As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to affect people around the world, Huu-ay-aht First Nations wants to ensure its citizens are supported through the second wave.
Huu-ay-aht is offering a second round of COVID-19 Citizen Support Payment in the amount of $500 to each citizen. The intention of this funding is to help citizens and their families through the hardships that COVID-19 has created. This funding will replace the regular dividend that is given at Christmas time.
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.
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 Shannon.firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also find more information about the department at www.huuayaht.org.
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.
On September 26, Duane Nookemis won the by-election for an empty seat on Huu-ay-aht’s Executive Council.
Duane was officially sworn in on October 5, 2020 on Zoom, in order to follow COVID-19 guidelines. Tayii Ḥaw̓ił ƛiišin (Derek Peters) carried out the official oath of office. Members of Executive Council, administration staff, as well as friends and family joined to meeting to witness the event.
Each member of Executive Council offered a message of encouragement to their newest councillor. Tayii Ḥaw̓ił ƛiišin (Derek Peters) offered congratulations to Duane and reminded him that this is an important role and he must take his new responsibilities seriously. He added that he is confident Duane will serve Huu-ay-aht citizens well in his new role.
Chief Councillor Robert J. Dennis Sr. also congratulated Duane and offered him some words of advice. He said to always remember we are all one big family and that decisions must be made with that in mind. He said Duane focused on making things better for the people when he spoke during his campaign. He said this is an important thing to remember. He stressed the importance of Duane’s interest in finding employment for citizens and focusing on education, pointing out this is something that will make the Nation stronger. The Chief said it is an essential step in order to close the gap that exists between the average Canadian and that of Huu-ay-aht citizens when it comes to economic stature and income.
Robert offered a personal congratulations to Duane and said he should be proud of himself. He said Duane is a role model in how he conducts himself and how he has raised his family.
Duane thanked everyone for their kind words and support. He also offered his appreciation to all of the citizens who supported him. He looks forward to continuing to have open communication with citizens so he can address their issues and work with them. He said he particularly looks forward to working with the youth and being the role model Robert spoke about.
The next step is a review of Executive Council portfolios. These will be announced soon.
Offering support and healing from multi-generational trauma is a key focus that came out of Huu-ay-aht’s independent Social Services Panel’s work. In the final report one of the recommendations was to work to establish a centre modeled on the Vancouver Mother Centre.
“Building a road to healing the effects of multi-generational trauma will be of fundamental and central importance to bringing Huu-ay-aht children ‘home’ and keeping them safe, healthy, and connected with Huu-ay-aht community and culture. This healing must be done family by family and collectively as a Nation.” (Social Services Project p. 24)
Huu-ay-aht First Nations and the Port Alberni Mother Centre Society has been working with B.C. Housing to develop an Aboriginal Mother Centre, Oomiiqsu, in Port Alberni (Recommendation 26 of the Social Services Project). Oomiiqsu, which means mother in Nuu-chah-nulth, is a unique, creative, and culturally appropriate approach to keeping families together, while providing them with the necessary guidance and tools to not only prevent children from entering care, but also for the families to flourish once outside of Oomiiqsu. Mothers and children (12 and under) will live in Oomiiqsu and receive wrap-around supports to address ongoing safety concerns from Usma (DAA) and/or Ministry of Children and Family Development.
Oomiiqsu will house multiple programs and services to support Huu-ay-aht and other Nuu-chah-nulth families:
12-unit residential program for mothers and their children, ages 9-12
Four second-stage housing units
Oomiiqsu Child Care Centre
Office space for the Child and Family Wellness Department
Land has been purchased by BC Housing at 4305 Kendall Avenue and design plans for Oomiiqsu and Oomiiqsu Child Care Centre are complete. The Nation is still finalizing the plan for the centre, and we look forward to sharing this rendering with everyone once plans are finalized.
Further progress on the project is subject to other approvals and funding from partners, but Huu-ay-aht is committed to making this centre a reality. As we move through the initial steps, we will continue to offer regular updates when they are available.
Huu-ay-aht made a rezoning application to the City of Port Alberni on September 14, 2020. Signage notifying the public of this rezoning will be posted at the proposed site within 15 days to notify the public.
This is an exciting project for Huu-ay-aht and the Alberni Valley, and we look forward to sharing more information from you as the plan progresses.