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Salish Sea Sentinel | October 20, 2020

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Three sisters lead in COVID-19 emergency management

Three sisters lead in COVID-19 emergency management

From right: Krista Perrault, Michelle Robinson, Tina Wesley. Submitted photo. 

By Edith Moore, NmTC communications liaison

Three Coast Salish sisters are leading the way in their communities in protecting against the spread of COVID-19. 

The women are all frontline workers in their communities of Klahoose and Stz’uminus — using forward-thinking planning to protect people against the virus. 

K’all-K’all Tina Wesley is the emergency manager for Klahoose First Nation, Al-Pa-sey Krista Perrault is the emergency manager for Stz’uminus, and Kwis-Tunle-Wut Michelle Robinson is on Klahoose council. 

These three strong women are raising the bar when it comes to protecting their communities, with strong traditional teachings that they lean on to guide them to this day.   

When asked to share, they spoke highly of their parents who taught them by example.   

“We all share and work with people to make things happen,” said Tina. 

“We were raised to recycle, take only what you need from the land and not to waste anything. Every member of our family chipped in and worked together, as they equally supported each other.” 

Their mother is Siel-tin Aught Bertha Elliott from Stz’uminus, and their father is Wee-Whoo-aja Walter Barnes from Klahoose.   

They lived on Galiano Island before moving to a ranch in Arizona, then settling down in Toba Inlet in Klahoose territory. 

With each move, the girls learned new skills — their parents showed them how to live off the land, teaching them hunting, fishing, gardening and farming. 

Their parents also volunteered to work with ministers while living in Arizona and helped to send food and clothes to people in need in Haiti.  

In Toba, their father and mother built their home from the ground up, and the family built a boat together. The sisters watched how their parents handled life, honoring their gifts, being genuine at heart and leaning on their respect for the creator.  

Learning from their parents, they have always been driven by culture and traditions — because that was the way their parents were. Even when they had nothing they would give what they had.  

Caring and giving with all of their gifts is exactly what these three strong women are doing, as they work towards food security and extended protection measures for Klahoose, Stz’uminus and neighboring Nations.   

From managing guardians (protection points at the entry of nation lands), to taking on pig and chicken farming so that food sustainability is achieved.   

They will stop at nothing and give everything just as they were taught, and we are so blessed to have them leading the way.