Melissa Renwick

Labour shortages felt in communities across the west coast

Communities across the west coast of Vancouver Island are facing labour shortages, forcing some businesses to adjust their operations. 

Lewis and Cathy George have been operating the House of Himwitsa, a First Nations art gallery and lodge in Tofino, since 1991.

In previous years, Cathy said their storefront would be open from 9:30 a.m. until as late as 7 p.m. 

But without enough staff, Cathy said they now have to close their shop as early as 4 p.m.

“We don’t have the staff,” she said. “It’s kind of heartbreaking.”

Respecting order in the animal kingdom by avoiding the top hunter

In all of Joe Martin’s 68 years of living on the west coast of Vancouver Island, he said he’s only encountered a wolf once. 

Alone in the forest just outside of the Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation community of Esowista, Martin recalled when a pack of wolves ran past him over 20 years ago.

Their presence stopped him in his tracks, and with wide eyes he turned around to get another look. 

But just as quickly as the wolves ran by, they disappeared into the forest. 

Martin said the experience still plays vividly in his mind. 

Ahousaht receives $8.3 million for new bighouse

As community members from Ahousaht First Nation gathered inside the gymnasium at Maaqtusiis Secondary on Flores Island, deep roars of thunder penetrated the room.

“The ancestors are here in full force,” said Rebecca Atleo, Ahousaht Education Authority director of education. “It's very indicative of the excitement that we have for today.”

Addressing those gathered on August 10, Atleo revealed that the nation received $8.3 million towards the construction of a new bighouse through the federal government’s Cultural Spaces in Indigenous Communities Program. 

Somass sockeye return doubles original forecast

This year’s sockeye salmon return in the Somass River came in around double what the pre-season run size estimate was.

While the Somass River pre-season forecast hovered around 400,000, it was re-forecasted to 950,000 as of July 28.

It’s a trend that is being observed coast-wide – from Bristol Bay to the Fraser River, according to Tseshaht First Nation Fisheries Manager Dave Rolston.

“I think all the fisheries benefited from increased numbers,” he said. 

Canada invests more in oceans protection, but measures fail to salvage sinking fishing boat in Alberni Inlet

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the next phase of Canada’s Oceans Protection Plan on July 19. It comes with a commitment to add $2 billion over nine years.

This builds on the $1.5 billion that’s been directed towards the program, which was launched in 2016.

Established to strengthen the protection of Canada’s coasts and wildlife, the Oceans Protection Plan is being labelled as a “Canadian success story” by the prime minister’s office (PMO).

Roadside garbage pick up coming to Tla-o-qui-aht and Yuułuʔiłʔatḥ communities 

Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation and the Yuułuʔiłʔatḥ Government will be introducing the Alberni Clayoquot Regional District’s (ACRD) residential roadside waste collection service in their communities this fall. 

There are currently six large containers placed throughout the First Nation communities, which residents can use to dispose of their household waste. This means that there is no waste separation.

Mowachaht/Muchalaht plans a welcome house as a ‘launching ground’ for tourism in Nootka Sound

Mowachaht/Muchalaht First Nation is one step closer to building a new welcome house in Nootka Sound, with funding support from Island Coastal Economic Trust’s Capital (ICET) and Innovation Program. 

The Ahaminaquus Welcome House will function as a visitor centre, community hub and museum. It will also host ceremonies, workshops and educational sessions focusing on the nation and settler history in the region, including Captain Cook’s first landing in Nootka Sound in 1778.

‘It’s not over by a long stretch’: Pope Francis visits Canada this month to address residential school survivors

Pope Francis is set to tour three regions in Canada between July 24 and 29 on what is being called a historic journey of “healing and reconciliation.”

Earlier this year at the Vatican, the Pope apologized to Indigenous representatives from across Canada for “the deplorable behaviour” of members of the Catholic Church who caused harm to Indigenous communities through the residential school system.

“I feel shame,” he said in his apology speech on April 1. 

Hupačasath First Nation benefits from boost in funding, draws liquid ‘gold’ from bigleaf maple trees

Hupačasath First Nation on Vancouver Island’s west coast is creating a unique flavour of maple syrup using sap from bigleaf maple trees.

As part of the Indigenous Bioeconomy Program, the nation is benefitting from nearly $112,000 in funding from the province towards the business venture, named Kleekhoot Gold.

The funding is designed to support Indigenous partners lead the development of a forest bioeconomy, according to the Ministry of Forests.

Drastic ocean level fluctuation impacts intertidal species

The west coast experienced some of its lowest tides of the year last week, leaving some intertidal animals vulnerable to the heat. 

A recent series of events lined up to trigger a “tidal phenomenon” that resulted in an exaggerated tidal range, according to Denny Sinnott, a DFO supervisor for Tides Current and Water Levels.

First, the full moon on July 15 caused a gravitational pull on the ocean. Known as a spring tide, it occurs twice a month in conjunction with a new or full moon and contributes to the larger tidal range.

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