“Our Journey, Our Choice, Our Future” Research Project Welcomes Three Huu-ay-aht University Students to the Research Team!

The Queen’s University research team is delighted to welcome three Huu-ay-aht post-secondary students to join the project! Over the summer, Ayanna Clappis, Becki Nookemis, and Mikaela Petticrew will be helping with a ‘Photovoice” research project, which involves asking Huu-ay-aht citizens to take pictures and share stories about Treaty. This research will be going on from May to July in Ana’cla, Port Alberni, and Vancouver.

Ayanna will work with Jon Aarssen in Ana’cla, Becki Nookemis will work with Vanessa Sloan Morgan in Vancouver, and Mikaela Petticrew will work in Port Alberni with support from Brent Ronning (Huu-ay-aht’s Post-secondary Education Administrator). Learn more about each student below!


Ayanna Clappis                                                               

My name is Ayanna Clappis. On my mother’s side I am Huu-ay-aht and on my father’s side I am Somali. My mother, Crystal Clappis, is the daughter of Zelta Clappis and the late Chester Clappis. I am currently studying Political Science at the University of Victoria and working on a certificate in the Human Dimensions of Climate Change at the undergraduate level. Prior to this, I studied at Vancouver Island University where I began my studies in Business. In transitioning my studies, I decided to hone in on the subjects I am most passionate about- the environment and politics! By marrying the two I hope to have a solid knowledge background to reach my goal of becoming an environmental lawyer. I am a Councillor at Large for Uvic’s Native Students Union and a member of the Uvic Green Party and Students of Colour Collective. I am excited to work on this collaborative research project to document the historic modern treaty process for the Huu-ay-aht community!

Becki Nookemis 

My name is Becki Nookemis and I am a member of the Huu-ay-aht First Nation. My parents are Matilda Charleson from Hesquiaht First Nation and Duane Nookemis from Huu-ay-aht First Nation. I grew up in Anacla, but currently live in Nanaimo while attending Vancouver Island University. I am in the Bachelor of Arts program, majoring in Psychology and minoring in First Nation Studies. In the future I hope to work with Indigenous children and youth in some way.

Mikaela Petticrew 

My name is Mikaela Petticrew and my parents are Andrea Pettigrew and Eddie Lopez. I come from the Johnson family, which is on my mother’s side. I was born and raised in Port Alberni. I am a member of the Huu-ay-aht First Nations and I am excited to work on this project as I’m sure it will be an excellent experience! I am enrolled currently at North Island College where I am exploring the Psychology field. I am excited to collaborate with members of my community and learn new things about our culture during the course of this project!


The research team will be conducting a second round of Community Engagement Sessions: April 24th from 5 and 8pm in Vancouver; April 26th from 5pm and 8pm in Ana’cla, and April 27th from 5pm and 8pm in Port Alberni. Please join us to meet the incoming Huu-ay-aht Research Assistants, learn about the Photovoice projects that we hope you will participate in over the summer, get an update from the research team, and share your thoughts on Treaty implementation! Stay tuned to the Huu-ay-aht Facebook page and website for specific locations for the gatherings. As always, feel free to speak to a member of the project’s Advisory Committee or Research Team with any questions or comments. We hope to see you in April!

Huu-ay-aht Advisory Committee

  • Simon Dennis, Elder & Mainland Representative
  • Tayii Ḥaw̓ił ƛiišin (Derek Peters), Ha’wiih Council Representative
  • Wišqii (Rob Dennis Jr.), Port Alberni Representative
  • Stella Peters, Ana’cla Representative
  • Jane Peters, Ana’cla Representative
  • Mercedes Williams, Youth Representative

The ‘A SHARED Future’ Inaugural Gathering Was a Success!

Last week HEC Lab Research Director Heather, HEC Lab Research Coordinator Rob, and MA candidate Jon attended the A SHARED Future’s first ever gathering.

The meeting was graciously hosted by the T’Sou-ke Nation located on Vancouver Island, BC. This was the first opportunity for researchers, Knowledge Holders and other stakeholders involved in the A SHARED Future project to gather in one place. Attendees came from across Canada – as far East as Nova Scotia, from Vancouver Island itself and many places in between.

This gathering was extremely productive despite the short amount of time we spent together. We used both group and individual sharing opportunities to promote an equitable, safe space for discussion. Much of our time was spent on sharing views and opinions about how the project should proceed, and collaborating to make decisions.

We were particularly fortunate to be able to tour the T’Sou-ke Nation’s solar power development. Their leadership in the renewable energy field has (and will) serve as an important foundation for research moving forward.

Thank you again to everyone that was able to attend and a special thank you to the T’Sou-ke Nation for hosting us, and to our Elders for providing ceremonies and guidance. We look forward to meeting again soon.

Fantastic visit with the citizens and leadership of Huu-ay-aht First Nations to share stories and provide updates on research activities

HEC Lab Research Director Heather, PhD candidate Vanessa, and MA candidates Jon and Marc just returned from a successful research trip. The team travelled to the Huu-ay-aht First Nations in British Columbia to work with community partners involved with their respective research projects.

A relationship between the HEC Lab and Huu-ay-aht First Nations has been part of an ongoing learning journey for many years, and this meaningful trip further strengthened these ties. Over the course of the HEC Lab’s partnership with the Huu-ay-aht First Nations, several community-based participatory research projects have been completed. HEC Lab members Vanessa, Marc, and Jon are each working on exciting projects in partnership with Huu-ay-aht First Nations.

The team extends a huge “thank you” to the Huu-ay-aht community for hosting us. We look forward to returning in April!

HEC Lab Alumni and HEC Lab Director Have Their Paper Accepted in the Journal WATER- March 3, 2017

March 3, 2017: HEC Lab Alumni, Chris Garda, and HEC Lab Director, Dr. Heather Castleden, have their paper “Monitoring, restoration, and source water protection: Canadian community-based environmental organizations’ efforts towards improving aquatic ecosystem health” accepted in the journal WATER as part of a Special Issue in Source Water Protection.

Ottawa Meeting- A SHARED Future Project – February 9, 2017

On February 9, Dr. Heather Castleden (Director of the HEC Lab) and Rob (HEC Lab Research Coordinator) travelled to Canada’s Capital to meet with Ottawa-based partners from the A SHARED Future project on renewable energy development in Indigenous.


It was great to see Irving LeBlanc (Assembly of First Nations), Kim Matheson (CHAIM centre Carleton U), Sonia Wesche (U of Ottawa), Amy Nahwegahbow (NWAC), Amy Bombay (Dalhousie U), Guy Freedman (First Peoples Group) and Chris Henderson (Lumos Energy) in Ottawa, and now we are in full planning mode for our inaugural team meeting, co-hosted by T’Sou-ke Nation in March.