Tag Archives: Alexandra Mehl

‘What we need to get back to’: Food sovereignty event brings talk of barter economies

Editor’s note: Cortes Island markets rely on cash, not barter,

By Alexandra Mehl, Ha-Shilth-Sa, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Port Alberni, BC – In late March Nuu-chah-nulth and surrounding communities gathered at Maht Mah’s for Ahousaht’s food sovereignty event. After a full day of presentations, attendees and presenters gathered to competitively trade teas, herbs, seeds, smoked sockeye, soaps, and other goods, representing an economy that traces back thousands of years.

“Traditionally, we had vast trade routes,” said Nitanis Desjarlais, a traditional food advocate, noting there was language associated with trading. “It opened up our plates to this variety of foods, and it strengthened our relationships.”

Continue reading ‘What we need to get back to’: Food sovereignty event brings talk of barter economies

Province takes action earlier than ever for what could be a difficult wildfire season

Editor’s note: While there have been small fires on Quadra, Sonora and Read Islands in recent years, there have not been any significant wildfires in our area for decades. More than 330 acres went up in smoke during the Gorge Harbour Fire of 1932, but there has not been any Cortes Island fires more than 25 acres in extent since at least 1950. Half of Quadra Island was consumed in that island’s 1925 fire. Environmental scientist Ruth Waldick believes the great clearcuts in the Interior of BC made it possible for megafires to consume that area and they will not occur in the islands. Others fear that as droughts become more frequent and severe, our area may once again experience a megafire.

By Alexandra Mehl, Ha-Shilth-Sa, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

The province is preparing, earlier than ever, for what could be a challenging wildfire season with above-average fall and winter temperatures predicted to continue, leading to persistent drought and a lack of snowpack accumulation.

“It is no secret that we did not accumulate the snowpack that we were hoping for in main parts of the province,” said Bowinn Ma, B.C.’s minister of Emergency Management and Climate Readiness. “While we all hope to get more rain in the months ahead, we are taking action now to prepare for what could be a very challenging season.”

Continue reading Province takes action earlier than ever for what could be a difficult wildfire season

Youth face barriers to overdose harm reduction, say front-line workers

Editor’s note: There were 47 drug related deaths in the Greater Campbell River Health Area during 2023. This is the third worst drug related death rate on Vancouver Island, only surpassed by Victoria (145) and Nanaimo (116). There were 31 drug related deaths in Greater Campbell River during 2022 and 26 in 2021

Greater Campbell River is a health area that stretches from the Oyster River to Sayward on the east coast of Vancouver Island, and includes Discovery Island communities like Cortes, Quadra and Read, but the epicentre of this public health emergency is the city of Campbell River.  According to BC emergency Health Services, paramedics responded to 681 drug overdose calls in Campbell River last year. The numbers have kept increasing every year since COVID arrived in March 2020 and did not decrease after the period of self distancing ended. There were 525 callouts in 2022, 404 in 2021 and 249 in 2020. In the four years prior to that, the call numbers fluctuated from a low of 152 in 2016 to a high of 230 in 2018.

By Alexandra Mehl, Ha-Shilth-Sa, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

With the toxic drug crisis as the leading cause of death for British Columbians aged 10 though 59, nearly 170 youth, aged 18 and under, have lost their lives since 2017. According to experts, not enough research and monitoring has been done to assess the impacts of the crisis on young people, who also face barriers when accessing harm reduction services.

Continue reading Youth face barriers to overdose harm reduction, say front-line workers

Experts expect mild winter conditions, concerns for drought season next year

Editor’s note: This story is of interest to Cortes, Read and Quadra Island readers because we are going through another El Niño phase, which calls for warmer temperatures and less precipitation. In addition, the BC Government’s model for Climate Change is: “Warmer temperatures in all seasons; smaller snowpacks and loss of glaciers; Stronger storm surges and rising sea levels.”

By Alexandra Mehl, Ha-Shilth-Sa, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

After a summer of extreme drought, experts are concerned for conditions next year as they predict mild winter weather, with a November precipitation deficit.

Armel Castellan, a warning preparedness meteorologist with Environment and Climate Change Canada, says the last several weeks have seen less precipitation than a typical fall.

Continue reading Experts expect mild winter conditions, concerns for drought season next year

Cutting corners on healthy foods: How do Tofino’s lower wage workers get by with rising living costs?

Editor’s note: We need a study like this on lower wage earners living on Cortes and Quadra Islands, as well as Campbell River.

By Alexandra Mehl, Ha-Shilth-Sa, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Tofino, BC – With tourism’s major contribution to Tofino’s economy, the industry itself is “less likely” to offer the region’s living wage, according to a recent report. 

While the costs of food, shelter, and transportation increase, tight food budgets are likely as locals cut corners to shoulder expenses. 

In early November, Clayoquot Biosphere Trust published their biannual Vital Signs report revealing the regions living wage of $26.51 per hour is almost 10 dollars over the province’s minimum wage of $16.75.

Continue reading Cutting corners on healthy foods: How do Tofino’s lower wage workers get by with rising living costs?