Tuesday, May 21, 2024

‘One of our children’: First Nation launches GoFundMe to help recoup costs of saving orca


The Ehattesaht First Nation has launched a GoFundMe online fundraiser in an effort to ease the financial burden that has been put on them trying to save an orphaned orca calf near Zeballos. 

Since March 23rd, the Nation along with neighbouring communities and Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) have been trying to coax the young, newly orphaned calf out of a lagoon being blocked by a significant sandbar.

This sandbar is the same one that the calf’s mother was beached upon and died. 

The orca calf was given the name kʷiisaḥiʔis, which is translated to Brave Little Hunter by the Ehattesaht First Nation. They say that ever since kʷiisaḥiʔis was stranded in the lagoon she dwells now, she has become part of their family.

“She is like one of our children who has lost their mother and we need to get her to a place where her grandmothers and aunties can take care of her,” wrote the Ehattesaht First Nation in the online fundraiser’s description. 

“Right now those aunties cannot hear her. She is isolated in a small lagoon at the end of a small inlet and her cries for her family only echo on the steep rock of the mountainside and never over the gravel bar to the open ocean. It is too far.”


The Nation recognizes that kʷiisaḥiʔis is scared of humans and this is part of the reason she has not been cooperating in the efforts to get her past the sandbar and out of the lagoon. 

They say that although all their partners in this effort have been “limitless in their response,” the Nation has had to feed and house a great number of people while dropping other priorities like work, responsibilities to the Nation and family to prioritize kʷiisaḥiʔis’ rescue attempt. 

“Everything is expensive here and we can no longer carry all of the burden,” the Nation wrote. 

“We can give our time in being part of the crews, of feeding everyone, of housing them but as this carries on we are having to adjust our budgets and make sure that we are all in this with good intention and with a good heart.”

The Ehattesaht First Nation has set a goal of $500,000 for this GoFundMe campaign and thus far, they’ve raised just under $9,000 in under 24 hours. 

Curtis Blandy

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