Ahousaht First Nation—Shipwreck of the Leviathan II—Expression of Thanks for Rescue EffortsPublished on 9 December 2015 Hansard and Statements by Senator Mobina Jaffer
Hon. Mobina S. B. Jaffer:
Honourable senators, on October 25, off the coast of Tofino, Ken Brown and Clarence Smith were fishing in waters they did not usually frequent. The men are both members of the Ahousaht First Nation.
By chance, Mr. Brown turned around in time to see a single flare in the sky above the water. He instinctually knew someone was in danger, and the two men rushed to see who needed their help.
The boat that sent out the flare was the MV Leviathan II, one of the largest tourist boats in the area. The boat had capsized. The scene was terrible: people screaming, and a man struggling to stay above water because his foot was stuck to a rope on the quickly sinking boat.
The two men acted on instinct and began responding. They pulled the man up to their boat and cut his foot free from the rope, saving his life. They sent out a distress signal. It is because of their actions that a total of 21 survived that horrific event.
Dwayne Mazereeuw was on the boat that day. After waiting in the freezing water for at least half an hour, waves crashing over him and his wife as they clung to a life ring, his hope began to fade. But his hopes lifted that help was on its way when they saw a flare go off. He said, “After a bit, it didn’t seem too long when we saw the first boat come. We were frozen solid, exhausted. They literally had to pull us out of the water.”
He said that the Ahousaht residents who launched a rescue effort likely saved numerous lives. “It could have been a lot worse out there,” said Mazereeuw. “They risked their lives to come out and save us. The waters weren’t calm.”
Honourable senators, today I want to thank Mr. Ken Brown and Mr. Clarence Smith. I want to thank the Ahousaht First Nation and Chief Councillor Greg Louie. These members know the land and water, and their deep connection led them to be heroes.
I echo Premier Clark’s comments when she stated:
The Ahousaht First Nation did not miss a beat. First Nations on this coast have been fishing it for millennia. Nobody knows the water better.
Honourable senators, by example, the Ahousaht First Nation has shown us what it means to care for a community, to step in and help when help is needed and to be leaders.
Please join me in thanking Mr. Brown, Mr. Smith and the Ahousaht First Nation. I would like to say in their Nuu-chah-nulth language: ʔuusyak šiƛiiʔic.