Two New Interns Join Uu-a-thluk’s Internship Program, Tomorrow’s Leaders

Since joining Uu-a-thluk in October 2016, interns Lesley Lauder and Erikk Dick-Frank have collectively performed simulated rescues in moving water; begun developing work plans using the Quu-us approach, and have plans to conduct crab surveys with Ditidaht soon. Lesley and Erikk are part of Tomorrow’s Leaders, an internship program launched by Uu-a-thluk through BC Capacity Initiative funding. Both are supervised by Jim Lane, Uu-a-thluk biologist for the Southern Region and Uu-a-thluk Associate Biologist Sabrina Crowley, also from the Southern Region. The interns will work out of the Port Alberni office until March 2017.

“A key objective of the program is to mentor Nuu-chah-nulth youth through building the skills necessary to participate in marine-based  careers,” said Michelle Colyn, Capacity Building Coordinator. She added that few Nuu-chah-nulth are in Aboriginal fisheries management positions and that this program would help to change that.

Barely a month into their internship and Uu-a-thluk caught up with Lesley and Erikk for a report.

Lesley Lauder

Leslie Lauder traces her ancestors through Uchucklesaht and Hupacasath First Nations by way of her mother Ellen Robinson and her father Everett Lauder.

Since 2012, she has worked as a fisheries technician for Hupacasath First Nation conducting daily spot checks of Stamp Falls. This involves making sure the grates are clear, that salmon as well as steelhead and rainbow trout are swimming through the ladders, and cameras and computers are operational. She verifies temperature and water levels and records whether a fish is an adult or juvenile and whether it’s wild or from a hatchery.

“The main purpose of doing this is to monitor our salmon stock resources and get a better understanding of the numbers that are making it to our lakes to spawn,” said Lesley. “It’s very important as our main source of traditional food depends on it.” She added that she sees her internship at Uu-a-thluk as further developing her skills so she can apply them to a role in fisheries management in her community.

At Uu-a-thluk, Lesley is currently researching gooseneck barnacles for a report and hopes this will take her into the field for some hands on experience of this fishery. “I’m interested in learning more about the Aboriginal commercial fishing rights that the five T’aaq-wiihak Nations are exercising or attempting to exercise, and how best to protect our resources.”

To contact Lesley this winter, email her at or call 250-724-5757.


Erikk Dick-Frank

Erikk Dick-Frank was born and raised in Port Alberni and his father is Brian Frank from Ahousaht and his mother, Jocelyn Dick from Tseshaht First Nation. He attended Haahuupayak School and Alberni District Secondary School, and then went on to work as a fishing deckhand. Other jobs he’s had include building and maintaining trails and boardwalks on the West Coast Trail, and working as a Beachkeeper in the Broken Group Islands, Ha-ha-houlthee of Tseshaht First Nation.

During his internship with Uu-a-thluk, Erikk hopes to learn all he can about managing rivers and oceans in his community. He said that he’s thankful for the opportunity to work at Uu-a-thluk and hopes his internship will help him to further his education, and lead to an eventual career in fisheries.

“I’d like to have my own boat one day,” he said. “Fishing is hard work but the harder you work the more reward you get out of it.”

His quu-us name is %a%aatu%iik, which means “asks a lot of questions.” He explained that his late grandma Linda Watts, and his grandma Lena Ross who teaches language at Haahuupayak School went to elders in the community to create an appropriate name for him.

“When I was a kid I would ask lots of questions so the name was fitting.”

To contact Erikk this winter, email him at or call 250-724-5757.

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