Indigenous Lit book club

Happy New Year, friends!

This year, we want to start off with some new programs and initiatives to engage people with Qqs. First up is an Indigenous Literature book club out of the Thistalalh Library.

Tonight, we’re having our inaugural meeting to discuss Thomas King’s classic novel Green Grass, Running Water. But we have an exciting year in mind, and we need your help.

Right now, we’re operating solely on the duplicate titles that were donated when our original library burned down in 2013. That means our selection is limited. We have enough books to get by for a few months – we have lots of copies of Three Day Road by Joseph Boyden and Ceremony by Leslie Marmon Silko, for example.

However, we are looking for donations of other titles to keep the group going strong. Here are some suggestions:
House Made of Dawn by N. Scott Momaday
Monkey Beach, Blood Sports, and Traplines by Eden Robinson
The Reason You Walk by Wab Kinew
-Anything by Sherman Alexie
The Lesser Blessed by Richard Van Camp
Shell Shaker by LeAnne Howe
The Orenda by Joseph Boyden
-Anything by Richard Wagamese
-Anything by Louise Erdrich
-Anything by Thomas King other than Green Grass, Running Water
-Anything by Tomson Highway
-Anything by Lee Maracle
Slash by Jeanette Armstrong
-Or feel free to suggest your favourites!

We are a non-profit and the library is run entirely by volunteers and through your generous donations. Please help us to make this fun, engaging, and educational group as accessible as possible.

Stay tuned for more information – we hope to start an Indigenous YA Literature book club soon!

For more information on how to donate, please leave a comment, tweet @qqsprojects, or email Jess.


Click here to hear an interview on CFNR FM about the Thistalalh Library and our call-out for books!



Koeye Lodge: Welcome Home!

On July 31, we hosted a special ceremony and celebration in Koeye. Not an “opening” – the work of building and maintaining a facility like ours is never done! But a “Welcome Home” event, to mark the occasion of our facility finally being open to family and community groups for the first time since the fire.

We are immensely grateful to the community who believed in us, the many hands who raised our buildings up, the generous supporters who helped to make it happen, and the wonderful spirit of love and enthusiasm that marked every phase of our rebuilding process. Welcome home, everyone!

(Thank you to our friend Kyle Artelle for the photos!)

Field Notes: Koeye Gardens Project

Koeye Gardens: A Story of Growth

The space Koeye Gardens inhabits is near unrecognizable from what it was just one year ago.  The garden is now home to a growing and diverse native berry garden, medicinal plants, ornamental flowers, and with the copper gardens, over 20 raised plots and planters filled with produce, root veggies, herbs, and spices.

As things ripen, the harvest contributes to meals daily and helps towards the goal of food self sufficiency and even healthier and tastier meals fresh from the garden!

On top of providing fresh food and herbs for Koeye campers, staff, and guests alike, the garden provides an educational space. Kids can learn gardening skills, help harvest, engage with growing and caring for berries and other plants, and strengthen identification skills for medicinal plants and native berries in both Heiltsuk and English through our signage project!

The Koeye Gardens have come so far with the goals of revitalizing traditional management techniques, bolstering food security, and providing an edible education for groups coming through Koeye since the pilot year in 2014!

We are excited to continue seeing growth in the gardens!

Squash & Snap Peas,

Audrey Lane C & Garden Staff

Field Notes: Salmon Program

Mid Season Update:

Things upriver at the weir camp are in a constant flux. The great outmigration of sockeye smolts has come and gone, along with the operation of the rotary screw trap, which we used to enumerate and PIT tag the sockeye smolts as they made their journey from Koeye lake out to the ocean. The smolt trap season went off without a hitch and we collected loads of high quality data that will prove invaluable in our ability to better understand and predict future sockeye runs at Koeye and elsewhere within Heiltsuk territory. While the smolt trap season was winding down, we began to prepare the materials for the weir build.


This is the third season that Qqs has operated a traditional style weir on the Koeye, and with each season under our belt comes a smoother approach to the building and operating of the weir. Starting in early May, we spent our afternoons (post smolt trap duties) hand-splitting slender pickets out of a cedar log that washed up on the beach at Koeye. We also harvested cedar saplings to form the tripods of the weir, and transported the logs up to the weir site. With all the logs upriver we began the tedious task of removing their bark, which will help the logs last longer out in the elements.


When all of the picket panels were repaired and completed we began the final install of the weir. The build took two full days of heavy lifting, lashing and hammering… but the process went very smoothly. As you can see in the video link below, we constructed the weir in sections. First, the tripods were nailed and lashed together, and then carried out into the water. Once all eighteen tripods were in the water, we weighed them down with large boulders in order to counteract the buoyancy of the cedar and add stability. The next day we installed the panels of pickets and trap boxes and made sure there were no gaps that a determined sockeye could sneak through.

Check out some video footage here:

The finished weir spans 180 feet across the full width of the river. It is located at the upper limit of tidal influence, roughly 4 kilometres upstream from the mouth of the Koeye. It has been roughly three weeks since the weir has been operational, and we’ve had two staff monitoring the weir 24 hours  a day since it went in the water. There is a tremendous amount of responsibility that comes with the act of impeding salmon along their migration to spawning grounds, and we as stewards must take every precaution to ensure the wellbeing and safe passage of each sockeye that passes through our weir. Staff at the weir camp live at the mercy of the sockeye, and we respond quickly when sockeye enter the trap boxes at any hour of the day (often between the middle of night and pre-dawn). We take the length of each sockeye as well as scale samples, and then we insert two colour coded visual tags on either side of their dorsal fin in order to allow us to re-sight these individuals during snorkel surveys upstream of the weir. Re-sighting these fish upstream and later on their spawning grounds will allow us to better understand their in-river migration patterns, growth and survival.


Up until recently the river has been extremely low due to the lack of rain. As the residents of the Central Coast know, this season has been abnormally dry and we recorded only a few millimetres of rain between May 2 and June 18th (see photo below of the river at its lowest level in June).This lack of rain has definitely had an affect on the start of sockeye riverine migration, and as result, our tag numbers at the weir have been very low. We had the weir up and running on May 31st this year and we were only able to tag 24 fish in the first 19 days of operation. We had a feeling that the first rain would bring a long night of tagging, and we were right. With a modest rain event on June 19th, the river levels raised enough to lure a wave of sockeye upriver. We nearly doubled our tagging numbers for the first 19 days in one night by tagging 22 adult sockeye between midnight and 6:30 AM on June 20th! All we need now is more rain events to keep these sockeye on the move up to the lake while the weir is in the water (until the end of July).


Now that there are more than a handful of tagged fish upstream of the weir, we will carry on with snorkel surveys in order to track fish movement in the river. We will be snorkelling the length of river from the lake outlet all the way down to the weir, roughly 6 kilometres of river.


In other news… we were delighted to be visited by the 7th graders the past couple of days, and we had a great time showing them what our day to day is like working and living at the weir and conducting other research around Koeye. We were able to do some beach seining at the river mouth in front of the kids camp, where the kids got to take a close look at some of the aquatic diversity that the Koeye river estuary supports. Later the kids made the trip upriver to get a look at the weir and learn more about how it works and why we are operating it.  It was great to have the first group of kids out to Koeye, and we are getting excited for the return of the annual kids camp at Koeye, which is coming up soon!


Field Notes: Salmon Program

As spring is now well under way here on the Central Coast, things are starting to happen quickly with the salmon program on the Koeye river. The beginning of the field season for research at Koeye is marked by the installation of our smolt trap, a rotating aluminum cone between two large pontoons, which is located roughly 4 kilometers upstream from the mouth of the river. Sockeye and coho smolts (juveniles making the physiological transition from freshwater to saltwater) are captured at the smolt trap and transported a short distance upstream, where they are released. When the smolts that we captured, marked/tagged and released upstream make their way back out to sea they pass by the smolt trap for a second time. By recapturing a proportion of these tagged fish we can estimate the percentage of the total population being captured by our trap, allowing us to expand our capture numbers to an estimate of the total number of smolts out migrating from Koeye in a given year.

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In 2014 we piloted this program and had tremendous success, ultimately producing an estimate in the neighbourhood of 180,000 sockeye smolts for the year. By coupling estimates of smolt abundance with data on adult returns generated by the weir in the coming years, we will be able to estimate marine survival for Koeye River sockeye. Year-to-year changes in the ocean conditions (e.g. temperature, productivity, etc) encountered by smolts during the critical early period of their marine migrations is known to drive much of the variability in adult returns. The data generated by life cycle monitoring (the smolt trap and weir) at Koeye will provide new and powerful information on what drives year to changes in salmon returns.

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Following on the success of the smolt trap program in 2014, we put the smolt trap in the water almost two weeks earlier in order to get a head start on enumerating this year’s out-migrating sockeye and coho smolts. This year, we are adding an additional element to our smolt trapping program, and we will be tagging up to 2000 sockeye smolts with PIT (Passive Integrated Transponder) tag on their way out to the ocean. These individually identifiable tags will let us track the migration success of individual fish, from their outmigration to sea in 2015 to their subsequent return in 2017 and 2018. Upon their return these fish will be captured at the weir and scanned for tags, providing new insight into the importance of factors such as outmigration timing, body size, and condition for survival at sea.

Now that the smolt trap is in the water, it will be continuously catching smolts as the spring outmigration ramps up through to the end of May. The smolts typically hold their position in the river during daylight hours, and then start to make their way downstream at dusk and through the night. Thus, the peak fishing time for our trap is from dusk to dawn. Every morning from now through May the field crew hikes up to the trap from the weir camp to process and record the previous evening’s catch. Check out the short time-lapse video below to see the installation of the smolt trap and processing of the first batch of smolts that were caught.

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The information gained from this study will add to the growing body of scientific knowledge that Qqs’ Salmon Program has generated over the last several years. Through monitoring and researching the salmon populations in Koeye and other rivers throughout Heiltsuk territory, we aim to inform the management decisions that take place within Heiltsuk territory.

The crew out at the Koeye wier camp have a long season of research ahead of them, stay tuned as they update the current happenings from the field!

Check out Qqs’ social media feeds for an additional video update from Will and Bryant!

Survey, open house, and special newsletter

On behalf of the staff and board at Qqs, THANK YOU to all the wonderful people who came out to last Friday’s open house and filled our our special survey on community hopes and concerns!

We’re now working on a special newsletter that summarizes the valuable information you shared, and outlines how Qqs plans to respond in terms of improving existing projects – and developing new ones. You can expect that newsletter to be delivered locally next week.

We are continually moved by the honesty, generosity, and hope of our community. Thanks for all the space you make to nurture our programs!



Quarterly Koeye Family newsletter!

Have you checked out our quarterly Koeye Family newsletter for Spring 2015? You can stop by our community coffee house TODAY in Bella Bella (1:00-4:30 at Alexa’s Restaurant) to pick it up in person, or grab a copy from our office during normal business hours. It’s also available online for your reading pleasure!

Please note, as part of our open house, we’re also soliciting community feedback on your hopes, concerns, ideas, and solutions for our community in 2015! Your anonymous responses will help to drive our program direction. You can fill out the survey in person at our coffee house, or fill it out online here.

We look forward to your feedback and ideas.

Family Camps are coming!


One of our favourite programs in Koeye is the intergenerational family camps that happen at the lodge. When we lost our facilities to fire a few years ago, we had to put this program on hiatus until we had a warm, safe space for our babies and elders. This year, it’s re-launching – and stronger than ever! Do you have a favourite memory of being in Koeye with your family?