Message from the Chair of the NSTC Board of Directors
Helen Henderson- Tsq’ēsceń
Weytk-p Xwexweytp, Kukpi7 Helen Henderson ren Skwekst.
I am so happy to be connecting with all of Northern Secwepemc te Qelmucw. Connection is key, especially when as a collective, we are in deep mourning. I want to acknowledge those that have lost loved ones through these challenging times. COVID made it very difficult to pracitise the way we know to – with our Secwepemc values leading us through funerals, crisis, celebrations. Special prayer goes out to the families who lost loved ones to COVID. We continue to battle against the pandemic to this day. Through it all, the resilience of our people continue to be showcased through the teaching of our values. It is those same values that helped us through some very uncertain times with the discovery of the 215.
I acknowledge everyone currently triggered by this who are in varying stages of healing and trauma. As a Kukpi7, this has rocked me to my core as an Indigenous leader and Matriarch. Love and light are continuously sent to Kukpi7 Roseanne Casimir and Kukpi7 Willie Sellars who are leading us through the important work of both investigations. We have seen and supported many healing initiatives along the way and it is heartening to bear witness to everyone’s healing journey.
Our offices were closed from March 23, 2020 to May 31, 2020 due to COVID in response to the first wave of the pandemic. Staff worked from home during this time. NSTC immediately implemented a ‘work from home’ policy and this was a huge step to safeguarding staff and their families. Kukstemc.
Our office reopened June 1, 2020 with restrictions in place due to COVID. With the re-opening planning by the province, this released some pressure in our planning and mitigating risks. We implemented the Provincial Health Orders once made available.
As part of our response, we moved our leadership meetings to an on-line platform. As with the world, we had to adapt our way that we connect with one another. We were not allowed to meet in person, nor spend any time together, so our leadership and staff moved to zoom, teams, bluejeans, skype and even facebook to maintain connection. Leadership council continues utilizing blue jeans. Great work staff!
We were happy to announce Food Security Funding. This was in response to potential food shortages due to the pandemic. These funds were specific to meeting the needs of our members that live away from home. Funders were United Way, Red Cross and ISC. This program ran from June 2020 to March 31, 2021.
The NStQ Kukukpi7 made the decision to target funds to purchase food fish for all four communities. We purchased 500 Sockeye for each of our 4 communities plus 75 Chinook for SXFN, XFN and WLFN. This was in response to salmon being in short supply. Our River divisions of the Secwepemc Nation certainly felt the impact of low runs, river closures etc and we wanted to ensure we had some plans in place to deliver food fish for winter stocks.
As with other Indigenous Organizations, all our efforts have been in response to the Pandemic. We have learned new ways of doing business and providing services. Throughout these trying times, we have faced outbreaks, fires, community flooding, heat waves, and now provincial flooding. We have navigated through all of these events with heavy hearts and spirits and along the way, deep, deep grief with the discovery of the 215. I hold my hands up to all of you for your resilience, your compassion and love for one another.
I uplift our frontline workers, our behind-the scenes staff, our EOC staff, our leadership as well as all staff who have continuously worked to continue to provide quality care and service to all membership.
I encourage everyone to seek solace and healing in our territory. Land-based healing is a passion of mine along with water based healing. This was our traditional practice and anytime we have our foot on the territory, healing comes from it. Be safe and walk softly.
Much love, Kukpi7 Helen Henderson, Chair.