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Volume 12 . Issue 10

December 2016 – January 2017


13 g 4 p 1 ns io e pg t i a t N own s ir D t F rd u o o ab y G d hb n a at y b tP k s c re o e Bo e S h T

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Naut’sa mawt - Working together as one EDITORIAL TEAM Mark Kiemele – Editor Cara McKenna – Reporter/Photographer Tricia Thomas – Photographer Bronwen Geddes – Copy Editor DESIGN Kelly Landry - Creative Director Carmel Ecker - Design & Layout ADVERTISING & DISTRIBUTION Manoj Sood 604-943-6712 or 1-888-382-7711 PUBLISHER Gary Reith, CAO Naut’sa mawt Tribal Council 330-6165 Highway 17A Delta, BC, V4K 5B8 604-943-6712 or 1-888-382-7711 PUBLICATIONS MAIL AGREEMENT #42922026 Undeliverable mail may be returned to: 330-6165 Highway 17A Delta, BC, V4K 5B8 The Salish Sea Sentinel is published monthly, ten times a year, by the Naut’sa mawt Tribal Council, representing 6,500 people in 11 member nations. © Salish Sea Sentinel is all right reserved. Contents and photographs may not be reprinted without written permission. The statements, opinions and points of view expressed in articles published in this magazine are those of the authors. The publisher accepts no responsibility for unsolicited manuscripts, photographs, transparencies or other materials.

COVER: The covers of the Salish Sea Sentinel during 2016 highlighted a variety of personalities and topics from Coast Salish Country.

The Salish Sea map was created in 2009 by Stefan Freelan at Western Washington University

1. HALALT (250) 246-4736

7. SNUNEYMUXW (Nanaimo) (250) 740-2300

2. HOMALCO (250) 923-4979

8. STZ’UMINUS (Ladysmith) (250) 245-7155

3. KLAHOOSE Qathen Xwegus Management Corp (250) 935-6536 4. MALAHAT (250) 743-3231 5. TLA’AMIN (604) 483-9646 6. SNAW-NAW-AS (Nanoose) (250) 390-3661

9. TSAWWASSEN (604) 943-2122 10. TSLEIL-WAUTUTH (604) 929-3454 11. T’SOU-KE (Sooke) (250) 642-3957 Naut’sa mawt Tribal Council 8017 Chemainus Road Chemainus, BC V0R 1K5 (250) 324-1800 •




A CULTURAL LEADER With his current career coming to an end, Harvey says he may become a teacher. “After I retire, maybe I’ll teach language, our Hul’qumi’num language. A lot of our young people do not understand it and cannot speak it.” As one of the few fluent Hul’qumi’num speakers from Stz’uminus, he is often called on to be a speaker at longhouse ceremonies as well as at weddings, funerals and other community events.

Above: Harvey at work in a boom boat. – Photos courtesy of Western Forest Products

Many words can be used to describe Harvey Seymour of Stz’uminus First Nation—inspiring...respected...honoured... speaker...councillor...and leader. But one word suffices – ‘Producer’ – for his workmates at the Burleith log sort in Ladysmith Harbour. That word is on the back of his life vest when he’s out on the water aboard a sidewinder. And it’s on his chair in the lunchroom overlooking the Western Forest Products’ (WFP) operation. It’s also the title of a video produced by WFP to mark the 50th anniversary of Harvey’s working life. The video has been viewed more than 14,000 times on Facebook with scores of comments marking the measure of the man. “I started here on Oct 2, 1966,” Harvey explains in the film. “I was 18 years old then. “Work here then was all on loose logs, flat. You had to sort logs by pike pole. Had to walk the logs.” It was a risky job for a teenager; manhandling fresh cut logs, sorting them into booms before transport to local sawmills from Ladysmith to Cowichan Bay. But he handled the risks well. Before boom boats existed, log drivers

had the dangerous task of walking the logs on the water, sorting them with a pike pole and stacking them at the log lift. Today most of the work is done with a boom boat, a small tug-shaped craft also known as a sidewinder or log ‘bronc’. Those boats were designed to speed up an often-dangerous job. They crash into and shuffle the logs for hours, herding them into place. With Harvey at the helm as a senior boat operator, things are always under control. “It’s a big achievement for Harvey Seymour to work on the boom without a lost-time accident for 50 years,” WFP says. “Harvey Seymour is a special guy. Harvey has had a few bumps and bruises over the years, but he’s never lost time on the job. He’s an inspiration to many of us.” Harvey is proud of his accident-free decades at the log sort. “I’ve been injury free in all that time; no lost time. Safety is always first for us. If we see something unsafe, we won’t do it and if we need help, we get help. Especially with these big boats now. They move fast.” Randy Hughes, WFP’s log sort

supervisor, says the reason Harvey has lasted more than five decades is simple: “He looks after himself and never ever gets stressed out.” Darren Good of Snuneymuxw is one of the workmates who respects his senior workmate. “Harvey is a workhorse. He’ll go over and above to help guys out, even comes down to making coffee. He’s always willing and ready to step up to the plate. I hope I’m like that at his age.” Chief John Elliott also praises Harvey, both for his work for WFP and in the community. “He’s a quiet leader, but when he speaks, the room gets quiet. Everybody listens because usually when Harvey says something, it’s meaningful, it’s important and it usually comes from his heart or from his experience in life. “He’s engaged in everything and that’s a true leader in our community.” Harvey says he has been thinking about retirement, but as long as he stays healthy, he’ll be aboard the sidewinder every working day. At the end of the film is a perfect line that sums up the worker’s longevity —‘Thanks Harvey. You’re an inspiration.’


WELL-RESPECTED Comments from relations, friends and even strangers appeared after the video was first shared by Western Forest Products. Here are just a few of them: • Roberta Seymour – My Dad is truly an amazing role model, always there for family and our community… Our hero. • Paula G Norris – Not only a special person for the work environment, but for all of our communities as well. • Stella Johnny – Thank you Harvey for being a great role model. Safety and being supportive in all your actions was modeled at all times! As for language… next step would be appreciated from many! Your leadership there is equally valued! • Qwulis Wilson – Way to go Harvey for 50 years of work and inspiration. You are a good man, a well loved and respected person. I love you my cousin Harvey… You are everything.

He’s a quiet leader, but when he speaks, the room gets quiet. Everybody listens because usually when Harvey says something, it’s meaningful, it’s important and it usually comes from his heart or from his experience in life.


• Mark Arden – Oct. 2nd, 1966, was my first Birthday! Although I did not move to Saltair until a few days before Oct. 2nd, 1969, I spent many hours as a child watching the Men of Burlieth Arm wrangling up bundles deposited in the harbour by the log barges. I still enjoy this today. And now I feel a strong connection to this Fine Man who is an inspiration to us all!

OVERWHELMING ‘YES’ VOTE MEANS SNUNEYMUXW GETS $49M FOR LAND TAKEN Snuneymuxw First Nation members have accepted a $49.1-million settlement for the loss of its former reserve land in the largest specific claim in BC’s history. Ninety-eight per cent of Snuneymuxw voters were in favour of the agreement with Canada for the loss of 79-acres of its land – Thlap’qwam – in the 1880s. Acting Chief Doug White III – Kwulasultun ­­– said the Crown unlawfully took the land from what is now near downtown Nanaimo. “Our people have taken a historic step to ratify an agreement that strikes at the core of our relationship with Canada,” he said. “Real harm was done to our nation and citizens with the loss of this reserve, known as Thlap’qwam. This settlement partially addresses that loss.” As a result of Thlap’qwam being

Acting Chief Doug White III

taken, Snuneymuxw today faces a major land crunch, and only about a third of its members are currently able to live in the community. There have also been economic impacts because the small land base gives Snuneymuxw few options for development.

“The settlement cannot change the past, and how that past has structured our present reality,” White said. “But it does provide Snuneymuxw with a transformative infusion of resources to address the significant needs of our nation.” The settlement comes after more than two decades of research and work on the issue that began with late chief Robert Thomas. Councillor Erralyn Thomas said work could now begin on creating benefits for Snuneymuxw after 65 per cent of the community voted on Nov. 12. “We understand that a conservative estimate of the amount of time it will take to receive the funds from Canada is approximately 8-12 months,” she said. “We will be pushing hard to get this important work done as soon as possible.”



Dr. Evan Adams from Tla’amin Nation has been appointed to the board of directors of the Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research. Since it’s founding in 2001, the foundation has received about $450 million in funding from the BC Government for research into treatment and cures. It was named after Nobel Prize laureate Dr. Michael Smith who was from BC. Dr. Adams is BC’s deputy provincial health officer and the chief medical officer for First Nations Health Authority. He said he hoped his new board position would benefit First Nations and other communities.

TLA’AMIN STORE ‘OUTSTANDING’ Gail Blaney, left, son Erik and BC Aboriginal Relations Minister John Rustad show off the outstanding achievement award at the BC Aboriginal Business Awards gala on Oct. 19 in Vancouver. The Tla’amin convenience store won in a business-of-the-year category. Photo provided by the BC Achievement Foundation.


The Vancouver Sun reported in early October that two Naut’sa mawt Tribal Council nations are among 26 Aboriginal groups and nations “that sent letters to the National Energy Board since the spring of 2014 in support of Kinder Morgan’s application to triple the capacity of its pipeline from northern Alberta to Burnaby.” Halalt and Malahat nations were on the list along with other Island nations including Beecher Bay, Dididaht, Esquimalt, Lake Cowichan, Pacheedaht and Pauquachin.


Halalt First Nation is the latest to demand a return of its lands that were taken away when the E&N Railway was formed more than a century ago. It filed documents, along with 6 • SALISH SEA SENTINEL

Cowichan Tribes, in BC Supreme Court against the current holders of the lands – the Island Corridor Foundation that said there was no reasonable prospect that rail operations will ever return to the rail line on the east coast of Vancouver Island. A similar civil suit was launched by Snaw-naw-as First Nation at Nanoose Bay earlier this year.


The First Nations Financial Management Conference will be held at the Coast Coal Harbour Hotel in downtown Vancouver on Dec 7-9. Finance experts will update delegates on topics such as cyber security and give insights to help nations and organizations address challenges on matters such as trust reporting, property taxes and auditing.


The Tla’amin-based Aboriginal Business Match is returning to Vancouver Island early in 2017 following a year-long tour of holding events across Canada. ABM Vancouver Island will be hosted on March 27-29 by Quatsino First Nation, Gwa’sala ‘Nakwaxda’xw First Nation, Kwakiutl First Nation, the District of Port Hardy and the Regional District of Mount Waddington. “Solid preparation leads to success,” ABM says. “Much of the pre-event conversation takes place via the ABM business-matching platform. The more engaged delegates are in researching


Two deadlines are approaching for applicants for funding from the North Vancouver Island Aboriginal Training Society. There is a Feb 9 dealine for the Community Partnership Fund and an April 13 cutoff for proposals for youth projects. Email for more information.

potential business matches and creating connections through the system, the more benefit they will see. Visit for more information.

The board saw mass resignations and the firing of itsv chief executive officer recently. “I look at it as an opportunity to be a leader of the organization and transform NEDC and evolve it over time.” The 30-years-old is a councillor with Snuneymuxw and a governor at Vancouver Island University.


Erralyn Thomas of Snuneymuxw First Nation is the new chair of the Nanaimo Economic Development Corporation. “It may be perceived as a lot of turmoil,” she said to the Nanaimo Bulletin.


Here are some photos of people the Sentinel captured while travelling around the Salish Sea recently.

Homalco councillor Dorothy Paul (right) with friend and Homalco administration employee Jamie Wilson took a break on a sunny day in Campbell River.

Lisa Scott, Naut’sa mawt Tribal Council’s finance director, got an autographed copy of a George Leach CD at the Malahat Gala.

Jane Thomas and her daughter Ruby were at the Homalco community centre listening to father Kelvin Hackett during the drum group practice in early November.


Charlene Aleck spoke about protocol.

SAME PLACE, DIFFERENT HISTORIES By Cara McKenna Tsleil-Waututh people know a much different history of Vancouver than the city’s non-Indigenous residents, with a connection to the land that has existed since time immemorial. Charlene Aleck recalls hearing stories about people from her nation who once hunted along what is now known as Robson Street. “Grandfathers used to hunt elk and bring our clams over and we would be stringing them up and selling them at the docks,” she said. It’s a story that garnered awe from dozens of people who gathered at Simon Fraser University’s downtown campus for a panel discussion on Coast Salish protocol on Nov. 2. Most only knew Robson Street as a busy shopping mecca. Aleck said she appreciates the interest and acknowledged that settlers haven’t always been interested in the city’s 8 • SALISH SEA SENTINEL

Indigenous history as they are today. “There was a time when we couldn’t speak our language, we couldn’t sing our songs,” she said. “This is one [time] where we’re unpacking a lot of things and our ancestors on both sides are coming to deal with.” Speakers on the the panel, which also included people of the Musqueam and Squamish nations, talked about how they are dealing with a growing interest in respecting Coast Salish protocols. At the discussion, non-Indigenous people from various organizations asked questions about how to incorporate Coast Salish protocols and reconciliation work into their meetings or events. Panelists said that acknowledging Indigenous territories is crucial, but organizations should also be thinking of ways to go beyond that; for example, by hiring local Indigenous people for events or actively changing outdated policies to make room for reconciliation work.

Khelsilem from Squamish Nation said it’s important to think about the give-and-take of power when incorporating Coast Salish protocol into events. For example, a small meeting likely would not require a representative from one of the three nations, but a larger event with more impact might. “All of our leadership, our people, we’re all trying to make our communities better,” he said. “It’s [about] trying to restore power to the original people that are from here and have had their power suppressed, or dispossessed, or taken away or fought.” Irwin Oostindie, a graduate student at SFU who studies settler cultural policy and redress, said it is crucial work that must be taken seriously in modern times. “Maybe think about what our organizations are not doing, or what they are doing, and name that at the beginning of the meeting,” he suggested. “If we did that every month at every meeting for two years, we actually would track some substantive changes.”


– Photo by Mark Kiemele


Photos courtesy of Scythia Films

Two members of Tla’amin Nation are starring in a feature adventure film that will be on screens in 2017. Kayaking for Beginners stars Ta’Kaiya Blaney with a backup role for film veteran Evan Adams (Smoke Signals). Although much of the filming took place around Lund and other parts of Tla’amin territory north of Powell River, the filmmakers see it as an ode to the preservation of the Great Bear Rainforest on BC’s central coast. Director Zoe Hopkins was born in Bella Bella in the heart of the Great Bear Rainforest. She is Heiltsuk and Mohawk. The Scythia Films’ producers have visited the Inside Passage and committed to protection of the area. But film logistics meant that the Sunshine Coast was the best location for much of the filming. On the day the Sentinel visited, crews were busy shooting scenes on the boat ramp beside the Lund Hotel. The Tla’amin-owned hotel was full for about two weeks and local restaurants also benefitted from Kayaking crews’ business. Other scenes were shot 15 kilometres away at Tla’amin and other Sunshine Coast locations as well as in Vancouver, the Copeland Islands, northern Vancouver Island, Klemtu and Bella Bella. 10 • SALISH SEA SENTINEL

The Kayaking for Beginners story is both humorous and prescient. Filming began in early September, weeks before a sunken tug began spilling its fuel in the waters of Heiltsuk First Nation near Bella Bella. The film focuses on a kayak trip by a dysfunctional family who travels through the Great Bear Rainforest so that Ella (played by Ta’Kaiya) can understand the beauty of the coast before she testifies in a

Dr. Evan Tlesla Adams

hearing about oil tanker traffic through the same waters. Director Hopkins added a bit of mystery to the story when she said: “Dave is played by Evan Adams, whose character has passed away and has given his testimony to Ella to present at a joint review panel hearing about the proposed oil tanker traffic along the Inside Passage.” Similar hearings were held for the Enbridge Northern Gateway project that was given Canada’s approval, subject to 209 conditions, in 2014. On the kayaking journey, Ella is exposed to both the beauty and dangers of the area with other ‘actors’ played by the Spirit Bear, salmon, eagles and orcas. Those living things, as well as the words passed along to her by the Evan Adams character, influence her subsequent testimony. But perhaps the biggest impact on Ella is her family’s First Nation perspective and the coastal people’s way of life – both culturally and for food – over thousands of years. “Ella’s mission is shared by the filmmakers,” a statement from Scythia Films said. “It’s to convince everyone that these waters, these creatures and this place on the planet are in dire need of protection.”

‘ACTIONS SPEAK LOUDER…’ This isn’t the first film for Ta’Kaiya Blaney. She has also appeared in Savage, a short musical drama about a girl in the days before she goes to residential school as well as other films. But Ta’Kaiya is probably best known for talking about environmental issues, addressing Canada’s Parliament and United Nations gatherings such as the Rio+20 conference in Rio de Janeiro. She also sings and writes music. She has been a youth advocate for climate change and Indigenous First Nations rights since the age of 10 and is an ambassador for the Native Children’s Survival organization. “I advocate to change not only the human condition, but also the condition of our planet. In my culture, it’s a fact, and an understanding of life, that everything is connected, and we were put on this earth to be stewards and caretakers of the environment. “In my culture, it’s a teaching to do more than connect the dots, to see the picture as a whole. I feel that advocating and speaking at mere conferences isn’t enough. Actions speak louder than words.” Filming on location at Klah-Ah-Men. – Photos by Mark Kiemele

Photo courtesy of Scythia Films

Evan Tlesla Adams won an award for best debut performance in the 1998 film Smoke Signals. That performance as Thomas Builds-the-Fire is well-remembered and commented upon, often to much laughter, when he visits home at Tla’amin. He has also appeared in a number of other film and television roles from The Beachcombers to Da Vinci’s Inquest. But since earning his degree in 2002, he is also known as Dr. Adams. His illustrious medical career includes appointment as the deputy provincial health officer for BC in 2012. In 2014, he became the chief medical officer of the First Nations Health Authority in BC. Adams completed his medical degree at the University of Calgary with a chief residency at St. Paul’s Hospital/UBC. He also earned a masters degree in public Health from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland. Check out Dr. E online on either YouTube or Twitter. SALISH SEA SENTINEL • 11

Competitors raced to a finish line bordered by solar panels.

RUN LIKE THE WIND… SHINE LIKE THE SUN Several members of Tsleil-Waututh were among more than one thousand people who participated in the second Great Climate Race in Vancouver as they ran or walked support renewable energy in their own backyards. On a sunny morning in Stanley Park on Oct. 30, hundreds of people competed in races to raise money for two solar projects in BC. About $30,000 was toward the solar installation for Tsleil-Waututh Nation’s new administration and health building that is now under construction. The solar panels are expected to produce 47,000 kwh of electricity every year. Other funds will go toward powering the Orca Lab research station on Hanson Island in the waters of the Inside Passage off northern Vancouver Island. Benjamin West was an organizer of the Great Climate Race and also works with the nation’s Sacred Trust initiative. He 12 • SALISH SEA SENTINEL

said Tsleil-Waututh’s efforts to go solar are contributing to a wider push for renewables in the Vancouver area. “The project might be the biggest renewable energy project in the Lower Mainland if it’s constructed,” he said. “It’s obviously a pretty significant project for a number of reasons.” Charlene Aleck, a Tsleil-Waututh councillor, captained a team from the nation that walked 2.5 km in the race. They have also been fundraising for the solar project.

The community has so far raised more than $20,000 towards a $40,000 goal. Aleck said the solar project will not only be environmentally friendly, but it will be a powerful symbol for the nation that has been leading the battle against expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline for many years. “Now on one side of the Burrard Inlet, you will see this beautiful renewable energy project being built, and on the other side you will see the existing Kinder Morgan oil tanker terminal,” she said.


POWERFUL STORIES AND CHARACTERS SHINE IN BOOKS BY AND ABOUT FIRST PEOPLES By Cara McKenna Indigenous books were featured and discussed when the 29th annual Vancouver Writers Festival was held in October as more than 17,000 people attended the event on Granville Island. A panel of authors who have written books about Indigenous Canada participated in an event called ‘Melding Worlds’ around the significance of Aboriginal storytelling. Katherena Vermette, a Métis author on the panel, said she believes the country wants to hear more stories from and about its first peoples. Her novel The Break is a family saga about women living in Winnipeg’s notorious North End near where Vermette herself lives. “These were stories that I had with me for quite a long time and that I ran from for quite a long time” she explained. “I learned, because I was talking about such horrific things, I really needed to find a way to talk about that. What I found was, I was looking for the beauty.” The four-author panel also discussed the concept of reconciliation and how it factored into their novels. Vermette said, for her, reconciliation wasn’t something she thought about much while writing. “There’s nothing to get over, nothing has ended ... families are still being ripped

Katherena Vermette

These were stories that I had with me for quite a long time and that I ran from for quite a long time. apart,” she said. “My obligation was to these women that I made up in my head.” However, for settler author Jennifer Manuel, reconciliation was on her mind. Manuel’s novel The Heaviness of Things That Float tells the story of a nonIndigenous woman coming to work in an

Indigenous community and explores the complex dynamic. The story is inspired by Manuel’s experiences working as a teacher in a remote Nuu-chah-nulth nation and questioning her place within the small community. “There were comments made about [my book] in regards to reconciliation,” she said, but added she feels uncomfortable promoting it that way. “When it was published, I actually felt really uneasy about the business of promoting it and going out and saying: ‘read my book.’” Two other authors spoke on the panel. Joan Crate wrote Black Apple that tells the story of a young Indigenous girl growing up in the residential school system. Gail Anderson-Dargatz’s novel The Spawning Grounds is a family story that joins First Nations and settler cultures in a story set in BC’s Thompson-Shuswap region. Kathryn Gretsinger, who moderated the panel, said that the four novels in discussion are unique, but the stories intersect in many ways. “They’re so powerful and there’s characters in here who I know I’m going to carry with me for the rest of my life,” she concluded. More information about the novels can be found at

BOOK LAUNCH AT VIU The launch for In Our Own Aboriginal Voice, published by Rebel Mountain Press of Nanoose Bay, took place on Nov. 22 at Shq’apthut: A Gathering Place on Vancouver Island University’s Nanaimo campus. The anthology collection of Aboriginal writers and artists in BC is the brainchild of Lori Shwydky who graduated from VIU

this year with a BA in creative writing. Since 2015, Rebel Mountain Press has put out two teen anthologies under the series title of In Our Own Voice that are collections of writings by Vancouver Island youth in Grades 8-12. The anthology launched in November includes the work of 13 Indigenous authors. SALISH SEA SENTINEL • 13

THE SECRET PATH TO RECONCILIATION In August, the Tragically Hip played its last concert in Kingston, Ontario. It was a bittersweet event for fans. The concert was also a farewell to front man Gord Downie. In May, he was diagnosed with glioblastoma, an aggressive and incurable form of brain cancer. Between songs at the Kingston concert, Downie gave a shout-out to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and called on him to act on behalf of Indigenous people in the country, particularly in Canada’s North. “He cares about the people… we were trained our entire lives to ignore, trained our entire lives to hear not a word of what’s going on up there,” Downie told the audience. “What’s going on up there ain’t good. It’s maybe worse than it’s ever been… we’re going to get it fixed and we got the guy to do it, to start, to help.” Two months later, Downie gave another more intimate concert as he launched the Secret Path. The multimedia project tells the story of 12-year-old Chanie Wenjack, who died in 1966 as a runaway from the Cecilia Jeffrey Indian Residential School in Kenora, Ontario.

Gord Downie

The project includes a 10-song album by Downie and others as well as a graphic novel by Jeff Lemire that has already become a best seller. The project received national attention in October when an hour-long animation was aired on CBC television. Proceeds from sales of the Secret Path go to the Gord Downie Secret Path Fund for Truth and Reconciliation via the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation at The University of Manitoba.

Art Credits: We raise our hands to The Secret Path publisher, Simon & Schuster Canada, for providing the Sentinel with the illustrations and song lyrics on these pages.



THE STRANGER I am the Stranger You can’t see me I am the Stranger Do you know what I mean? I navigate the mud I walk above the path Jumping to the right And I jump to the left

S E I P O C 1 1 O N E O F & A L B U M D O W N LO A D


On the Secret Path The one that nobody knows And I’m moving fast On the path that nobody knows


As part of its ongoing efforts to bring reconciliation, the Salish Sea Sentinel is offering our readers a chance to win one of eleven copies of the Secret Path book with a free download of the album. Those copies represent the eleven member nations of Naut’sa mawt Tribal Council, the publisher of this magazine. This competition is open to all readers of the Sentinel.

And what I’m feeling Is anyone’s guess What is in my head And what’s in my chest I’m not gonna stop I’m just catching my breath They’re not gonna stop Please, just let me catch my breath

All entries must answer the question:

What does reconciliation mean to me?

Send entries to by Jan. 10, 2017.

I am the Stranger You can’t see me I am the Stranger Do you know what I mean?

Students Matter Here. At Vancouver Island University, we help you find success in your studies with…

That is not my dad My dad is not a wild man He doesn’t even drink My daddy’s not a wild man

• small classes and individual attention from your professors • support from Aboriginal Elders • a classroom experience where students are seen and heard • friendly, welcoming services and staff dedicated to Aboriginal students

On a Secret Path The one that nobody knows And I’m moving fast On the path that nobody knows Contact VIU’s Aboriginal Services Centre to find out more. Toll free 1.888.920.2221, local 6510 | Tel 250.740.6510 | Email 25-07-8901

I am the Stranger I am the Stranger I am the Stranger

NANAImo | CowIChAN | PArkSVIlle•QUAlICUm | Powell rIVer


SNUNEYMUXW AUTHOR’S EIGHT BOOKS WERE FIRST WRITTEN IN HER HEART By Mark Kiemele The last time the Sentinel met Celestine Aleck – Sahiltiniye – we had no idea that we were talking to an artist and a budding author. She was brushing red paint onto a building on Newcastle Island – Saysutshun – the provincial marine park in Nanaimo harbour. It was in the spring of 2008, a few years after Snuneymuxw First Nation had signed a management agreement for the island with the BC government and the City of Nanaimo. Celestine had been the first person hired by her nation to give interpretative tours and answer questions from the thousands of visitors to Saysutshun. Little did we know of the knowledge that she carried or the stories that she would tell. She was only a young woman painting a building red. Today, Celestine is telling her stories to readers across North America. The author of eight books from Strong Nations Publishing, she is also the cultural support worker for Snuneymuxw, bringing elders and youth together. Her own story is not in a book yet, but it is well worth telling. “I always wanted to write books,” she says. “I’ve been an artist and carver for 30 years. Poles and carvings were our history books years ago. I learned from elders that you cannot write on paper because you could lose it. You have to write on your heart.” Celestine grew up with her Snuneymuxw parents in Victoria and moved home to Snuneymuxw as a teenager. After high school graduation in 1994, she went back to school in order to become a Hul’qumi’num language instructor, taking part in a program at Thuq Min at Shell Beach on Stz’uminus First Nation. Photo by Mark Kiemele

I learned from elders that you cannot write on paper because you could lose it. You have to write on your heart. As she stands by a display of those books in the Strong Nations store, she is both humble and quietly proud of her achievement, especially by the fact that they are being read and heard by children in schools. “These stories give kids a chance to know who they are and where they come from,” she says of the experience of her readings and telling stories to classrooms. “I hope to encourage youth that anything is possible… “Living in two worlds is a balance,” Celestine says. “We have to follow rules that have been here since the beginning of time.”

Nancy Seward, who works in the Snuneymuxw education department. “Ten years ago, I was encouraged by Nancy to take the Newcastle Island job. She has been one of the great supports in my life.” The past few years saw Celestine concentrating on the hard work of being a single mother while taking care of her parents. Then along came another powerful woman in Terri Mack of Strong Nations Publishing in Nanaimo. “I met Terri and she told me that wanted Coast Salish stories. I wrote the drafts of four fiction and four non-manuscripts in eight days.”

She grows quieter as she talks about those powerful days of learning her language, of living in two worlds. “I had been fortunate to be around elders, hearing stories, learning traditional names. Stories are lessons and I had to take time to mend myself,” she says of the time after the language course ended. With her newfound knowledge, she thought about the stories and the lessons told to her by many elders, among them her grandfather Ronald Aleck and great-grandmother Hazel Good. Then, just at the right time, came the influence of a strong woman,

STRONG NATION’S DREAM REALIZED Terri Mack – Kay Kwee Kway Kwa – is a member of the Da’naxda’xw Awaetlala Nation from the Knight Inlet area of BC’s central coast. She and husband Ken have been running a small business from the basement of their Nanaimo home for years. They started Strong Nations in 2010 as an on-line presence and in 2012 started the publishing house with the launch of the first set of the Strong Readers series. Since then they added the Strong Learners series to the product line, along with educational games and the Strong Learning Environments products that reflect Indigenous peoples in the classroom. In 2014, Strong Nations made the move to a bricks-and-mortar store on Bowen Road in Nanaimo. “We are now considered to be one of the largest Indigenous book stores in North America,” Terri said. “It is with commitment and passion

Terri Mack in her Strong Nations bookstore. – Photo by Mark Kiemele

that we continue to bring the best Indigenous resources to all nations.” She has worked within the Aboriginal education field for 20 years – 17 with the NanaimoLadysmith school district and three

with Stz’uminus First Nation as its community literacy coordinator. Most of those years have been dedicated to literacy initiatives in BC, working with universities and school districts.


Andrew Puglas Jr. led the drummers.

XWANI SHINES AT HOMALCO A new drum group has started at Homalco First Nation. The group called Xwani (North Star) meets in the community’s hall late Sunday afternoons for a potluck supper followed by singing and drumming.


Curtis Blaney, the organizer and a Homalco councillor, said he was honoured by the work of Andrew Puglas Jr – U’magalis – from We Wai Kum nation who offered to be group’s teacher and share songs with the Homalco.

Derek Georgeson and partner Shy Watters stopped in from Sechelt for the session.

Kelsy Robinson took a turn leading a song. – Photos by Mark Kiemele

Raven Hackett, Kelsy Robinson and Andrew Puglas Jr.

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DAYCARE DREAM NEARER AFTER MALAHAT’S GALA The new daycare centre at Malahat Nation came several steps closer thanks to more than $200,000 raised at its fourth annual fundraising event in late October. “Our nation’s future begins with the children,” nation councillor Vince Harry said before the day-long golf and gala at Bear Mountain resort. “We want ours to have the same early education opportunities that are available in more urban centres so our kids have an equal start beside their non-Aboriginal friends when they start school.” Site plans and illustrations of the proposed daycare were on display at the event. It will be built in the centre of Malahat’s village that is near Mill Bay on the western shores of Saanich Inlet. The daycare will be housed in a traditional longhousestyle building near the nation’s Kwanu Kwasun cultural centre that was built as a result of the first gala in 2013. Once built, the daycare will provide meals and a caring environment. A statement from Malahat said: “We know that children who attend daycare facilities in every other First Nations community are well prepared for school when the day arrives, and that their opportunities for a healthy and successful life are dramatically improved. “A daycare centre will provide support for our growing families and allow for community members to continue their education and employment plans knowing their children are safe and well cared for.” The nation’s second gala in 2014 was focused on providing funds to develop social programs in the community. Money raised in the 2015 gala augmented those programs as well as initiatives that provided employment training and economic development opportunities to Malahat members both on and off reserve.


Above: Malahat leaders spoke at the gala. Below: Plans for the daycare were on display. Left: Artwork created by Malahat children was auctioned at the gala.

Top and middle right: Tzinquaw Dancers brought Coast Salish songs to the occassion. Above: George Leach Bottom right: Ventriloquist and puppeteer Buddy Big Mountain. -Photos by Tricia Thomas



Callers to the Vancouver Island office of Naut’s mawt Tribal Council may be surprised, and even pleased, to hear a greeting in the Hul’qumi’num language, as spoken by Coast Salish peoples on the Mid-Island. It is the voice of Evelyn (Thomas) Allen, the new finance clerk and receptionist. “I have a lot to learn yet,” Evelyn says of her language skills. “But all the little classes here and there, I’m quite confident with a few words. Others… I’m learning yet.” But she doesn’t underestimate the importance of learning and speaking the language of her people. “Learning our language means that a part of our spirituality’s identity stays alive,” she says. “Being able to understand and speak the language helps keep our beautiful culture alive. Evelyn Allen – Photo by Tricia Thomas “Growing up, it was the most basic Hul’qumi’num spoken. When I was in middle school, we had an option to take either Hul’qumi’num or French. I choose Hul’qumi’num. I’m becoming a passionate casual/beginner speaker.” Evelyn’s paternal grandparents are the late Shirley and Bill (Simon) Thomas of Lyackson First Nation. Her maternal biological grandparents are the late Edith (Oly) and Robert Joseph of the Ditidaht First Nation. Her maternal adoptive grandparents are the late Martin and Ceceila Charles of Ditidaht First Nation. Her parents are Wallie (Wallace) and Marie Thomas. Evelyn is a member of Cowichan Tribes. She and her husband Brandon Allen have five children. “I am excited to be a part of Naut’sa mawt Tribal Council’s finance department,” she says. “Two years ago I participated in a First Nation’s introduction to business course hosted by Stz’uminus in partnership with Vancouver Island University. This program ignited my flame for number crunching.” 24 • SALISH SEA SENTINEL

HANUSE NEW REP FOR THE BCAFN Klahoose may be a small community, but it now has two representatives at the table of the BC Assembly of First Nations (BCAFN). Johnny Hanuse, 25, was voted in as BCAFN’s male youth council representative in late October. He joins Chief James Delorme, who already sits on the organization’s board of directors. Hanuse, who is currently studying business administration and works for Klahoose, said he decided to run after being encouraged by Delorme as well as a friend who was a former youth representative. “I was given some really good support before the election,” he said, adding he only had two weeks to campaign. Hanuse hadn’t yet started work with BCAFN when he Johnny Hanuse – Photo by Dana Eriksen spoke to the Sentinel in mid-November, but said that his role will involve working with Regional Chief Shane Gottfriedson on many initiatives, from language preservation to treaty rights. He will also be ensuring that youth interests are at the table. “I’m really looking forward to working with a team that’s so dedicated,” he said, adding that it still feels “surreal” to have been elected into such a trusted role. He’s taking it one step at a time for now. Delorme said the nation is proud of Hanuse’s “welldeserved” win. “Johnny will be a great mentor for all BC First Nations youth in this role,” he said. Meanwhile, Kalila George-Wilson of Tsleil-Waututh First Nation has been voted in as the BCAFN’s female youth council representative and will also be starting her role in the near future.


SURVIVORS’ TOTEM POLE RAISED IN VANCOUVER An eight-metre cedar Survivors’ totem pole was raised in Pigeon Park on Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside on Nov. 5. It was crafted Haida carver Skundaal Bernie Williams (Gul Kitt Jaad) who was the only female apprentice of the late Bill Reid. The pole is a symbol of healing and resistance for anyone who has faced discrimination. Photos by Cara McKenna




After three weeks of intensive training at T’Sou-ke First Nation, a group of ten Indigenous interns from across Canada is doing human rights work in Africa. One of the interns, Jaxxen Wiley, is of Stz’uminus descent and works with youth at Tillicum Lelum Aboriginal Friendship Centre in Nanaimo. He answered these questions via email from Uganda: Tell me about your experiences in the internship program so far – what have you been doing? I am living in a village in rural Uganda and have been getting used to the lifestyle there. My position involves community outreach mainly for sports and recreation and so I have been spending time with the teachers of Arise and Shine school going over what we will be doing. We are setting up a soccer tournament between local villages, and starting up an after-school sports club for girls and boys. Why did you want to get involved? I have wanted to work in Africa for a long while, something has just always drawn me there. It worked out great that I was able to land a position relevant to what I currently do. I work doing outreach at Tillicum Lelum and study 28 • SALISH SEA SENTINEL

criminology in university. It is cool to gain experience doing something like this internship. What have been some of your successes and some of the challenges? Most of the challenges come from adjusting to a totally different lifestyle than I’m used to in Canada. In the village we live in traditional huts and have no access to electricity or running water. Also, not having the same understanding of the social cues can lead to some confusion. The best thing is just to keep an open mind and be able to laugh at yourself. What do you hope to gain from this program that you can bring back to your community? I think an appreciation and understanding for the high standard of living we are given in Canada is important. I hope to bring back a new perspective gained from this experience to my community. It helps to have multiple different views when looking at an issue so I hope this can give me new insight. Is there anything else you would like to say about your experiences in the program? I just think it’s awesome that there are opportunities like this internship for youth – particularly Aboriginal

youth – to go through such a great experience. There is a lot that can be learned from internship positions and gaining experience, and the fact that there are choices like going to Uganda to do community outreach is pretty good for inspiring youth to see what options there are to do some good work. Jaxxen and other interns departed to Uganda and Zambia in late summer where they are working in various areas including gender and youth-based efforts. It is one of several efforts by the Victoria International Development Education Association (VIDEA) to provide development, education and support overseas. VIDEA program director Rohan Stritch said the association wanted to work with T’Sou-ke so that interns could witness its “inspirational community development work” while being trained. “The experience of working together with T’Sou-ke Nation has been rich for all involved,” Stritch said. “T’Sou-ke Nation is well known for being innovators in renewable energy, indigenous food propagation and leaders in environmentally sustainable community development.” Find more information on Jaxxen’s blog at and the VIDEA site at

10 Years Ago The Coast Salish Gathering was held in Cowichan territory in late January 2007 at the Quw’utsun’ conference centre. Leaders representing many of the 100 Coast Salish nations in British Columbia and Washington State gathered for a historic renewal of ancient relationships.



Elmer in his workshop with Marvin Sampson - Photo by Tricia Thomas

Elmer Sampson, the 86-year-old master carver from Stz’uminus First Nation, has built many canoes in his lifetime. But one he finished this summer may be one of the most memorable for many reasons. That log has many stories. The prime 40-foot cedar had sat for years on the foreshore outside Elmer’s home and workshop at Shell Beach. Over one year ago, the 350-year-old log crossed the Salish Sea to its new home at the Musqueam Indian Band. Songs were sung as it was named the ‘Old Woman’ log. Elmer mentored carvers and helped awaken the spirit of the canoe culture at Musqueam, as an ocean-going ‘journey’ dugout was built. There are stories within these stories. The ‘Old Woman’ project really began over a decade ago when Corrina Sparrow, now the social development manager at Musqueam, met Shelly Johnson at the University of Victoria. The two women rekindled their friendship in Vancouver a few years ago when Sparrow returned home to Musqueam and Johnson joined the UBC School of Social Work as an assistant professor. They combined forces to help win an Insight grant competition from Canada’s Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council to realize Sparrow’s dream to build a carving shed and facilitate a Tribal Journey canoe for her nation’s youth. A Musqueam advisory council was established. UBC forestry and other departments came on board. And the “Awakening the Spirit: Revitalization of Musqueam Canoeing Project” began. Elders began to search, from Vancouver Island to Alaska, for a proper cedar log. Specifications were laid out for a carving shed. The search ended when the log was found at Shell Beach. It was brought to Musqueam and laid on the foreshore for three days until arrangements could be made to bring it into the community. On Sept. 11, 2015, witnessed by Musqueam political, social, and economic leadership and community members, songs were sung to awaken the spirit of the ‘Old Woman’ log – so named to acknowledge the circle of women that had brought the research project from an idea to a reality. Sparrow said the canoe-building project would “awaken the spirit of canoe culture at Musqueam once again.” A three-year old told his grandparents about witnessing the log move. He said, “An old lady log is going to be made into a canoe, and we all need to take care of her”. Continued on page 32


Elmer mentored carvers and helped awaken the spirit of the canoe culture at Musqueam, as an ocean-going ‘journey’ dugout was built.

Continued from page 31

The Old Woman canoe just after launch. – Photo courtesy of UBC via Jessica Werb

Elmer watches the work on the ‘Old Woman’ log. – Photo courtesy of Musqueam

Elmer surrounded by canoes in his workshops. – Photo by Tricia Thomas


Master carver Dick Louis worked under the mentorship of Elmer Sampson from April 2016. He said the last time a canoe was carved at Musqueam was in 1985. For the first time in 30 years, the Musqueam Indian Band has carved a ‘journey canoe’ from a 350-year-old cedar log. The canoe took three months to carve and is part of a cultural revitalization project between the Musqueam band and several indigenous professors at UBC. The project seeks to In September, the Musqueam community and other project participants from UBC and beyond turned out to see the ‘Old Woman’ launched into the Fraser River. There were memories of other canoes and hopes of revitalizing more of Musqueam’s culture and teachings.

Most of Bailey Mckittrick’s summers have been spent on Octopus Island, one of many islands in a chain that includes the BC provincial marine park with the same name. It was here, in the northernmost part of the Salish Sea watershed, that she and her grandfather found a clam garden. The regular Sentinel reader sent this article from her home in California.

Harwood Island clam farms at Tla’amin - Photo by Georgia Combes.


By Bailey Mckittrick For the Coast Salish people, shellfish has served as a staple food source for over 5,000 years, supporting communities from Alaska through British Columbia and into Washington. Indigenous people were once considered to belong to hunter-gatherer societies, but recently there have been discoveries made that counter this theory. One discovery was evidence that suggests Indigenous communities did not just gather Butter clams (Saxidomus gigantea), but actually farmed these intertidal mollusks. Clams thrive in sheltered, soft-sediment beaches and bays. Along the coast, many locations have been found where Coast Salish ancestors created ideal environments for clams to grow. These are known as ‘clam gardens’. One of these clam gardens can be found on Octopus Island, a place I am very

familiar with and have traveled to every year since I was four. The marine life on Octopus Island has always fascinated me. As a little girl, my grandfather and I would go ‘low-tiding’ every day, looking at all of the intriguing life that thrived in and around the ocean. Perhaps one of the most interesting sites to be discovered was an ancient clam garden.

At the clam garden, you can see that the largest boulders along the shore were once moved to the edge of the tidal zone and set in a row to form a rock wall, like a fence, along the low-tide water line. This rock wall protected the sediment and shell fragments in the intertidal zone from washing away, while still allowing for the high tidal current to flow up through the cracks and carry nutrients to the clams. When the tide comes in, the butter clams are free to move around and feed on phytoplankton through their siphons in these calm pools. The removal of stones from the beach to build the rock wall also allowed for the cultivation of a large, sandy bed, which supported both the growth and harvesting of these clams. Amazingly, studies have shown that these ancient marine farming techniques yield up to four times more butter clams than ‘wild’ methods. SALISH SEA SENTINEL • 33

IS IT JUST ANOTHER FISH TALE? By Cara McKenna Momentum is building to act over what BC Indigenous leaders say has been decades of Canada ignoring fishing rights, even after the “sunny ways” promises of last year’s federal election. In several cases, those rights were even reaffirmed by court decisions, but continue to be overlooked years later. Some chiefs are saying “enough is enough” and that they will soon be forced to assert their own Indigenous laws and jurisdiction. On Oct. 19, Nuu-cha-nulth leaders from Vancouver Island’s west coast gathered at Musqueam First Nation to announce that nothing has changed seven years after the nations won, in B.C. Supreme Court, the right to catch and sell all species of fish. It’s also why they asked a high-ranking Department of Fisheries and Oceans official to leave their territory during ongoing negotiations on Sept. 23. Musqueam Chief Wayne Sparrow said his nation is facing the same problem more than two decades after the Supreme Court of Canada ruled in 1990 in the precedent-setting Sparrow case that Aboriginal fishing rights take priority over all others.

“We have the exact same concern at Musqueam,” the Musqueam chief said of the Nuu-cha-nulth announcement. The fight extends to nations who have not yet taken their concerns to court. Communities across BC have had to fight for access to salmon and other fish, because priority is given to commercial fishers over Indigenous ones; and wild salmon stocks are at record-low numbers. Other valuable fish are also being limited. There is the high-value geoduck for which Stz’uminus First Nation has been fighting to get fair access for years. And the situation is the same in the Northern Interior too, said First Nations Summit Grand Chief Ed John, whose community of Tl’azt’en Nation sits on the banks of Stuart Lake. “There has been a significant gap in implementing the rights that have been determined in so many court cases across this country,” John said. Assembly of First Nations National Chief Perry Bellegarde vowed during the Musqueam press conference to help and support communities battling the DFO. “The former [Harper] government spent $106 million fighting Aboriginal rights,” he said. “Let’s not make the same mistake twice.”

But Grand Chief Stewart Phillip of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs said it is “bitterly disappointing” to still be fighting with the Canadian government after many expected things to be different under Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. He said it’s now up to Indigenous communities to stand up for their own laws. “We’re going to be asserting our own jurisdiction because obviously we can’t be relying on the honour of the Crown or the courts,” he said. “All of us Indigenous peoples will come together in unprecedented solidarity and support. I predict this will be the future under the Trudeau government.” The act of nations banding together has already begun. In late August, Snuneymuxw, Stz’uminus and Snawnaw-as leaders stood with hereditary chiefs from Musgamagw Dzawada’enuxw as they protested in Nanaimo against the DFO’s failure to consent First Nations over fish farms in their territories. At the time, Stz’uminus elder and fisherman Ray Harris voiced his concerns about the DFO’s policies. “We’re the same as you,” he said. “We’re concerned about all the resources in the sea.”



It is tum’hwytl; the Hul’qumi’num language name for time of winter – December. As we all look forward to tthul’hwumutsun, the month of shining ice or January and the New Year, it is a good time to reflect on the past year and the many stories we have shared with our readers from the eleven First Nation members of Naut’sa mawt Tribal Council. Some of those stories were uplifting and exciting. Others made some readers thoughtful and sometimes angry. There were many smiles. They were Our stories. As you read through these excerpts from some of the favourites published over the year, don’t forget that you can read and see more at We wish you all the best for the coming holiday season. See you in February. SALISH SEA SENTINEL • 35

FEBRUARY TANYA STEPS UP FROM BEHIND THE SCENES Tanya Corbet spent years working behind the scenes to get Tsawwassen Nation – where she was born and raised – into the news. Now she’s the one in front of the camera. The longtime communications pro has a new job for her nation as it moves on massive housing and mall developments that will completely change the face of its land and finances. In her 16-year career working for the nation, that has included handling communications for chief and council during Tsawwassen’s negotiations for treaty, which was ratified in 2007. It was the first urban treaty in the province, and so interest was intense, Corbet said. “Everybody was interested, especially when it came down to voting day, we had media camped out and then we had a huge scrum,” she said. “I remember the last calls were going until about midnight, and then the phones started ringing again at about six in the morning for interviews.” She worked in the treaty office for eight years and another eight years in the chief ’s office as an executive assistance for both former chief Kim Baird and current Chief Bryce Williams, while also handling communications.


TSAWWASSEN SAYS ‘NO’ TO LNG Members of the Tsawwassen Nation have voted down plans to build a liquefied natural gas export facility in their lands. Leaders said in November that they would let the nation’s member decide whether or not they wanted the project. The vote had 53 per cent of voters opposed to the plan. The nation announced in a media release that it would not be going ahead with further discussions around the project which would occupy 32 hectares and produced 3-5 million tonnes of LNG each year. The proposal came with promised jobs and “significant” financial gain, however there were concerns about the deal. Some

members were worried about the fact that no environmental assessment would be done prior to the vote and also worried about the quick vote just weeks after the band announced it was considering LNG on Nov. 16. The vote showed that the majority of members put those concerns ahead of money. A question-and-answer sheet on the proposal from chief and council was leaked by a Tsawwassen member to the Delta Optimist newspaper, indicating that members would receive $5,000 per year for up to three years while the facility was being built, plus $15,000 per year for the entire 40-year lease.

GOVERNANCE POWERS T’SOU-KE “Good governance is the key,” says Chief Gordon Planes when he talks about his nation’s never-ending journey for sustainability… and survival. “We all must have light footprint on mother earth.” It is a message that T’Sou-ke First Nation has been spreading to other nations and communities across Canada since it completed its massive solar power project in the summer of 2009. And it is one that is becoming increasingly important as climate changes while energy and food sources become questionable. “We are preparing ourselves through strong governance and asserting our Douglas Treaty rights,” he said. “We are always evolving because we have to. And we will keep on this path because we have good governance, no matter who the leader of our nation is.” Chief Planes spoke to The Sentinel before he left for a climate action conference

in Edmonton at the end of January. He is no stranger to speaking, listening and discussing the future. The evolving story of T’Sou-ke is well received, whether at national conferences in cities or around the table with Coast Salish neighbours around the Salish Sea. “I think that if you’re well prepared in governance, you will be able to do a lot of things in your community that will help us all,” he said. “Checks and balances need to be in place and there has to be good fiscal management.” He said that some nations move towards self-governance through treaty to quickly, exhibiting un-organization rather than good organization. “You’ve got to walk before you run. That’s why T’Sou-ke has clout with all levels of government. People listen to us because we have a lot of years of good practices.”


MP VISITS OUR AGM It’s not often an MP visits our nations. And even more rare when one comes to the annual general meeting of Naut’sa mawt Tribal Council. Almost, like, never! So, history was made on Feb. 12 when MP Rachel Blaney, the newly elected member of Parliament for North IslandPowell River stopped in to say a few words to the gathering in Parksville. The backstory to this is that Rachel is the partner of Darren Blaney from Homalco First Nation. The day was also the couple’s wedding anniversary, so they were spending extra time at Tigh-na-mara resort in order to take advantage of Valentine’s Day two days later.

It may not be a best seller, but The Housing Policy Toolkit 2.0 is certainly highly regarded by First Nations throughout Canada. Housing is one of the foremost challenges faced by First Nations. Clear, fair, consistent and community-specific housing policies and procedures are essential to the effective management and delivery of First Nation housing programs. Toolkit 2.0 is a comprehensive guide designed to support the development and implementation of housing policies and procedures for rental and rent-to-own housing. It provides flexible sample templates and expert advice on how to tailor the documents to the specific requirements of each First Nation. Toolkit 2.0 is available for free to every First Nation across Canada and, so far, almost 100 have requested the documents from Naut’sa mawt Tribal Council. NmTC housing policy advisor Eric Blueschke headed the project in partnership with many First Nations and their organizations as well as housing and legal experts. He said Toolkit 2.0 is something First Nations can use, know and trust when they are creating wellinformed housing policies and agreements. “It can be very expensive and time consuming to build or update a housing policy, especially if you are starting from scratch,” said Eric. “Now First Nations don’t have to reinvent the wheel.”

TREATINGS COULD BE LNG DEAL-BREAKER A Snuneymuxw lawyer and scholar is questioning the Steelhead LNG’s project based on the Pre-Confederation Treaty rights of Saanich area First Nations including Malahat Nation itself. Douglas S. White – Kwulasultun – is interim director of the Centre for Pre-Confederation Treaties and Reconciliation at Vancouver Island University. He also sits on his nation’s council. White was quick to see the implications after the Malahat LNG project was announced in August. “Based on reported negative reactions from within the Malahat Nation itself and from neighbouring First Nations, it became immediately clear that the Malahat Nation had not engaged with or secured consent from them. Further, the NEB export licenses were apparently issued without any notice or engagement with First Nations around Saanich Inlet. He said those rights include “the duty to secure consent for proposals that would interfere with those rights.” Companies like Steelhead LNG need to understand the treaties, he said. “It is hard to imagine companies authorizing billions of dollars on the capital costs of LNG projects with this total uncertainty. SALISH SEA SENTINEL • 37


THE DRUM… SOUND OF CONNECTIONS By Lawrence Mitchell, Snaw-naw-as First Nation Snaw-naw-as hasn’t really had its own song and dance group. If it did, it has been a long time since it’s performed. In fact a lot of the culture was withheld from our parents, from their parents and grandparents in fear of them or children being Taken Away, like what happened with residential school and the Sixties Scoop and all that history. I grew up half my life in foster homes, not knowing how big my history and connection was. All I knew, back in the ‘80s was that I’m an Indian… and back then in elementary school, I was getting beat up weekly because I was an Indian. It got to a point where I was so ashamed of being beat up and ridiculed all the time I found myself walking home scratching my arms until they bled, because back then I thought being an Indian was a colour… and I hated being Indian. I didn’t know anything about my true history as a Coast Salish person. All I knew was what we learned in social studies, that natives lived in teepees and hunted buffalo. So, in saying that, I grew up half my life not knowing who I was, why I am here and what my purpose is in life. And after moving back to the reserve in Nanoose, I’ve been spending the rest of my life learning those things I was missing as a child. And I don’t want any of my kids, or other Coast Salish xwulmuxw (people) facing those kind of tribulations and, at the same time, let all other children in the school districts know that we don’t hunt buffalo and we don’t live in teepees.

JESSIE CHAMPIONS A SOBER LIFE Jessie Louie says she has a whole new feeling about herself. Sitting in her office overlooking Squirrel Cove, the Klahoose First Nation alcohol and drug counselor is quietly celebrating. She is just back from a month-long stay at the Tsow-Tun Le Lum centre at Snaw-naw-as nation. The Kwunatsustul (trauma) program, which means ‘holding hands, standing together’, was good for Jessie at this time in her life. Almost as good as celebrating her 12th year of sobriety. “I was sober, yes, but staring to feel empty inside and lost,” she says of months past that saw a nephew die of alcoholism (“horrible”), the death her sister in December and then, the last straw. “My auntie passed away. She was my mentor and sounding board. That’s when I new I needed help.” Jessie says Kwunatsustul “helped give me strength moving forward”. And she knows all about that… both moving forward and getting help. 38 • SALISH SEA SENTINEL


Copies of Indian Act were burned.

SELF-GOVERNING… AGAIN After about 8,000 years of self-governance, the 150 years under the Indian Act is merely a blip on the radar of the Tla’amin people. Many gathered around the fire outside Governance House in the early hours of April 5 to burn copies of that act as a new era began. A few days later, hundreds gathered there for the unveiling of six new poles and then the crowd travelled into nearby Powell River for hours of speeches, gift giving and celebrations. The Tla’amin Treaty marked the largest transfer of lands in BC history – 8,323 hectares including 1,917 hectares of the former Sliammon Indian reserve and 6,405 hectares of provincial Crown land. The agreement with Canada and BC, more than 20 years in the making, also saw a capital transfer of $33.9 million and an economic development fund of $7.9 million for the nation.

Gina-Mae Shulqwilumaut Harris is finishing her teaching practicum in the Grade 2 class at S-hxixnu-tun Lelum primary school at Stz’uminus First Nation, having recently graduated as the first one from her family with a college degree. This is her story. My family and I celebrate my bachelor of education degree. My education journey has been successful due to the support from my family. My parents encouraged me to continue and my goal was to show my children that anyone can succeed when they put their mind to it. Education has brought me to places I never thought I’d be. It brought me hope for my future and I travelled internationally to teach in San Mateo, Belize, for a month! A few years ago, I completed a two-year diploma at Camosun College after college prep. I thought back then, “That’s good enough education for me”. I went on to University of Victoria for social work, completing third year when I could not continue due to financial constraints. I then went to work for a few years. Life-changing events brought me back home to Stz’uminus Thuqmin. I worked in the social work area and as an education assistant, all the while being encouraged to return to university to become a teacher. This encouragement was only a part of my decision to attempt university again. It was more than that. After my family’s life-changing tragic event, I was at a huge loss in my life and I questioned myself. I wondered who I was. Education was such a bad experience in our history as hwulmuhw people. Even I had a negative experience in the public system. Long story short, I wanted to go somewhere to see if I could succeed, to be where no one knew me and what I went through in my life, to be in a space where it could be just me with the memories of my late sister.

“I wanted to go somewhere to see if I could succeed”

JUNE SNAW-NAW-AS PROJECT NO PIPE DREAM The parking lot outside the administration offices at Snaw-naw-as First Nation has been an unusual sight for the past two months. On the asphalt leading to the boat ramp, contractors are building a 2,000-metre pipeline that will soon replace the Regional District of Nanaimo (RDN) marine outfall. The project is providing employment for some Snaw-naw-as members as well as daily interesting activity for the community. It is also a source of revenue that will be used to further work on the nation’s latest economic development project above the waterfront along the Island Highway. Sections of 54-inch high-density polyethylene pipe are assembled on land and floated from the assembly area into the Nanoose Bay. When complete, the pipeline will be towed to Morningside Park in Nanaimo for installation during the June to September 2016 fisheries window.

A NEW ERA FOR THE GOOD HOUSE Two sisters are honouring the legacy of their parents by starting a clothing business – Ay Lelum: The Good House of Design – featuring the traditional Coast Salish designs of their father William Good. As Aunalee and Sophia talk excitedly about their new venture Ay Lelum – The Good House of Design, father William Good carves some of the thick calluses on his hands, son W. Joel (he’s a William too) paints a cedar box and little Liam, a budding artist at age two, tries to make himself useful. The sisters’ collective creative juices began to flow last year as they coordinated a two-month show at the Nanaimo Museum celebrating Ay Ay Mut, the 35-year artistic partnership between William and Sandra including their clothing line. Since then, Aunalee and Sophia have been doing all the hard work that’s necessary to create a successful business, taking practical courses, transforming artwork into wearable clothing and sourcing suppliers. Last December they launched their fashions to much acclaim at the Awaken the Spirit art show and cultural festival at the Vancouver Island Conference Centre in Nanaimo. Since then they’ve exhibited their clothing at pow-wows and other Aboriginal community events, something they’ll continue to do this summer. 40 • SALISH SEA SENTINEL



Kristin Thomas from Halalt First Nation passed along her passion for medicinal plants and traditional healing to students from St Joseph’s school in Chemainus recently. She took the children on a plant walk through the habitat of the Chemainus River on Halalt lands and talked with them about specific plants as well as preserving the natural environment so that people like her can continue to use traditional medicines. After working with a respected Coast Salish medicine women, Kristin realized that she had retained plant knowledge passed down to her as a child and she made it her mission to seek an understanding of different plants and their healing properties. She earned a diploma in renewable resource management in 2009 and is currently undertaking her herbal practitioner certificate at the College of the Rockies. She has also studied traditional herbal wellness with Dr. Jeanne Paul of Tla’amin Nation. Now she is working on her business ‘Naturally Native by Kristin’ in which she will be expanding her growing apothecary of traditional plant medicines and teas. But that hasn’t stopped her being out in nature, in her true medicine cabinet, wild crafting and harvesting the plants she adores.

KNOWLEDGE IS KEY FOR KALVIN When Kalvin Hackett takes guests from around the world into Bute Inlet for the Homalco Wildlife Tours, he goes armed… with knowledge. The goal for him is to be the best for himself, his nation and the company. “I’m a busy bee,” Kalvin Hackett admits as he visits outside the Homalco community hall in Campbell River. The very well spoken young man says that he’s been working since age 12 when he ran a lawn maintenance company. That was also when he took his first trip into Bute and began to learn about his nation’s original home around Orford Bay. Now, 13 years later, Kalvin has turned six seasons as a rookie guide for the tours into a passion. He’s a skipper on one of the canoes that take visitors to view wildlife and petroglyphs, eat traditional foods and learn about the culture of his people. “I started out very nervous as a tour guide and not very informative,” he admits. “But the more I read up on bear ecology and fish biology and the more I learned about the history and the Coast Salish dialect, the stories and the meanings… the more I armed myself with knowledge, the easier these bear tours got. “If I can learn three of anything and everything – three bears, three whales, three mountains, three rivers, three trees – the easier it gets. I’m taking a bird course this year to further my knowledge. It’s a little embarrassing when a tour guest can out-do you on birds. It leaves a humble, bitter taste in my mouth.” SALISH SEA SENTINEL • 41


A Stz’uminus elder who was fined $20,000 after a seven-month covert fisheries investigation has successfully appealed his sentence. Fred Elliott, 74, was charged two years ago after he sold $750 worth of prawns and halibut to an undercover officer who called more than 30 times asking to buy fish. Elliott appealed his sentence on June 20, and the judge decreased his fine to $4,500. Matt Boulton of the law firm Woodward and Company took on Elliott’s appeal for free because he didn’t think the first sentence was fair. “The law says that the penalty has to be proportionate to the gravity of the offence,” he said. “It’s disproportionate. And that’s essentially what the appeal judge found.” Initially, the court ordered forfeiture of the $18,000 security deposit Elliott had to pay to have his boat returned. At the appeal, Boulton said he was surprised that the Crown went after the boat itself. “They asked for the boat to be substituted for the [forfeited] security deposit, and I was pretty surprised by that move, given the importance of that boat for this community,” he said.


BEARS, ORCAS, PADDLING, DRUMMING… There’s something for everyone in Coast Salish country. Homalco and Klahoose First Nations operate popular wildlife tours in Bute and Toba Inlets on the Mainland in their traditional territories across the waters from their homes on the islands on the northern edge of the Salish Sea. Further south, Tla’amin Nation hosts visitors at its Lund Hotel before they set off for Desolation Sound. And Snuneymuxw First Nation manages ‘jewel’ at Newcastle Island provincial park in Nanaimo Harbour. Chief James Delorme of Klahoose First Nation says visitors to Coast Salish country can expect a lot more than just entertainment and recreation. “Klahoose Adventure Tours is much more than a window into our Coast Salish traditional territory. It is an opportunity to experience the rich and mysterious knowledge of our ancestors. It is a chance to learn and grow and be a part of our community by sharing and learning. “Our guides help guests to see a world

-Photos by Garry Henkel

rarely seen. They offer a once in a lifetime moment which creates a personal story for each visitor. “We are very proud of our lands, our peoples and our territory and we welcome our visitors as our ancestors have since time immemorial. We welcome you to make your own story.”

NEIGHBOURS UNITE AGAIN DURING BUTE INLET VISIT The mid-September meeting of Homalco and Tsilhqot’in leaders in Bute Inlet was more than a ceremonial visit. “Historic” was one used for the visit as leaders and other delegates met in Bute – the traditional home of the Homalco – in what was seen as a first step in renewing a traditional trading relationship between the nations. It was in that regard that those attending referred to the Grease Trail, the ancient overland trade route from Bute through the Homathko River valley and over the Coastal mountain range to the Chilcotin in BC’s western Interior. At the centre of that trade was the grease from the eulochon and other dried coastal seafoods that were exchanged for elk, moose and other products. Chief MaryAnn Enevoldsen said: “It is a great honour for the Homalco Nation to host representatives from the Tsilhqot’in National Government and their six communities. “Our common ancestry compels us to work together, as we once did. Our hope is that this new relationship will grow, that our people will prosper, and our kinship will prove us to be indivisible as a people.


IT WON’T BE THE LAST! More than 30 young people from nine Naut’sa mawt Tribal Council nations had some real knowledge building, and a lot of fun, when they got together for the first NmTC Youth Leadership Gathering at Kulleet Bay in mid-August. From the opening ceremonies beside the fires in the bighouse through daytime and evening activities, the youth gave a decided ‘thumbs-up’ to the experience. Fittingly enough, it was Lawrence Mitchell – ‘Ćum’qwa:tun’ – and children performing songs and dance at the start. The youth gathering idea came

from him two years ago as he sat at an NmTC board of directors meeting. There was much interest and excitement as youth learned about drum and paddle making or traditional medicines as well as stories and teachings from elders. And the comments received after the event from the youth was very positive.



UNIVERSITY WALKS THE RECONCILIATION ROAD WE’RE HERE… REMEMBER US When Vancouver’s mayor and council are making decisions for the city’s future in decades to come, they’ll be reminded of the local First Nation’s ties and values. Jordan Gallie, from Tsleil-Waututh Nation, is one of three artists who won a city-led contest to create works that are now hanging permanently in city council chambers. The pieces were unveiled recently as part of Vancouver’s effort to become a “city of reconciliation.” Gallie’s work hangs between artworks by Chrystal Sparrow of Musqueam and Jody Broomfield of Squamish. His piece consists of a seven-foot cedar plank with sandblasted tempered glass showing an image of a wolf, representing Tsleil-Waututh. Its paw is on city hall. Also featured are maple leaves to represent Mother Earth, and the North Shore mountains with an eagle inside of them to represent his ancestors’ vision of sustainability. “It’s a statement piece saying ‘We’re here; remember us; make good decisions for us,’” Gallie said. “When I heard about the chance to have this piece, I thought of the whole concept right off the bat.” 44 • SALISH SEA SENTINEL

One year ago, Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission released its final report. In it was a clear summons to all Canadians to do their part in addressing the challenge of reconciliation between Canada’s Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples. Vancouver Island University (VIU) heard that call, especially the one for educational institutions to take responsibility. That was the genesis of Reconciliation Road, a series of events and activities that are being planned to engage people in the reconciliation process. November is especially filled with events – open to everyone – from a sold-out Buffy

Sainte-Marie concert, part of the downtown Nanaimo Port Theatre’s Spotlight series, to VIU’s Indigenous speaker series and ‘soup-and-bannock lunch-and-learn’ series at Shq’apthut (A Gathering Place) on the Nanaimo campus. But Reconciliation Road marks a new journey for the institution. One of the first steps took place in early October when the Witness Blanket was unveiled at the View Gallery on the Nanaimo campus. First Nation artist and master carver Carey Newman created the thought-provoking contemporary art installation about the impacts of Canada’s residential school era.

NEW MALL REPRESENTS ‘RECONCILIATION IN ACTION’ From floor to ceiling, artworks from Tsawwassen First Nation people are on display to the thousands of shoppers visiting the newly-opened megamall. When the doors swung open at Tsawwassen Mills in early October, it marked the end of four years of planning, site preparation and construction. The ‘destination’ mall sits on land acquired when the nation signed BC’s first urban treaty in 2009. Next year, on nearby lands, a big-boxstore complex will open for business. Chief Bryce Williams said the project – a partnership with company Ivanhoe Cambridge – has built his nation’s pride. “The opening of Tsawwassen Mills represents the end of one journey and the beginning of a new one,” he said. “This is reconciliation in action, and we invite everyone to come and witness.” The massive centre is divided into five themed ‘neighbourhoods’ including one that is Coast Salish. The other four neighbourhoods are themed fashion, nature, city and sports. The Coast Salish neighbourhood features artwork from seven of the nation’s artists. Some pieces of art are on display and others are incorporated into the mall structure itself.


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Salish Sea Sentinel December 2016 - January 2017  

Stories from around the Salish Sea

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