BARKLEY SOUNDINGS: Cleaning up Coos Bay

Propane tank, plastic lawn chair and a cooler. This isn’t a list for a spring picnic, but instead a few of the many items pulled off of the beaches of Coos Creek during a shoreline cleanup by members of Canada World Youth, the Hupacasath First Nation and West Coast Aquatic.

Kelly PoirierSpecial to the NewsPropane tank, plastic lawn chair and a cooler. This isn’t a list for a spring picnic, but instead a few of the many items pulled off of the beaches of Coos Creek during a shoreline cleanup by members of Canada World Youth, the Hupacasath First Nation and West Coast Aquatic.Waiting on the docks on an early slushy Friday morning, 20 Canada World Youth volunteers did not let the weather dampen their spirits. They proceeded in the matter of a few hours to pick up several bags of plastic drink bottles, rope, Styrofoam and a few tires.“I enjoy getting outside into nature,” said CWY participant Cody Dalton. “We need to respect it and cleaning up is just a step towards that.” Hupacasath councillor and boat driver for the day Steve Tatoosh agrees with keeping this beautiful stretch of beach clean. “It is an important place. Our people used to live down here at one time,” he said. “We still spend a lot of time down here. The estuary is pretty important to us because of the birds and the ducks for hunting. Both nations use the areas for fishing chum in the year as well.”A 20-minute boat ride down the Alberni Inlet, Coos Creek is an important area ecologically for many species. Tom Tatoosh, marine planning co-ordinator for the Hupacasath First Nation feels a strong sense of stewardship for the area.“For this location, this is a multi used territory,” Tom Tatoosh explained. “It is important we keep our beaches clean and keep our surrounding areas looking proper and pristine. If it is in our lands and our territories we should all do our best…society doesn’t do much for cleanup.“Any help from places like West Coast Aquatic or our international visitors is really appreciated.”Canada World Youth in our community are helping out in all kinds of ways, with their specific focus this year being on environmental projects. “We are doing this because it is always good to clean up the shoreline,” says CWY’s Casey Robinson. “And it is always a ton of fun.”Even in the blustery weather, fun does seem like the name of the game, as a few of the Ukrainian youth begin singing traditional songs on the beach in order to keep warm.The day culminated in a shared bowl of elk soup, smoked salmon, sandwiches and bannock shared by all at the Hupacasath House of Gathering. “That place is very important to a lot of fisherman,” Tom Tatoosh said, addressing the youth over their lunch. “I appreciate what you did in our territory.”This kind of appreciation is exactly why Canada World Youth participant Stephanie Kryschuk loves her experience with the program. “I really like doing this kind of stuff, to meet the members of communities. It is just so nice how people appreciate it.”Find out more ways individuals and organizations are showing their appreciation for the coastal environment at www.tsawalk.ca.