This map, marked by Alfred Dick, indicates three parts of Bartlett Island where Travis Thomas was reported to have been seen. Thomas has been missing from the island since Aug. 9. (Alfred Dick map)
As the neighboring Nuu-chah-nulth communities of Tla-o-qui-aht and Ahousaht continue to search for loved ones lost at sea over the summer, the people of Ahousaht are planning an Ocean Blessing Ceremony.
“Ahousaht is inviting you to join in a ceremony that honours our ocean (hakuum). We are feeding the ocean, honouring with cedar and lighted candles. We are also honouring those that have perished at sea or drowned in the ocean by feeding them with their favorite food,” wrote Julia Atleo in a social media post.
She went to write that Ahousaht feels that there is a need to do this; “we have lost many to the sea”.
Earlier this summer, three Tla-o-qui-aht men were lost after their boat capsized near Tofino. Despite a massive search effort two of the men, Carl Michael and Terrence Brown Jr. remain missing. The remains of Marcel Martin were found July 18.
On Jul. 22, Richard Amos, 23, a resident of Ahousaht, disappeared after leaving the village in a canoe for a short fishing trip. The young married father is still missing.
On Aug. 9, Travis Thomas, 40, was reported missing from Bartlett Island southeast of Ahousaht. He was last seen on the afternoon Tuesday, Aug. 7.
Bartlett Island, small but rugged, is actively being searched on a daily basis by a team of volunteers. Searchers working with Ahousaht’s Emergency Operations Center are reporting that there have been four sightings of Thomas at Bartlett Island over the past few days.
Family and friends continue to search the island despite limited resources. The Ahousaht Emergency Operations Centre and family members are asking for volunteers to help in the search.
For more information about helping with the search contact the Ahousaht Emergency Operations Center at 1-250-670-9566.
In the meantime, the community has gathered both in Ahousaht and on Bartlett Island to pray and to support one another.
The Ocean Blessing Ceremony will start at 2 p.m. at Ahousaht. Boats will gather out on the ocean while prayer chants are performed and offerings made. Organizers are asking people that can’t join them to do a similar event in their own community.There will be two boats leaving Tofino at noon to transport people wanting to take part in the ceremony. The blessing ceremony will be followed by a community dinner.
If you have any questions please call Julia Atleo at 250 670 9558 or email Julia.firstname.lastname@example.org