The WLC is pleased to welcome David Dick to the team!

Learn more about David Dick and how he will help fulfill the W̱SÁNEĆ Leadership Council’s mandate. Click play to view the short interview, or read the transcript below.


My name is David Dick. Also known as SUMÉ,t I’m from the Songhees first nation. My father is Baptiste (Skip) Dick- LEXIXELEK  from Songhees. My mom is Linda Dick. She is of Swiss Norwegian descent.  I have four other siblings and I have three daughters and a son and three grandchildren.

Interviewer: Would you be able to tell us a little bit about your professional background ?

David: I was working with Pauquachin First Nation for a year where I set up a Marine Department,  starting from scratch. We started a Pauquachin Marine officer program. And then prior to that, I was working with the federal government for just about 12 years working with Gulf Islands National Park Reserve, working in the cultural resource management section, and then the First Nations section. And so with the CRM section — acronym, sorry — part of the federal government lingo.  It was a combination of looking after archeology sites or culturally sensitive sites, cultural heritage sites, newcomers sites, and cultural landscapes. And then with the First Nation’s department, it was having talks with the First Nations that have interests within the Gulf Islands National Park Reserve. Then, prior to that, with my education background, I have a Bachelor of Arts with a Major with First Nations Studies, a Certificate in Indigenous Governance and Leadership and a diploma in Cultural Resource Management.

Interviewer: Can you tell us what your role and title is at the WLC? What are you going to be doing here?

David: My title is right now is the Southern resident killer whale, senior manager. And before I go into discussing like what my role is, I need to share a quote that was, shared by an elder from Tsartlip. And I got this piece of paper, so don’t mind me when I  look down on it. Tom Samson,  the elder from Tsartlip was, in front of the energy board at the TMX hearing and he said the following, he sang a grieving song too at this meeting that was passed on to him from his grandmother and offered it to Tahlequah and her baby.

For those of you who don’t know who it is, Tahlequah, that’s one of the killer whales that’s been famous all over the news where she carried her dead calf around for 17 days. And what he said, and this is a part that this part of the quote that he said to them, it really stuck to me when I first heard it and I’ll just read it and then we’ll go from there. He said, he concluded by showing a photo of Tahlequah, of a mother whale clinging to a dead calf, saying

“The whale is just not a whale. This is our child. This is our relative. Even though in English, they say she is a killer whale. She is not, she is a mother and she cried for her child because it needed to show the world that something is wrong –  with what we are doing as people –  it is not about politics. It is about who we are in our relationship with the ocean and the land that we live in.”

And so that really stuck to me about what he said. And at that time I was working with the Gulf Islands National Park Reserve. So how has this come about to what I’m doing now? The last few years the W̱SÁNEĆ Leadership Council began working with Parks Canada Gulf Islands National Park Reserve at the time. That’s when I was working with them to establish the first nation-led conservation program, which supports the conservation of the Southern resident killer whale within and near the Gulf Islands National Park Reserve.

We, as First Nations people share a common goal in wanting to protect and monitor the Southern resident killer whales. I know I’m getting into the details by leading up to what my work is going to be, but the Southern resident killer whales are listed as an endangered species with a known population of 75 killer whales to date. And so for part of my role, when I had this opportunity, I applied for this position with W̱SÁNEĆ Leadership Council because it’s really important. And two, I want to continue working for our people. And it was really important that I do what I could to, I guess, be the successful candidate, as you know, as I am today, to have this opportunity to work with our people. And part of my job with this in the first four in our first years to, we would like to purchase a boat, like a landing craft that suitable for us to conduct monitoring and research activities required for conservation of the SRKW. The other part is recruitment and training for staff like myself and, in a little while,  looking to hire three on-water guardians and then three, we want to establish a community education outreach activities about the SRKW whether it’s through displays or on water education, or looking at how we can help with their food supply.

One of their major food supplies is Chinook, which is, um, really hard for them,  that there’s a really limited supply. So, and then lastly, I’m looking to establish a working group consisting of a few elders from the three us W̱SÁNEĆ communities, a couple of language people and technical workers, and have discussions about the SRKW to restoring our relationship with the Southern resident killer whales. So I know that was quite a bit that I shared, that I didn’t get to your point right away, but it was really important for me to share that quote from, from our elder Tom Samson. And I apologize for not knowing his SENĆOŦEN name.

Interviewer: in terms of the ideal outcome of the work that you’re going to be doing, what would you like to see happen as a result of your work? Because you’re going to be here for a couple of years, right?


Yeah. I’m on a contract for four years or three or four years. Um, it’s, it’s basically what we’re going to be setting up a guardian program and doing the things that I’ve already shared. Some of the other things I want to see us do with part of our program is to work with organizations like working with the Goldstream volunteer group, where they do fin clipping and counting of fish or salmon that go up the Goldstream river, and look at other ways for restoring the food for the Southern resident killer whale and work with other First Nations groups in our territory. And also, the federal government agencies, you know, we can’t do it all ourselves. It has to be a whole group,  helping out with the Southern resident killer whales, because the, you know, it’s just not one, one group that can solve the problem is going to be everybody.

And so overall, I would like to see guardian programs established in all W̱SÁNEĆ nations, all four of them. Pauquachin, which is already doing it. Um, and I hope that our other three, Tsartlip, Tsawout, I believe Tseycum is working on something right now. And it would be good to see all four nations on the water doing monitoring of everything from the Southern resident killer whales to, fish habitat and so on and so on. So it’s just about, it’s about making our presence on the water and showing who we are as W̱SÁNEĆ people. And so that kind of answers your question… Yes and no, I guess in a way, but for me, it’s about for us having presence in the Salish Sea because we’re water people.

Interviewer: when you’re not at work, what do you do in your non-work time?

David: right now is walking our family dog at 5:00 AM in the morning, and then just doing yard work and spending time with our grandkids. When we see them, they, we usually see them a couple of times a week and then visiting with my mom and dad when I get an opportunity to, so it’s right now, like everybody in the pandemic it’s really taking it really easy. And for me, it’s, it’s just about being outdoors. I just, I love being outdoors.

Interviewer:  Is there anything else that you’d like to share?

Just lastly, that I’m really excited to be working with our W̱SÁNEĆ Leadership Council. And for me, it’s kind of coming full circle because my dad’s mom – late mom, Lila Paul is from Tsartlip and that’s where our office is located. And so for me, it’s about reconnecting with my roots. And so I’m really excited to be working with the leadership council and hoping to reconnect with some of my family that haven’t been able to connect with in a while or lately. And so it’s a little bit extra special for me. And so I’m just really grateful to have this opportunity to work with W̱SÁNEĆ leadership council and also be working, I guess, in a sense my home territory and that from my dad’s mom’s side of the family. So again, HÍ,SW̱ḴE SIÁM

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