Uu-a-thluk Science Campers and Instructors Learn the Value of hishukish ‘t’sawalk

Searching tidal pools for marine creatures, whale watching, crabbing, fishing, and a fish dissection are just a few of the activities that 135 Uu-a-thluk science campers ages eight to 12 years of age participated in this summer.        

Uu-a-thluk Science Camps expose Nuu-chah-nulth children and youth to science-based marine activities and Nuu-chah-nulth knowledge, giving them the opportunity to explore, learn, listen to stories, and even have a chance to possibly share the knowledge they already have with their peers. This year’s science camps focused on environmental and marine science and touched on topics such as sustainable fishing and Nuu-chah-nulth governance.

A highlight of the summer for campers from Mowachaht/Muchalaht First Nation was a trip to Yuquot in Nootka Sound. With the help of Uu-a-thluk Northern Region Biologist, Roger Dunlop, campers collected bull kelp from the ocean to make salsa.

“It was pleasantly satisfying to collect and cook foods from the land, while leaving little footprint behind,” said Shelby Kutyn, a student in Marine Biology and Environmental studies who was one of this year’s science camp instructors. Shelby and Miranda, students from UVic’s Science Venture program, travelled to Nuu-chah-nulth communities for six weeks, running week-long science camps for youth in six different Nuu-chah-nulth Nation communities while working alongside Nuu-chah-nulth community members. Shelby shared a favourite memory about a Tseshaht beach keeper at Keith Island who told an origin story about his people and hahuu?ii (chiefly territories).   &

“The story goes that a shaman cut into his thighs with a mussel shell and breathed life into the blood that poured out, creating a baby boy and a baby girl on whom he bestowed some gifts: their names, a whale bone staff, all the different kinds of food resources, and a freshwater river,” she said.  “As long as there was no greed, the people would always have plentiful food. But after warning the people too many times, the shaman took back the bone staff he gifted his first children and hit the land so hard that the island split into several smaller islands, hence the name ‘Broken Islands’.”

While in Ty-Histanis for the Tla-o-qui-aht science camp, Jared Dick, Uu-a-thluk Central Region Biologist, past camper and five-time Uu-a-thluk intern, and Michelle Colyn, Uu-a-thluk Capacity Building Coordinator led a marine science activity that highlighted Nuu-chah-nulth sustainable fishing practices. Ty-histanis is located on Vancouver Island’s west coast on the southern edge of Clayoquot Sound. They used candies as fish, straws as fishing tools, cups as boats and bowls as oceans, and the campers had timed “fishing seasons” of about 30 seconds where they would fish. They did this by trying to suck the candies (fish) with their straw (fishing tool) out of the bowl (ocean) and placing them in their cup (boat).

Throughout the activity, Nuu-chah-nulth stewardship roles and concepts were highlighted to demonstrate how we can make sustainable management decisions around fishing. The roles and principles in the activity included fishers, c?ac?aa?uk (riverkeepers), musc?im (community members), his?uk?is? c?awaak (everything is one), ?iisaak (respect with caring), ?uu?aa?uk (taking care of), hahuu?ii, witwak (warriors and enforcers), and h?aw?iih? (hereditary chiefs). The campers quickly discovered that they could negotiate the length of their fishing seasons if they worked together.

“I think having these different types of activities keep our science camps exciting,” said Michelle. “It’s a great way to experience science in many ways—not just in a classroom.” Uu-a-thluk science camps offer fun and learning, not only for campers, but also for instructors.

“What I’ve learned from working with Nuu-chah-nulth youth this summer is that everything is connected,” said Shelby. “All the earth’s ecosystems and creatures, intertwined in a complex web of life. We are not part of one piece like a puzzle, but part of the whole thing like a continuous piece of string woven into a beautiful tapestry.”

 Special thanks to our 2017 donors who made this all possible. We couldn’t have done it without you!

Albion Farms
Anne Salomon
Cermaq Canada Ltd.
Creative Salmon
Grieg Seafood Canada
Jennifer Silver
Kayla Cheeke
Mandell Pinder
Matthew Kirchner
Nuu-chah-nulth Seafood Development Corporation
Nootka Sound Watershed Society
Port Alberni Port Authority
Pacific Boat Brokers Inc.
Pacific Halibut Management Association
Pacific Sea Cucumber Harvesters Association
Ratcliff and Company
St. Jean’s Cannery Ltd.
Tammy Moillet (French Creek Seafoods)
The Lodge at Gold River
Underwater Harvesters Association
Village of Zeballos
West Coast Aquatic

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