Sheila ready to help with housing needs

Sheila Charles has always been an advocate for Huu-ay-aht citizens. As an elected councillor for two terms, she was instrumental in making the Social Services Project a reality and improving so many lives through this process. She will now turn her attention to the housing needs of her Nation.

Sheila joined Team Huu-ay-aht and takes over the responsibility for housing for the Nation.

“I’m excited about the challenge this position presents,” she says. “I look forward to helping get our citizens into healthy living arrangements – ones where they will feel happy and safe and find a sense of pride.”

Her position is new to the Huu-ay-aht administrative team, and it is still a work in progress. Sheila says this will be a rewarding job as she gets to work with the team to ensure the new housing position is a “made in Huu-ay-aht” model. She plans to consult with other organizations, like the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council, to see what she can learn from what they are doing in housing. For the most part, Huu-ay-aht will be creating a position that will help address the specific needs coming from the Nation’s community. Prior to this change, direction came from the Housing Oversight Board.

In her new role, Sheila will oversee all the Huu-ay-aht rental properties. She will also be a contact for citizens who need help with their current housing or assistance finding a new place to live. She also sees ongoing maintenance and upkeep of the rental units as an important part of her job.

“We want citizens to know they are supported,” Sheila says. “It is important that we offer them security as we would like to see more citizens move home.”

Sheila acknowledges she has a lot of work ahead of her and lots to learn along the way.

“Learning as I go along is very familiar from the days I spent on Executive Council,” she explains. “I’m excited for the challenge and can’t wait to see more citizens getting into housing and moving home.”

Sheila will also offer help with the application process and other housing needs. She wants to remind citizens that information is available on Huu-ay-aht’s website ( if they need to apply for housing or have other questions. She wants to remind citizens that the deadline for to apply for housing is March 1 of every year, as outlined in the Social Housing Regulation. Citizens can also email her directly at or call 250-731-5676.

Huu-ay-aht among the first to get vaccinated

The current pandemic is still a long way from over, but Huu-ay-aht First Nations is making progress in its fight against the virus.

In January, the Huu-ay-aht found out residents of Anacla would be among the first recipients of the Moderna vaccine. Within days of receiving the news, the first 70 vaccinations were administered in Anacla. That number has since increased to 85, and every member of the community has been vaccinated against COVID-19.

Chief Councillor Robert J. Dennis Sr encouraged residents of Huu-ay-aht’s remote village to get vaccinated to help protect the elders and people who could not get the vaccine.

“We want to lead by example,” he told the Hashilthsa. “If there’s something that we can do to stop the spread, we’re willing to be front and centre to ensure that it gets done.”

The chief also sees the vaccinations as a positive step and hopes that it will mean citizens will be able to gather again, and even host potlatches.

“That’s one of the big things people are missing,” he said. “Being able to get together with family, share a good, big meal and [enjoy] songs and dances. I’m extremely excited about that happening again.”

Although COVID-19 numbers in the province have leveled out, the numbers for First Nations communities are not looking promising.

As of the most recent update from the First Nations Health Authority on January 15, B.C had 2,761 cases recorded in First Nations people.  Among these, there were 32 deaths related to COVID-19. As of this date, there are 416 active cases.

When you examine the demographics of the people infected in this group, 72% are under the age of 50. The majority, 54.7% fall between 20-49 years of age.

The statistics also indicate that First Nations people are becoming infected at a rate greater than the provincial average. The rate of positive cases was 1,700 per 100,000 people among First Nations versus 1,157 per 100,000 people in BC.

The good news is that First Nations communities, especially those in remote areas, are a priority in the new provincial vaccination plan. As of the end of the FNHA reporting period, 75,914 people in B.C. have received a COVID-19 vaccine. Here is the schedule for this year’s immunization plan. For more details, you can go to:

Tommy Happynook Jr. reconnecting with traditions

Tommy Happynook Jr.

Letter from Tommy Happynook Jr.

Good day,

My name is hii-ni-nah-sim, Tommy Happynook Jr. I come from the House of Caa-caa-tsii-as. I am an anthropology doctoral student at the University of Victoria. I am writing today to share some information about my doctoral research, tentatively titled: “Waatlasheeutlin uuaathluk Caa-caa-tsii-as” – Picking up my responsibilities: a project of (re)connecting with traditional lands, waters, knowledge and identity.

The last time anyone in my family lived in Caa-caa-tsii-as was about 1860. My family, like many others, were swept up and aside in the widespread and systemic colonial project of assimilation. In 1970, Caa-caa-tsii-as, known by then as Carnation Creek, was the subject of an experiment conducted, in partnership, by the Federal government, forest industry and Department of Fisheries and Oceans. (DFO). The experiment saw the complete clearcutting of one third of the watershed. The second third was cleared of underbrush and the last third left as is. This experiment was formed with the intent of understanding what would happen if a watershed was completely clear-cut. The experiment became a long-term and influential study of the effects of logging practices on watershed processes and continues today.

The objective of my research is to document my own (re)connection to the lands, waters, and resources in Caa-caa-tsii-as. I will conduct this research by focusing on my own experience of reconnecting, revitalizing, and restoring my family’s knowledge, presence, and traditional responsibilities in and to Caa-caa-tsii-as. Specifically, I will be reintroducing family practices and ceremonies during my time in Caa-caa-tsii-as. I will also be walking/swimming on the land, river, and bay as a way of refamiliarizing myself with Caa-caa-tsii-as.

My research is important because it will ensure that my son grows up connected to Caa-caa-tsii-as, its knowledge and teachings, and understand where those teachings come from through the experience of having a deep land-based connection to Caa-caa-tsii-as.

I believe that my work will benefit Huu-ay-aht citizens and other Indigenous people/nations looking to develop processes and understandings of territorial revitalization/reconnection and inspire reconnection with traditional territories outside of a colonial context.

Thank you for your time and should you have any questions please contact me. I am happy to discuss my research further. And, if COVID-19 restrictions ease, maybe I will see you when I am out in the territory.

Hii-ni-nah-sim, Tommy Happynook

Huu-ay-aht and Bamfield Marine Science Centre break ground for new Waste Water Treatment Plant

(Left to right) Huu-ay-aht Executive Council Members, Robert J. Dennis Sr., Charlie Clappis, Duane Nookemis, BMSC Manager of Operations, Chuck Spoon,
McElhanney Project Engineer Nathan Slater, Industra President/CEO/Owner Scot Brudon, Industra Owner Rob Brydon stand on the site of the new WWTP  

On October 6, 2020 for a ground breaking cermoney.

On October 6, 2020, Huu-ay-aht First Nations (Huu-ay-aht), Bamfield Marine Science Centre (BMSC), McElhanney, and Industra representatives, gathered for a ground breaking ceremony on the BMSC site of where the new Waste Water Treatment Plant (WWTP) is going to be built.

The project began in 2010 when Huu-ay-aht conducted feasibility studies that identified multiple options on where the project would be constructed. BMSC was also looking at options to replace their sewage system. As a result, BMSC and Huu-ay-aht agreed to partner up and build the facility on BMSC lands.

On April 26, 2018, Huu-ay-aht and BMSC signed a memorandum of understanding to work together to build the new WWTP. The total project budget is $8 million, with Indigenous Services Canada committing to $3.6 million. After seeking assistance from different levels of government and having no success funding the remaining investment, Huu-ay-aht decided this project was important enough to invest the final $4.4 million needed to complete the project.

“With this upgrade, Upper Anacla residents and Huu-ay-aht operations are able to do away with septic fields and our businesses in Bamfield will also benefit,” said Chief Councillor Robert J. Dennis. “By partnering with Bamfield Marine Science Centre we are better able to balance residential development and economic drivers, paving the way to joint development and a healthier community.”

Worked into the agreement is a construction advisory board to oversee the construction of the project. The four members who sit on the board are Huu-ay-aht staff Stephen Rayner and Torrance Gilmour, and BMSC members Lee Weber and Chuck Spooner.

The project design and construction are being managed by McElhanney and Huu-ay-aht staff Torrance Gilmour.

Although building the facility in Anacla was an option, Huu-ay-aht decided it should be located on a site that would benefit both parties – connecting BMSC, the Bamfield Community School, and Upper Anacla to the system.

“Huu-ay-aht First Nations and BMSC have worked closely together on the collaborative development of this modern wastewater treatment system,” said Sean Rogers, Director of BMSC. “In addition to providing BMSC with a means to manage our wastewater safely, the project supports the vision of promoting the health and economic development of the Huu-ay-aht First Nations while also promoting the environmental health and stewardship of the local marine environment. It is an exciting project, and we are so pleased to see it underway”.

The design of the new plant is a Moving Bed Biological Reactor that will allow 400 to 1,100 people. Using this type of system also allows for expansion beyond 1,100.

The system is a newer sewage treatment process that uses a screen plant, high surface area media in a series of aerobic reactor tanks, solid separation, and UV disinfection. Solids from the screen plant and concentrated sludge will periodically be trucked to Port Alberni for disposal.

The plant is also equipped with an odour abatement system. The resulting effluent from this type of system is extremely clean. To ensure the design parameters are met, there is a first discharge testing program, as well as a two-year outflow monitoring program.

The 150 m outflow from BMSC’s existing plant will be extended by 350m to service the new plant. This will effectively get the clean effluent discharged out into Trevor’s Channel rather than the mouth of Bamfield Inlet.

All noticeable infrastructure will be contained within the planned fenced off plant area on BMSC land. Construction is estimated to take 15 months and be completed by end of 2021.

Nation welcomes back six Huu-ay-aht Children

September 30 marked a day Huu-ay-aht celebrates the coming home of six Huu-ay-aht children. After hard work and dedication of everyone involved, the children are now in the care of their Huu-ay-aht family.

Huu-ay-aht staff and executive council members, representatives of the ministry, and families, gathered on Zoom to welcome the children back into the care of their family and acknowledge everyone’s work along the way to make it happen.

This event was an opportunity to mark the success achieved through the Social Services Project. It highlights the importance of the work the Child and Family Wellness Team is doing to bring Huu-ay-aht children home.

“It was a wonderful day – seeing the results of our social services project at work,” said Executive Council member Edward R. Johnson. “The team from the Child and Family Wellness Office is doing a wonderful job in achieving our goals, where our Huu-ay-aht children will grow up safe, healthy, and connected to our home and culture/values guided by our traditions and our nananiiqsu.”

In 2017, the Huu-ay-aht First Nations Social Service Project was brought to life. Within this project, lay 30 recommendations that Huu-ay-aht will implement to keep families safe, healthy, and connected to their nation, while also bringing children home.

This project has been active for three years and in that time, Huu-ay-aht has implemented 28 of those recommendations (almost 29 – Oomiiqsu Mother Centre in the process). In that time, 28 Huu-ay-aht children have been brought home.

Grandparents, Wayne and Ida Seitcher welcome home Meredith, Gordan, Rose and Marley. Mother Christyl Smith welcomes home daughters Aurora and Alexya.

“Congratulations to these two families who persevered and worked hard at getting the children back into their care” said Chris Pearson, Huu-ay-aht Protection Support Worker. “They are the reason we do the work that we do, I am humbled and honoured to have been a part of their journey, and I wish them all the very best for the future.”

Christine Pearson and Kerry-Ann Collinge worked closely with the families and ministry workers and thanked everyone for their hard work and attending the welcoming home ceremony.

Kerry-Ann said “What we are witnessing here today is healing for these children, families, and community”.

To contact Child and Family Wellness please phone 778-419-1013 or email Director of Child and Family Wellness, Shannon Zimmerman at You can also find more information about the department at

For after-hour protection support, please contact 250-731-6999. Call this number only if you have received a call from Child Protection Services (i.e. MCFD/Usma or other delegated agencies). Anything not related to this matter will be followed up during office hours.