This feature highlights one of many women who make a difference in the community, put on by ACAWS and the Alberni Valley News as part of the 16 Days of Activism. Read our other features here.
I am born and raised in Hupacasath territory, Port Alberni BC. I am proud of my Nuu chah nulth heritage and all the values and teachings I was raised with. My name is Yahmiss, which my grandfather has told me means something precious, something you hold dear, something you care for – essentially, it means love.
I graduated ADSS in 2009, moved to Nanaimo right after and graduated in 2014 with a Bachelor of Tourism Management from Vancouver Island University. I moved back home and quickly became involved in the community through volunteering with Alberni Art Rave and the Young Professionals of the Alberni Valley. I resumed management of Sunset Market at Victoria Quay and later I gained a leadership role at Hupacasath First Nation as an elected councillor for the term 2015-17. I now work for the Ministry of Indigenous Relations as an Executive Assistant to the Honorable Scott Fraser.
In my spare time I enjoy exploring the outdoors, trying to cook new foods, shopping local farmers and craft markets, and spending quality time with friends and family.
I see myself making a difference in the community by continuing as a community connector. I have been building relationships within the community for 10 years when I acquired my first job at the Alberni Chamber and Visitor Centre. This role I had seasonally, my education and my continuous networking has helped me build a strong foundation where I can give and receive guidance.
These relationships help create spaces to share ideas and trigger dialogues in the community. I love to engage with community members and leaders with enthusiasm and an open mind whether it’s at a workshop or a quick run in at a local coffee shop.
When I say community, I mean the community of the Alberni Valley in its entirety. I strongly hold dear the term hishuk ish t’swalk – everything is one and all is interconnected. We have a very special and diverse community in this region, and at times it feels very fragmented. It’s when you have those ‘ah-ha’ moments that remind you that we are making progress and a difference here.
Hearing what other people are up to in the community, both the challenges and triumphs, and sharing them with others is something I love doing and I believe makes a difference and puts us on the right path for positive change.
I’ve personally worked towards gender equality in the work I do. Working in governments is usually a male dominated field; it’s not always easy to work towards equality. Men and women offer different perspectives and approaches to problem solving and community engagement. It’s important to gain perspectives from both men and women because from the clashing perspectives a new solution is usually born. All perspectives deserve to be heard and appreciated to achieve equality.
This past month I gave a helping hand to my friend to identify ‘Port Alberni Problem Solver’ profiles for the Shaun Loney event on Nov. 30. Shaun Loney is the author of An Army of Problem Solvers, Reconciliation in a Solutions Economy. In the back of this book there are social enterprises featured as examples of what is working. We thought it would be important to showcase a few examples of what is working in Port Alberni, what is needed to upscale and potentially help identify more solutions to our social concerns in our region.