INTERESTING NEWS Canada’s Oldest First Nations Newspaper - Serving Nuu-chah-nulth-aht since 1974 Canadian Publications Mail Product Vol. 48 - No. 18—September 23, 2021 haas^i>sa Sales Agreement No. 40047776
Election brings another orange wave to west coast NDP incumbents retain representation of Nuu-chahnulth territory, awaiting another Liberal minority By Eric Plummer Ha-Shilth-Sa Editor
Photo by Eric Plummer
Carver Tim Paul and others pull oﬀ a shrowd to reveal a new new totem pole that now stands over Port Alberni’s Victoria Quay. Story on page 15.
Inside this issue... Prep work begins on Bamﬁeld road...........................Page 3 First Nations left out of forestry policy......................Page 6 Ahousaht member gets role with NFB.......................Page 7 Schools plan for Orange Shirt Day.............................Page 8 Pension clawbacks aﬀect the most vulnerable.........Page 11
Vancouver Island, BC - The federal election resulted in representation in Ottawa almost identical to how Parliament appeared when the vote was called in mid August, with an orange sweep across Nuu-chah-nulth territory and the House of Commons returning to a Liberal minority. Prime Minster Justin Trudeau did not regain the majority his party lost in the last federal election less than two years ago, collecting 158 seats from the Sept. 20 vote - three more than when the House of Commons last sat in the summer. Under new Leader Erin O’Toole the Conservatives retained their 119 seats, while the Bloc Québécois increased their seat count by two to 34 and the NDP grew its representation by one to 25. The Greens remain unchanged from the last Parliament with two elected to the House. As was the case two years ago, the Liberals garnered little support on Vancouver Island, often coming in third behind the NDP and Conservatives. All of the island’s ridings went to the NDP, with the exception of Elizabeth May’s longstanding Green tenure in the Saanich-Gulf Islands, and a vote count that remained inconclusive for Nanaimo-Ladysmith as of press time, where the Green’s Paul Manly last served as an MP. In Nuu-chah-nulth territory on the west coast, NDP incumbents Rachel Blaney, Gord Johns and Alistair MacGregor all retained their respective seats for North Island-Powell River, Courtenay-Alberni and Cowichan-Malahat-Langford. On the day after the election, Johns was feeling a combination of fatigue and excitement. He ﬁnished his campaign with a visit to Ahousaht on Sunday, and on the following day came out with over 7,000 votes more than the Conservative’s Mary Lee. “A lot of people were wondering why I ﬁnished my campaign where there’s a community of 325 voters out of 104,700 electors. It’s because they matter,” said Johns. “Canada beneﬁts truly from the wisdom, the deep cultural history, advice and knowledge of Ahousaht and all Nuuchah-nulth nations.” With another Liberal minority ahead, Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council President Judith Sayers reﬂected that the absence of a dominant party in Ottawa has beneﬁtted
Gord Johns First Nations on Vancouver Island’s west coast. “The only relief for me is that the Conservatives didn’t get in,” she said. “That’s going back to Harper days - but even worse…They really didn’t understand Indigenous people or any issues.” Although Trudeau’s government has not lived up to the expectations he set during his ﬁrst term, when he announced that no relationship was more important to Canada than that with First Nations, Sayers has seen some progress in recent years. “I think as time has gone on, we’ve been able to raise the prominence of our issues on a daily basis,” she said, referencing a visit this summer by Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller to Tseshaht territory. “I’ve seen the ministers become a lot more vocal within their portfolios than I’ve ever seen before.” For the last year and a half, COVID-19 has been a day-to-day issue for everyone in Canada, which led to criticism of Trudeau calling an election amidst the fourth wave of the pandemic. Reaching out to voters was diﬀerent then in past elections, observed the NDP’s MacGregor, who collected over 7,000 votes more than the Conservative’s Alana Delonge in Cowichan-Malahat-Langford. “Out on the campaign trail there weren’t as many public events as there were in elections past,” he said. “When I was out door-knocking we had to make sure that we were staying away from apartment buildings.”
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Continued on Page 3.
Page 2— Ha-Shilth-Sa—September 23, 2021
Lost ones remembered, work begins on Bamﬁeld road The three-year upgrade project is anticipated to be complete in Fall 2023, with an estimated cost of $30.7 million By Melissa Renwick Local Journalism Initiative Reporter Anacla, BC - Sept. 13 marked the twoyear anniversary of the bus crash that killed two university students who were traveling to the Bamﬁeld Marine Sciences Centre on an annual ﬁeld trip. On Sept. 13, 2019, a chartered bus carrying 45 students and two teaching assistants from the University of Victoria slid down an embankment on a logging road between Port Alberni and Bamﬁeld. The accident claimed the lives of 18-yearold John Geerdes and Emma McIntosh Machado, prompting further conversation around improving the safety of the gravel road. It has long been a concern of the Huuay-aht First Nations, who rely on it to access their traditional territory. The nation said it has made the condition of the road known to local and provincial governments since the early 2000s. Huu-ay-aht First Nations Chief Councillor Robert J. Dennis Sr. said he feels “dread” at the thought of having to travel down the Bamﬁeld Road to attend doctor’s appointments or to re-supply on groceries. “It’s a very stressful drive,” he said. “You have to brace yourself in case you hit something that might make the car shift.” Dennis said the tragedy of the accident “opened the eyes of our government representatives” and in September 2020, the province of B.C. partnered with Huu-ayaht to make “vital safety improvements” to the 76-kilometre stretch of unpaved
Photo supplied by Huu-ay-aht First Nations
Bamﬁeld ACRD Director Bob Beckett, Port Alberni Mayor Sharie Minions, Huu-ay-aht Chief Councillor Robert Dennis, Premier John Horgan, Head Hereditary Chief Derek Peters, and former MLA Scott Fraser take a moment to remember the lives lost on the Bamﬁeld Road on Nov. 14, 2020. Huu-ay-aht Councillor Edward R. Johnson and Hereditary Chief Jeﬀ Cook perform a prayer. Huu-ay-aht is contributing the additional Pre-development work has begun in road. $5 million. preparation for hard surfacing the road “The lives lost on this road is just one “Huu-ay-aht First Nations have been with a seal coat. Due to its smoother reason Huu-ay-aht has dedicated countadvocating for these road improvements surface, the province said that besides less hours over decades to upgrade the for many years,” said Scott Fraser, former improving the road’s safety, it will cut Bamﬁeld road,” Dennis said in a release. minister of Indigenous Relations and greenhouse-gas emission by decreasing “I will never forget the September night Reconciliation, in a release from 2020 travel times. when I arrived on the scene of the bus when the province announced the road After more than 20 years in his position crash. Huu-ay-aht has never wavered upgrades. “Their partnership is central to as chief councillor, Dennis said progress from our belief that we need to upgrade this important project, which will support to the road’s condition makes him feel the road to keep people safe. I am proud reconciliation goals, our treaty relation“very relieved.” that this project is ﬁnally underway, and ship and, most importantly, safer travel “I often think of the families that lost I hope it will mean no more lives are lost for Huu-ay-aht members to and from loved ones [on the road],” said Dennis. on the Bamﬁeld Road.” “This is in their honour … we had to The three-year upgrade project is antici- their community. This project is also key to building the critical infrastructure do this. We had to ﬁnd a way to ﬁx the pated to be complete in Fall 2023 and is road.” estimated to cost $30.7 million. The prov- the communities in this region need to thrive.” ince is contributing $25.7 million and
September 23, 2021—Ha-Shilth-Sa—Page 3
Ambulance changes in remote communities Province hires 85 more paramedics, but some worry the scheduling shift could put isolated se•lements at risk By Melissa Renwick Local Journalism Initiative Reporter The province is strengthening its ambulance system through its largest hiring push in B.C.’s history in rural and remote areas. Health Minister Adrian Dix said 24 ambulance stations will move from on-call staﬃng to 24-7 service. An additional 26 smaller stations will be getting more “permanent, regular paramedics” beginning Nov. 1. Some of the communities listed to beneﬁt from these improvements include: Lake Cowichan, Toﬁno, Tahsis and Zeballos, all of which Nuu-chah-nulth nations rely on. “When we call 911 for help, British Columbians need to feel conﬁdent that help is on the way and that it will arrive quickly,” Dix said in a release. “The signiﬁcant progress made by BC Emergency Health Services over the summer will ensure a more eﬀective ambulance service for patients and families who depend on it. Better support for paramedics and dispatchers will help them do the vital work we count on every day.” Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council (NTC) Vice-President Mariah Charleson said she is happy to see “a push for essential services to reach our rural and remote communities.” “People who live in these rural and remote communities often suﬀer in silence,” she said. “These are communities that are removed from services like the ambulance, services like the hospital, a dentist, a grocery store or a post oﬃce.”
Ehattesaht First Nation’s village of Ehatis is located next to Zeballos, which sits at the end of a 42-kilometre unpaved active logging road. Residents who require basic needs, such as hospital services or groceries, must travel to the nearest commercial centre in Port McNeill, which is 84 kilometres away, or Campbell River. Ehattesaht First Nation Councillor Ernie Smith said that a lack of access to emergency services could mean the diﬀerence between life and death. “If somebody has a heart attack or a stroke you can’t be waiting an hour and a half for an ambulance to come [from Port McNeill],” he said. In May, Zeballos Mayor Julie Colborne expressed her concern about the “sustainability of BC Ambulance services in the Zeballos area” in a letter addressed to minister Dix. When the BC Emergency Health Services (BCEHS) proposed a new paramedic staﬃng model in rural and remote communities called Scheduled On-Call, it raised alarm bells. “I see this move as a catastrophic collapse of a service,” wrote Colborne. Under the new model, Colborne said Zeballos would have one regular parttime paid paramedic, and the remaining hours would be covered by on-call paramedics that would receive a stipend of $2 per hour until their pager goes oﬀ. If on duty, they’d receive regular pay for a minimum of four hours. The community had been previously operating under the “kilo guarantee” model, which provided on-call staﬀ with a minimum of four hours pay regardless
Mariah Charleson of whether they were called-out or not. “This [shift] is concerning to a small community for several reasons, including availability of paramedics in community; issues with recruitment and retention, coverage for the area; and safety of our community, the area, its visitors, and workers,” Colborne wrote. NTC echoed Colborne’s concern in a separate letter addressed to Dix in June. “Changing [or] diminishing the current service model will undoubtedly have lasting eﬀects and some of those could potentially be fatal,” it read. “The risks are too big.” The province’s latest move to convert rural stations to full-time staﬃng is being called Alpha. “We’re happy to see that there has been a stronger push for understanding the risks that are associated with having that lack of access to essential services,” said Charleson. According to the Ministry of Health, the
hiring of the 85 new paramedics and 30 new dispatchers is currently underway. “We are on track with ﬁlling new paramedic and dispatch positions, and I know this is going to create more stability in our staﬃng and improve our emergency medical response and our community paramedic services in rural and remote B.C. in particular,” said Leanne Heppell, BCEHS interim chief ambulance oﬃcer, in a release. Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation Emergency Preparedness Coordinator Elmer Frank said his nation is looking forward to seeing a growth in services. “We know with our participation in our regional COVID-19 response teams that there’s a high demand for ambulance services,” he said. The provincial government developed the Rural, Remote, First Nations and Indigenous COVID-19 Response Framework in May to help ensure people living in remote Indigenous communities “have access to critical health care they can count on.” Remote Nuu-chah-nulth nations were among the ﬁrst in B.C. to receive the COVID-19 vaccine in January. For Charleson, it stood as an example of Indigenous peoples’ needs being met. As the winter season approaches and safety risks associated with traveling inand-out of remote communities increases, Charleson said she’s relieved that change is coming. “It’s something that we’ve been ﬁghting for,” she said. “Ensuring that our rural and remote communities’ needs are being met.”
Leaders look to implementation of UNDRIP Act Continued from Page 1. “None of us wanted this election, and at the same time we’ve got lots of work to do,” added Johns. When MPs do return to the House this fall a critical item for reconciliation with First Nations will be going forward with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People’s Act. This legislation, which received Royal assent in June, has been called a framework to guide Canada’s implementation of the UN declaration in consultation with Aboriginal peoples. But what entails proper consultation is a critical matter, cautions Sayers. For the
government to just gather input from the Assembly of First Nations is not good enough. “AFN is not the rights holder,” she said of the national advocacy organization. It will be up to the NDP and other parties to ensure that the Liberals are “respecting the spirit and intent of that law,” stressed MacGregor. “In trying to make sure that our federal laws are in harmony with the UN declaration, I think it’s going to be up to each individual critic in the opposition side,” he said. “Reconciliation, deﬁned and led by First Nations and Indigenous communities, has
to be guided by the implementation of the UN declaration,” added Johns. “It needs an implementation timeline.” The Government of Canada’s language that accompanied the passing of Bill C-15 mentions seeking input from Indigenous peoples “in decision-making and management activities”, collaborating “in a manner that gives voice to the declaration.” But this will hit many Nuu-chah-nulthaht who rely on ocean resources with a bitter irony. After over a decade of stalled negotiations and multiple court decisions that aﬃrmed the rights of ﬁve Nuu-chahnulth nations to catch and sell ﬁsh from
their respective territorial waters, a message from hereditary chiefs authorized their people to disregard catch allocations set by Fisheries and Oceans Canada. The Aug. 4 message from Ahousaht, Hesquiaht, Mowachaht/Muchalaht, Tla-o-qui-aht and Ehattesaht Ha’wiih permitted their people to harvest according to the First Nations’ own ﬁshing plans. “The government needs to come to the table with a real mandate to address the court decision and ensure that Indigenous people aren’t back in court, that they’re out on the water ﬁshing,” said Johns. “I really believe that when the Nuu-chahnulth prosper, everybody prospers.”
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Maaqtusiis school Photo
The opening of Maaqtusiis Elementary and Secondary Schools has been delayed due to rising COVID-19 cases.
Cases delay school start in Ahousaht Elementary and high school closed for deep cleaning due to cases in community
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By Denise Titian Ha-Shilth-Sa Reporter Ahousaht, BC – The opening of Ahousaht’s Maaqtusiis Elementary and Secondary Schools has been delayed due to rising numbers of COVID-19 cases in the village. According to Rebecca Atleo, Ahousaht’s director of education, the school will hopefully open Sept. 27, 2021. “Unfortunately, the numbers of positive COVID cases in our departments warranted closing all the departments in our education system,” Atleo wrote in an email to Ha-Shilth-Sa. She went to state that janitorial staﬀ will do a deep sanitizing of all Ahousaht’s education buildings. “We have assured parents that the required number of hours will not be affected,” she added. The school will continue to supply hand sanitizers to its students for the remainder of the school year as a safety measure, not only for COVID-19, but also for general colds and ﬂu. Atleo indicated that there is concern about the families that traveled to Port Alberni during the Fall Fair weekend. “We shall see what happens after this
Fall Fair weekend. Quite a few of our community members attended with their children,” she noted. In his Sept. 8, community update, Ahousaht elected chief Greg Louie conﬁrmed that his oﬃce received news from provincial health authorities that another resident has tested positive for COVID-19, bringing the number of cases in Ahousaht to six. Louie says the aﬀected people are selfisolating at home, as recommended by provincial health authorities. “Please be supportive…don’t be angry and don’t be blaming,” Louie reminded membership. In light of this news, Louie says both Ahousaht elementary and secondary schools were closed for sanitizing. Louie reported that both schools were deep cleaned on Sept. 8. In addition, Louie stated that staﬀ from both schools have been directed to stay home and self-monitor for symptoms. The Ahousaht education director could not be reached for school start times, but a principal posted on social media that Grade 8 would begin on Sept. 13 away from the school. A two-day orientation and culture camp was planned for eighth graders on an island away from the vil-
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lage, but that has since been cancelled due to the COVID cases in the community. Louie has been in touch with a pandemic nurse and relayed advice. If you have been exposed and fully vaccinated two weeks prior to exposure, you do not need to isolate. If you have not been vaccinated or are partially vaccinated and have been exposed, you should self-isolate and monitor yourself for symptoms – fever, chills, cough and chest pain. If you have symptoms, get tested. “The guidelines are always changing,” Louie told his audience. Some people, he noted, are becoming complacent. He reminded people to continue to be on guard. “Island Health does contact tracing and will contact you if you have been exposed,” said Louie. Upcoming vaccination clinics will be open to people ages 12 and over. Louie says visitors are allowed in the community on the condition that the people that they are staying with are comfortable having them. “If you do come visit, you must be well and not have any recent exposures…no symptoms,” said Louie.
Ha-Shilth-Sa belongs to every Nuu-chah-nulth person including those who have passed on, and those who are not yet born. A community newspaper cannot exist without community involvement. If you have any great pictures you’ve taken, stories or poems you’ve written, or artwork you have done, please let us know so we can include it in your newspaper. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. This year is Ha-Shilth-Sa’s 47th year of serving the Nuu-chah-nulth First Nations. We look forward to your continued input and support. Kleco! Kleco!
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September 23, 2021—Ha-Shilth-Sa—Page 5
Housing survey aims to address community needs Availability crisis continues, as cost of three-bedroom rentals in Toﬁno, Ucluelet up 51 per cent over ﬁve years By Melissa Renwick Local Journalism Initiative Reporter Toﬁno, BC - Three Nuu-chah-nulth nations are participating in a housing survey to better understand their community’s needs. Tla-o-qui-aht, Toquaht and Ucluelet First Nations are collaborating with the Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District, the District of Toﬁno and the District of Ucluelet to develop an accurate picture of the housing situation on the west coast. “These surveys will become an important part of our toolkit as a government,” said Spencer Touchie, Yuułuʔiłʔatḥ Government assets manager. “We will be completing the same process every ﬁve years so we can watch trends in our communities and use the data to strengthen our case for more housing.” Data collected by the Coastal Family Resource Coalition over the past ﬁve years indicates that the cost of renting three-bedroom units in Toﬁno and Ucluelet is up 51 per cent. Meanwhile, the average house in Toﬁno costs nearly $800,000, and more than $600,000 in Ucluelet. From 2012 to 2018, the value of a single-family home rose 39 per cent in Toﬁno, 32 per cent in Ucluelet and 38 per cent in Port Alberni, according to the Clayoquot Biosphere Trust’s 2018 vital signs report. “The cost of living has gone up and so has market rent,” said Sheila Seitcher, Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation housing manager. “The survey is important because it helps us identify need and potential options outside of our community boundaries.” Tla-o-qui-aht is currently designing 90 mixed-residential housing lots for their community in Ty-Histanis. Around 20 lots will be reserved for members who want to build themselves, and the others will address community needs through the construction of various multi-family and single-family homes, said Seitcher. The nation is hoping to break ground within the next year or two, she added. Meanwhile, Tla-o-qui-aht members who applied for housing six years ago are still on the waitlist. “We just don’t have enough housing,” said Seitcher. “That also poses a problem when we have neighbouring communities like Ahousaht and Hot Springs looking for housing. It makes it really hard for them too. I’m hoping we can start to look at those issues as well.” Not only are Tla-o-qui-aht members struggling to secure housing, but they’re
Photo by Eric Plummer
Tla-o-qui-aht is currently designing 90 mixed-residential housing lots for their community in Ty-Histanis. Around 20 lots will be reserved for members who want to build themselves, and the others will address community needs through the construction of various multi-family and single-family homes. also ﬁnding it challenging to keep up with payments. To make ends meet, Seitcher said members are regularly having to use services, such as the food bank and housing assistance. The West Coast Housing Need and Demand Survey will help identify available services and oﬀ-reserve housing opportunities for members with unique needs, she said. Most of Tla-o-qui-aht’s houses are set-up for families. As a result, Seitcher said that young, single members are often forced to ﬁnd accommodation outside of the community. Up-to-date data will allow the nation to search for funding opportunities, develop pilot-projects and create partnerships with local businesses and organizations, said Seitcher. Tla-o-qui-aht is hoping to encourage its members to participate through door-todoor engagement, she said. Similarly, Touchie said he hopes to get as many participants from Ucluelet First Nation involved as possible. “Smaller sample sizes will only get us less accurate data,” he said. “We can’t only use data derived from tools like the census to get a better picture of the needs
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of our own people.” Through community input, M’akola Development Services Project Lead Sandy Mackay said that the survey will also capture a clearer picture of what community members envision for their future. “It’s really about understanding what the current situation is,” said Mackay. “Trying to understand how you, as a member of these communities or potential members of these communities, want your housing situation to evolve and grow. That will allow participating nations to design their development processes to
focus on speciﬁc types of units.” While many are struggling to ﬁnd housing in the region, Seitcher said the situation is not unique to the west coast. “It’s happening everywhere in Canada at the moment,” she said. “Toﬁno is a really small community, so we don’t have a lot of land to begin with.” Because of that, Seitcher said she hopes to see more apartment and condominiumstyle projects moving forward. “We have a greater need for diﬀerent types of housing,” she said.
Page 6— Ha-Shilth-Sa—September 23, 2021
Nations left out of policy work, says forestry council Some fear cultural and economic rights could be broken if the province pushes through forestry modernization By Eric Plummer Ha-Shilth-Sa Editor Despite a pledge from the premier that Indigenous people will see an expanded role in forestry, a group of First Nations are feeling left out of the consultation process as the province seeks to modernize the sector. Modernizing Forest Policy in B.C., a government document released last spring, admits that the province’s forestry framework that was implemented nearly 20 years ago is out of date. The paper notes that B.C.’s timber supply is decreasing, particularly among older trees. “A renewed old-growth strategy will balance the need to support and protect workers with the need for additional deferrals of old-growth to protect species at risk, key species habitat and enhancing biodiversity,” reads the document. “B.C.’s ﬁbre supply will likely see more reductions as a result.” When the intention paper was released on June 1, Premier John Horgan stressed the need for First Nations to have a larger role in forestry, which would entail doubling the tenure they hold. “Current forestry policies – put in place two decades ago – don’t adequately address today’s challenges,” stated Horgan in June. “They have limited our options to adapt to the impacts of climate change, protect old growth, share the beneﬁts fairly with local communities or move forward on reconciliation.” But concerns have since arisen that the province is pushing the policy development through, giving First Nations little opportunity to have a say in what happens in their territories. On Sept. 8 the First Nations Forestry Council sent a letter to the premier, expressing frustration on the consultation process, which is meant to inform the province’s next framework to guide forestry management. The letter says the government’s intention paper was developed by ministry staﬀ, with no input from First Nations. This letter was endorsed by 20 First Nations and Indigenous organizations, including the Nuchatlaht Tribe. “The engagement process is ﬂawed and does not support meaningful consultation. First Nations are rights holders not stakeholders,” reads the forestry council letter. “The process is being expedited during a time of crisis due to wildﬁres.”
Photo supplied by Huu-ay-aht First Nation
The Sarita Log Sort, purchased in 2017, is part of the Huu-ay-aht’s pursuit of opportunity through forestry in its territory. The First Nation and others fear that a process has left them out of the province’s update to how forests are managed. This summer the Huu-ay-aht asked the province to extend the consultation period, which is needed for the First Nation to prepare adequate input into future forestry policy. “It was asking a lot of things that required a considerable amount of time to review,” said Chief Councillor Robert Dennis Sr. of the consultation process. “All of the things they are proposing deﬁnitely do infringe on our treaty rights, deﬁnitely infringe on our aboriginal rights. Those are things we want to address and look at.” This infringement could happen if the government dictates how old growth is managed without the guidance of First Nations leaders, explained Dennis. He looks to the possible inﬂuence of ongoing protests near Port Renfrew, where over 1,000 people have been arrested since police began enforcing a court in junction in mid May. Since August the Rainforest Flying Squad has manned blockades in the area to prevent forestry access into the Fairy Creek Watershed, which is in Pacheedaht territory. “Say, for example, the province decides to respect the protest movement and halt all old growth logging,” said Dennis.
“Well, that means right oﬀ the bat that our rights to harvest an old growth cedar to build a canoe will be infringed upon. If they decide to halt all old growth logging, it will infringe on economic right to make a living within our territory.” “[John Horgan] supports Pacheedaht in their right to determine how their forests should be managed in terms of the modernization review,” added Dennis. “I’m hoping he takes that forward to apply to all First Nations in B.C.” In recent years the Huu-ay-aht have been taking a growing stake in forestry south of Port Alberni, including gaining an expanded tenure over a large section of Crown land that covers much of their traditional territory. Accounting for 60 to 80 per cent of revenue each year, forestry is by far the largest generator in the Huuay-aht Group of Businesses. “I see tourism as a critical component, but I don’t see tourism as being the staple,” said Dennis. “With the road upgrade coming in, we might see a shift a few years from now, but in the meantime we’ve got to focus on what our potential is.” Meanwhile, the province is tasked with implementing recommendations of the
Old Growth Strategic Review Panel Report, which was released a year ago to guide how British Columbia’s ancient trees are managed in the future. In the report veteran foresters Al Gorley and Garry Merkel write that First Nations are destined to be “key players” in how old growth is managed, noting a transition among the public from a human-centric view of using old trees to a now widely held belief that old growth has critical value to all living things. Consulting its citizens on old growth has been part of community engagement sessions the Huu-ay-aht recently held in Pachena Bay, Port Alberni and Vancouver, said Dennis. This is to prepare an integrated resource management plan, a two-year process that the Pacheedaht and Ditidaht are also undertaking. “It’s actually going to be two years before we get the information we need to respond to such a complex issue,” said Dennis. “We also met with our elders, and there were no concerns expressed about old growth.” “We’re ﬁne with responding to what our citizens want, but we’re not okay with outside people telling us how to manage our forests,” he added.
Book focusses on Nuu-chah-nulth food and culture By Denise Titian Ha-Shilth-Sa Reporter Seattle, WA – A Tseshaht scholar living and working in Seattle, WA, is about to publish her second book focusing on Indigenous culture and food sovereignty. Dr. Charlotte Coté will be releasing A Drum in One Hand, A Sockeye in the Other in January 2022. Her book explores Nuu-chah-nulth food practices, both in precontact time and in a more contemporary context. “Charlotte Coté shares contemporary Nuu-chah-nulth practices of traditional food revitalization in the context of broader eﬀorts to re-Indigenize contemporary diets on the Northwest Coast,” states the publisher’s press release. “Coté oﬀers evocative stories of her Tseshaht community’s and her own work to revitalize relationships to haʔum (traditional food) as a way to nurture health and wellness.”
Precontact Nuu-chah-nulth diets consisted mostly of ﬁsh, whale or ﬁsh oil, berries, and roots. It was low in carbohydrates and high in healthy fats. A more westernized diet with its processed food has had adverse eﬀects on Indigenous peoples, who suﬀer higher incidences of diabetes, hypertension, and obesity. In her introduction Dr. Coté questions the eﬀects of colonialism on the health of Indigenous peoples across the continent. Besides living in overcrowded conditions that are conducive to the spread of viruses like COVID-19, she contends that the foods we eat are weakening our immune system. “As leading medical scholars, doctors, and food advocates point out: ‘Among the most signiﬁcant risk factors for hospitalization and death in COVID-19 are the presence of diet-related chronic diseases such as hypertension’,” writes Coté. A Drum in One Hand, A Sockeye in the Other examines local foods that were
once plentiful to Nuu-chah-nulth-aht. She starts out with childhood memories of growing up with grandparents and extended family harvesting ﬁsh and berries in the Alberni Valley. Cote recalls berry picking trips on mountain logging roads during the 1970s. In one story she tells of seeing her grandmother pick wild blackberries near a stump with a black bear feasting on berries on the other side of the stump. The book tells of the Somass River and its life-giving salmon to the Tseshaht. The harvest of sockeye not only allowed the Tseshaht to build winter food stocks with a source of healthy protein, but also played an important role in a social context. Family groups came together to harvest, prepare and preserve the food. Elders in the family would pass down generations of knowledge and skills to younger people. “C̓uumaʕas and miʕaat (Somass River and sockeye salmon) are central to the
sacred food practices that have been a crucial part of the Indigenous community’s eﬀorts to enact food sovereignty, decolonize their diet, and preserve their ancestral knowledge,” reads the publisher’s press release. Food Sovereignty is deﬁned by La Via Campesina on the Food Secure Canada website in this way, “(it) is the right of peoples to healthy and culturally appropriate food produced through ecologically sound and sustainable methods, and their right to deﬁne their own food and agriculture systems.” “As Indigenous peoples continue to face food insecurity due to ongoing inequality, environmental degradation and the Westernization of traditional diets, Cote foregrounds healing and cultural sustenance via everyday enactments of food sovereignty: berry picking, salmon ﬁshing, and building a community garden on reclaimed residential school grounds, “ says the publisher.
September 23, 2021—Ha-Shilth-Sa—Page 7
Ahousaht member gains position with NFB Ayayqwayaksheelth will be tasked to implement the NFB’s Indigenous Action Plan, with a•ention to TRC calls By Sam Laskaris Ha-Shilth-Sa Contributor Toronto, ON – An Ahousaht First Nation member has begun work on her newest plum position. J’Net Ayayqwayaksheelth has been named as the director of Indigenous Relations and Community Engagement for the National Film Board of Canada (NFB). With this newly created position, Ayayqwayaksheelth will help guide the implementation of the NFB’s Indigenous Action Plan as well as its organizational transformation. Though she had been performing some administration work for a few weeks to prepare for her new job, Ayayqwayaksheelth’s ﬁrst oﬃcial day with the NFB was on Monday of this week, Sept. 20. She’ll be working closely with the NFB’s existing Indigenous Advisory Committee. And she’ll also be part of the NFB’s executive committee. The NFB will also soon be naming a director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. Like Ayayqwayaksheelth, this new individual will report directly to Claude Joli-Coeur, who is the NFB chair and government ﬁlm commissioner. Ayayqwayaksheelth is joining the NFB after spending the past seven years as the Indigenous outreach and learning coordinator with the Learning Department at the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) in Toronto. And before she worked at the ROM, she was the developer and manager of the Indigenous curriculum at Centennial College in Toronto from 2011 through 2013. She also brieﬂy worked as the partner-
ship facilitator at the Association for Native Development in the Performing and Visual Arts, an arts service organization based in Toronto. Now that she’s working for the NFB, Ayayqwayaksheelth will continue to live in Toronto, which has been home since 2007. Starting next week, however, she’ll be moving to Sept-Iles, a city in eastern Quebec in order to take a three-month French-immersion course. “I have to do that to fulﬁll my commitment to be bilingual (English and French) as a government servant,” she said. Though she describes her current French as “minimal”, Ayayqwayaksheelth said she has been bilingual for more than 30 years. Besides English, she is ﬂuent in sign language. As for what she hopes to accomplish with the NFB, Ayayqwayaksheelth recited one of her favourite quotes from Dr. Leroy Little Bear, an oﬃcer of the Order of Canada and a respected advocate and leader for First Nations education, rights, self-governance, language and culture. “It’s your job to change the conversation,” Ayayqwayaksheelth said, quoting Little Bear. “That’s my hope as an Indigenous leader in a national venue.” She added she’s thrilled the NFB created this new position. “For an outspoken Indigenous arts leader like myself, this opportunity represents a turning of the page in authentic Indigenous storytelling in Canadian ﬁlmmaking,” she said. “We are overdue to have these diﬃcult conversations. By introducing this senior-level position, it signals that the NFB is ready and willing to do
J’Net Ayayqwayaksheelth the work of remembering and acknowledging ongoing Indigenous excellence and innovation.” She had heard about the NFB job posting earlier this year. “So, I reached out to some of my leadership mentors,” Ayayqwayaksheelth said, adding she was convinced to apply for the position after a 45-minute chat with Jesse Wente, an Ojibwe who is the chair of the Canadian Council for the Arts, who felt she was an ideal candidate. After a pair of interviews, Ayayqwayaksheelth was oﬀered the position in late August. “They’re very excited to have me on board so I can get to work on their Indigenous Action Plan,” she said. The NFB ﬁrst announced its plan in 2017.
“J’net will help us to transform our organization to respond to the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the concerns of Indigenous creators,” Joli-Coeur said. “She is a champion for systemic change who is committed to building bridges and fostering dialogue. And I’m excited to begin working with her to help us better meet the needs of Indigenous peoples and the country.” Besides working on the NFB’s Indigenous Action Plan, Ayayqwayaksheelth will also be responsible for supporting the board’s Indigenous activities, as well as working with senior management to remove barriers for career opportunities for Indigenous people. Her responsibilities will also include making sure that the cultural and spiritual needs of Indigenous employees and artists are being met and understood. And she’ll provide cultural awareness to nonIndigenous staﬀ and artists. During her ﬁrst oﬃcial day at the NFB on Monday, Ayayqwayaksheelth met with various members of its Indigenous advisory committee via Zoom. The 10-person committee includes legendary Indigenous ﬁlmmaker Alanis Obomsawin, who is also a producer/director and cultural attache for the NFB. Other members of the committee include Monika Ille, who is the executive director of programming for the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network, Jason Ryle who is the artistic director for the Toronto-based imagineNATIVE Film and Media Arts Festival and ﬁlmmakers Tasha Hubbard, Lisa Jackson and ElleMaija Tailfeathers.
NOTICE OF PESTICIDE USE Pesticide Use Permit (PUP) #866-0006-21-24 Cermaq Canada Ltd., 203-919 Island Highway, Campbell River, BC, V9W 2C2, (250)-286-0022. Notice is given that the pest control product Interox TM Paramove TM 50 (active ingredient Hydrogen Peroxide) will be used in the marine environment for the topical removal of sea lice from aquaculture fish. Registration Number: 31393 Pest Control Products Act PMRA. Paramove 50 will only be used in accordance with the directions as per the product label and the PRMA. Paramove 50 will be administered by using well boats. Treatment locations are leased from the Province of BC, LF numbers 1401590, 1401589, 1403262, 1408492, 1407342, 1403979, 1403980, 1403914 & 1413555 located in the Clayoquot Region. ParamoveTM 50 Guarantee: Hydrogen Peroxide 50% For the Control of Sea Lice on salmon in fish farms Registration Number: 31393 Pest Control Products Act. PRMA The proposed treatments are under review, subsequent to the potential need and could commence after October 18, 2021. The treatments will be veterinarian prescribed with intermittent use. The proposed duration of use is approximately three years ending September 16, 2024. Detailed maps of the specific treatment areas and copies of the permit application can be viewed at Cermaq Canada Ltd. at the address above or visit https://www.cermaq.ca/public-trust/publicreporting . A person wishing to receive permitted pesticide use and related integrated pest management information on the planned treatment may contact Tom Foulds, Cermaq Canada at the address or phone number noted above between the hours of 8:30am – 5:00pm.
Page 8— Ha-Shilth-Sa—September 23, 2021
Schools plan events for Orange Shirt Day A. W. Neill Elementary to be renamed on Sept. 29 to overcome associations with the residential school system By Karly Blats Ha-Shilth-Sa Contributor Port Alberni, BC - This year Orange Shirt Day coincides with the ﬁrst National Day for Truth and Reconciliation—a new federal statutory holiday that recognizes the colonial legacy of residential schools while honouring Indigenous survivors. Although schools will be closed on September 30, events are still planned for students to recognize Orange Shirt Day and learn about the legacy of residential schools. Dave Maher, School District 70 (SD70) Indigenous education worker and principal, said SD70 has been working with the Haaḥuupc̓amis Cultural Council, Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council (NTC) and individual communities to plan how to honour and learn about the upcoming Day of Truth and Reconciliation. He said the SD70 Indigenous Education Department has created a series of lessons to be introduced in classrooms prior to the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, as well as throughout the year. “We believe that Orange Shirt Day, or the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, is a day to honour and a day to acknowledge both the truth aspects of the day, particularly with acknowledgement of residential schools, but also the reconciliation piece,” Maher said. “The day is meant for honouring and acknowledging but the entire year we need to engage in acts of understanding, acts of learning about truth and reconciliation.” In consultation with the Haaḥuupc̓amis Cultural Council, Hupacasath First Nation, Tseshaht First Nation and NTC, SD70 will be honouring the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation with a ceremonial renaming of AW Neill Elementary to c̓uumaʕas Tsuma-as Elementary School. Tsuma-as (pronounced SOO-mahs) is the Nuuchah-nulth name for the Somass River. School District 70 board members voted unanimously to rename the school in 2020 because of claims that Alan Webster Neill, who was an Alberni mayor, a member of the B.C. Legislature and an MP for Comox-Alberni from 1921-1945, was involved in the operation of the Alberni Indian Residential School. Neill had also been vocally racist toward people of Asian heritage and made multiple eﬀorts in the House of Commons to deny voting rights to Asian immigrants. Before changing the name, the school board thoroughly consulted with the school’s PAC and students and elected oﬃcials from the Tseshaht and Hupacasath First Nations. The new name hasn’t oﬃcially been placed on the outside of the building yet and the renaming event on Sept. 29 will be ceremonial. “We will be hosting a renaming ceremony at c̓uumaʕas Tsuma-as Elementary School starting at 10:30 a.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 29,” Maher said. “This event will be live streamed out to all SD70 schools and will be available for all community members who prefer to watch from their homes rather than be physically present.” Maher said SD70 wanted to ensure the ceremony was done in the correct way, so they’ve requested the presence of the hereditary chiefs and elected leadership from the Tseshaht and Hupacasath First Nations. He added that Jean Thomas,
Photos by Eric Plummer
Haahuupayak students perform in front of Maht Mahs for Orange Shirt Day in 2018. Sept. 30, now federally called National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, has become a civic holiday across Canada, but school districts have plans to recognize the legacy of the residential school system leading up to the day. Nuu-chah-nulth education worker and Tseshaht elder will be hosting the event and guiding guests through the cultural protocols for the ceremony. Maher said he’s happy there’s now a stat holiday to recognize truth and reconciliation, topics SD70 Indigenous education workers have been teaching to all grade levels over the past several years. He said that leading up to September 30, diﬀerent concepts around truth and reconciliation will be taught to all SD70 students. “Our K to Grade 3 students will talk about family, the importance of family and then explore a concept of loss or loss of family and how that feels,” Maher said. “For our intermediate students, we’ll start getting into a more historical understanding of what residential schools were, what the Indian Act is and many challenges that are faced in provinces across Canada and the cities we live in.” For the senior grades, Maher said it becomes far more of a truth telling event to ensure there’s awareness of the absolute tragedies that occurred locally and throughout the country. Maher said SD70 with the NTC have purchased a large number of orange shirts so that students and staﬀ will be able to access them. He encourages everyone to wear orange on September 29 when school is in session and to the name unveiling event on September 30. “We encourage everyone to have on orange shirts as a demonstration of acknowledgement of truth and reconciliation and as acknowledgment of Orange Shirt Day to bring awareness for healing for all,” he said.
On the west coast, students from Ucluelet Secondary School will be able to view the museum exhibit ‘Escaping Residential Schools’ from the Legacy of Hope Foundation. The exhibit will be available at the school from Sept. 24 to Oct.1. Jason Sam, Nuu-chah-nulth education worker, said he’s working with three classes at Ucluelet Secondary School to develop student-lead content to supplement the exhibit. “Speciﬁcally, our Art 9/10 class is learning about Orange Shirt Day, learning how to design and screen print our own orange shirts in school. These will be displayed alongside a write-up of the students’ meaning behind the design,” Sam said in an email. “Our Literary Studies 11 class will be learning about truth and reconciliation and the 94 Calls to Action. They will then research speciﬁc calls to action, and do a project for the exhibit. Our BC First Peoples 12 class will be researching speciﬁc Indian Residential Schools in B.C. and will be completing projects for the exhibit.” Sam said all students in the school will attend the exhibit and that it’s open to Grade 6 and 7 students from both Ucluelet Elementary and Wickaninnish Community School. It will also be open to the public for limited viewing from Sept. 29 to Oct.1. For School District 84, events leading up to September 30 are also planned. Lawrence Tarasoﬀ, SD84 superintendent, said all students from Gold River Secondary will be visiting Yuquot for activities on Sept. 29 and that both Ray Watkins Elementary and Captain Meares Elementary Secondary plan to join other
“The day is meant for honouring and acknowledging but the entire year we need to engage in acts of understanding, acts of learning about truth and reconciliation.” - Dave Maher, SD 70 Indigenous education worker and principal schools across Canada for a series of activities organized by The Virtual Orange Shirt Day Assembly. Tim Huttemann, principal of Zeballos Elementary Secondary School, said they are also attending the virtual assembly on Sept. 29. “We’ll be pairing the high school kids with the elementary kids to make ‘All Kids Matter’ orange shirts in the Nuuchah-nulth language and we’ll have some additional in-school events planned by the teachers,” Huttemann said. Huttemann added that in addition to the shirt making and assembly, the school will also be participating in activities all week prior to Orange Shirt Day including ﬂying an orange ﬂag on the ﬂagpole all week, in-class discussions and a virtual presentation from an Indigenous NBA basketball player.
September 23, 2021—Ha-Shilth-Sa—Page 9
Report ‘conﬁrms’ mental health care is improving Advocates criticize a provincial report, pointing to the many gaps in services, worsening struggles for people By Melissa Renwick Local Journalism Initiative Reporter The provincial government launched a 10-year plan, A Pathway to Hope, to build a “comprehensive system” of mental health and addictions care for British Columbians in June 2019. Over two years in, a new progress report from the province “conﬁrms” people in B.C. are already receiving better access to mental health support. “We are working hard to ensure people in B.C. get access to seamless, integrated mental health and substance use care that can be found quickly and close to home,” says Sheila Malcolmson, minister of Mental Health and Addictions, in a release. “Step-by-step, we are transforming mental health and substance use care in B.C.” A Pathway to Hope started out by focusing on a three-year plan to address four priority needs: supporting Indigenous-led solutions; improving wellness for children, youth, and young adults; saving lives through better substance use care; and improving access to quality care overall. To support Indigenous-led solutions, the province, the First Nations Health Council, and Indigenous Services Canada allocated $20.5 million to 41 new First Nations-led mental health and wellness initiatives in 166 communities across British Columbia. Meanwhile, the First Nations Health Authority (FNHA) funded 147 healing initiatives that focus a person’s connection to the land. The aim is to increase the types of treatment options available to First Nations by providing land-based, family-based, and group-based services. “A traditional healer’s network has been providing support to communities by revitalizing traditional teachings and practices,” says FNHA. “The creation of family-based gatherings has led to the development of a framework and creation of a pilot land-based healing program to respond to intergenerational trauma and wellness needs in communities. Cultural mentorship programs, men’s land-based healing programming and youth-based programs have also been successfully implemented.”
‘Many gaps continue’ Despite these moves, Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council Vice-President Mariah Charleson calls the progress report “shocking.” “It seems like a very common thing for the government to release these documents stating all the work that they’ve done,” she says. “But the reality is, many, many gaps continue to exist societywide.” For Charleson, it’s too soon to say that progress has been made. “We’re seeing people from our communities die as a result of drug overdose,” she says. “We’re seeing our family members living homeless – living that lifestyle with mental health issues. We see it ﬁrsthand. So, to me, not enough has been done yet.” The BC Coroners Service says that between January and June 2021, there were 1,011 suspected drug toxicity deaths. It’s the highest ever recorded in the ﬁrst six months of a calendar year and represents a 34 per cent increase over the number of deaths recorded between January and June 2020. Drug toxicity is now the leading cause of death in the province for people aged
Photo by Eric Plummer
The need for immediate mental health support has increased dramatically since the discovery of 215 unmarked graves at the former site of the Kamloops Indian Residential School. Pictured are Nuu-chah-nulth-aht dancing outside Maht Mahs after a statement from Ditidaht Ha’wiih regarding the news from Kamloops. 19 to 39, and continues to take a “disproportionate number of Indigenous people’s lives,” says FNHA. First Nations people accounted for nearly 15 per cent of the toxic drug deaths in 2020, despite only representing 3.3 per cent of B.C.’s population. “That should be setting alarm bells oﬀ for leaders and policy makers,” says Charleson. “We’ve seen the government throw billions of dollars at COVID-19. We need to see that same type of approach when it comes to the opioid crisis and the mental health crisis that we’re witnessing.” The province’s progress report says it has escalated its response to the poisoned drug crisis through A Pathway to Hope. “In the past two years, B.C. has expanded access to take-home naloxone kits to 350 new sites, more than doubled the number of overdose prevention and supervised consumption sites - with 1.37 million visits and 7,082 overdoses survived at these sites with no deaths - and introduced Canada’s ﬁrst policy on prescribed safer supply,” says the Ministry of Health. The FNHA says that the province has been successful in supporting Indigenous-led solutions, but the need for better access to mental health and substance use services is “growing.” “Mental health stressors have also been ampliﬁed throughout the COVID-19 epidemic and the increase in substance use to cope has been exponential,” says FNHA. “Additionally, the reveal of the 215 grave sites in Kamloops has led to an outpouring of re-traumatization across Indigenous communities as the intergenerational eﬀects of residential schools continues to aﬀect Indigenous people in B.C.” The FNHA says that access to capital funding that supports First Nations design and creates local wellness and
healing centres with a focus on culture and teachings would be “a tremendous asset.” “Culture and ceremony need to be at the forethought of all healing work planning and implementation, as communities have repeatedly identiﬁed the connection to traditional wellness to be the most important aspect of their healing journey,” says FNHA.
Surge in calls to crisis line Cindy McAnerin, executive assistant and advocate for the KUU-US Crisis Line Society in Port Alberni, says that while things are beginning to improve through broader awareness and government funding, “large gaps” in mental health services continue to exist. According to the progress report, developments have been made towards establishing Foundry centres, which provide youth with access to mental health care, substance use services, primary care, social services and youth and family peer support, all in one location. Foundry centres are open in 11 communities, including Campbell River and Victoria but have yet to make their way to the west coast of Vancouver Island. “Port Alberni doesn’t have anything like that,” says McAnerin. “We deﬁnitely still see gaps in services and facilities for people [in the region].” In June 2020, Foundry launched virtual services to support young people and their families through the Foundry BC app, which was co-created by youth and the Province. “This service is ﬁlling a large gap and reaching youth that are unable to access our centres from across B.C.,” says Steve Mathias, Foundry executive director. “It is ensuring we achieve our vision of reaching young people early, to help address small problems before they become
bigger ones.” McAnerin says that KUU-US’ crisis line receives around 1,000 to 1,2000 calls every month. The call volume almost doubled after the discovery of unmarked graves at the former Kamloops Indian Residential School in May, she says Elizabeth Newcombe is the executive director of the Vancouver Island Crisis Society in Nanaimo and says she’s proud of the work that’s been done to enhance the province’s crisis line network over the past two years. “We’ve worked very hard to align all our standards together,” says Newcombe. “We’re improving service in the crisis line world.” Following the emergence of COVID-19, the progress report identiﬁed that crisis line call volumes and demand increased. Newcombe says the Vancouver Island Crisis Society’s call volume alone rose 9 per cent between April 2020 to March 2021. “We were ﬁelding a lot of extra calls,” she says. “Ten per cent of our call volume was COVID-19 related.” To help respond to the increased demand, the Ministry of Health allocated a one-time funding of $690,000 to provincial crisis lines in July 2020. Looking ahead, the province acknowledges that “more must be done to address Indigenous-speciﬁc racism in mental health and substance use services” and says it will continue to invest in building mental health and addictions services that work for everyone in B.C. “As A Pathway to Hope progresses, British Columbians who are experiencing mental health and substance use challenges and their families will see further improvements in access and quality of care as the system strengthens and evolves,” says the ministry.
Page 10— Ha-Shilth-Sa—September 23, 2021
Photo by Denise Titian
Tundra, a nearly 15-year-old female wolfdog, visited students at Haahuupayak School with her owner, Garry Allen, on Sept. 15, before heading to Ucluelet Secondary.
Tundra the wolf visits Haahuupayak students Children learn about similarities between wolves and people, while recognizing the interconnectedness of all By Denise Titian Ha-Shilth-Sa Reporter Port Alberni, BC – The Grades 6 and 7 students of Haahuupayak School played host to a very special guest on Wednesday, Sept. 15. Tundra, a domesticated wolf hybrid arrived with her owner, Gary Allen, to help the students learn about the importance of the animal in a healthy ecosystem. Tundra, a nearly 15-year-old female wolfdog, is calm, gentle and remarkable in that the average lifespan of a wild wolf is ﬁve years. Ninety per cent wolf and 10 per cent Samoyed dog, Tundra is a gentle, geriatric wolfdog who feels the eﬀects of age in the form of arthritis in her hips. Allen allowed Tundra on a leash, to lead the group of students and teachers along a system of trails in a small patch of forest
adjacent to the school. The group stopped in small clearings allowing Allen to talk about the importance of wolves in a healthy ecosystem while Tundra, curious, gently pulled at the leash to explore more trail. Allen told the students wolves are a keystone species, meaning that they need to be left alone in intact social groups so that young wolves properly learn to hunt large game from the older wolves, a process that takes a few years. If the older wolves are killed oﬀ, the younger wolves are left to fend for themselves with their limited hunting skills. They often resort to hunting easier prey, like domestic animals. In addition, wolves look for the sick, old, or injured animals to feed on, keeping the herd healthy. “They go after the animals that hunters
wouldn’t want,” Allen told the students. The students were allowed to pet Tundra and ask questions about her. Summer Little, a Grade 7 student, said she learned that you cannot train a wolf to do dog tricks; Allen explained that wolves are too stubborn to train in that way. She also learned that wolves can communicate with each other. Leland, in sixth grade, said wolves are pretty cool. “They can howl as long as 10 seconds, to communicate with each other,” he said. “Wolves can smell prey as far as two miles away,” said Andraya Brossault, Grade 6. “And they can be very gentle if they know you have no intention of hurting them.” “I want to pet wolves that are very friendly,” said Nathaniel, Grade 6. “They’re pretty cool…tall and chunky,”
said Vinson, Grade 6. “Wolves and humans have a lot in common,” added Phyllis, Grade 7. “Both are friendly, they communicate with each other and both hunt.” Allen talked about Hishukish tsawok, the Nuu-chah-nulth words meaning everything is one or interconnected. “I am passionate about the need to protect biodiversity in order to promote healthy ecosystems,” he said. Tundra and Allen headed to Ucluelet for a couple of days and planned to return to Haahuupayak School for another presentation with another class on Friday, September 17. For more information about Tundra the wolf and Tundra Speaks Society, visit https://tundraspeaks.com/about/
Phrase of the week: yuuxt’aʔišʔał q’uuʔus ʔuuʔipʔałquink ʔaaq ʔaakwastiił Pronounced ‘Yu h ta ish alth koo us Oo up alt kin ark Ark qust ﬁlth’, it means ‘Everyone is always so excited when dog salmon come in, All are getting ready to smoke them’. Supplied by ciisma.
Illustration by Ivy Cargill-Martin
September 23, 2021—Ha-Shilth-Sa—Page 11
Pension clawbacks aﬀect Canada’s most vulnerable Seniors struggle through mess of beneﬁt payments, a complicated system further thrown oﬀ by CERB cheques By Denise Titian Ha-Shilth-Sa Reporter Port Alberni, B.C. – The COVID-19 pandemic has been going for 18 months, aﬀecting the incomes of many Canadians. In 2020, the federal government oﬀered up CERB, Canada Emergency Relief Beneﬁt, intended to provide support to people whose incomes were reduced due to public health orders. According to Service Canada, the CERB, which is no longer available, was meant to provide temporary support to Canadians forced to stop working due to the pandemic. But some of the seniors who applied for the beneﬁt were in for a rude awakening in the summer of 2021 when they found their cheques were drastically reduced without warning. Pensioners are reporting that their already meagre monthly pension has been reduced from $200 to as much as $800 in the summer of 2021. “How will older people survive with the clawbacks?” asked Alice Sam, an advocate for the homeless. “One lost her pension altogether. If she didn’t have a credit card she’d be screwed.” “I had $500 taken oﬀ of my pension last month,” said Ahousaht elder Beatrice Sam. Disabled, Sam lives in an independent living apartment at Tsawaayuus Rainbow Gardens in Port Alberni. “I didn’t apply for CERB because I knew it would have to be paid back somehow,” said Beatrice. But she thinks a CERB cheque was sent to her anyway. She can’t remember when she received the cheque, but she said the government docked her pension without telling her. Beatrice says she makes do with what she has. She uses her pension to pay rent, utilities, phone, food, and car insurance. She buys in bulk, so she had something to fall back on when her pension cheque came in $500 short. But she won’t know if her next pension cheque will have deductions until she receives it on Monday, Sept. 27. “It didn’t really aﬀect me, but if it does,
Photo by Denise Titian
Beatrice Sam holds a letter from Service Canada attempting to explain why her beneﬁt payments were cut back. It remains unclear what happened, and no one from the government service is accessible to explain. I will sell my crafts – trade bead necklaces,” said Beatrice. Ahousaht elders Wally and Donna Samuel live in their own home in Port Alberni. They say they didn’t apply for the CERB. “I knew they [the government] would try to get their money back – there’s always a catch,” said Wally. Still, the couple heard there may be different reasons for the pension cutbacks. “People need to monitor their accounts. We double-checked our account, and everything is still the same,” said Wally. “This is scary for elders,” said Beatrice. “We don’t get much to begin with.” According to Alice Sam, some elders think the deductions are due to settlements received for the Day School Class
Action lawsuit. Most don’t know because it is diﬃcult for them to navigate the Canada Services information lines. Many elders are not literate in gadgets like computers and the internet. According to Alice Sam, one elder waited on the phone with Canada Pension Plan for six hours to ask why her payment was cut. “After six hours she was told simply that it was because she received CERB,” Alice told Ha-Shilth-Sa. “I know a woman who only has $89 left to live on,” Alice added. She said elders are afraid to speak out. “They are afraid of what can happen if they speak out. They are afraid it could get worse.” Alice is worried that if these pension deductions continue, elders will lose their
homes because they won’t be able to afford rent. “I do a walk about maybe three times a week and noticed there’s at least 30 new people living on the streets and right now there are more elders on the street than we’ve ever had, homeless,” she said, adding that they’ve always been there but now it’s worse. “One woman applied for CERB to help make ends meet but now she lost her entire pension, and her rent is $1,200 a month.” In Canada there are three main sources of government-provided retirement income: the Canada/Quebec Pension Plan (C/QPP), Old Age Security (OAS) - which is a ﬁxed amount for most but does include a `clawback’ of beneﬁts for high-income individuals - and the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS), which is designed to help those with extremely low income. The GIS is income-tested, meaning seniors must ﬁle their taxes annually and meet a certain income threshold to determine if they are eligible for the GIS beneﬁt. If a retiree earns more income and rises above the GIS eligibility threshold, they could face a clawback of this beneﬁt. Changes in annual GIS payments occur in July and are based on the previous tax year. GIS beneﬁts are available to lowincome seniors making less than $18, 984 annually. For couples, the maximum annual amount of income is $45,504. By receiving the CERB, some seniors’ annual income may have risen above the maximum allowable income, resulting in GIS reductions beginning July 2021. Ha-Shilth-Sa reached out to Services Canada with questions about why seniors have reduced or completely lost their GIS and how long the deductions will last but, with a federal election just completed, there have been no return calls or emails. An advocate who works for the Port Alberni Friendship Center advises seniors to reach out to their elected oﬃcials, the MP and MLA, to get answers.
OneFeather service oﬀers status card renewal online By Denise Titian Ha-Shilth-Sa Reporter You’re going through an Indigenousowned gas station and realize that your status card has expired. Maybe you come from a remote First Nation and can’t get home to get your status card renewed. You ask around where you can get a card made in urban areas, without solid answers. Many Indigenous people are ﬁnding it more diﬃcult to get or renew expired Indian Status Cards, which are required for health services, tax exemptions at some businesses and for crossing the Canada/ US border. Status cards have expiry dates – ﬁve years for the peach-coloured Status Card and 10 years for the Secured Certiﬁcate of Indian Status for adults (ﬁve years for SCIS for children). This means people must ﬁnd agencies that provide status card services either at their home First Nation or in an urban setting where those services are provided, like the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council for the First Nations that help fund the service. Another alternative is applying for a card by mail or online in a multi-step
process that can take several months. But going through this process can be daunting with all the variables…which card you apply for, your age, your ability to get a passport-style photo, your access to equipment and mail services, ﬁnding a guarantor and the rules for that…the list goes on. But there’s a new option that promises to help you apply for your card with relative ease. OneFeather, founded by Lawrence Lewis of We Wai Kai Nation, is a technology company oﬀering to help nations through digital services, like election and voting assistance, community engagement, and banking solutions. Not only that, they also oﬀer the only online status card service in Canada that is simple and aﬀordable. “OneFeather’s status card (SCIS) application service allows Indigenous peoples to renew, replace, or apply online,” says OneFeather in a news release. “Our status card application process works to eliminate the pains of systemic racism by increasing accessibility,” Lawrence Lewis, CEO of OneFeather, says. Users of the service can open an account on OneFeather.ca. “Individuals verify their identity by
uploading a selﬁe holding their current status card or picture ID and ﬁll in the same information that would appear on the Government of Canada application,” according to OneFeather. The only equipment the client needs once they’ve opened their OneFeather account is a mobile device or computer that can take a picture and has internet connection. They will need a guarantor with a valid certiﬁcate of Indian Status to verify their identity. A guarantor is someone 18 years or older who has known you for at least two years and can answer basic questions about you should they be contacted by ISC. A guarantor must have a valid certiﬁcate of Indian Status and be employed by or representing an Indigenous organization. Your guarantor will be required to sign a declaration conﬁrming your identity. To try the service, go to https://www. onefeather.ca/ and follow the steps. You will need an email address to verify your identity when you open your OneFeather account. Following the prompts, you can enter your status number and contact information. To complete the process, you will need to have the ability to take and
upload photographs. On online service payment of $15 is required to apply online for your Secure Certiﬁcate of Indian Status. For now, the service is only available to registered Indians ages 16 and over. OneFeather hopes to be able to expand its services in the near future. Errors on your status card application can delay your renewal for months. OneFeather oﬀers a no-risk guarantee that the status card application will be accepted or renewed. If the application is rejected by the government, OneFeather promises to issue an immediate refund. “And a representative personally works with them to have their application resubmitted,” states the company. “OneFeather will also oﬀer a tracking service where individuals can see average wait times for fulﬁlment of their status card.” Due to the pandemic, Indigenous Services Canada (ISC) has extended the validity date of status cards until further notice. Service providers should accept status cards, or Temporary Conﬁrmation of Registration Documents (TCRDs) with identiﬁcation, even if the renewal or expiry date has passed.
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President’s message to Nuu-chah-nulth-aht Greetings to Nuu-chah-nulth and hoping you are all doing well. Sympathies are expressed to those families and friends that are grieving the loss of a loved one. September 20th was the federal election. Trudeau was re-elected with three more seats this term (but this could change once results from mail in ballots come in). They are still a minority government even though Trudeau wanted a majority and why he called an election. What does this election mean for Nuuchah-nulth? Basically, it means that nothing much will change. Trudeau and the Liberal party platform for Indigenous peoples talks of • Confronting the legacy of residential schools. • Continuing work to eliminate all clean long-term drinking water advisories. • Action to confront systemic racism against Indigenous peoples, especially in the justice system and health care. • Launching an Indigenous Urban, Rural, and Northern Housing Strategy. • Protecting the well being of Indigenous children and families. • Working with Indigenous peoples to build a nation-to-nation, government-togovernment relationship tied on respect, partnership, and recognition of rights. With respect to the legacy of residential schools, Trudeau has committed money to do the ground-penetrating radar to ﬁnd unmarked graves. This must be more comprehensive and we have put forward what we need to deal with this. After the six years they have been in power, they still have not resolved drinking water on reserves. In a ﬁrst-world country this is unacceptable. We still have a few Nuu-chah-nulth communities where drinking water is still an issue. With respect to housing and infrastructure, we need quality homes. Housing which ﬁts the climate warming realities, ﬂooding, and ﬁres. We need housing that reﬂects the population of our nations, not based on reserve population so we can bring people home. The federal government passed a law on children and families and are working on implementing it. First Nations must pass laws to take jurisdiction under this law. Funding for this has not been suﬃcient. How has the relationship with our nations been on a government to government basis? This has varied but certainly not what we would like. There are many decisions that are made without input from Nuu-chah-nulth like opening up the border between the US and Canada. This has impacted us due to COVID and the many people coming into our territories with more risk of exposure. Canada has committed to a new Indigenous Health Act. Our Nations need jurisdiction over health in order to make good decisions for our members as well as have access to information we need. Trudeau’s government did pass the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act before parliament ended in June. It is too early to say how implementation of UNDRIP will roll out in Canada. Will they respect, the free, prior and informed consent of First Nations people before developments in our territories and before passing laws? I took a trip this summer and seeing the massive development of the TransMountain pipeline, especially through parks like Mount Robson and Jasper and along waterways, really disturbed me thinking of the negative impacts on Mother Earth. A key issue for Nuu-chah-nulth is justice. Justice Minister David Lametti and Public Safety Minister Bill Blair were
re-elected. Systemic racism is an issue that was accepted by Trudeau, Blair and Lametti. What is speciﬁcally being done to address systemic racism is unclear, but we must continue to push the ministers to get rid of systemic racism in the RCMP, the courts and the whole justice system. The implementation plan for the MMIWG was completed. Many were unhappy with the plan. As Nuu-chah-nulth, we must continue to advocate for the safety of our woman and girls, implementation of our own recommendations and supporting others. The BC First Nations Justice Council has put in place a justice strategy for B.C. Justice Lametti had yet to adopt it and work on it before the election. We must ensure the Liberal government embraces the justice strategy. Fisheries Minister Bernadette Jordan did not get re-elected. As we did not see much action from her, so that is not a loss. We do not know who Trudeau will appoint but we can only hope it will be someone who will be responsive to implementing our rights to the ﬁshery, and in particular commercial ﬁsheries. We hope it will be someone who will work with us on co-management as is laid out in UNDRIP. Our ﬁsheries depends on Nuu-chah-nulth knowledge of the ﬁshery and our eﬀorts to mitigate the negative impacts of logging and climate warming. Marc Miller of Indigenous Services Canada was re-elected with a large margin in his riding. He worked hard as minister of ISC and has to build a relationship with us. He made himself available for calls and visited before the election. We look forward to continuing to work with him. We do not know if he will be minister of ISC. We hope so, but know we have built a relationship with him no matter what portfolio he is given. Gord Johns and Rachel Blaney were elected in Port Alberni and the north island, both NDP. Gord is well known to many and is a key part of our communities. He worked hard to put our issues before Parliament, whether it was ﬁsheries or justice for Chantel Moore. Gord has arranged several meetings with Party Leader Jagmeet Singh so he also understands our issues and can advocate for us. Trudeau has said his relationship with Indigenous peoples is the most Important thing. Some of the decisions he has made makes us question that, but again, we must push the Prime Minister to make decisions that aﬀect us with our consent and have a major role in those decisionmaking processes. Climate emergency must be a priority for all us. As B.C. was burning this summer and as we saw the eﬀect of ocean warming on our ﬁshery and seafood stocks, we understand more than ever how important net zero emissions are as soon as possible. 2050 is too long and we must be a lead voice in ensuring we have an earth that will last for generations to come. Pushing Trudeau to act on climate emergency is a main role for our governments. The future is ours and we must play a key role with any government in place and we shall do so. -Cloy-e-iis, Judith Sayers
In memory of Russell Jason Seeber
September 23, 2021—Ha-Shilth-Sa—Page 13
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Research shows long recovery for tourism operators Employment and revenue have improved in 2021, but data shows years until returning to pre-pandemic levels By Sam Laskaris Ha-Shilth-Sa Contributor Vancouver, BC - A Conference Board of Canada report released this past week shows just how much the Indigenous tourism industry has suﬀered throughout the country since the pandemic began. And Keith Henry, the president and CEO of the Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada (ITAC), believes some Nuu-chah-nulth tourism businesses could potentially be among those who will experience the most diﬃcult paths back to recovery. “I think Indigenous tourism where there are more remote locations like on the west coast of British Columbia, we have to work very hard to advocate for additional supports,” Henry said. “Without those additional supports the data shows that tourism visitors that make up the bulk of their business won’t be back until at least 2028 or longer if we don’t take drastic actions following the (federal) election.” The Conference Board of Canada report, which was released Sept. 15, was the third economic assessment commissioned by ITAC since 2018. The latest report found that back in 2019, a year before the COVID-19 pandemic arrived in Canada, the Indigenous tourism industry employed close to 39,000 people across the country and brought in an estimated $1.86 billion in direct GDP. The report also found the pandemic had signiﬁcant impacts on the industry in 2020. The number of workers had dropped to about 10,600 and there was a $580 million contribution in direct GDP. The situation has improved somewhat in 2021 as the industry is employing close to 20,000 people and will provide an estimated $858 million in direct GDP. A troubling statistic, however, for the industry is the fact the report found at least one third of Indigenous tourism businesses across the country are at serious risk of closure either this year or in 2022. Henry said data compiled by Destinations Canada, a Crown corporation that is responsible for the national marketing strategy worldwide, as well as internal ITAC research, indicates that the road to recovery for the industry will be a lengthy one. He said Destinations Canada oﬃcials and some partners have acquired information to try to ﬁgure out just how long it might take the industry to recover and get back to 2019 levels.
Keith Henry, the president and CEO of the Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada, believes Nuu-chah-nulth tourism operators in remote locations could be among those who experience the most diﬃcult paths back to recovery from pandemic business losses. “They expect to be back by 2024 or many industry partners to the table to say through,” Henry added. “The nations 2025,” Henry said. “But (Indigenous how [we’re] going to save Indigenous and the communities in many cases in tourism businesses have) been hit hardest tourism.” the Nuu-chah-nulth regions seem to of the hard hit in tourism. We’re going to Henry, who lives in Vancouver, is fully understand the importance of welcombe at least until 2028 to get back to 2019 aware how much the tourism industry ing visitors, so that’s great. On the other levels. So, we’re being disproportionately means to several Nuu-chah-nulth First hand, we all have to follow public health impacted and our businesses are disproNations. policies.” portionately feeling the loss of business.” “We know that many of the Nuu-chahHenry also said there’s another reason Henry added it might be even longer nulth Nations have actually acquired why some Nuu-chah-nulth tourism busithan 2028 before some Indigenous toursome combinations of lodge experiencnesses are perhaps more vulnerable than ism businesses are back at levels prior to es,” he said. “We know that certain opera- others in the industry. the pandemic. tors in the Nuu-chah-nulth regions have “There’s just not the same transportation “That’s best-case scenario,” he said of expanded their businesses. And we think opportunities to get there any more so it’s the 2028 forecast. “But we’re probably that’s an important set of investments and going to take a concerted eﬀort from all looking at 2030.” now our job at ITAC is to ﬁgure out how of us to help those businesses,” he said. The length of the recovery will also we’re going to contribute marketing and The Conference Board of Canada is a be aﬀected by additional waves of the drive visitors in the new world, as I call it not-for-proﬁt Canadian think tank. It is pandemic, which could result in future for, for 2022 and beyond.” dedicated to researching and analyzing lockdowns and restrictions, aﬀecting how While many of these Nuu-chah-nulth economic trends as well as performance much funding will be provided to keep tourism businesses are relatively new, for organizations and public policy issome tourism businesses aﬂoat. Henry believes it’s vital not to lose them. sues. Henry said federal funding, and lots of “Those businesses are very critical to The latest report it worked on for ITAC it, is required as soon as possible for the the stability of our industry,” he said. included information gathered from about industry. “And we think that those investments 350 Indigenous-owned tourism operators “We’re already laying the foundation to need to be protected now more than ever. across the country. They had responded try and forge a new investment strategy But it’s going to take all of us working to a survey between April and June of to help Indigenous businesses by hopetogether.” this year. fully Apr. 2, 2022 minimally,” he said. Various lockdowns and travel restricThose business owners were asked for “This current year is pretty much locked tions have certainly not helped Nuu-chah- their thoughts on how their companies in so we’re planning. We’re engaged with nulth businesses in the past two years. were faring since the start of the pandemthe federal government in a series of con“All of us are desperately trying to ﬁnd ic as well as what they were expecting for versations right now and we’ve invited ways to open safely and move visitors the rest of this year and in 2022.
Important Notice: The Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council Annual General Meeting, which was scheduled for Thursday, September 23, has been postponed. The meeting is now scheduled for Tuesday, October 26. The AGM will be held virtually, and can be watched at hashilthsa.com.
Have You Moved? If you should be getting a copy of the Ha-Shilth-Sa paper delivered to your home, please contact : Holly Stocking at 250-724-5757 or holly.stocking@ nuuchahnulth.org
September 23, 2021—Ha-Shilth-Sa—Page 15
Photos by Eric Plummer
After over two years of work, n̓ aasn̓aasʔaqsa was transported and raised by the Victoria Quay, on the site of a Tseshaht village that once stood by the Somass River.
Pole stands as mother for lost children Project was unveiled on Sept. 18 before a crowd of hundreds, with performances on the San Group’s property By Eric Plummer Ha-Shilth-Sa Editor Port Alberni, BC - A newly raised totem pole at Port Alberni’s waterfront is a mother for all of the lost children who never returned home from residential school, according to the carver behind the multi-year project. During the unveiling of n̓ aasn̓aasʔaqsa (pronounced ‘naas naas uksah’), Tim Paul tied the creation to news that disturbed people across Canada this year. With hundreds standing under the 37-foot structure by the Victoria Quay, the carver referenced the discovery of unmarked graves at several former residential school sites over the past summer. “In the past few months we’ve been starting to hear about the discoveries of lost children,” said Linus Lucas, speaking on behalf of Paul, his fellow Hesquiaht member. “He wants this ﬁgure to repre-
sent a mother for all those lost children so that they have a home to come to. This ﬁgure will be recognized as our mother, and will be here for eternity. For all of our lost children that are going to be discovered, they will have a place to come home and be in the arms of their mother.” A crane untied the shroud to reveal the master carver’s latest piece on Sept. 18, two days after the pole was transported to the edge of the San Group’s property on the former site of Noopsikupis, a historical Tseshaht village by the Somass River. The occasion was attended by locals and people from throughout Nuu-chah-nulth territory, as well as Paul’s Kwakiutl and Tsilhqot’in relations, who performed for the crowd. Vibrantly painted and intricately detailed, the towering piece depicts the 11 relatives of nature, with ﬁgures showing the sky chief, the moon, the sun, the sea chief, the ﬁrst man and woman, with
The project had its paint removed and was recarved this year to ensure proper alignment of ﬁgures and deal with cracks in the 800-year-old cedar log.
Naani, or grizzly bear, at the bottom. Paul explained the importance of a ﬁgure in the piece who represents an earthquake. “Earthquake reminds us all, as a people and families and the whole world, of our place in this universe,” he said. “Earthquake will demonstrate and show us, remind us how small we really Hesquiaht carver Tim Paul has dedicated the pole to the strongest female inﬂuences in his life. are when that big one comes.” ing on a volunteer basis. Then in the fall n̓aasn̓aasʔaqsa also contains an alumiof 2019 Paul had to step away from the num plate, illustrating mountains, forest, project after the passing of his long-time a river and the salmon within. Along with wife. But the Hesquiaht carver returned other elements of the pole, the signiﬁto the piece in 2020 with a team of Nuucance of this feature was explained to the chah-nulth craftsmen, and by the sumcrowd in Nuu-chah-nulth, then English, mer of 2021 the First Nations Education during the unveiling event, with reference Foundation had secured a $75,000 grant to deforestation, overﬁshing that left none from the Canada Council for the Arts, all for the Nuu-chah-nulth and how open pit of which went to the carvers. mines spoiled rivers and lakes. With a permanent home now in Port “It’s a conversation piece - not only for Alberni, the piece will retain its patronour neighbours but for you and I - that we age under the Canadian Commission for have to begin changing,” explained Paul. UNESCO, according to the education “We make change for the betterment of foundation’s executive director Scott our children. We quit overtaking. Naas Jeary. is here to give us anything we want, but Initial plans have changed, including a once we begin overtaking and continue complete reworking of the pole this year to overtake, we pay dearly. And we’re to realign ﬁgures after Paul returned to beginning to pay now.” the project. But as the structure towers The project began as a windfallen cedar over Port Alberni’s busiest area, the inspifound on the forest ﬂoor of Huu-ay-aht ration behind the piece cannot be forgotterritory. Transported to Port Alberni’s in ten, said Paul. March 2019, Paul and his team of carvers “What this means for all of us as a fambegan working on the 800-year-old log ily - as dads, grandfathers, uncles - that near the Harbour Quay at the south end we know the women of the past and even of town. It was commissioned by the right up to where we are today [are] the First Nations Education Foundation to backbone of all of us as men,” he said. promote the advancement of Aboriginal “This is the ﬁrst time in my life I’ve languages, and originally planned to be ever seen anything like this,” said Cierected at the University of Victoria by isma, a ﬂuent Ahousaht speaker, during the end of 2019 to mark the United Nathe unveiling event. “I’m 73 years old. tions Year of Indigenous Languages. I’ve never seen a pole being raised; I’ve But funding became thin, and by the seen them taken down and brought to summer of that year carvers were workmuseums. This is so heartwarming.”
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