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Table of Contents


Please select from the section headings to read articles in any section,

or click images in the gallery below to access individual articles directly.

Alternatively, feel free to scroll down at your leisure to access each article as it appears. 



Welcome Message

To the Malsgm Sa'winsk

We are thrilled to have you here and to share with you the first edition of our brand new newsletter, the NIFCS Malsgm Sa'winsk (Newspaper). We hope you'll enjoy reading it as much as we did producing it! 

The idea was first floated by our Executive Director, Kathleen Bennett, several months ago. A team was eventually formed, and we envisioned how the newsletter could provide meaningful value to the communities we serve.

In establishing the 'why', we discovered that among other things, the newsletter could be a useful tool to:

- Provide engaging content and useful information

- Highlight inspiring stories and events from the communities

- Coordinate and standardize announcements

- Share NIFCS services and programs

- Encourage community feedback and ideas


In discussing the type and frequency of publication, we arrived at a consensus that this will be an

e-newsletter to be published quarterly according to seasons, i.e.:

- First edition - Winter 2020/21 (Dec 21)

- Second edition - Spring 2021 (March 21)

- Third edition - Summer 2021 (June 21)

- Fourth edition - Fall 2021 (Sept 21)


Once the groundwork was established, we consulted on the nature and scope of the content to ensure that it stayed within the vision of the project. This provided the framework for the newsletter you are reading today. We see this as a first step toward building a vibrant communication channel to engage with and learn from the members of the communities we serve.

We would love to hear your opinion about our first newsletter and any ideas you may have to make each edition special, and each future edition better than the previous one.

Click HERE to send us your feedback.

Wishing you Happy Holidays, a very Merry Christmas and a wonderful 2021!

Community Spotlight

Community Spotlight

Delightful Christmas Wish


Here's a  sweet rendition of "Santa Claus is coming to Hartley Bay" in Sm'algyax by six-year-old Aaliyah Fisher.

Aaliyah attends Hartley Bay school and enjoys singing and colouring. She loves to learn new things and her favorite past time during Covid is to colour.

Community Gems
Circle Turq Logo.png

Heart Speak symbol created by Nisga'a artist Kari Morgan


In this edition, we are sharing the story of a team that came together to breathe life into a wonderful program called Algya̱ga K’üülm G̱oot (speaking from one heart).


Below is a personal account shared by facilitator and Youth Empowerment Worker, Britt McDougall. It is a moving story of how her heart was opened up by life's experiences that led to her wholesome embrace of the Heart Speak program in serving the community she loves. 

“What Are You Saying, Heart?”
By Britt McDougall
Jamaican/European Family
Youth Empowerment Worker – Kitsumkalum
Facebook: Kitsumkalum Youth Empowerment
Instagram: Kitsumalumyep
December 10, 2020


What does my heart say? When I told my then boyfriend, I wanted to be “more like just friends” over the summer, I was listening to my heart. When he told me, I broke his heart, he was speaking from his. When my brother wrote me a note on my birthday expressing his love for his sister, he was speaking from his heart. When I witness my brother struggle with addiction and mental health, my heart breaks. When I brought myself to a support group and let myself cry and cry, I was leading with my heart. At every crossroads in life, I try to ask myself, what does my heart say?

We can speak about the heart in many ways; as the physical organ, as an emotional center or as an energy center, a chakra. But here, I am speaking about the heart as a messenger, a pathway, a guiding light, a common thread among all beings. Many cultures all over the world, point to the heart when asked about identity. Who are you? Dialects of Sm’algya̱x are spoken by the Tsimshian, Nisga’a and Gitxsan. In Tsimshian Sm’algya̱x, g̱oot, the heart is at the center of many feelings and thinking expressions. To name just a few, Adziksa G̱oodu – I am proud, Ḵ’amg̱oot – kind (only heart), ’Wahg̱oot – thoughtless, Luḵ’ aag̱a g̱oot – to start thinking about, to remember something (open heart). (Sm Łoodm Nüüsm – Dr. Mique’l Dangeli, 2020) In my personal experience, the heart is an inclusive and endless way to knowing mySelf.

The heart has guided me to this point now. Writing this article, serving as a Youth Worker. First, my heart broke open. I realized and continue to realize the oppression of Indigenous Peoples that I was fed and gobbled up unknowingly. My heart broke open when I found myself, perpetuating colonial violence at a Tribe Called Red Concert. I stood in front of her in the crowd. Our eyes locked. I felt her fury and disgust in my own body. I had let my friends paint my face. “Read a textbook!” she glared, “This a war paint!” In one moment, I realized that the slime of oppression had crept into my actions. I broke down and cried and cried. I thought I was immune, “a good person”... Big emotions came through, but this is not the point. I realized I was just another part of the problem (if I stay uneducated). I had to listen to my heart to know what to do next.

The heart I speak of is always present. It does not come and go with emotions, but is here to witness them all. In the same way, if the mind is busy or loud or quiet, this heart, we are here throughout.

I started the ongoing journey of educating myself about First Nations culture and history, my own biases and connecting with people in Kitsumkalum. I was hired as a youth coordinator and the rest is history. Well… the job teaches me something new every day and I get to work with some amazing people, but it comes with its challenges too. As many of us are familiar, there is quite a lot of lateral and emotional violence in many communities. Internalized oppression is a real thing. For the first two years, when I left an interaction feeling off, I was never sure why. And I constantly battled with myself wondering if this is the right place for me. To be honest, I still wonder. But sometimes things happen that re-affirm in my heart, that I am in the right place. Like, meeting my co-worker Dm Sil Haaytk Gyibaaw - Emily and sharing the STOKE on community projects together. Or hearing from my good friend and teacher that he feels this work is good for my spiritual growth. Or getting a grant to do a really cool project!!! (see below).

Life throws at us some curve balls for sure, and we never really know what we’re going to get. But this heart, my friends, is here to stay. And something tells me (.. heart) that this attention to, this following, this speaking from, this unfolding, this being as the heart, is the way anyways.

Which brings me to Algya̱ga K’üülm G̱oot – Heart Speak (that really cool project!!!). Algya̱ga K’üülm G̱oot means speaking from one heart in Sm’algya̱x. It is a youth communications initiative that is informed by many community members and by my experiences with them. It aims to bring youth together, to connect with culture, to the heart and to give back to others. This year we are running a pilot project and want to give space for it to take on a life of its own. The project takes place over 5 months. First, a culturally based training is offered by an amazing Support Crew (see members in acknowledgements below). Youth Leaders will take part in activities involving Lateral Kindness, Cedar Brushing, Traditional Medicines, Feast Hall Voice Strengthening and Adaawx – Storytelling. Then youth will meet weekly throughout the school year to practice connecting, listening, speaking from the heart, and eventually facilitating.

Right now, Indigenous youth ages 14-20, living in Kitsumkalum, Terrace and Kitselas are having weekly *virtual* talking Circles, in partnership with Live Different. These meaningful conversations are a platform for youth to develop themselves, connect and give back. Contact me, Britt, directly if you, a youth, would like to get involved. We would LOVE to meet you.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS (Picture of the team in a Zoom meeting below)

I would like to give a huge shout out to each of our Support Crew members. We spent an entire 3 days together over Zoom at the end of November, building a foundation of trust and developing the training for youth. Due to the presence we all brought, it was a very moving and touching time together. These folks are part of a root system who supports youth in knowing the leader in themselves, practicing cultural wellness ways and speaking from the heart.

Liitaa laxdaaw Gyibaaw - Sharon Bryant
You have literally been there since the first Kitsumkalum Youth Group, I led back in 2017. I was shaking in my boots lol. Thank you for your continued kind-hearted presence.

Dm sil haaytk Gyibaaw – Emily Bryant
SO happy to know you and continue be beside each other, through thick and thin. Siip'ntut nüün!!

X'aam'aal' niiy' bagwit - Sherry McDames
We have just recently (re)connected and I am so grateful and inspired by your full-on readiness to share your gifts with those around you. Thank you so much!

Wii Kxasw Jasa Wilin - Lynn Wright-Parker
Your vision and methods truly are a powerful force. You have carried me through some tough times and I am so so grateful for the privilege to call on you.

Gaks Laksiilda – Kathy Wesley
Your calm embrace holds such sacred space and room for healing. Thank you for who you are.

Sm Łoodm 'Nüüsm (Dr. Mique’l Dangeli)
Wow, I feel honoured to learn along side you and to witness your simple yet fiery acceptance of who you are. Your strength moves me.

Goolth Ts’Imilx and Teetlien – Mike Dangeli
Big hearted man! Haha, thank you for taking the time to share from your heart. Your offerings are sweet and oh so full.


T’oyaxsut nüüsm!

Voices of our Children & Youth



Here's eleven-year-old Mae Sankey from Lax Kw'alaams sharing her story with us. Mae spends time in the village playing with her little cousins and siblings. She describes the impact of Covid-19 and talks about her favorite time of the year.  

Check out this video to find out more.

Oolichan Day


For thousands of years First Nations people constructed camps along the Skeena and its tributaries to harvest their 'saviour' fish, the Oolichan, whose arrival marked the end winter and the beginning of the harvest season. This spring friends and families gathered for a joyous morning of fishing for Oolichan, and while they did not land a large catch, the experience of reliving this ancient tradition was precious and empowering.

Staff Spotlight

NIFCS Staff Spotlight

Gina Massari

Please introduce yourself, traditional or non, you pick:​

My name is Gina Massari, I was born and raised in Metlakatla, BC.  My father is from Metlakatla and my Mother is from Lax Kw’alaams.  I am a Gisbutwada (blackfish).  I am happily married and have a daughter, a son and two stepdaughters.

What is your role at NIFCS?

I started at NIFCS as an Office Clerk.  Last July (2019) I moved into a new position as Social Worker Assistant.   My role is to assist in promoting the personal, cultural, educational, and social development of youth and family in our communities.

What was your very first job (In general)?

My very first job was as a babysitter at the age of 11.  My first real job was as a summer student in Metlakatla.  We would paint homes, cut grass, and clean up the community.


Describe how and when you came to NIFCS?

I was one of the employees that started in 1999 when NIFCS first opened its’ doors.  I left in 2007 to further my education.  After my program was complete, it turned out that NIFCS was hiring for an office clerk.  I applied and here I am again.  I have a total of 18 years with NIFCS.  I love what I do and hope to one day become a Social Worker.

What is your favorite Dinosaur?

I would have to say a Long neck (Barosaurus) as they are the least ferocious and seem so graceful.

What is your biggest pet peeve?

Crazy drivers

Most memorable moment from 2020?

My most memorable and precious moment of 2020 would have to be my son’s (my baby’s) graduation.  They were the first class to graduate during this pandemic.  It was different and I felt they were ripped off as they did not get to have a walk up or a Prom.  Despite all this, I am very proud of my boy.

What is your favorite chocolate bar?

I cannot just pick one, I love CHOCOLATE period!!!!!

Do you have a favorite song?

I love Italian music, just sounds so romantic.

If you had an extra $200 to spend on anything, what would you buy?

I would probably buy myself a Michael Kors purse 😊

Do you have any words of wisdom to offer youth who may be considering your profession?

You need to have empathy, be kind and considerate to the children and families you work with.  You also need to be a good listener and have great patience.   A great support system is a must, and you need to find ways to take care of yourself as it sometimes is a tough job.


Are you a cat, dog, or bird person?

I am not an animal person so I would have to say neither of the above.


If you could pick your birthday dinner, what would you chose?

I would love a beautiful seafood dinner with crab, scallops, shrimp, abalone, halibut.

Veronica Shirey

Please introduce yourself, traditional or non, you pick.

Hello everyone, 😊 My name is Veronica Shirey, I come from the Gitxsan Nation and the community of Kitwancool (Gitanyow). I belong to the house of NiiKyep.

What is your role at NIFCS?

When I first started work at NIFCS my role was that of a Roots worker where I was tasked to find family for the children who were in care with NIFCS. Not too long after being a Roots worker I went on to being a guardianship worker with NIFCS. Here I got to know and work with the children in our care and was able to provide some services to them, connect them with family as well as extended family. The goal for NIFCS children was to always find permanency, a place where they can call home. Then I went on to be a Family Group Conference Coordinator for NIFCS/MCFD. Here I had referrals from NIFCS/MCFD for family meetings. Then I was back to being a Generalist Social Worker doing Guardianship and Resources. In November 2017, NIFCS got their delegation for C6 which had me and other staff members doing Child protection.

What was your very first job (In general)?

My very first job was back in Kitwancool being a community Youth worker.

Describe how and when you came to NIFCS?

Well, I heard about NIFCS through a friend of a friend 😊 She said that there is an opening at NIFCS and that we should apply for the job. I had no idea about NIFCS or what the agency provides. So, I applied for the position that was offered, which was being the Roots worker. I started working with NIFCS on Aug 2007 and have never turned back since then.

What is your favorite Dinosaur?

Long-neck 😊

What is your biggest pet peeve?

I really do not like to repeat myself and I really do not like to wait for things to be done, it is done when I ask, or I will do it myself.  I like to have things done a certain way and if it not done the way I want; I will redo it.


Most memorable moment from 2020?

It would be the end of my vacation with my children to the United States in January 2020. Got to visit a past co-worker in Pemberton and her newborn baby boy. Visits with family and friends in Nanaimo, Vancouver, McKenzie, Tofino.


What is your favorite chocolate bar?

Purdy’s all the way.

Do you have a favorite song?

The Cuppycake song, You are my Sunshine (as my youngest son use to sing that to me all the time), other than that any country music.

If you had an extra $200 to spend on anything, what would you buy?

I would use that money for a down payment on a Native carved Gold Bracelet.

Do you have any words of wisdom to offer youth who may be considering your profession?

I would really encourage them to take the courses for Social Work as they are our future leaders, and it is them that can continue to make changes for a better world. I have encouraged some of the youth that have been in care to seek this profession as they are also the ones who really know what it is like to be in care and how the system works.

Are you a cat, dog, or bird person?

I would prefer a dog over any other animal.

If you could pick your birthday dinner, what would you chose?

Prime Rib, Mashed Potatoes, carrots, and gravy. Dessert: deep fried Ice-cream. Mmmm yummo😊


It is with profound sadness that we announce the recent passing of our beloved colleague and friend Veronica Shirey. Despite being ill, she continued to work and serve her community to the last days of her life. She will be deeply missed and her radiant spirit will continue to light our path as we do our best to honor her memory by serving the people as she did, with kindness, care and love.

Veronica 1.jpg
Culture & History


The Whale Stories


On a trip down memory lane, we found a wonderful book by Mildred Roberts and Don T. Roberts. It was first published in 2006 and tells two adaawx (true stories) of encounters with killer whales. Both stories demonstrate the spirit connection between human and killerwhales.


Below is a synopsis from the back of the book and an introduction to the stories within. The book is currently available only as a part a program for Kitsumkalum Language & Culture learners. For more information please contact Sharon Bryant at


Two Whales Cover.jpg
FunTastic Activities


Puzzle Me This!


Love an intriguing puzzle?

Well we've got the perfect one for you.

Not just any 'ol crossword puzzle.

This one is in Sm'algyax!

Are you up to it?

Click below for this fun

yet delightfully challenging puzzle created by


Ocean Georgelin



Top Secret



concealed within this newsletter.

Your mission, should you choose to accept it

is to put on your Sherlock hat and go find it!


In the box below are your pointers & clues:

(pointers tell you where to go, clues tell you where to find each letter)

There are 10 letters in the Secret Phrase.

When you combine them according to the

sequence below you'll uncover the phrase.


Submit your Secret Phrase and enter the

$100 Gift Card Draw!

Three winners will be drawn

from the pool of correct submissions.

Simply email your answer to 

by December 31 2020




01. Pointer -> You are what you read! Clue: Second letter in the name of this newsletter.

02. Pointer -> The whale is your friend! Clue: First letter of Mildred's grandfather's first name.

03. Pointer -> Get to know her! Clue: Fourth letter of the first name of one of the two NIFCS staff in this section

04. Pointer -> Yummy! Clue: First letter of how you prep carrots and celery for this dish

05. Pointer -> Fly like an eagle! Clue: Second letter in the names of both communities highlighted here

06. Pointer -> Speaking from one Heart! Clue: This letter appears 3 times in the Sm'algyax version of this name

07. Pointer -> Find a bee with a pen! Clue:  Fifth letter in the title of the team that produced this newsletter

08. Pointer -> A beacon of light for guidance!: Clue: This letter repeats 3 times in the title of this section

09. Pointer -> The name of the game!  Clue: First letter of the name of this game

10. Pointer -> Who's your best friend! Clue: Third letter in Veronica's favorite type of pet.



Relishous Recipes




More than just a recipe, you'll read about the history and cultural significance of this scrumptious dish. So first, let's go to the story, then the recipe! You in?

Harvesting Shellfish especially cockles and clams has been a very important ritual in our family ever since I was a little boy.  They are harvested in the late fall and through the winter into the very early spring.  We have our traditional areas within our territory that we go to and have been going to since the beginning of time. We harvest in areas that have been taught to us from our ancestors and we continuously pass down knowledge to our next generation to make sure that the harvesting practices are done properly and respectfully. 


We harvest and prepare the clams and cockles as a family unit making sure we have enough for the coming year and it really brings our family together and gives us good quality time working on what we love to preserve.  I always remember what my grandmother Marjie Hill taught me and her words were simple but powerful and it applies to all aspects of Harvesting as a Gitgaat person.  "Take what you need and Use what you take." 


These are words that I always remember and I practice this in all that I do.  If the world could understand this  and practice this we would be in a far better situation globally. Cockles and clams are very precious to the Gitgaat and its our job to look after them and in turn they look after us.

Story by Cam Hill

Recipe & Pics by Eva Hilll


Img 2.jpg


Img 1.jpg


4 cups chopped cockles or clams

1 med onion

1 cup flour

1 tbsp baking powder 

1 tsp salt

A little bit water

Shredded carrots 

Sliced celery


Mix together and fry in hot oil

Over the Horizon


Community Lighthouse


Lighthouse - Purpose, Structure, Utiliza

Currently two Lighthouses have been completed and three more are under construction and/or renovation. Construction is expected to begin for the remaining two in spring of 2021 and completion is expected in summer.

Home For

Youth Empowerment

Community Engagement

NIFCS Programs & Services

Lighthouse - Purpose, Structure, Utiliza
All Lighthouses.jpg
Wings of an Eagle


In this edition we are showcasing brief aerial videos of Kitimaat and Kitsumkalum. We plan to highlight more of such videos in each upcoming edition of this newsletter. Stay tuned! If you received this newsletter without subscribing (indirectly from someone besides NIFCS) and wish to receive a copy directly from us, please subscribe HERE

Health & Wellness


Coping with Covid


How are First Nations youth coping with the pandemic? First Nations Health Authority tell us how youth are coping and staying well during these challenging times. Hear from the youth themselves in a series of brief videos and read​ their pages to find out what they are doing to feel connected. 


Follow this LINK to learn more

Eating Healthy


More useful health advice from First Nations Health Authority. These guidelines are intended to support community members in educating each other about better food and drink choices in schools, meetings, homes, cultural and recreational events, and in restaurants. This resource contains information for various audiences including community members, and administrators.


Access this guide HERE 

Ideas & Suggestions




The success of a community is dependent on the success of each of its members.

Your ideas and suggestions are an important part for the betterment of community life.


We invite you to share your thoughts on

how we can improve the lives of community members as well as the services provided by NIFCS. Please click the link below to visit the AMA SIG̱OOTG (GOOD IDEAS) page to submit your proposal. While there, you can can also learn about the reward and recognition program for ideas that are successfully implemented.

BOD Message


Messages for You
From the NIFCS Board of Directors & Executive Director
BOD Pic Updated.jpg

Back row, left to right:  Rhonda Schulmeister, Denise Eshom, Marcia Spencer, Gerri Alexcee, Kathleen Bennett, Lloyd McDames, Keith Innes, Warren Nelson. Front row, left to right:  Shirley Bolan, Cynthia Bohn, Angela Green

Dear community members,

I hope you are all well, keeping safe as can be. This has been a very difficult year for most, however we pulled together the best we could considering the circumstances. I would like to wish you all a very Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Season’s Greetings and most of all very best wishes for a much better New Year. 


I would like to thank all the staff, board members and families for the continued hard work put into our communities. This newsletter will be a  wealth of information from all our communities and staff for us to know more about NIFCS and what is happening within the communities that NIFCS serves. And since you are here, I would like to invite you to learn more about NIFCS, our programs and services, by simply clicking on this LINK to access our Home Page 


NIFCS has a lot to look forward to in the New Year within each community, I look forward to hearing all about it through the newsletter throughout the year.  Please continue to take care, and let’s be gentle with each other.


Marcia Spencer

Board President

ET Message


Dear Readers,

The Editorial Team would like to thank and congratulate our intrepid group of contributors for this inaugural edition of the Malsgm Sa'winsk! 

We realize that this is simply the first step in a long journey to bring our readers information that matters in an engaging, inspiring and entertaining way. We welcome any ideas and suggestions that you may have to help us continuously improve the quality and content of this newsletter. It is after all your newsletter!

The contributors for the Winter Edition of the Malsgm Sa'winsk are:

  • Colin Angus

  • Vanessa Lynn-Fisher

  • Katherine Sankey

  • Britt McDougall

  • Emily Bryant

  • Cam & Eva Hill

Our sincere thanks to all of you for your untiring work to source or write material that engages the readers' heart, mind and spirit. This is especially challenging given the restrictions that are in place due to the pandemic. Regardless, you have outdone yourself!

We would like to also thank you, our reader, for subscribing to the newsletter (if you have not, click HERE to subscribe) and for supporting this publication. Please share it with your family and friends. We have exciting content in the works for the next edition, with more fun contests, awesome giveaways and useful information! 


With that, we'd like to wish you Happy Holidays and a very merry Christmas. Have a wonderful 2021! May it be light-years of goodness away from the historic challenges that this year has given us. Stay safe, stay happy!  

The Editorial Team

Rachel Hewer - Sharon Bryant - Mamie Lawson - Kristen McKay - Armaan Ratra - Sean Segran 




  1. Metlakatla:  Patricia Leighton

  2. Kitkatla:  Lillian Aster

  3. Kitamaat:  Tara Paul

  4. Hartley Bay:  Havana Jae Fisher

  5. Kitselas:  Rosemary Stelmachuk

  6. Kitsumkalum:  Troy Sam

  7. Lax Kw’alaams:  Sharon Wesley

  8. Urban Region: Michelle Lewis

We will contact you this week for instructions to send out the gift cards.

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