Ahousaht turns to the ocean to support its people during COVID-19 pandemic

Denise Titian, March 18, 2020

Curtis Dick fishes for cod during the COVID-19 crisis that has gripped North America in March. (Luke Swan jr. photo)

Ahousaht, BC — 

In the darkness of all the ever-updating COVID-19 news comes a ray of brightness from community banding together to take care of one another.

For more than a week grocery shelves have been stripped of staples like toilet paper, disinfectant cleaner, flour, rice, pasta, canned goods and meat. More and more, people are heeding the warning to limit travel and not congregate in crowded places. People in isolated villages like Ahousaht wonder if it’s worth the expensive trip to Tofino or beyond to search for essentials.

And then there’s people like Luke Swan Jr. and Tom Campbell, who put out a call for anyone wishing to volunteer to fish for the community.

“We do this all the time, even without COVID-19 we still go fishing,” said Tom Campbell, adding that the weather is nice so it is a good time to fish. “I been doing this for years, basically all my life, sharing with community.”

Luke Swan Jr., Ahousaht fisheries manager, concurred.

“Just now it needs to be done more than ever, for ones who can’t get out (fishing),” he said.

And so, a few boats with about 15 volunteers left the village for a day of fishing. They loaded up with cod and red snapper. Along the way some sea urchins and crab were harvested.

Campbell says they stopped in at Hot Springs Cove to drop off about 30 pieces of fish for the Hesquiaht people before making their way home to Ahousaht.

He went on to say that he was raised on these teachings, of taking care of others and has lived by these values all his life.

“I remember doing these kinds of trips with my late uncles and other relatives; my friend Rocky and others who [are] not so fortunate anymore,” Campbell said.

People in the village are grateful for the fresh fish.

“Thank you to all the fishermen that gave their own time and money to feed the elders and some families today, here at home,” wrote Dori Keitlah on social media. “When you are faced with unforeseen circumstances it is acts of kindness and love that keep Ahousaht going.”

Volunteers in the community are planning to hunt ducks, then harvest clams for the community later this week.

Other members in the community are organizing the collection of donations for a local food bank. They are looking for both fresh produce and canned goods to distribute in the village.

“It was a fun day out with guys; I had my uncle Angus out with Arnie, Richard, Frenchie and myself on my boat. Good healing laughs and memories made for sure,” said Campbell.

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