Update from Broken Group Islands Tseshaht Beachkeepers

Submitted by Tseshaht First Nation, May 25, 2015

The newest addition to the Tseshaht Beachkeepers crew is Willard Gallic Jr.

Broken Group Islands — 

This May the Tseshaht Beachkeepers have started their full season, in year three of their five year contract with Parks Canada. Fred Sieber has returned as supervisor. Hank Gus and Aaron Watts have also returned with these three of staff above are now on right of recall. We have one new addition and welcome Willard Gallic Jr. to the crew.

Every season the biggest priority is ensuring the safety of our Beachkeepers in working in such a remote area. The safety of visitors is also paramount and of key concern out in the Broken Group Islands.

One of the Beachkeepers’ roles is to do orientations with kayakers and visitors, including safety information, in addition to Tseshaht history and place names within the Broken Group Islands. This is to ensure a good visitor experience, but also that their safety is taken care of as well in the fog, wind, and rain. Sometimes there are incidents of kayakers getting lost and our Beachkeeprs are usually the first responders to these incidents.

This orientation provided by our Tseshaht Beachkeepers is important for visitors to respect the land they are visiting, but also talking about the safety procedures within their orientation talk. Both workers and visitors need to be humble and ensure they show complete respect for the power of the beautiful nature they are surrounded by.

The Research and Planning Program that oversees the Beachkeeper program, hopes that over time, with the success of this partnership with Parks Canada, that we are building the capacity of a few of our members. They are getting experience and becoming skilled in safety and the geography of area, and this will someday be beneficial to Tseshaht’s future endeavours and aspirations for economic development in the Broken Group Islands. 

Having membership and Tseshaht young people who have hands-on experience in the islands and connection to Tseshaht territory beyond the Alberni Inlet remains a priority that is slowly building and being achieved through programs like the Beachkeepers.

This is the second year for the Beachkeepers staying at their new cabin on Keith Island, which was recently vandalized (as was the Parks Canada cabin behind Nettle Island). Someone placed graffiti on the Beachkeeper cabin which read "HF was here May 4th ". Missing was a wheel barrel and various items from the Parks cabin including a couple of high quality First Aid kits.  

We respectfully remind everyone the Keith Island cabin was built for Beachkeeper’s use only.  If you have information as to who the culprits are please contact the Beachkeepers. 

As the Beachkeeper contract is only for the summer (from May 15 to Sept. 30) this indicates an extreme need for Parks Canada to extend the contract for Beachkeeper monitoring for the fall and winter seasons.

Recently the Beachkeepers met with the Parks Canada Parks Wardens to do some introductions between the two programs and build some cross-cultural understanding.

The Beachkeepers are looking forward to doing some joint patrols together with the Parks Wardens, to support increased monitoring and patrolling of the Broken Group Islands. The roll of the Wardens is to ensure that all visitors adhere to the rules and regulation of use within the Broken Group Islands’ campsites and infrastructure.

There is a great potential opportunity for Tseshaht to continue to step up and ensure Tseshaht members are increasingly present and available to look after and provide making strong steps to providing true stewardship within the Broken Group Islands and our homelands.

Have an awesome safe year to the Tseshaht Beachkeepers.