Quu’asa Picnic in the Park enjoyed under ‘liquid sunshine’

By Denise Titian, June 19, 2017

The annual Quu'asa Picnic in the Park brought 111 people to the Harbour Quay on June 15. (Denise Titian photos)

Port Alberni — 

The annual Quu’asa Picnic in the Park was held at Harbour Quay on June 15 and a summer downpour didn’t dampen the spirits of locals who got together for some food and fun.

According to organizer Justin Dorward, 111 people showed up for the picnic, just a little less than last year, when 130 people showed up on a sunny day.

The Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council’s Quu’asa staff was out in full force helping with food prep, serving and clean-up duties.

The Quu’asa program uses traditional, cultural and spiritual practices to support mental and emotional healing for former residential school survivors and their families. Their staff offers individual and family counselling, community healing gatherings and resource information.

In addition, they do outreach work, like their Picnic in the Park, organized by Quu’asa outreach wellness worker, Justin Dorward.

“We do this every year to let urban First Nations people know that they are not forgotten about,” said Dorward. “We want them to know that we care and we are here for them.”

Dorward thanked Quality Foods and Save-On grocery stores for their generous donations to the picnic.

Besides hamburgers, hotdogs and salads, Dorward invited local service agencies to set up information booths. “We have free draws, the NTC nurses are here dong health screening and we have an organization here giving out Naloxone kits,” said Dorward. “There’s been a high number of fentanyl overdoses so we have people here giving out Naloxone kits to keep them safe.”

Naloxone is a medication that can reverse the effects of an opioid overdose when injected into an arm, buttocks or thigh muscle. Within three to five minutes, naloxone can reverse slowed breathing. Opioids are a class of drug or medication which includes heroin, morphine, fentanyl and codeine.

The Naloxone kits were being distributed by the Port Alberni Sobering Centre.

The Port Alberni Health Outreach and Nuu-chah-nulth Education Training Programs were also on hand to distribute information.

The Alberni Community and Women’s Services Society and Recover House shared information about the services they offer.

According to Dorward, Recover House is an eight-bed safe place for people wishing to detox from alcohol or drugs. “It’s a safe place to sleep and clients are assessed and will be taken to health care providers if necessary,” he added.

There was plenty of food being offered at the picnic. “You never starve in Port Alberni,” said Ann, who preferred to go by first name only.

“There are so many places to eat,” she continued before listing the places and services. “There’s Bread of Life, the Friendship Center, Downtown Hope, Quu’asa and the Mt. Klitsa van.”

The food prep area was sheltered from the rain under a gazebo. People lined up to fill their plates then moved to the eaves of nearby buildings or canopied picnic tables.

They listened to drumming and waited eagerly for door prizes.

Photo Gallery: