Capacity building initiatives return to Nuu-chah-nulth communities

An Uu-a-thluk staff member speaks to people interested in ocean-based careers.

The telltale signs of spring have arrived, and just like the trillium and salmonberry, Uu-a-thluk staff is popping up in Nuu-chah-nulth Ha-hahoulthee (chiefly territories) with the goal of expanding community members’ capacity for marine-based careers.

Spring is career fair season and this year’s events saw the return of in-person gatherings for the first time in three years since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Along with the events came an undeniable buzz of excitement that was welcomed by all.

On March 16, Uu-a-thluk’s Capacity Building Coordinator, Alison Wale, connected with muschim (community members) at Uchucklesaht Tribe Government’s Career Fair which took place at Thunderbird Hall. The event was open to the public, and featured a welcome by t’iṕiniqsip, Thomas Rush, Uchucklesaht Ha’wilth (hereditary chief) as well as cultural performances by nation members.

In late April, Wale was joined by Irine Polyzogopoulos, Uu-a-thluk’s Communications and Development Coordinator, at the Nuu-chah-nulth Education and Training Program (NETP) Career Fair. Alberni Valley’s largest job fair, the event was a joint effort between NETP and Work BC.

Located at the Alberni Athletic Hall, the fair drew 52 organizations and roughly 400 job seekers, including
busloads of local students that were gaining inspiration for their futures.

“The fair provided an amazing opportunity for us to meet people face-to-face after three years of emails and virtual connections,” said Wale.

“It’s so much easier to get someone excited about an ocean-based career when you can have a conversation with them and can answer all their questions in real time,” Wale added.

Polyzogopoulos and Wale spent time connecting with adults seeking employment, and also youth who are entering the workforce and are (or will soon be) the perfect candidates for Uu-a-thluk’s
summer fisheries internship.

Uu-a-thluk’s paid internship provides youth an opportunity to experience technical field work associated with fisheries and includes travel throughout Nuuchah-nulth Ha-ha-houlthee as one of its perks. It also gives interns the chance to attend the Council of Ha’wiih Forum on Fisheries and to undertake communications and administrative work associated with the department’s fisheries activities.

Nuu-chah-nulth youth aged 18 to 30 are encouraged to apply to the fisheries internship opportunity which will be posted on the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council and Uu-a-thluk websites in the
coming weeks.

In addition to job fairs and preparation for Uu-a-thluk’s summer internship, Wale is also organizing capacity building initiatives for the younger Nuu-chah-nulth demographic.

Uu-a-thluk summer science camps, delivered in partnership with the University of Victoria and Science Venture, are returning to Nuu-chah-nulth communities for the first time since the pandemic.

Following a few seasons of virtual learning, Nuu-chah-nulth children and youth aged six to 16 will once again have the chance to conduct scientific experiments, learn from their nation’s elders and explore the ocean and its resources in person through free, one-week camps.

“It’s important to expose kids to STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) subjects early on in a fun and hands-on way, and to provide an opportunity for them to reconnect with the ocean and its resources,” said Wale.

“Our hope is that by doing so, we foster an interest in these subjects and a belief in the children that any one of them can have a career related to the ocean,” added Polyzogopoulos.

To date, the following camps have been confirmed:

July 10-14, Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation
July 17-21, Ahousaht First Nation
July 24-28, Yuułuʔiłʔatḥ First Nation
July 31-August 4, Tseshaht First Nation
August 14-18, Mowachaht/Muchlaht First Nation
August 21-25, Hupacasath First Nation

Staff is in the process of coordinating one virtual camp for Nuu-chah-nulth children and youth who cannot attend a community-based camp, as well as arranging for multi-nation attendance at in-person camps.

 Also in the works are multiple training opportunities for Nuu-chha-nulth-aht. Community members will have the opportunity to participate in Marine Basic First Aid and Wilderness Advanced First Aid courses, courtesy of Uu-a-thluk.

If you are interested in either of these courses, or have a suggestion for training that Uu-a-thluk is currently not offering, please contact Alison Wale at alison.wale@nuuchahnulth.org or 250-735-5684.

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