Blackstone, Ka:’yu:’k’h’/Che:k’tles7et’h’ First Nation’s family support network coordinator. “The standard that our kids were accustomed to was much higher. They both had homework every day and they were both expected to turn things in every day from every class. When we got to Kyuquot, most kids couldn’t even hand in a paper with their name and a date on there.” In eﬀort to try and change the school’s approach, Blackstone worked as a teacher’s assistant for two years. “My son wanted me to come and work there because he knows that I was a very strong disciplinarian,” he said. When he worked at the school, Black-
Photo by Melissa Renwick
The remote village of Houpsitas sits on the western edge of Vancouver Island, on August 14, 2020. stone aimed to address the behavioural issues he noticed with the students. The children would swear, walk out of class, show up late and crawl under their desk and go to sleep, he said. “We were coaching parents about how to talk to their kids so that they understand and appreciate the value of a good education,” said Blackstone. “The cultural legacy left from the residential school era still persists. We still have the stigma of what education means to First Nations people based on the residential school experience.” The school’s principal described the students’ behaviour as “exemplary” after the last two years of improvement. “We’ve been really pleased in our kids’ growth in behaviour over the last two years,” he said. “It was very intentional that we focused on behaviour and the kids really responded. Our kids have made a huge progress.” The student’s behavioural challenges are layered with a high turnover of teachers and school staﬀ. While it was an unprecedented year, two of the school’s ﬁve teachers left mid-way through the semester last year, said Jennifer Hanson, Ka:’yu:’k’h’/Che:k’tles7et’h’ First Nation director of education. “I do think that remote schools certainly have some economic challenges,” said Szetela. “Even by retaining staﬀ, attracting staﬀ and keeping them. If people don’t see themselves as being able to move here, buy a house here and make this their permanent home, they tend not to stay that long.” It is a source of frustration for many community members and leaves the students wondering whether any teacher will truly stick it out. “We’ve had a good string of high-quality teachers who really connected with the students,” said Szetela. “Unfortunately, it really hurt the students when they knew these teachers were leaving.” It is for that very reason Szetela is entering into his fourth consecutive year at the school. Because the principal heard the teacher turnover was high, he promised one of his classes that he would stay until they graduated. “I’m trying to keep that promise,” he
said. Irene Joseph moved back to her traditional territory of Kyuquot from Port Alberni one year ago. The mother of four wanted to expose her children to the place where she grew up. In the same way she missed her family while living in Port Alberni, she sympathizes with the teachers who travel from all over the province to teach at KESS. “We are very isolated,” said Joseph. “You begin to miss your family – you begin to miss what was normal to you before.” Although staﬀ turnover can bring difﬁculties, Joseph credits those who are teaching in the community for their dedication. “My thoughts around the staﬀ here is that they are really supportive and they
do want what’s best for our children,” she said. “Our children are our future.” As a way to create dialogue between parents and faculty, Joseph launched a Parent’s Advisory Committee last February. Its aim was to engage with parents, imploring them to explore the best ways to support their children in school. By fostering eﬀective ways of communicating their children’s needs with school staﬀ, it became a safe space to open up healthy dialogue, said Joseph. “The dynamics of living in such a small community can be challenging because everybody knows everybody,” she said. “I can understand those challenges. Having started the parent’s club, I’ve been wanting to build bridges.” While Blackstone feels satisﬁed that the school is doing their “due diligence” to keep students safe from COVID-19, he remains sceptical of the school’s educational standards. “Our kids should be able to transition out of this school into any other school in B.C. and ﬁt comfortably,” he said. “I can guarantee you right now that is not possible.” The principal emphasized that one of the school’s goals is to ensure the same academic level is upheld as elsewhere in the province. “I can’t say if that’s the case yet,” said Szetela. “It’s certainly a goal of ours that we’re working on.” There is no denying that the school’s remoteness present challenges. A day-trip to a school in Campbell River becomes an overnight endeavour for the students at KESS. It requires traveling on a water taxi, down logging roads and involves staying overnight in hotels. “I don’t think we’re diﬀerent than many small communities that way,” added Szetela. “All students are in diﬀerent areas on the continuum. I think that is something many schools grapple with. It is certainly something that we grapple with and it is certainly something that we are working hard on.”
Ditidaht Community School returning to class By Denise Titian Ha-Shilth-Sa Reporter Malachan, BC – Students of Ditidaht Community School (DCS) returned to class for the ﬁrst time in several months after the province went into a state of emergency in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. Children arrived 8 in the morning of Sept. 8 for a half day of classes. According to principal Emily MacLennan, there are 46 DCS students attending classes from Kindergarten to Grade 12. They will be returning to class full time beginning Sept. 9. “We have implemented safety measures under the direction of the BC Centre for Disease Control, the BC Ministry of Health and Worksafe BC,” said MacLennan. This means that teachers will maintain small class sizes while staﬀ adhere to a regimen of frequent cleaning and disinfecting. In addition, students and staﬀ members will practice frequent hand hygiene by using sanitizer or washing with soap and water. Hand hygiene will
occur when students and staﬀ transition from one space to the next. Hand sanitizing stations have been set up throughout the school. Staﬀ and students will be required to stay home if they are ill. “We will close from 12:00 to 1:00 daily; we will disinfect while the kids are at home having lunch,” said MacLennan. The school has purchased plastic chairs for ease of sanitization and will be closed in the late afternoon for cleaning. “Our goal at Ditidaht Community School is to minimize transmission of COVID-19 and maintain a safe and healthy school environment for students, families, and staﬀ,” Principal MacLennan wrote in an Aug. 19 letter to parents. School staﬀ took part in a two-day training program before the school opened. In addition, families will be invited to a school picnic where they can learn about the new safety protocols and have their questions answered. “Right now, I am feeling pretty conﬁdent about how the students will be returning to school,” said MacLennan.
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Woman fulﬁlls dream by opening Nitinaht Lake salon ‘It’s part of my inspirational story,’ says hairstylist, who found the project helped her recovery from addiction By Karly Blats Ha-Shilth-Sa Contributor Nitinaht Lake, BC - A Ditidaht woman is ﬁlling a gap at Nitinaht Lake by opening the community’s only hair and nail salon. With help from the Ditidaht Development Corporation, Kelita Sieber was able to fulﬁll a dream of hers this July by owning and operating her own esthetics business - Sacred Cedars Salon. Sieber said the idea to open a salon began last year when a member of the Ditidaht Development Corporation approached her about possibly opening a hair studio after several tourists wanted to get a hair cut but had no where to go. “I thought about it over the winter and then I started the process in January and Ditidaht Development Corporation oﬀered to help me with buying all the equipment and setting me up in a spot,” Sieber said. “It’s in [the Nitinaht Lake Motel] but it’s the old laundromat that was no longer in use so we converted it into a small salon.” Sieber completed her education for hairdressing and esthetics back in 2009 and worked as a hairdresser until 2012. Since then, Sieber has moved back to Nitinaht Lake, where she was cutting hair out of her home to compliment her other jobs. “I’ve worked in a lot of diﬀerent jobs but I’ve always done hairdressing on the side,” Sieber said. “It wasn’t ideal to cut hair at home because the hair gets everywhere.” Working many jobs and having a busy lifestyle is important to Sieber and for her
Ditidaht woman Kelita Sieber stands proudly in front of her new salon that opened at Nitinaht Lake in July. recovery. “I’ve been a year and seven months clean and sober,” Sieber said. “Having all this is a lot of motivation to stay clean so that’s why I do a lot. It’s part of my inspirational story.” Opening a salon, especially in her community of Nitinaht, has been a dream of Sieber’s since hair school, but battling addiction for 11 years made it impossible. Now her community has embraced the
new salon and staying busy has not been a problem for Sieber. “I will go above and beyond for my community,” Sieber said. “I end up going in anyway on my night oﬀ because someone kindly asks me.” In addition to haircuts and colouring, Sieber’s salon oﬀers acrylic nail extensions and manicures. Sacred Cedars Salon is open on Monday and Tuesdays from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
and Saturday and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Walk-ins are welcome. Sieber said she has all the required safety measures for COVID-19 in place and oﬀers clients masks and hand sanitizer when they enter if they don’t have their own. “Our community is closed to tourists so [the salon] is just for community members right now,” she said.
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Business support needed for territory to remain open As visitors ﬂock to Toﬁno, resources to protect Tla-o-qui-aht members from the coronavirus are running thin By Eric Plummer Ha-Shilth-Sa Editor Toﬁno, BC - In the ﬁnal weeks of another busy summer in Toﬁno, the Tla-oqui-aht is urging more local businesses to partner with the First Nation to better protect its members from COVID-19. Despite measures to limit contact during the coronavirus pandemic, the streets of Toﬁno are humming with visitors eager to enjoy the west coast destination. Long Beach has also been active with people from across Western Canada – with some venturing from Ontario, Quebec and even parts of the United States. Access to the nearby Tla-o-qui-aht communities of Esowista and Ty-Histanis have been restricted to residents, with gates manned by members performing health checks. “We’re conﬁrming where people have been for backward tracing if needed, but also mitigating the outside traﬃc that comes into the community,” said Tla-oqui-aht Tribal Administrator Saya Masso. “That’s a really important tool for being able to open our homeland to share it to the million tourists that come each year.” Access to the First Nation’s communities by Long Beach has also been patrolled by Tribal Parks guardians, but this program ends in the ﬁrst week of September - with no funding in place to ensure entry points are watched in the fall. Managing back roads is also a concern, said Masso. “A lot of people have been using our back roads for camping and summer activities,” he said. “We need better resources for our guardian program to manage the back roads, to help clean up the back roads that people utilized when they’re seeking their personal space away from COVID.” The guardians have been paid through the Tribal Parks Allies program, which partners with local businesses to con-
Photo by Melissa Renwick
Carol Curley, 18, is one of four youth guardians who are patrolling Long Beach in front of Esowista to keep her community of Tla-o-qui-aht safe. tribute one per cent of sales for “the needs.” ecological protection and restoration of Other needs include building isolation the Tribal Parks ancestral gardens and the units, which would be temporary living resurgence of Tla-o-qui-aht culture and quarters where conﬁrmed cases or those governance,” according to the program’s who could have been exposed can safety website. quarantine for 14 days. Another goal of “It comes from the client, not from the the program is to expand the Toﬁno hosbusiness operator,” clariﬁes Masso. “If pital beyond its existing 10 beds, thereby it’s a $100 hotel room, we ask that it bringing back a maternity ward that was voluntarily be charged at $101.” eliminated over a decade ago. After over a year and a half of develop“We would like to bear children in ment with local businesses, 37 operators our own homeland again,” said Masso, are Tribal Parks Allies, one of the most whose three children were born in Port recent being Hotel Zed, which opened its Alberni. Toﬁno location in August. But with over Laura McDonald, president of the 300 businesses listed with the ToﬁnoToﬁno-Long Beach Chamber of ComLong Beach Chamber of Commerce, merce, said that the business group has current participation in the allies program worked with the Tla-o-qui-aht to develop isn’t enough to protect Tla-o-qui-aht the Tribal Parks Allies program since communities from coronavirus infection 2018. as visitors continue to ﬂock to Vancouver “Since then, a chamber representative Island’s west coast, said Masso. has sat on the task force that is work“It may provide certainty for only a ing on community implementation of week or so, but not enough to deal with the program,” she explained. “It is the the larger issues and the fact that we want chamber’s hope that the work continues to reopen our territory in March, next at that table.” year, and there still will be a shortage of The neighbouring Ahousaht and hospital beds,” he said. “There’s a $350 Hesquiaht First Nations have kept their million-dollar economy leaving our terterritories closed over the course of the ritory. If through voluntary fees we get pandemic. But with many of its members something like $2-3 million annually, employed in tourism-reliant businesses we would be able to address all of our and the ownership of the Best Western
Tin Wis hotel, The Tla-o-qui-aht opted to cautiously welcome visitors back to its territory in June. “For some of our member businesses, this summer has been busier than anticipated,” said McDonald, adding that this high demand has been managed with less staﬀ and increased operational costs. “For others circumstances surrounding COVID-19 have meant their business is operating at a signiﬁcantly reduced capacity and with additional costs, so it has not been as good.” In retrospect, Masso believes that the situation could have unfolded more favourably if widespread participation in the Tribal Parks Allies program was a condition. “We need to build back better,” he said. “If we’re talking about after four months reopening again, they should have said ‘Let’s reopen with this one per cent fee’.” In June the provincial government announced Phase 3 of its plan to recover B.C.’s economy, which included reopening hotels and resuming ﬁlm productions. But over the summer months infections steadily rose to over 1,100 by the end of August. “After many months of restrictions, we all felt the need to reconnect with our family and friends this summer, but now we must slow down on our social interactions and prepare for the respiratory season ahead,” cautioned Minister of Health Adrian Dix, and Dr. Bonnie Henry, B.C.’s provincial health oﬃcer, in a joint statement issued Aug. 31. “We need everyone to pay attention and step back from the social interactions we have had this summer, so when the cooler weather and respiratory season arrives, we are ready for the challenge.” “I’m trying to avoid a situation where our members feel so unsafe that they want tourism to take a hiatus while we let the [pandemic] clear through the area,” said Masso.
Old growth review coming in weeks, says minister By Eric Plummer Ha-Shilth-Sa Editor Port Renfrew, BC - The release of a review of old growth logging that the provincial government has been siting on since the spring is coming “later this summer or in the early fall,” according to Minister of Forests Doug Donaldson. Recommendations from a pair of forestry experts were submitted to the ministry April 30, after more than half a year of consultations with First Nations as well as communities that are still reliant on B.C.’s forest industry. Since then the province has been weighing community employment against the need to protect trees that have stood since before the advent of industrial logging on B.C.’s coast in the 1800s. “The release of the report will lay out a plan for the future, but implementation of the report will require governmentto-government engagement with First Nations, and include discussions with the environmental community, workers, industry and communities,” said Donaldson in a statement sent to Ha-Shilth-Sa. “By working together we can and will ﬁnd a path forward to better manage for our old growth forests.” Among the groups consulted for the report was the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council, which has publicly spoken
against the harvesting of monumental cedar trees due to their cultural signiﬁcance to coastal First Nations. Some are currently concerned for old growth cedar trees that remain in the Fairy Creek watershed, considered to be one of Vancouver Island’s few valleys that has not been logged. “I am against logging of the Fairy Lake watershed altogether because it’s used as spiritual purposes by our former elders,” said Pacheedaht elder Bill Jones. “The ecology there is really quite rare.” “The last of the trout streams are in the Fairy Lake watershed,” he continued. “The rainbow trout are way up near the top in the pools of the watershed. It’s quite awesome to experience that.” Over the last month three blockades have been erected to prevent forestry access into the watershed, which is part of Tree Farm Licence 46, a section of Crown land held by the Teal Jones Group. On Aug. 24 one of volunteers manning a blockade on the north side of Edinburgh Mountain noted that the opposition is working. “At around 6 a.m. we turned around a work crew heading up,” wrote the volunteer. “We had no contact with them as they turned around right when they saw us about 15 feet from the blockade. We heard them on the radio, however, announcing to Teal Jones oﬃce that they
Photo by Eric Plummer
A massive yellow cedar can be found uphill from the Granite Main logging road that leads into the Fairy Creek valley, one the few watersheds on Vancouver Island that has not seen forestry activity. were not going to work as ‘protesters had cubic metres per year is quite defensible based on the information presented is this moved from Reid Creek to Truck Road document,” states the management plan. 11’.” Donaldson contends that a balance can Yet thousands relay on employment be attained through the right approach. from a coastal forest industry that is “Our government is committed to still counts on harvesting old growth to protecting old growth and biodiversity remain economical. The TFL 46 manwhile supporting workers and communiagement plan states that the majority of ties,” he said. “When it comes to this timber harvested annually in the area can work, there have been some strides over sustainably be old growth for the next the past 30 years, but our government few decades – as long as 180,000 cubic wants a comprehensive science-based metres is second growth. approach.” “An [annual allowable cut] of 370,000
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Assessing the last of the remaining old growth forests Logging provided a way of life for many of Kyuquot’s families, but now the coastal giants are a distant memory By Melissa Renwick Local Journalism Initiative Reporter Kyuquot, BC - Back in 1962, Herbert Jack began his career as a logger. His days consisted of attaching a cable to a felled tree before choking the log so it could be removed from the forest. The arduous work earned him $2 per hour. Up to the 1990s, the logging industry on Vancouver Island thrived. Thousands of men just like Jack spent their lives tearing down trees for a living. Back then, the 73-year-old recalls the majority of the trees were so wide a grown man couldn’t wrap his arms around their trunks. “They were big fellas – big ﬁr like this,” he said stretching his arms out wide. By the time he retired in 2013, those 12foot wide trees were a distant memory. Now, the many of the valleys around Jack’s home in Kyuquot are devoid of old growth. Mount Paxton is still healing from being scrapped bare from top-tobottom in the ‘80s: A poster child for the province’s logging practices. Last summer, B.C.’s provincial government appointed an independent panel to consult with British Columbians about how to manage old-growth forests. “We undertook the independent old growth strategic review because there was insuﬃcient action on this topic by the previous government,” said a spokesperson from the B.C’s Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development. “There is a need for stronger steps to protect biodiversity while still supporting workers and communities dependent on the forest resource. We are taking a science-based, thoughtful and serious approach.” The ministry expects to make the review public and announce initial steps later this summer or in the early fall. But conservationists like Ken Wu, executive director of the Endangered Ecosystems Alliance, are quick to criticize. “They had over three years,” said Wu of B.C.’s provincial government. “They’ll have gone through an entire electoral term with doing nothing and that’s a no-go for us. They’re going to be held accountable – absolutely accountable for that.” In 2017, B.C.’s New Democratic Party’s environment platform referred to using the ecosystem-based management approach of the Great Bear Rainforest as a model in land-use planning and oldgrowth management. That was an election platform promise they did not fulﬁll, said Wu. The policy guidance for how much oldgrowth to protect has remained “frozen in time,” said Kevin Kriese, chair of B.C.’s Forest Practices Board. “What we really saw was an avoidance of facing that diﬃcult set of decisions for about 15 years,” he said. “We’re very happy that there is a review – it’s overdue. I will also say that it is probably the most vexatious forest policy issue there is.” Only 2.7 per cent of the original high productivity old-growth forests in B.C. remain, according to an independent scientiﬁc report titled, BC’s Old Growth Forest: A Last Stand for Biodiversity. “These ecosystems are eﬀectively the white rhino of old growth forests,” reads the report. “They are almost extinguished and will not recover from logging.” Indigenous cultures evolved in oldgrowth forests. Dugout canoes, long
Photos by Melissa Renwick
Herbert Jack poses for a portrait near his home in Kyuquot. The 73-year-old began working as a logger when he was 16 years old.
“They were big fellas – big ﬁr like this.” ~ Herbert Jack houses and totem poles required oldgrowth red cedar. “What we have left is probably the second grade of wood that our ancestors would have used,” said Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation master carver, Joe Martin. B.C. is one of the last jurisdictions in the industrialized world to continue logging high productivity old-growth on a commercial scale. “Most other places don’t have old growth left,” said Kriese. “They basically converted their natural forests to plantation forests a century before we did.” The board chair predicts that we will be debating old growth logging “until the last stand of old-growth is logged in B.C.” “It’s just that valuable,” he said. Wu argues that establishing a more sustainable second-growth forestry would be a step in the right direction. Because it would be more labour intensive, it would require more people and ultimately, create more jobs. “When you take the biggest, best and the most accessible ﬁrst, you’re left with diminishing timber value,” he said. “Of course you’re going to lose a lot of the industry and a lot of the jobs – ecosystem collapses, employment collapses.” The ministry said that it is committed to engaging with industry representatives on the report recommendations. “Through those conversations we will be able to explore old-growth management approaches and how they relate to second-growth harvesting,” said the ministry spokesperson. Kriese notes that public opinion is diverse, as not everyone is against oldgrowth logging. “There are remote communities that rely on its employment and may not have very good other options, and yet there’s other options that may exist that we’re
Mount Paxton became a poster child of B.C.’s bad logging practices after it was scrapped bare from top-to-bottom in the ‘80s, near Kyuquot. not exploring,” said the Forest Practices Board chair, stressing the importance of the province sharing decision making with First Nations. “It’s really critical that we actually pay attention to the issue and have a serious discussion – wellinformed, science-informed, really good involvement of communities.” For Jack, logging provided a way of life for him and his family. The self-described “old-timer” only made it to Grade
4 before getting kicked out of school for refusing to stop speaking his traditional language on Nootka Island. With limited options available, he isn’t plagued with guilt when he looks back at the mountainsides he helped to cut down. “I had to think of the family ﬁrst,” he said. “Family comes ﬁrst. They had to have a roof over them, clothing and [food] to eat.”
Page 10— Ha-Shilth-Sa—September 10, 2020
Photo by Melissa Renwick
Norah Jack (centre) lays down the ling cod she caught for her father, Matthew, to ﬁllet outside their home in Kyuquot.
Teaching survival lessons from inside the womb By Melissa Renwick Local Journalism Initiative Reporter Kyuquot, BC - During each of Elizabeth Jack’s pregnancies, her husband talked to his unborn daughters from inside her womb. Whether the couple was out hunting or ﬁshing, Matthew would speak to his wife’s stomach as if it could talk back. It wasn’t anything poetic. He approached those conversations practically, explaining where they were, what they were ﬁshing for and which lure he was using. Now, when you ask his eldest daughter, Norah, how long she has been hunting for, the 11-year-old proudly replies, “ever since I was in my mom’s belly.” Mathew’s father was a logger, which meant that he was often away working at camp. Largely raised by his grandmother and mother, he feels like one of the “lucky ones.” Deeply rooted in their spiritual teachings, Matthew has always felt a strong
connection to his Ka:’yu:’k’t’h’/ Che:k:tles7et’h’ First Nations’ culture. While he aims to instil those values within his daughters, his lessons are primarily for survival. “I’m trying to teach my girls that they can do anything,” he said. “Anything can happen – if I’m not there I want them to be prepared. Whether it be earthquakes or tsunamis, I want them to be able to take care of themselves and those around them.” As a six-year-old boy, Matthew’s mother, Norah, used to paddle him out in a hand-made rowboat around Aktis Island. Carrying a .22-calibre riﬂe, Norah would aim at the ﬂock of cormorants that predictably sat on the nearby rocks, oblivious that they would be served as the family’s next meal. “We survived oﬀ the land when I was young,” said Matthew. While many First Nations are focused on the loss of language, Matthew has concentrated on imparting his grandmother’s teachings on traditional food
gathering. “That’s a big part of our heritage,” he said. “Knowing all the foods you can harvest from the ocean or the land and knowing the connection with each one of them.” As many youth forgo their traditional foods – like shellﬁsh – in favour of pizza pockets, Matthew said his daughters crave the food they have reeled in from the ocean or shot out of the sky. On their hunting trips, they say a prayer after the killing of each deer, “letting go and giving thanks for the life of that deer,” said Matthew. There is sternness to his teachings. When his youngest, Bella, left a knife turned upright in the boat, he sharply told the nine-year-old to turn the blade down. And yet, there is softness. He has been teaching his three daughters, Norah, Bella and Matty, how to use a knife “since they learned to walk.” When Bella cut her hand while learning to carve, he reassured her not to worry. “That’s part of learning,” he gently told
her. “You’ll get cut and hurt, but it happens – you’ll heal.’” His pride as a father is unmistakeable. As he recounted the story of Norah shooting a duck through its beak from a boat that was travelling 28 miles per hour, he beamed with a smile that spread cheek to cheek. Elizabeth shares in his delight. “Proud,” is the word she uses when describing her children. “Proud – because I never grew up that way,” she said. “I’m glad these guys are learning when they’re young. Hopefully they keep passing it on to their kids.” While the land might not be as plentiful when the couple’s daughters have children of their own, there are certain teachings that will remain constant. “When we’re on the boat, we have to know our surroundings,” said Bella. “We memorize the mountain tops so we can always ﬁnd our way home.”
Phrase of the week: %uuqmis%is^%ak c^apyiqpaanuc^ Pronounced ‘ooh q miss ish alth chup yik pa nic’, this means, ‘it is so much fun to ride around in a canoe’. Supplied by ciisma.
Illustration by Ivy Cargill-Martin
September 10, 2020—Ha-Shilth-Sa—Page 11
New hotel in Toﬁno supports Tribal Allies Program Participation in Tla-o-qui-aht program is necessary of oﬀset environmental impacts of tourism, says manager By Karly Blats Ha-Shilth-Sa Contributor Toﬁno, BC - Driving into Toﬁno now looks a little brighter with the addition of Hotel Zed—a colourful new accommodation equiped with 70s-themed décor, a disco room and a bike path running through the front lobby. Located at 1258 Paciﬁc Rim Hwy, formerly Jamie’s Rainforest Inn, Toﬁno’s Hotel Zed is the third Hotel Zed for the company, with the other two in Victoria and Kelowna. A brand-new building constructed on the property, oﬀering 58 guest rooms, opened on Aug. 27. Once renovations are complete on the former Jamie’s Rainforest Inn there will be 91 rooms available. As businesses navigate how to safely operate and welcome guests during the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s no diﬀerent for the staﬀ at Hotel Zed. “My ﬁrst day of work was March 9 and I got a two-day tour of the head oﬃce, and then basically everything shut down; so I spent the next six months working from home without really any contact with the company or the people, so it was all really Zoom calls,” said Hotel Zed general manager and Toﬁno councillor Britt Chalmers. “We had daily meetings going over COVID procedures and the hotels that stayed open were really able to perfect them and grow with them.” Victoria’s Hotel Zed was able to stay open throughout the pandemic and oﬀered essential service workers who didn’t feel safe staying at their homes accommodation for weeks at a cost of $59. Donations from the public helped Hotel Zed oﬀer the lower prices that basically just covered operating costs, Chalmers said. “This company has very strong values that they live by,” Chalmers said. “Our values are make things better, have each other’s backs, have fun and be yourself.
Hotel Zed, Toﬁno’s newest hotel, opened on Aug. 27, 2020 and oﬀers 70s-themed decor, a psychic room, arcade room and mini disco. Every decision that I’ve seen made since Chalmers said participating in the Tribal a sustainable solution cannot be achieved by engaging widespread participation in I started - even with the essential workers Parks Allies Program was important to - is how can we make things better, how the Tribal Parks Allies program, “it will her personally as she sees the impact a not be possible for the Tla-o-qui-aht First can we help people. There’s a lot of that large amount of tourists can have on the Nation to continue welcoming guests into that I think this town will beneﬁt from.” West Coast community. Another way Hotel Zed is helping the our Tribal Parks.” “I think it’s the right thing to do as we community in which they operate is “The safety of our community members see tourism grow in Toﬁno and the area,” through participation in the Tla-o-quicannot continue to be compromised by a Chalmers said. “Tourism does have an aht First Nation’s Tribal Parks Allies tourism economy which does not contribenvironmental impact and the more it Program that supports the First Nation’s ute to crucial community services like our grows, the bigger the impact is… I think safety precautions and procedures amidst it’s important for us to balance out the Emergency Operations Centre and Tribal COVID-19. Parks Guardians,” states the release. impact we have.” “We’re the ﬁrst large contributors to Chalmers said she believes tourists often In an Aug. 31 press release, the Tla-othe Tribal Parks Alliance, which I think qui-aht First Nation thanked their existing look for ways to contribute to nature and is incredible,” Chalmers said. “Supportthe environment when they travel. 37 members with the Tribal Parks Allies ing a group that wants to clean up the “That’s ecotourism,” she said. Program, but put out another call for streams, protect the environment, steward more businesses operating within their Other unique features of Hotel Zed include an arcade room (which is a work the land…I think it’s important for us to territories to get on board. in progress) and a psychic room where a balance out the impact we have.” “Increasing daily diagnosis of COVlocal woman will do readings. The Tribal Parks Allies Program funds ID-19 in B.C. and ongoing peak tourism “It’s also open if there’s any local tarot the Tla-o-qui-aht’s Guardians and other conditions have intensiﬁed the risk to our readers that want to come down and use social programs integral to improving and communities,” states the press release. the space, they’re more than welcome maintaining community health. So far, “It is clear that the virus is here to stay, to,” Chalmers said. 37 businesses in Toﬁno participate in the and that a long-term solution is needed A disco room, a mini golf course and a program and contribute one per cent of immediately.” restaurant are also in the works. their sales to the First Nation. The press release goes on to say that if
Majority of Indigenous businesses have not reopened By Sam Laskaris Ha-Shilth-Sa Contributor British Columbia – Almost six months after the pandemic forced lockdowns and restrictions worldwide, the Indigenous tourism industry continues to take a beating. Especially for those operating businesses in one of the Nuu-chah-nulth First Nations. “If I had to give a rough estimate, I would say a good chunk of them, maybe 75 per cent of them have not reopened,” Paula Amos, the chief marketing and development oﬃcer for Indigenous Tourism BC, said of NCN businesses. This ﬁgure though can be misleading. That’s because Amos said there are only about 20 Nuu-chah-nulth businesses that are members of Indigenous Tourism BC. She said there’s up to about 10 others who are not members. Plus, the association does not keep track of the hundreds of Nuu-chah-nulth ﬁshermen or artists who run a business but are not Indigenous Tourism BC members. Further complicating matters is the fact even if some Nuu-chah-nulth tourism businesses did want to reopen this year, it wouldn’t make sense for them to do so. “Many of the Nuu-chah-nulth nations are not open for visitors,” said Amos, who now lives in Vancouver but is a
member of Hesquiaht First Nation. As a result, tourist attractions including Hesquiaht’s Hot Springs Cove and Ahousaht First Nation’s heritage walking trail, Walk the Wild Side, have remained closed. Amos said even for those few Indigenous tourism businesses which have been able to open their doors again, it has not been business as usual. “It’s deﬁnitely challenging for sure,” she said. “It’s a diﬀerent market domestically and businesses have had to pivot. Many of them rely on international visitors. And this is their high season now. They make their business in the four months of the year (during the summer).” The pandemic has certainly had a tremendous eﬀect on Tseshaht First Nation member Naomi Nicholson, who owned a pair of Indigenous tourism businesses. For the past eight years she owned Secluded Wellness Centre in Port Alberni. “I’m not going to reopen the wellness centre at all,” Nicholson said. And it was only this past week, on Sept. 1, that Nicholson was able to reopen her other business Chims Guest House, an Indigenous-themed getaway. Instead of daily and weekly rentals, however, for the immediate future Chims will only have a monthly rental available. Nicholson said Chims has taken a ﬁnancial beating in 2020. And she’s not sure
what 2021 will look like. “We’ve lost thousands and thousands of dollars,” she said. “And who knows about next year, whether we’ll be able to have daily and weekly rentals.” For now, Nicholson is actually happy that she will only allow members of the community to rent out her guest house on a monthly basis. “I just can’t have strangers coming in on my conscience,” she said. “It doesn’t matter if B.C. says hotels can reopen.” Amos said Indigenous Tourism BC is doing its best to have its members survive. “We want to make sure none of these businesses fall through the cracks,” she said. To that end, Amos said the association is doing what it can to assist businesses and not just ﬁnancially. Early on in the pandemic the association reallocated $300,000 from its budget to assist various operations. More than 70 businesses applied to the provincial association to receive a maximum $5,000 grant that was oﬀered in April and May. Indigenous Tourism BC has had a second intake of grant applicants since early August. More than 35 businesses have applied for this funding, worth a maximum of $10,000 (or $5,000 more for those that applied and received the maximum funds during the ﬁrst intake
and have reapplied again). Amos said several of those Indigenous tourism businesses that are seeking funding from the provincial association are operated by First Nations. “We are also working closely with the privately-owned businesses,” she said. Since numerous questions remain concerning the pandemic, Amos said it’s diﬃcult for business owners to speculate on their futures. “I think generally there’s some uncertainties for any long-term planning,” she said. But she’s hopeful Indigenous tourism businesses will be able to bounce back eventually. “I’m hoping they won’t close permanently,” she said. “The longer this lasts though, the deeper it’s going to take for us to get out of this economic recovery.” Brenda Baptiste, Indigenous Tourism BC’s chair, is also hoping for better days ahead. “The overall tourism industry has been heavily impacted by the bleak 2020 tourism season,” Baptiste said. “At Indigenous Tourism BC we are working on a long-term recovery and planning strategically on getting through this downturn and see that the businesses survive and reopen for 2021 and beyond.”
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National Indigenous Laws Centre opens at UVic Expansion is expected to breed a new generation of ‘briefcase warriors’ ﬁghting in court for Aboriginal rights By Denise Titian Ha-Shilth-Sa Reporter Victoria, BC – The University of Victoria is proud to announce that it will soon begin expansion of its Law School to house the ﬁrst of its kind in the world, National Centre for Indigenous Laws. The $27.1 million project will be built thanks to funding from the governments of British Columbia ($13 million), Canada ($9.1 million) and the Law Foundation of BC ($5 million). The new National Centre for Indigenous Laws will be home to the worlds’ ﬁrst joint degree in Indigenous legal orders and Canadian common law and to the Indigenous Law Research Unit. Launched in 2018, the joint degree law program has 26 students of both Indigenous and non-Indigenous ancestry. It is anticipated that the program will reach its capacity of 100 full-time students over the next four years. “The National Centre for Indigenous Laws will be home to the ﬁrst Indigenous law program in the world to combine the intensive study of both Indigenous and non-Indigenous law, and will help Canada build a new nation-to-nation relationship based on the recognition – and renaissance – of Indigenous legal traditions,” statedJamie Cassels, president of UVic. “This is an historic moment in history for the university,” said Melanie Mark, BC Minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Training. “We can make change when we work together and we can make change when we invest in stuﬀ like this. Think of the investment that went into residential school.” She noted that in 2019, the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act passed unanimously in the B.C. legisla-
Photo by Uvic Photo Services
Professor Val Napoleon speaks about the opening of the National Centre for Indigenous Laws in Victoria. Next to her stands UVic President Jamie Cassels and Minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Training Melanie Mark. ture. “When the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act passed unanimously in the B.C. legislature in 2019, we voted for systemic change,” said Mark. “The new National Centre for Indigenous Laws will be a place where the rights of Indigenous peoples in Canada will be recognized and upheld. This new space is being designed to allow for the unique ways in which Indigenous laws have been and are being practiced - in-
corporating ceremony and oral traditions - all within a culturally relevant space and expected to meet LEED Gold standards.” The 2016 Truth and Reconciliation report listed 94 calls to action in order to redress the legacy of residential schools and advance the process of improving relations with Canada’s Indigenous peoples. Number 50 in the report calls for equity for Aboriginal people in the legal system. “In keeping with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, we call upon the federal government, in collaboration with the Aboriginal organizations, to fund the establishment of Indigenous law institutes for the development, use and understanding of Indigenous laws and access to justice in accordance with the unique cultures of Aboriginal peoples in Canada,” states the TRC report. Mark, the ﬁrst female First Nations member of the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia and the ﬁrst female First Nations cabinet minister, pointed out that in her lifetime she has seen changes in Canada’s laws with respect to Indigenous peoples. “At one point in time Canada’s legal system was oﬀ-limits to Indigenous peoples, it was against the law for Indigenous people to become lawyers,” said Mark.
Today Indigenous Canadians can practice law and the National Centre for Indigenous Law could see the rise of a new generation of “briefcase warriors”, as she called them. “This is a historic step toward reconciliation and will be a positive legacy for social, economic and environmental justice,” Mark stated. Federal Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations Carolyn Bennet said Canada is proud to be part of this new initiative, stating that the center will project inclusion and diversity. She said that the government of Canada recognizes importance of the resurgence of Indigenous law and this is a step towards fulﬁlment of the calls to action. Lindsay LeBlanc, representative of the Law Foundation of BC, said she is proud to support the vital work at UVic law and to support the resurgence of Indigenous law. She said the foundation is thankful that the federal and provincial governments stepped up and supported this project. She noted that much work needs to be done to research and recover longsuppressed Indigenous laws. “The research and teachings at the center will play a vital role in helping to create are more just and inclusive Canada,” said Judith Sayers, Kekinusuqs, president of the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council.
Have You Moved? If you should be getting a copy of the Ha-Shilth-Sa paper delivered to your home, please contact : Holly Stocking at 250-724-5757 or firstname.lastname@example.org
September 10, 2020—Ha-Shilth-Sa—Page 13
------- Employment Opportunities ------Employment Opportunity Position: Literacy Outreach Coordinator Location: Toﬁno BC Wage: $30.66/hour The Coastal Family Resource Coalition (CFRC), in partnership with the Clayoquot Biosphere Trust (CBT), is seeking a part time employee to work an average of 8 hours per week dependant on funding from Decoda Literacy Solutions to support the Coastal Family Resource Coalitions implementation of the Dual Language Literacy Plan. Applicants are requested to submit a resume and a cover letter describing how their skills and experience meet the requirements of the role. Please also include the name and contact details for two references. The closing date for applications is September 18 2020, 23.59 PST. Interviews will be held online as necessary. Please submit completed applications to email@example.com. or view full job posting at hashilthsa.com/jobs Please contact Brooke Wood if you have any questions or to discuss the position, 250-725-8227 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Only qualiﬁed candidates living within the Clayoquot Biosphere Region will be considered.
Port Alberni Friendship Centre Volunteers Needed Need work experience? The Port Alberni Friendship Centre is looking for interested applicants for various positions. Hours per week vary. Call 250-723-8281
View more job postings at: www.hashilthsa.com
Page 14— Ha-Shilth-Sa—September 10, 2020
President’s message to Nuu-chah-nulth-aht Greetings to all Nuu-chah-nulth-aht. Hoping all is well with all of you and you are continuing to be take good care in wearing masks, washing hands and avoiding larger groups. We all must take responsibility to prevent the COVID virus from spreading. August was a very busy month with many issues keeping me busy. We have lost two important leaders in Nuu-chah-nulth territories. Legislative Chief Richard Leo of Kyuquot/ Cheklesaht and the Hawiih Norman George from Mowachaht Muchalaht. We send out our deepest condolences to the families and friends of these two men and their communities. They both contributed a lot of work and energy into making their communities a better place in this world, and promoted for the rights and title of their people. The hardest thing we have had to do through these COVID times is not be able to go and sit with the family before the funeral and attend at the funeral to pay our respects. We communicate however we can with family members and send prayers and strength and good energy their way. It is so hard to stay away when people need us. From across B.C. and Canada, we lost the great Nisga’a leader Joe Gosnell who helped conclude the Nisga’a Final Agreement. He assisted Nuu-chah-nulth in the early days of our own treaty negotiations advising on pitfalls and letting us know what was possible. Grand Chief Joe Norton of the Mohawks of Kanawake also passed away in his own territory and was one of the main players during Oka and played a role in many issues nationally. We sent our sympathies out to their family and communities. Nuu-chah-nulth have now recorded our ﬁrst COVID case on reserve. The Community is doing everything they can to stop the spread of the virus and using all the resources available to them. Our communities have worked hard to keep the virus out and will continue to do so. We issued a press release and called on the government to work with and ﬁnd solutions to our four criteria that we set out in early June. It has taken longer than we would like to get government cooperation. We continue to have almost weekly calls on the main table and sub tables we set up to deal with the four issues. The one point that we cannot agree on is having health authorities tell us when there is a case of COVID in a nearby community. We are working on other ways to get this information and will let you know when we launch the new idea. School districts are opening schools in the next two weeks. Our Education manager and our community representatives have been working hard to ﬁnd alternatives to our children not going to school. Hopefully there will be options to consider beyond just sending children back to school. A new health study was released that found there were far more deaths from overdoses than COVID. Clearly, a lot more eﬀort has to be put into preventing overdoses. We know that deep-rooted trauma will not end in a day and it will take long-term solutions and resources to allow our people to heal. Access to culture and ways of knowing and being will be critical in the healing of our people. In our press release on this issue, we asked that the governments acknowledge this and take action immediately to respond to this lethal crisis. Our ﬁsheries team have set up protocols on how they can work in the ﬁeld
Non-Insured Health Beneﬁts - NIHB Coverage – Travelling Out Side Of Country General Principles 1.
Prior approval is required.
2. The client must: a. Be eligible for the NIHB Program; and b. Be currently enrolled or eligible to be enrolled in a provincial or territorial health insurance plan and continue to meet residency requirements for provincial/territorial health coverage.
and keep physically distanced. They are still working hard at establishing salmon parks and have a partnership with West Coast Environmental Law and I participate in discussions on moving this work forward. They will be working closely with the northern nations. I was honoured to be appointed to be the next chancellor of Vancouver Island University. A chancellor represents the university to the external community. A chancellor plays an essential ambassadorial role in advancing the university’s interests within the local, provincial, national and international arenas. This is a very small time commitment and I will be able to continue to carry out my duties as president of NTC. It is an opportunity to make inroads into education and I look forward to it. My role begins in October. I am still continuing to work on justice for Chantel Moore and will be participating in a rally in Victoria. First Nations need to be part of an oversight body of the police, be part of the independent investigations team and have our own complaints commission. Without our participation, we will never ﬁnd justice. An Indigenous woman, Regis Porchinski Paquet, fell of her balcony in Toronto during a wellness check. The police were not charged in her death. The special investigations team found them not guilty. There were six oﬃcers in the apartment and they could not stop her from falling oﬀ the balcony. There is something wrong with that picture. Changing the justice system has to be a key in the work I am doing. In the case of Chantel Moore, the Quebec Bureau of Investigations in all of their many investigations have never recommended charges against the police. We are hoping in Chantel’s case they will recommend charges against the police oﬃcer that shot her senselessly on a wellness check. Our Vice-President Mariah Charleson and I are dealing with several issues with the police and advocating for Nuu-chahnulth people. We are looking at systemic changes to processes and procedures in the justice system, courts, police and other legal services. We have put oﬀ our annual general meeting that we would hold in September. We are looking to hold it in December. We hope that maybe we can meet in person and if not we will have to do it over the computer. Doing meetings over the computer has become our way of life right now but it is nothing like being able to meet in person, see other people and communicate more easily with each other. Wishing you the best during these times. Respectfully, Kekinusuqs Judith Sayers
3. For Transportation to Medical Services: For transportation to medical services outside of the country the client must be referred for provincially/territorially insured medical services by a provincial or territorial health care plan for treatment Shaganappi Plaza: wage change for Building Maintenance and Superintendent Windspeaker.com http://www.windspeaker.com/news/sweetgrass-news/building-maintenanceand-superintendent/ ammsa.com http://www.ammsa.com/content/careers/shaganappi-plaza-ltd-calgary outside of Canada. 4. For Supplemental Health Insurance Premiums: Full-time students enrolled in a post-secondary institution to study outside of Canada must provide a letter of conﬁrmation that tuition, which is not an eligible beneﬁt under the NIHB Program, has been paid. What is covered? For Supplemental Health Insurance Premiums: The cost of privately acquired health insurance premiums for approved students or migrant workers and their legal dependents will be reimbursed. For Transportation to Medical Services: Transportation beneﬁts when eligible clients are medically referred and approved for treatment outside of Canada by a provincial or territorial health care plan. For further information on coverage outside of Country you are encouraged to call First Nations & Inuit Health Branch (FNIHB), Vancouver BC toll free @ 1-800-317-7878 What You Should Know- “Before” Leaving British Columbia If you are leaving the province, you should be aware that your coverage may not pay all health care costs. Health services provided outside Canada often cost more than the amount paid by the Ministry of Health Services. Sometimes the diﬀerence is substantial; for example, the amount we pay for emergency inpatient hospital care will not exceed $75 (Canadian) a day for United States of exceeds $1,000 (US) per day and can be as high as $10,000 a day for intensive care. In addition, some items/services that may be a beneﬁt in BC are not covered outside the province; for example, prescription drugs and optometric services. Further, the Ministry does not subsidize fees charged for ambulance service obtained outside BC. We advise you to buy additional health insurance to supplement your basic coverage before you leave the province, regardless of whether you’ll be in another part of Canada or outside the country – even if your company or travel agency can advise you about extra coverage to pay for any diﬀerence in fees and to provide beneﬁts not covered by the Ministry. If you have a pre-existing medical condition, you must mention this when purchasing additional insurance as most policies will not cover treatment of that condition outside the province. In some cases you may purchase an insurance policy where the insurance company has a signed agreement with the Ministry. This permits the company to pay physician and hospital claims and receive reimbursement on your behalf thus eliminating the need for you to handle your own claims. NOTE: Ambulance – If you require ambulance service while in another province or outside Canada, you will need to obtain service from an ambulance company in that jurisdiction and will be charged the fee established by the-out-of-province service provider. Fees range from several hundred to several thousand dollars. When purchasing additional out-of-province health insurance you are advised to obtain insurance that will cover emergency transportation while you are away and, if necessary the cost of transportation back to BC. MSP Contact @ 1-250-386-7171 or fax 1-250-952-3427 – In case the number s have changed the web site is: www.healthservices.gov.bc.ca/msp
September 10, 2020—Ha-Shilth-Sa—Page 15
North islanders rely on teamwork for estuary cleanup Ehatis, Zeballos initiatives remove decades of waste from a river estuary that’s home to a diversity of species By Mike Youds Ha-Shilth-Sa Contributor Zeballos, BC - The Zeballos River estuary is cleaner than it has been for most of a century after collaboration between Ehatis and Zeballos residents with help from visiting volunteers. “I think we got 90 per cent of the anthropocene (man-made) junk out of the estuary,” said Karenn Bailey, stewardship co-ordinator with Nootka Sound Watershed Society (NSWS). “That’s amazing.” Equally impressive, they accomplished most of the cleanup in just one day, Aug. 25, relying on as many hands as they could muster in a town with a population of about 100 — the smallest municipality in B.C. — 24 volunteers in all. “Lots of work, lots of help, lots of good vibes from everybody,” said Justin Janisse, the Zeballos village councillor who led the initiative. On the other side of the estuary, Ehatis youth were ahead of them, having cleaned up the foreshore a few days earlier along what is known simply as “the beach.” “It felt good to get it all cleaned up and safer because young kids play down there,” said Jolynn Hanson, child and youth co-ordinator for Ehattesaht/Chinehkint First Nation. Kyle Harry started the cleanup initiative on the Ehatis side, she said. “We had a few summer students and they wanted some work, so I put them to work on the beach,” Hanson said. The youths are part of an after-school program that includes a variety of recreational activities and volunteer tasks. Shawna John, 15, and Aliya Mack, 14, pitched in, helping Hanson and Harry haul bicycles, clothes, chairs and other discarded materials from the shore. They also collected sharp objects hazardous to tender feet. Hanson recalls playing on the same beach as a child and the area is still used by village children. Young salmon and spawners also depend on the estuary, a designated wetland reserve that supports coho and chinook as well as small populations of steelhead and cutthroat trout. For roughly 80 per cent of ﬁsh, mammal and bird species, estuaries are thriving oases of life. Starting with a gold rush in the late 1930s, Zeballos brieﬂy became a mining
NSWS/ Karenn Bailey photos
From left, Roger Dunlop, Uu-a-tluk biologist, Adrian O’Connor of Reel Obsession Sport Fishing and Shawn McCarrick, operations manager with the Village of Zeballos, take part in a community cleanup of Zeballos River estuary. boom town. After the Second World War, logging eclipsed mining and remains an important employer in the area. A log dump is still in use on the inlet not far from the main estuary. “There hasn’t been a cleanup before,” Bailey said. “That’s why there’s so much industrial waste.” Wildlife viewing is a valued part of life in the community, Bailey said. An estuary viewing platform in the centre of town, estuary park and nature trail provide public access. Tourism and recreational ﬁshing have increased over the years. Zeballos River braids where it meets the sea, so four waterways were involved in the eﬀort on the municipal side of the estuary, Bailey said. They hauled tires, axles, containers, even a transmission from the river mud. Funded only by grants and donations,
Village of Zeballos residents and friends participated in the clean up on Aug. 25.
NSWS is a diverse group of area residents — DFO employees, First Nations representatives, local elected oﬃcials, biologists, industry representatives, commercial ﬁshermen, anglers and educators — that called in extra help for the job. Bailey noted there are only a couple thousand residents in the area between Yuquot and Rugged Point, which is located south of Kyuquot. Smaller communities sometimes need a hand to get jobs done. “There are only 2,000 people to do the work, so we need to draw on people from other communities,” she said. Despite their small size populationwise, their commitment to salmon is big, Bailey said. Volunteers from Campbell River drove over to join those from Zeballos and other west coast communities. They followed strict health and safety protocols,
respecting pandemic safeguards. “It worked out really well,” Bailey said. “There was a safety plan and a COVID plan and those tactical teams were very well-deﬁned before we went in. We had diﬀerent tactical teams and I was going between all of them to keep everyone in special bubbles.” Janisse said the plan is to make the community cleanup an annual event. “It was just great to get everybody connected and working on the same page,” he said. “All of us came together for the beneﬁt of salmon and the community,” Bailey added. “It was a good beginning and I think the long-term relationship with Ehattesaht and the Village of Zeballos will be strengthened.”
Page 16— Ha-Shilth-Sa—September 10, 2020