Meet Sally Hope: Community Researcher, Aboriginal Rights and Title, Corporate Affairs
1. Why does Seabird Island Band need an Aboriginal Rights and Title Team?
Our connection to our land, waters, and its resources is sacred. This connection has to be protected and it’s up to all of us to use the teachings from our ancestors to protect it. However, with ever encroaching industry, and the changes in laws and acts, it’s so important for our nation to stay on top of any threats to what we have been taught to look after. Our Aboriginal Rights and Title Team is the contemporary way to protect our wildlife, land, waters, and its resources. Our Team takes this role seriously and has increased to three staff members since last year. We have had a great start to building resources within our Team and are working hard to increasing our capacity.
2. What does a typical work day look like for you?
My work day varies depending upon the time of year. The winter months to early spring is ‘meeting’ season in the fisheries world, involving meetings with DFO (Team of Fisheries and Oceans)and other communities. These quite often make for long days as we meet with other nations and DFO during the day and then also caucus as Lower Fraser First Nations in the late afternoons/early evening. I am one of the Co-chairs for the LFFA (Lower Fraser Fisheries Alliance)and the LFFA’s Executive Committee. I also sit on several LFFA working groups such as the Salmon Technical Working Group, Non-Salmon Technical Working Group (Eulachon, Sturgeon, and Steelhead), and the Agreement and Economic Working Group. I have learned so much about fisheries by participating at these levels, working with fishery reps who have been in this field for many years and with technical staff who have spent a great deal of their lives analyzing data.
We move into in-season management once fishing opens and continues into the fall. Throughout this time, you will find me participating in teleconference calls for planning fisheries, then distributing these fishing updates and openings via text, website, and social media postings. The season starts with Eulachon fisheries planning. First Nations meet to plan the fisheries and then DFO comes in with the harvest allocations. A lot of effort on the part of First Nations goes into trying to increase the Eulachon amounts for First Nations. I arrange for Seabird’s share to be picked up, then we bring it home, package and hand out to our Elders. In the fall, we try to find some chum and last year we were able to provide some smoked for our Elders. Also, our Team is busy working on various projects and we have been gathering traditional knowledge on stocks such as Sturgeon and Chinook. We have had interviews with fishers – which we like to record with a camcorder and digital recorder. We take the interviews and transcribe the recordings, and copy the digital and video recordings. We will soon be working with incoming referrals and inputting them into our newly created database. This will enable our team to analyze the incoming referral, assign it a priority and then take the appropriate action.
3. What is the most important task you perform?
Taking technical information from fisheries meetings and conveying it to leadership and the community is pretty important. I have to be able to understand the technical information DFO uses to justify their decisions on the many different runs. It is also important to be a strong voice for fisheries for our community. The Dry Rack fishery is a great example, because there are so many moving past to the Early Stuart run. It’s crucial that I speak for our community while I am on planning calls and in meetings. When a decision is required from Seabird, I bring it to the Council table, provide briefing notes, and at times, recommendations.
4. What challenges do you face performing your duties?
I face a number of challenges in my role as fisheries rep, one of which is conveying our traditional knowledge to DFO and their science. The challenge is that DFO will continue to make their decisions with at times little or no consideration of First Nations’ traditional knowledge. On the other end of the spectrum is conveying to fishers and community members the decisions that DFO continues to make. It can be difficult to be the messenger for our limited openings.
5. What education do you have and how does it support your work?
I started out working in Aboriginal Rights and Title at Stó:lō Nation almost 20 years ago! I really enjoyed meeting and gathering knowledge from Elders throughout the communities. Then in 2008, Seabird had an opening for a Traditional Use Study, so I took a chance and applied. I have been here ever since. I have had various types of training within my role here and have learned so much from other LFFA delegates regarding fisheries. I also rely on the Management Training I was fortunate enough to participate in. I continue to take workshops to increase my own capacity.
6. What do you enjoy most about your role?
My favorite part of my job is when I get to interact with Elders, Membership and Community Members – whether it’s in an interview with an Elder or fisher and they are sharing their traditional knowledge or when it’s hearing from fishers and Elders and their stories and ideas on how to make our points with DFO. One of my other favorite parts of my role is working on securing fish for our Elders and Seabird’s Traditional Food Bank. Our team is always willing to help process and provide fish to both the Elders and Seabird’s Traditional Food Bank.
7. What’s your favourite part about the team you work with?
I actually have two teams that I work with. The first team is the Corporate Affairs Team. Our Team is a fairly ‘new’ Team (in terms of working together) and we melded together quickly to form a working relationship based upon support and respect. Everyone on our team comes with their own strengths and visions and when we sit together, it becomes evident that we all respect that. I have been working with Dale and Phaine on getting out fisheries announcements and that has been really helpful! But, my favorite part of this team is that everyone is so willing to roll up their sleeves and help – for Seabird’s Traditional Food Bank, and for our Community Members. The second team that I feel I am part of is the Lower Fraser Fisheries Alliance and its delegates. I have learned a great deal from other delegates. I am proud of how all of these communities from Yale to the mouth of the Fraser, can sit at a table and plan fisheries that impacts each of our communities, for example, not all of these communities are able to participate in a Dry Rack fishery due to their location, but these communities always voice their support of this fishery to DFO and other First Nations communities along the Fraser. This group works together in the best interests of each of our communities yet we also work to support each other as well. Because of this strength in standing together, we strive to and have been successful in securing more and/or longer openings for our communities.
8. What does Sally Hope do when she is not at work?
When I am not at work, I am with my family. Our favorite time of the year is fishing season. During the Dry Rack fishery and the weeks following, you will find us at the river, practicing the teachings that have been passed down through our family and our matriarch: My MOM! It’s a time of hard work and long hours, but we enjoy it so much that we don’t mind. There is no better feeling than sitting on the banks of the river with my family knowing that we have had a long productive day! When summer is done, you will find me on the sidelines watching my kids play the game they love: soccer. I have spent much of my parental life watching, managing, supporting my children and their friends play in leagues and tournaments. I also really enjoy canoe racing. This takes a great deal of dedication and commitment as we train every night! That feeling on being on the water and training so hard you can feel your arms burn, is like no other feeling! However, my heart is wanting to be with kids this year, and so unfortunately, I will not be racing this year. It’s always a hard choice, because I know the commitment that it takes to paddle. But my heart is happy that I will spend most evenings supporting my kids with school and sports! And of course our other favorite time of the year is hockey season! Rushing home to watch the boys in blue….or listening to the game on the radio while the kids are at soccer practice! And last but not least, I love to help my mom with cooking whenever the community calls for us. I have been taught by my mom and her mom (and so on) to be there when needed. Working in the kitchen with my beautiful Mother is such a blessing!
Thanks for your time Sally