On the Mark: Ahousaht people deserve training

Gord Johns and Scott Fraser both want to recognize the Ahousaht First Nation for its role in rescuing survivors of the Leviathan II sinking.

Gord Johns and Scott Fraser both want to recognize the Ahousaht First Nation for its role in rescuing survivors of the Leviathan II sinking.

Johns, the Courtenay-Alberni MP, and Fraser, the Alberni-Pacific Rim MLA, are also on board with something more tangible. Johns is eager to read recommendations by the Transportation Safety Board once it completes its Leviathan II investigation.

In his first address to the House of Commons, he raised the dramatic Oct. 25 sinking off Tofino and the subsequent rescue of 21 whale watchers.

“Fishermen from Ahousaht First Nation were the first to arrive on the scene and began pulling survivors from the frigid waters,” he told fellow MPs.

Others, including members of the Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation and Tofino residents, rushed to the scene to help. They provided temporary shelter for those lucky enough to survive.

As he should, Johns particularly praised residents of the village of Ahousaht, where unemployment is as high as 70 per cent, for contributing $5 and $10 bills to buy gas for boats so the search for survivors could continue.

Fraser, who spoke in the provincial legislature about the matter, is on the same page as Johns. “The Nuu-Chah-Nulth are of the sea,” Fraser said in an interview. “They’re on the water all the time. This is not the first incident where they’ve been instrumental in saving lives.”

In 2013, an Ahousaht resident in the community of 1,400 was the first on the scene when a floatplane crashed off the coast near Tofino.

Fraser said he’s read accounts of Nuu-Chah-Nulth people risking their lives to save others on sailing ships shipwrecked as long ago as two centuries in the “graveyard of the Pacific.”

“We know that local and traditional knowledge saves lives,” Johns stated forcefully in a reply to the recent Liberals’ Throne Speech. “The federal government needs to stop closure of Comox MCTS, reopen Tofino MCTS in Ucluelet, and invest in local knowledge to support and improve Canada’s Coast Guard.”

He has met Fisheries Minister Hunter Tootoo and has begun to cultivate a relationship with the Nunavut resident, who is responsible for the Coast Guard.

At the least, medals should go to the heroes who risked their lives while braving the capricious Pacific to save imperilled whale watchers.

The government should consider funds to train the Ahousaht people, perhaps even establishing a maritime rescue training centre there in consultation with the band.

Mark Allan has been a journalist for more than 30 years, the past 14 on Vancouver Island. His column about B.C. and federal politics will run every two weeks in the Alberni Valley News.

Just Posted

Vancouver Island pharmacist suspended for giving drugs with human placenta

RCMP had samples of the seized substances tested by Health Canada

Port Alberni cyclist collides with passing car

Cyclist received minor injuries

Nuu-chah-nulth First Nations receive grants to bring ancestors’ remains home

Grants are part of the Royal B.C. Museum’s new repatriation program

Get ready for a week of sunshine across Vancouver Island

Environment Canada is forecasting temperatures in the high teens all this week

North Island Tour De Rock rider Benjamin Leah leads team to Port Hardy

“You don’t have issues and problems when you look at these kids and how much they’re going through.”

Video: Flyers new mascot ‘Gritty’ a bearded, googly-eyed terror

The Philadelphia Flyers unveiled their new mascot Monday, and as one would expect of the team that gave us the “Broad Street Bullies,” he’s far from cuddly.

Vancouver Island designated as foreign trade zone

Designation simplifies importing and exporting and provides duty relief

Edmonton cannabis company revenues more than triples to $19.1 million

Aurora Cannabis revenues more than triple in fourth quarter

Seattle one step closer to NHL after arena plan approved

Seattle City Council unanimously approved plans for a privately funded $700 million renovation of KeyArena

Harvest Moon to light up B.C. skies with an ‘autumn hue’

It’s the first moon after the autumn equinox

Hockey league gets $1.4M for assistance program after Humboldt Broncos crash

Program will help players, families, coaches and volunteers after the shock of the deadly crash

Canada has removed six out of 900 asylum seekers already facing U.S. deportation

Ottawa had said the ‘overwhelming majority’ had been removed

North Island Midget Eagles bit by Alberni Valley Bulldogs, hammer Nanaimo Clippers

It was a bit of an up and down rollercoaster ride of a weekend for the North Island Midget Eagles.

Most Read