Through speaker Tom Campbell (centre) Barrie Titian (left) tells brother Rocky how important his support has been over the years, and presents him with a talking stick. In return Rocky presented Barrie with framed family pictures.
Kanopit, Chief Rocky Titian, invited the co-workers of his brother Barrie to a celebration dinner July 24 in Ahousaht to show his gratitude for the care they gave his brother during a frightening workplace accident.
According to tugboat operator Leo Arsenault, the accident took place March 16 on a stormy day on a Mainstream Canada fish farm system north of Ahousaht.
“We were delivering feed at Dixon Bay but the weather was bad and we had to wait it out,” Arsenault recalled. He said they sat in the house visiting with the Dixon Bay farm workers passing time until the wind and tides would allow them to get back to work. He remembered Titian showing him photos of his daughter and grandchildren as they waited.
Later that afternoon they delivered the feed and were wrapping up. Arsenault left to put the crane away when he was approached by his deckhand Geoff Davis, who told him he saw Titian fall from the top of the silo. Arsenault estimated the silos are 25 feet high and four are clustered together with only four to five feet between them. They are supported by cross braces and there were steel I-beams on the deck where Titian landed. Davis reported that Titian was closing the lid of the silo when he slipped and fell, bouncing off one silo and hitting the other on his way down.
Arsenault and Davis went immediately to Titian, who was lying face-down and unconscious.
“Let me tell you, all I can say is it didn’t look good,” remembered Arsenault.
It was clear to the tugboat operator that Titian had broken his wrist and arm. They rendered first aid, placing Titian on a spine board and bringing him to the shelter of the fish farm house. Titian’s co-workers, late Steve Clarke, John Terryberry and Greg Titian were also there to assist.
Mainstream Canada officials and the Canadian Coast Guard were called but the weather was still too rough for flying. Titian was in and out of consciousness as his coworkers struggled to keep him alert.
The tugboat crew was eventually instructed to make their way toward Ahousaht and Tofino with Titian aboard the tug, a trip that takes up to three hours. They were met by the Coast Guard helicopter at Ross Pass, another fish farm located in an area sheltered from the weather. There, two paramedics took over caring for Titian, about four hours after the accident.
Titian was flown from Tofino General Hospital to Nanaimo Regional General Hospital where he went through a series of operations to repair his injured right arm. He was forced to remain in Nanaimo four months to receive follow-up treatment, returning home to Ahousaht in late July.
But Titian won’t be returning to work anytime soon. He requires more treatment and physiotherapy.
At the celebration dinner Arlene Paul said her brother Rocky was so worried when he heard about what happened to their brother that he dropped everything and hitchhiked to Nanaimo, wanting to see for himself the extent of Barrie’s injuries and to be there to comfort and support him.
The Titian family served their guests dinner then gave gifts to comfort those that recently lost loved ones, including the family of Barrie’s co-worker, Steve Clarke, who recently died of a heart attack.
Arlene Paul welcomed their guests and told them about her youngest brother’s accident. She stayed with him in Nanaimo the entire time he was there to assist him as his arm healed.
She told Leo Arsenault that the family truly appreciates what he did that day and gave him a woven cedar bark hat, a blanket and money to show their gratitude. Geoff Davis, John Terryberry and Greg Titian, who were all there at the time, also received gifts. Mainstream Canada Area Manager James Costello was also acknowledged.
Several community members received gifts, tokens of gratitude from Kanopit and family for supporting his family in their time of need. David Frank Sr. was thanked for performing a cleansing ceremony and giving encouragement to the family.
Asking Tom Campbell to speak on his behalf, Barrie had a presentation of his own to make.
“This person’s always been there for Barrie, through thick and thin, and he’s been there for many other people,” said Campbell. He called Rocky forward to receive a talking stick, adding he is grateful for all that Rocky has done for his community.
Rocky, pleased with his gift, gave his brother framed photographs of family members in exchange.
More gifts were given away and later, celebration songs were sung.
Sisters Doreen Sam and Lena Jumbo expressed gratitude that their nephew is okay. Arsenault said he’s been to Ahousaht many times to make deliveries but never went into
“That experience in Ahousaht, it was something I’ll never forget,” he said. “I am amazed at the culture you people have,” he added.
He called Barrie the luckiest man he knows as he thought about how much worse it could have been.”
I’m hoping it never happens again. Barrie is a good guy and doesn’t deserve for that to happen to him,” he said.
By Denise Titian