Nuu-chah-nulth class celebrates year-end with tlup-chus lunch

By Denise Titian, June 10, 2016
Ucluelet, BC — 

Students and Nuu-chah-nulth Education Worker Jason Sam celebrated the end of the Ucluelet Secondary School classes by thanking all the people that came in to teach them throughout the year.

On June 8, Sam invited guest teachers to the school garden to enjoy some tlup-chus (a traditional salmon barbecue), bannock and fresh vegetables.

Joe Martin of Tla-o-qui-aht demonstrated step-by-step how to cut a whole salmon to prepare it for cooking by an open fire. He brought with him a tlup-chus stick he made from a salmon berry stalk. He also had some red cedar sticks and string to hold the salmon splayed open as it cooked.

See the step by step in photos here:

While the salmon was cooking, some people roasted strips of bannock dough over the fire. Others continued working on an art project destined for the Ucluelet Aquarium.

A volunteer organization called Surfrider, Pacific Rim Chapter, has been working with the students on a program they call Guardians of the Land. It is a program designed to teach people about ocean pollution and the risks that things like plastics and other toxins have on the marine environment.

Part of the learning experience was bringing the students out to beaches and creeks for a clean-up. A spokesperson for Surfrider said a volunteer clean-up crew, including students, went to Mercantile Creek on June 1. The creek was selected because it is the water source for Ucluelet and Hitatcu.

Over the course of a few hours the work crew pulled out two truckloads of trash, including mattresses, box springs and a 250 litre drum partially filled with kerosene.

On another day they went out to Wya Beach and picked up 466 pieces of trash – mostly plastic. The most dangerous for the environment is Styrofoam, which breaks into smaller pieces and is consumed by marine life.

Some of the collected plastics went to the school where Tofino artist Peter Clarkson guided the students in the creation of an ocean mural.

Using plastic trash they collected on the beach, some paint, glue and nails, the students made images of bull kelp, jelly fish, star fish and little blue fish made out of paint brush handles found washed up on the beach.

During the picnic the students put the finishing touches on their beach trash mural.

Next to it will be a story board they created showing what they’ve learned over the year about the problems plastics in the ocean cause.

The students presented two cedar tlup-chus sticks to the Surfrider organization, thanking them for showing how important it is to keep plastic out of the ocean. The sticks will be used at future beach clean-ups so the volunteers can enjoy a barbecue salmon while they’re hard at work.

Over lunch the students each promised to eliminate the use of at least one plastic item. Some chose plastic shopping bags, drinking straws, and beverage containers.

Sam thanked everyone that came to the school to teach his Nuu-chah-nulth class over the past year. Guests were invited to teach things like Nuu-chah-nulth language, culture, harvesting cedar bark, preparing salmon, stewardship of the ocean and much more.

He thanked Joe Martin, Rose Wilson, Brian Wilson, Carlos Mack, Dr. Bernice Touchie, Peter Clarkson, Surfrider, David Hurowitz and all that came to share their knowledge with the Nuu-chah-nulth class.