Friday, August 21, 2009

Podunk Below the Masthead Wednesday, August 5, 2009

The Lax Kw'Alaams Grannies band together, BC Ferries gets a pat on the back for improving service and Video on Demand is on the CityWest horizon. Some of the items of note from the Wednesday edition of the Daily News.

THE GRANDMOTHERS ARE TALKING-- Wednesday's front page, headline story features a look at programs designed to assist Tsimshian children in urban settings continue to continue with their traditional ways and lead healthy lifestyles (see story below)

The province's marine connection BC Ferries has been lauded for improving the services offered to the travelling public of coastal BC. a report submitted to the provincial government outlined how the Ferry service has provided essential services that have met or exceeded required standards. On time performance was rated at 87.9 percent, while public satisfaction has dropped a notch from 88 to 86 percent approval in 2008.

CityWest is trumpeting to soon to be arrival of it's Video on Demand service, a product that the locally owned cable operation believes will help in its bid to repatriate some of those viewers who have migrated to satelite options over the last few years. While it's in the pipeline as they say, local viewers should not expect the service to be provided any earlier than 2010. CityWest is selling the concept that their new service which they say will not be available through satelite services, will offer the customer the opportunity to watch what they want, when they want it.

Golf was the featured attraction in the Sports section as the His N Hers competition was examined, the weekend tournament a proven favourite on the local golfing schedule.

And the front page of the paper featured the wedding portrait of Daily News sports editor Patrick Witwicki and his new wife Margaret, Witwicki exchanged vows over the weekend with Margaret Soares. The happy couple were reported to be off to Hawaii for their honeymoon, where one assumes the television clicker won't be wandering anywhere near a sports channel.

Total pages in the Wednesday edition (12)

Front page, headline story:

By Monica Lamb-Yorski
The Daily News
Wednesday, August 5, 2009
Pages one and five

By the time Helen Johnson was ten years old, she was already mothering small children.

Her own parents had died and she was living in a residential school in Alert Bay, B. C.

"When children cried I hugged them to settle them down. I told them we would all stay together and everything would be okay," the 63-year-old grandmother and great grandmother said from her home Monday..

Today Johnson is part of a powerful movement in the village of Lax KwAlaams.

She and other concerned women started a grandmothers group and over the• last year have become very busy.

"In February 2008 we brought this to the community - that we have to take care of our children. As First Nations we always had our child care in place and it's up to us to take that back and teach Our children,” Johnson explained, adding that the grandmothers are working closely with Northwest Inter-nation Family and Community Services.

Ultimately the group wants to see Tsimshian children that are living in urban settings be adopted by First Nations communities, not by nonFirst Nations.

A graduate from the Bachelor of Social Work Program through UVIC, now working on a Masters degree, Johnson admits the group has a big job ahead.

Whatever emerges, she noted,' will be used as a template.

"We believe the grandmothers should have input. We are the ones that are talking. We want to see our children grow up happy."

It is important, Johnson affirmed, to try and move away from the residential school era. She believes there are positive things out there for her people.

Sherrie Haldane, another member of the group, who works at the Coast Tshimshian Academy in Lax Kwa'Alaams, said one of the ways the group hopes to help children is by coordinating activities that promote a healthy lifestyle.

They have been working in the village school and this summer will assist in offering a cultural camp that teaches youths some of their traditional ways.

"We can't go back, but we can work with the culture now and focus on respect," Haldane offered.

Borrowing from the name used for the village's homecoming in 2000, the camp has been named Nuumna-wa.l, which means "you are our children".

Tshimshian artists Russell Mather and Sophia Beaton are coordinating the camp, along with Adam Brisk and elders Alec and Dolores Campbell and Wilfred Campbell Sr.

Over ten days, youths between 13 and 18 years old will hike, canoe, fish and carve.

"We're taking them to Burnt Cliff Island about 20 minutes south of Lax Kw'Alaams. The name comes from the act that when the sun sets, it hits the ace of the cliff and it glows. You have to be out there to see it," Mather said invitingly.

Mather, returned home to Lax Kw'Alaams in fall 2008, and has been working closely with the grandmothers group. A few months ago he began developing the idea for the camp.

He said all involved are hoping the camp is something they can build on.

"It would be nice to have something in place that's more regional and coastal. I know Haida Gwaii has their camp they are great for making the kids more in tune."

The camp is open ideally to 20 kids and already seven have signed up. They have chartered a retired troller to transport campers from Lax Kwa' Alaams to the island, scheduled around the Spirit of Lax Kwa' Alaams ferry runs, in case youths are traveling to the village from Prince Rupert or other areas to the camp

Mather has worked with Rediscovery Camps through Friendship House, taught

First Nations art in schools and worked on many large art projects with youths.

For him it's all about helping kids know who they are and where they come from.

At Burnt Cliff, the elders will talk about the historical family camps and acknowledge where different families lived.

There's a large beach, sand bars and at low tide, there will be an opportunity to embark on inter-tidal species identification.

"It is pretty neat seeing the kids being kids after they get away from the urban pressures," Mather said. "They arrive and find themselves."

Organizers are hoping to gather donations from the community for the camp and will be approaching businesses in the next few days.

Anyone wanting information about the camp can contact Sherrie Haldane at 250-624-5567.

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