HFN Education hosts 2023 Grad Celebration Lunch

Left to right – Frankie Williams, Helena Howard, Destiny Stewart, Nicole Malcomson, Angela Dennis, Natalie Clappis, Hayden Johnson – Turgeon, Brian Sport, and Cheyanne Dick. (Photo by Kiara Collinge).

On Friday, July 21, the Huu-ay-aht First Nation Education Department hosted a celebration lunch for the 2023 Huu-ay-aht Graduates and families.

Nine out of 20 graduates attended. Many could not attend due to Highway 4 closures, practicum commitments, or living out of province.

The celebration began with a speech from Benson Nookemis, Executive Councillor and current education portfolio holder Stella Peters. Following after was, Executive Councilor and past education portfolio holder Edward R. Johnson, and finally was Chief Councillor John Jack.

Following speeches, the graduates received Huu-ay-aht First Nation 2023 Graduation hoodies, a cedar headband and financial recognition.

Education, Training, and Employment Manager Brent Ronning and Education Coordinator Vanessa Sabbas congratulate all 2023 Huu-ay-aht Graduates and wish them the best in their endeavours.

Full list of 2023 Huu-ay-aht Graduates.

Huu-ay-aht Welcomes a New Education Coordinator

Huu-ay-aht First Nations welcomes Vanessa Sabbas to our Education Department in her new role as an Education Coordinator. Vanessa has moved from the Deputy Law Clerk position at Huu-ay-aht First Nations, supporting our K-12 Huu-ay-aht students.

Vanessa Sabbas

Vanessa’s responsibilities as an education coordinator include the following:

  • The administration of our education programs for K-12 students, including school supplies and scholarship recognition programs.
  • Collaborating and working in partnership with the Indigenous Education Teams in our SD70 (Pacific Rim) schools for the success of our Huu-ay-aht students.
  • Building relationships with education teams in other school districts to support the success of our Huu-ay-aht students, wherever they may attend school.
  • Providing outreach to Huu-ay-aht students, wherever they may attend school, and working with caregivers, school administrators and education teams to identify supports that students may require for success (e.g. tutors, recreation opportunities, counselling, computer hardware/software).
  • Supporting educators at the Bamfield Community School, now a K-12 school in SD70, to incorporate Huu-ay-aht language and cultural lessons within the curriculum.

Brent’s responsibilities as Manager of Education, Training and Employment continues to include the following:

  • Working with post-secondary students to achieve success. Including degree programs, diplomas, certificates, trades and apprenticeships, and adult-basic education.
  • Overseeing all of Huu-ay-aht First Nations’ education and training programs.
  • Building and fostering Huu-ay-aht First Nation’s relationships with North Island College, Vancouver Island University, Camosun College, the University of Victoria, the University of BC, and other educational institutions our students may attend.
  • Overseeing agreements like the Local Education Agreement with SD70 for the Bamfield Community School, and working with funding bodies like the First Nations Education Steering Committee.
  • Overseeing bus transportation for the Bamfield Community School as part of our Local Education Agreement with SD70.
  • Supporting Huu-ay-aht citizens in their employment initiatives, from resume support to work gear that might be necessary for anyone beginning new employment for the first time.

Questions and comments about Huu-ay-aht First Nations’ Educational support opportunities can be sent to education@huuayaht.org or at Huu-ay-aht First Nations Education, Training & Employment page.

Huu-ay-aht Celebrates 2022 Graduates

Congratulations 2022 Huu-ay-aht graduates!

This year’s high school and post-secondary graduates gathered at the Best Western Barclay Hotel for a buffet luncheon to celebrate their achievements. They were joined by Pam Craig, board chair from SD70, respected elder, Benson Nookemis, Chief Robert J. Dennis Sr., and Councillor Edward R. Johnson who all gave congratulatory speeches to the graduates.

Brent Ronning, Huu-ay-aht Manager of Education and Vanessa Sabbas, Huu-ay-aht Education Coordinator presented each graduate with a gift from Huu-ay-aht, which consisted of a red Huu-ay-aht hoodie and a cedar rose. They also watched a video presentation from Tommy Happynook, a Huu-ay-aht citizen who just received a PhD in Anthropology. Congratulations to all the graduates!

Hu-ay-aht 2022 High School Graduates

Mary Jane Dennis – Dogwood Diploma, ADSS
Xavier Dennis – High School Diploma, Helix High School, La Mesa, CA
Tristan Ginger – Dogwood Diploma, ADSS
Joycelyn Joe-Lanham McCloud – High School Diploma, Chief Kitsap Academy, Suquamish, WA
Brayden Johnson – Adult Dogwood Diploma, 8th Avenue Learning Centre
Isaak Johnson – Dogwood Diploma, Nanaimo District Secondary School
Jenelle Johnson-Sabbas – Dogwood Diploma, ADSS
Tyler Lopez – Dogwood Diploma/Health Care Assistant Cert., ADSS/NIC
Cierra Nookemus – Dogwood Diploma, ADSS
Jayson Nookemus – Adult Dogwood Diploma, 8th Avenue Learning Centre
Shannon Thompson – Dogwood Diploma, ADSS
Jaden Warner – Dogwood Diploma ADSS
Sean Williams-Kosteniuk – Dogwood Diploma, ADSS

Hu-ay-aht 2022 Post Secondary Graduates

Eileen Taylor Amber-Lynn – Cert. in Indigenous Family Support/Mental Health & Addictions, Camosun College
Tommy Happynook – PhD Anthropology, UVIC
Karen Haugen – Master of Arts in Professional Communications, Royal Roads University
Samantha Haugen – Bachelor of Arts, Tourism Management, VIU
Petrina Joe-Lanham – Associate in Business, Olympic College, Bremerton, WA
Alyssa Johnson – Bachelor of Science in Nursing, VIU
Judith Johnson – Food Processing Fundamentals Cert., NIC
Jennifer Joseph – Bachelor of Arts, Criminology, VIU
Mikaela Lopez – Human Services Cert., NIC
Patricia McCarthy – Health Care Assistant Cert., Sprott Shaw College

Tommy Happynook Receives His PhD

Submitted by Tommy Happynook

I have always had an interest in anthropology and right out of high school started working towards an undergraduate degree. My post-secondary journey was full of starts and stops.

I attended Camosun College for one term before stopping to work as a roofer for about a year before returning to Camosun for another two years.

I was able to complete the first two years of my undergraduate degree at Camosun and decided to accept an offer to work in the forest industry.

I worked in forestry for about two and a half years before I decided to go back and finish my undergraduate degree at the University of Victoria. Two years later, I graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Anthropology.

That same year, I was accepted into, and started my graduate degree, in anthropology at UVic. After two and half years, I graduated with a Master of Arts degree in Anthropology. At this point, I needed a break and was hired to work at Camosun College.

I worked for Indigenous Education at Camosun College for about 10 years as a community liaison, advisor, and instructor. In 2017, I applied to UVic’s anthropology doctoral program. In 2020, I was hired by the UVic’s Anthropology Department and have been working there since June 2021. I completed my doctoral program in April 2022 and now have a Doctor of Philosophy degree in Anthropology.

My research documents the reclamation of knowledge, teachings, culture, language, responsibilities, and identity through my personal (re)connection to my family’s ḥ aḥ uułi and hereditary home, čaačaac̓iiʕas. In specific and intentional ways my research, fieldwork, and dissertation are part of a story of reconciliation between myself and čaačaac̓iiʕas, the ḥ aḥ uułi that my family was dispossessed from because of the impacts of colonization.

Despite the near severing of our relationship with čaačaac̓iiʕas and the near destruction of our ḥ aḥ uułi, čaačaac̓iiʕas is thriving, and now is the time to pick up my responsibilities and begin to re-establish a relationship with the natural and spiritual worlds found there. In my research the lands, waters, skies, and natural world are not a place and/or object of inquiry, they are non-human knowledge holders and teachers.

My research draws upon a diverse set of ethnographic, anthropological, and Indigenous literatures. Emphasis is placed upon the use of nuučaan̓uł scholarship, theory, and methodologies including muułmuumps (being rooted to the land), ceremony, language, song, and interviews. The research builds on four kinds of knowledge that are expressed as: 1) known knowledge; 2) incomplete knowledge; 3) unaccounted for and/or unknown knowledge; and, 4) ethnographic/anthropological knowledge.

Through this theoretical platform, I explore tangible and intangible cultural and hereditary forms of knowledge production. Importantly, I highlight the role of song and sound as critical vehicles through which contemporary Indigenous peoples can connect to historical places and times.

I place equal emphasis on the production of sound through song as I do through the reception of song and sound through a methodology of deep listening. Song and sound play a crucial role in my research and form the basis of knowledge transfer between myself, čaačaac̓iiʕas, and my yakʷiimit kʷiyiis nananiiqsu (ancestors).

Furthermore, the songs I received during my research are the analysis of my data and how I am choosing to disseminate that data. I argue that these connections provide ways for future agendas and aspirations for cultural resurgence and governance to emerge.

Listen to your Elders about “The Heart of the People”!

This is the first part of the documentary “The Heart of the People”.  A unique opportunity to listen to Elders who are no longer with us, but speak about the Sarita River from the bottom of their tiičma (heart):

  • Willie Sport – cultural historian, fisher and trapper.
  • Lizzie Happynook – weaver whose pieces are exhibited at the Alberni Valley Museum.
  • Peter Joe – boat builder and former resident of the area.
  • Annie Clappis – member of the Huu-ay-aht Community Language Speakers.

You can also understand the history around the Specific Claims Tribunal of the Huu-ay-aht
First Nations regarding the value of the compensation Canada owes the Nation as a result of the way timber on former Numukamis IR1 was sold to MacMillan Bloedel in the 1940s. Forester Consultant Herb Hammond talks about how, in his opinion, the hemlock looper was used at that time as an excuse to log indiscriminately.