Qaamina Sam said he was fishing today for the first day of the T'aaq-wiihak fishery and had just dropped his lines.
“There you go Stan; lines are all out,” he said.
Then a phone call came to say that Stan, Qaamina’s father, had passed away. So Qaamina traveled to Estevan and the Hesquiaht Provider “ran us all way down to Tofino” to be with the extended grieving family.
Stanley Sam, Ahousaht elder and historian, passed away at Tofino General Hospital on the morning of July 27, daughter Corina Beach confirmed.
Sam, 88, was known for his contributions of cultural knowledge, not only to his people and his Ha'wiih, but also to the larger Nuu-chah-nulth community where he, along with other elders, worked to preserve history and teachings.
“It's a very sad day for our community,” said Ahousaht Chief Councillor Greg Louie. “Stanley's contributions were immense – the language, culture, history and how he shared, not only with us but with other Nuu-chah-nulth nations even as far away as Makah; he has touched everyone.”
Stanley was an artist, an author (Ahousaht Wildside Trail Heritage Guide Book), linguist, speaker for the Ha’wiih and, most importantly, a highly-respected father and grandfather.
Tributes are now pouring in to the family.
"I was fortunate and honored to have been able to have worked with Stanley Sam in the beginnings of the Usma Child and Family Services program in the early ‘80s,” said Deb Foxcroft, president of the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council.
“I remember his humor and beautiful smile that filled up the room. He was a very gentle, respectful man and historian.”
Stanley was passionate in his teachings, values and our language, Foxcroft said. “He was open and willing to share these gifts with his own community of Ahousaht First Nation and throughout the whole of Nuu-chah-nulth.
“Stanley was a knowledgeable and respected elder who was on the Elders Advisory Committee of the Usma Program and was one of the elders who played a strong role in the work to guide us in the development of the program.
“As part of his commitment and dedication to our First Nations’ children, Stanley had a vision of preserving and recording our Nuu-chah-nulth teachings and traditions.”
She said the Elders Advisory Committee had shared those lessons that came over a 12-year period in a book to be passed on to our children and families.
The book is entitled The Sayings of Our People. His teachings and wisdom will never be forgotten, Foxcroft continued.
Stanley testified in the Nuu-chah-nulth fishing rights case, when the trial first took place in Ahousaht, said counsel for the Nations, Matt Kirchner of Ratcliffe and Co.
“Stanley worked very hard for many hours to adapt his very traditional way of presenting a Nuu-chah-nulth point of view into evidence that could be received in a court room setting. He made a significant contribution to the success of the Nuu-chah-nulth fishing rights case, which is what he really wanted to do.”
In addition to testifying in the original trial, Stanley also shared his lifetime of knowledge to the Council of Ha’wiih and other fisheries forums, said Dr. Don Hall, Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council’s fisheries department manager.
“Casiits was a treasure of knowledge, not just about fishing and the ocean, but about the history and governance of Nuu-chah-nulth Nations,” said Hall. “His contributions were immeasurable, and will be missed by all that had the benefit of hearing him speak. Fortunately in recent years we were able to record and take down just a fraction of his knowledge to share and pass along to others.”
And social media notices were many.
“So many times over the years I listened to him speak. He was a wealth of knowledge about, not just the Ahousaht, but all Nuu-chah-nulth,” wrote Hugh Braker of Tseshaht First Nation. “I will forever remember circling Meares Island with him, and several others, in a small boat while he regaled us with stories of each of the places we saw. I can reflect that this loss is not just a loss for Ahousaht, but for all Nuu-chah-nulth while at the same time being grateful for his long life. I am richer for having known him.”
“Condolences to the Sam family back home in Ahousaht. Sorry for your loss. Grandpa Stan will be missed by many. He was a great person with so much knowledge that he passed on and shared with all of us. Hugs and Prayers to you all,” wrote Cecil Mack
“Prayers for the Stan family ......[Casiits] is on his way to the spirit world. Stan's presence will always be close, as it is seen in the lineage of your family and in the beauty and strength of your community. Stan's words, his voice, carvings and teachings will live on through those who remember. We are better people for knowing Stan, your family and community...... (we) will never forget,” wrote Leanne Hodges.
NTC Vice President Ken Watts told Ha-Shilth-Sa this: "Stanley lived a long life and will be missed. His guidance and knowledge of our people will never be forgotten. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family."