Exciting new things are happening in Ahousaht; things that are drawing young and old together to work on revitalizing their community.
The changes are evident as soon as you arrive in Ahousaht’s harbor. The shoreline has been cleaned up of large debris while a back hoe works away, turning over the mud and cleaning up the shoreline. Many of the most dilapidated houses have been torn down, opening up space around the over-crowded old village site.
Norine Messer of Uu-a-thluck has been working hard with volunteers from the community and partners from outside the community to clean up the waterfront in an attempt to restore it to a healthier, natural state. Uu-a-thluk staff including Katie Beach and Rene Charlie helped to oversee the project.
Divers from Mainstream Canada came in to clean up under the floats. Josh Frank, age 9, said he helped with the cleanup and saw the divers raise lots of old bikes and shopping carts from Tofino from the harbor.
At a Jul. 28 luncheon to acknowledge volunteers, Messer estimates at least 50 bikes were brought to the surface by divers. She said not everything could be brought up but the divers noted there were sharp metal objects here and there protruding from the mud, a potential danger to swimmers diving into the water. They did the best they could to push down pointy objects they couldn’t bring to the surface.
At the luncheon Messer thanked everyone that helped with the project, say8ing it was all about team work. The project, she said, was driven by the participation of community members and business partners of the band.
Cover Creek Construction and Ahousaht’s maintenance, fisheries and sanitation staff chipped in, using their work equipment to help with the cleanup.
Messer thanked the kids who took part in the science camp, saying they cleaned up the front beach. “They are learning traditional roles, stewardship of the land and they made homemade signs encouraging people to keep it clean,” said Messer. The signs will be posted throughout the community.
Ahousaht Councilor Tyson Atleo thanked the people for making Maaqtusiis look much better than it already was. “It’s fantastic that we’re taking pride in our territory, in our community,” he told them.
Mess says they plan to come back to Ahousaht in September and plant eel grass in the harbor and maybe even move some white sand from the front beach to the harbor to help it recover.
By Denise Titian