Jared Vincent accepts a prize from Kim Rai of the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council’s Mental Health department during the “Finding the Strength in Ourselves” workshop held in Tsaxana on Dec. 5. Vincent won a one night stay at the Somass Motel in Port Alberni.
The Quu’usa project, which is a program under the mental health program of the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council (NTC), hosted a successful workshop in Tsaxana. The ‘Finding the Strength in Ourselves” workshop took place at Wameesh Gymnasium on Dec. 5. There were about 70 participants.
This was the third workshop sponsored by the Quu’usa staff. Other similar workshops were held in the central region at Tin Wis and at Hupacasath in the southern region.
Wayne Lord from the Mowachaht/Muchalaht First Nation welcomed everyone to beautiful Tsaxana on behalf of the council of chiefs. Elder Vi Johnson was then called on to do an opening prayer.
Central Region Quu’usa Councillor Ray Seitcher thanked Lord for the welcome and also Johnson for the wonderful prayer, which she said in the Nuu-chah-nulth language. Seitcher then introduced Barb Tate, northern region Quu’usa councillor, Josie Johnson, the southern region Quu’usa councillor, and Linda Gomez, the Quu’usa resource support worker, to the community members.
Seitcher then said that cultural workers, elder advisors and councillors were available to participants from from the Tsow-Tun Le Lum Treatment Centre.
Seitcher briefly explained what would be discussed by each of the presenters and also mentioned that there were a few information tables set up around the gymnasium.
“There are many issues that may arise during the course of the day. Emotions may come out and if you feel the need to see a councillor, a room has been arranged and a councillor will be made available to you,” said Seitcher.
Sgt. Jason Fiddler from the RCMP did a presentation on scams and frauds. Fiddler just recently was relocated to the Gold River area. Previously he was on the west coast and worked out of Tofino and Ahousaht.
“Does anyone know what a con artist looks like,” asked Fiddler. “Anyone could be a con artist. They could be tall, short, skinny, big, small, old or young,” he said. Con artists, however, have one thing in common. They want your money.
“If the offer is too good to be true, then more often than not it is false. Listen to your instincts,” said Fiddler.
There are many tactics and ways a con artist works. They could be posing as a salesperson or utility worker, they could be just a man or woman on the street, or come at you from the Internet or over the phone. They could get you with a home repair scheme or contests. The con artist wants your money, and will be offering you a “great deal.” And they will use pressure tactics to get your money.
Fiddler then showed a fraudulent cheque that was recently offered to a Gold River resident. The recipient of that fraudulent cheque, if cashed, would be responsible for the cheque. The con artist will have no remorse for passing the cheque and no concern for the individual who gets stuck with the cheque. Con artists rely on people not wanting to do anything about being ripped off and for not wanting to tell anyone.
Fiddler encouraged anyone that has been victimized to report a con or fraud.
“If you or a friend or family member has been a target of fraud, contact the local RCMP immediately,” said Fiddler.
J C Lucas, who is originally from Hesquiaht, addressed the participants prior to the lunch break. Lucas had noticed a group of youth from Gold River Secondary School in attendance.
“I would like to acknowledge and thank the youth in attendance for listening and learning about those that have been in a residential school,” said Lucas. He then stated that it is the youth of today and future generations of youth that will be looking after their families in the future.
Lucas said that there would be traditional cleansing offered to those that may wish to participate. He encouraged people to utilize this service.
Lisa Charleson, originally from Hesquiaht, briefly spoke about her role with residential school survivors. Charleson is a support worker at Tsow-Tun Le Lum who assists survivors with their hearings. Charleson has been involved with approximately 100 hearings to date. She stated that their program covers all of Vancouver Island and assists all aboriginals.
“Make a decision to heal yourself. This is the best thing one can do,” said Charleson.
Cynthia Blackstone and Kasey Wolfe, representatives from the Royal Bank of Canada, (RBC) made a presentation after lunch. Blackstone is originally from the Ka:’yu:’k’t’h’/Che:’k’tles7et’h’ First Nation and works out of the Woodgrove Branch in Nanaimo.
“One of my roles with the bank is to go into different communities to do workshops,” said Blackstone. She said Aboriginal people are one of the fastest growing populations in Canada.
Blackstone discussed ways that people can invest money, with an emphasis put on the residential school Common Experience Payment (CEP). Another avenue Blackstone discussed was using CEP in securing loans. She recommended using CEP as collateral, for example, on a car, then having a loan over a number of years while still having all the use of the compensation payment.
Gerry Oleman, who works in the field of traditional healing with the provincial residential school project, concluded the workshop and gathered everyone in a circle.
Oleman acknowledged the strength of the Nuu-chah-nulth people saying he admired them. Oleman encouraged the participants to “forgive.” Heal from the residential school, he said. “Let it go now.”
Lastly, he encouraged everyone that if they needed help to be sure to ask for it.
Seitcher then presented Oleman with a print made by Cecil Dawson of a thunderbird and a whale. Gifts were then offered to Wayne Lord, Vi Johnson and Gloria Maquinna on behalf of the Quu’usa team members and the tribal council. Many door prizes were also drawn.
Gomez was happy with the result of the workshop in Tsaxana.
“It definitely met, and a matter of fact, exceeded my expectations,” said Gomez. She was happy that the people were open to the traditions of smudging or brushing, the cleansing of ones self.
The Quu’usa Program thanks all those businesses or organizations for their generous donations and support. These included Atleo Air, Merit Furniture, Quality Foods, Safeway, Valley Vision Optometry, Starbucks, Kaw-T-Shirts, Somas Drugs, Hobby Corner, Jowsey’s, April Charleson and Errol Sam, Ha-Shilth-Sa, Cecil Dawson, Staples, Hospitality Inn, Subway, Somass Motel, House of Himwitsa, Hupacasath First Nation-House of Gathering, Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation-Tin Wis Resort, Twin Travel, St. Jean’s Cannery and Gordon Dick.
By Jack F. Little