Garden Treasures is the perfect family outing

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

Have you been desperately wanting to have a family outing to enjoy the summer weather, but want to stay close to home and not break the bank? Well, a trip to Garden Treasures to harvest from a variety of nutritious food, grown locally may be the ideal destination. This organic u-pick farm is located just over 20 minutes from the heart of the Tulalip Reservation. Conveniently located off exit 208, Garden Treasurers offers an everyday farmers market and garden center filled with fresh food.

Taking the family on a farm excursion to pick produce allows children to gain a sense of where their food comes from, demonstrates the satisfaction of seeing how seeds grow into fresh produce that nourish their body, and is a fun way to spend a summer day together.

“I really enjoy having elders and kids visit the farm,” said farm regular, Tulalip elder Dale Jones. “They have big smiles on their faces while enjoying the opportunity to be out in the farm and eat the fresh foods. The kids can see how the food grows and they learn how it’s better for them than fast food and candy. Too many of our people our battling diabetes and obesity because they learned bad eating habits as kids. Making fruits and vegetables a priority at a young age can really make a lifetime’s worth of impact.”

Spending time outdoors while wandering the vast berry fields and green houses at Garden Treasurers is an opportunity to get back to nature, both physically and spiritually. Their seasonal u-pick garden is currently filled with an assortment of flowers, perfectly ripe raspberries and strawberries, and a variety of vegetables, like bell peppers, cucumbers, zucchini and onions. They don’t use any synthetic chemicals or fertilizers, so your u-pick experience is safe, clean, and all-natural.

Tulalip tribal members, their families, patients of the Tulalip Health Clinic, and Tulalip employees were encouraged to take full advantage of a unique partnership between Garden Treasures and Tulalip’s own award-winning Diabetes Care and Prevention Program. From 10am to 4pm on July 13th, the Tulalip community turned out in droves to visit the farm, enjoy a healthy bite to eat, and receive a tour by Diabetes Care staff. Most importantly, each visiting household was allowed to pick $30 worth of nutritious produce.

Unlike overly priced grocery stores and organic shops, $30 worth of fruits and vegetables at Garden Treasures goes a long way. You can easily pick an assortment of sweet and spicy peppers, enough raspberries for the kids to snack on for days, some herbs to season up your favorite meals, and make a flower bouquet with the $30 credit. Numerous Tulalip citizens did just that, and for many it was their first time ever picking veggies. 

Donna and Jim Furchert brought their daughters, Joy and Patience, to Garden Treasures and came away with quite the colorful harvest. “We’ve never picked fresh fruit or fresh veggies before, so I wanted us to experience this as a family,” explained Donna. “We’re going to incorporate everything we picked into our dinners over the next few days.”

Six-year-old Patience said she liked digging for peppers the most and was super excited to stumble upon the strawberry patch. She was seen devouring the bright red, heart-shaped berry straight off the bush at every opportunity.

Michelle Martin was another first timer to the Arlington farm. She brought her three young boys Anthony, Brayden and Caiden on an afternoon outing with their grandma and grandpa. “It’s our first time out here and we absolutely love it!” said Michelle while perusing the fields. “Never knew we had a u-pick farm this close to the reservation. This seems like an ideal way to get fresh veggies and fruit. My boys love fruits and were excited to run around the farm to pick their own berries.”

When 5-year-old Anthony and 3-year-old Brayden were told they could pick out some flowers to make their mom a bouquet, they quickly scoured the spacious flower gardens for a colorful bounty.  

For a Tulalip community desiring to eat healthier in order to escape the processed food and refined sugar wasteland, Garden Treasurers is an oasis offering a variety of essential nutrients and vitamins that can make everyday meals more nutritious. Those who eat more fruits and vegetables as part of an overall healthy diet are likely to have a reduced risk of chronic diseases and a better immune system. Plus, eating fresh produce will make you feel better and have more energy to take on every day challenges of the 21st century. 

In addition to all the health benefits is the wisdom and positive encouragement the dedicated Diabetes Care and Prevention Program staff had to offer to those visiting the farm. They were willing to assist in produce selections, answer any questions, and offer advice about healthy meal making and dietary requirements for those managing diabetes.  

“I am getting to an age in life when it’s important to pass down knowledge and share my gifts with others, especially the younger generation,” explained Roni Leahy, Diabetes Program coordinator. “I love being with the people and listening to them talk about their experiences in the garden or the kids discovering how the plants they eat grow. It is such a precious opportunity to talk about the plants and how important they are in health of our bodies. This truly is prevention of diabetes and other chronic diseases.”

“My favorite part is seeing the community members and their families out at the farm enjoying the vegetables and knowing they are going to go home and prepare a meal they will all remember and enjoy,” added Brooke Morrison, Diabetes Program assistant.

 Visiting Gardening Treasures u-pick farm to harvest the freshest foods can boost your family’s health without creating a dent in your wallet. Bringing the kids can only help them create a lasting relationship with their nature world, while planting seeds of curiosity and excitement for eating a variety of clean food, grown locally. Maybe even, this will be the inspiration your family needs to plant a garden at home.

During the summer months, the farm offers some of the best fresh produce around. Try and grow a diverse palette of seasonal products for a single meal, or stock up the pantry for winter. The next few weeks are the perfect time to find sweet strawberries, delicious raspberries and other garden-fresh produce at your local, organic u-pick farm.

Leah’s Dream Foundation hosts 7th Annual Golf Tournament, raises $35,500

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News

It was clear skies, 80-degree weather with an occasional breeze, on the afternoon of July 17. A perfect summer day to spend outdoors, and for golfers specifically, a great day to hit the links. The scenery at the Battle Creek Golf Course was remarkably gorgeous, with tall evergreens lining the fairways. 

Just a day prior, young Leah Stacy took a journey through the course with her family, posting-up signs that read either the name of a local business, individual or family who signed-on to be a sponsor for the 7th annual Golf Tournament hosted by none other than Leah’s Dream Foundation. 

“We really believe in inclusion,” said Leah’s mother and Founder of Leah’s Dream, Deanna Sheldon. “My daughter has apraxia so she doesn’t speak very well. She has very slow speech and her speech is often combined together so you can’t really understand what she’s saying. A lot of [people] overlook that and put a lot of judgements and biases on her. But once they see past the fact that she has apraxia and she does have autism, they see she’s this beautiful little girl who is just radiant and wants to be loved and accepted. It opens up their eyes because we do live in a labeled-world, but we have to embrace each other for everyone’s abilities and hopefully one day all that other stuff will be eliminated.”

After putting the sponsorship signs throughout the Battle Creek course, Leah shared a video to the non-profit’s Facebook account; a cute message to everyone participating in the event stating, “Thank you for playing and sponsoring,” while she wore a huge smile.

While advocating for inclusion, promoting awareness about autism and raising funds to support the local special needs community, 30 teams of four, 120 golfers total, drove, chipped and putted the 18-hole course that Saturday afternoon. Participants also had the chance to take-part in a 50/50 raffle, as well as try their hand at a number of fun mini-challenges at certain holes throughout the day.  

Cheers, oohs and ahhs, could be heard at any given green during the event. The tournament was open to all ages and skill level. While Tulalip Board of Director Mel Sheldon and Leah’s grandpa, Ray Sheldon Jr., made impressive long putts on a Par 3, a golfing family of four, JT and Dinesha Kane, and their kiddos Brodie and Braiden, were on the opposite green visibly and audibly excited about how close they each shot their ball to the pin. And shortly after that, Tulalip BOD, Misty Napeahi shot a birdie at the same Par 3 that Ray and Mel had good luck at as well. 

“My husband is the head pro here,” said Deanna, “And Leah’s so funny, we call her the ‘Queen of the Creek’ because she loves Battle Creek. This is our 7th year doing the golf tournament. Our first year we had about half as many players, not very many sponsors and each year it has grown. This year, we finally had a full 30 teams, 120 players, 45-50 sponsors. This is our one and only fundraiser and we want people to have fun and to come back next year. Everything that we raise goes right back into our community.”

Founded in 2015, Leah’s Dream has become well-known in the Tulalip and Marysville communities. The charitable foundation is dedicated to empowering children and young adults diagnosed with autism. By hosting events and get-togethers for the local youth living with disabilities and their families, the organization provides a safe space where the kids can simply be themselves and build friendships within the special needs community. 

“We started Leah’s Dream because all of us, the three sisters, have children on the spectrum. We started out family-focused, but we really wanted to branch out and help our community and raise awareness,” Deanna explained. “A lot of children don’t feel like they can be themselves in a neurotypical setting, but they are usually comfortable and eager to go to our events because they know this is their family, this is their friends, this is the community. Ultimately, the goal is to build-up and bring-up a community and have this sense of awareness and unity. It’s a chance for parents who wouldn’t generally see each other to get to know each other better.”

Leah’s Dream Foundation Board Member, Amy Sheldon added, “We hold events usually at one of the high schools in town and all the families through the Marysville School District (MSD) can come and bring their kids and it’s all free. They get free food, we do tons of arts and crafts and open-mic signing. For Christmas, we have Santa come to give-out gifts. We usually do those events every couple of months because the kids look forward to it.”

Unfortunately, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the bi-monthly gatherings have been put on a temporary hiatus. Amy, who is also a MSD Special Needs Liaison, said she still speaks to many of the kids who regularly attended the Leah’s Dream Foundation events and they constantly ask her, ‘when’s the next Leah’s party?’ Reassuring the community, she was quick to answer that question stating, “We just need approval for a facility to have it. Once we can get that, we will have our next party.” 

Although they can no longer hold their in-person events, Leah’s Dream continues to find ways to promote awareness and inclusion, namely by distributing gift bags and activity kits filled with sensory items and toys to those MSD students and local youth living with special needs. 

The funds for all the events, activities, gift bags and sensory kits are made possible by the annual golf tournament. And since the events are canceled for the time being, the foundation used last year’s donation to purchase a new reading curriculum for Marysville Pilchuck High School, as well as many items off a ‘wish list’ put together by the school district’s occupational therapists and speech therapists, helping students who are on the spectrum at schools such as the Betty J. Taylor Early Learning Academy and Kellogg-Marsh Elementary.

Deanna and Amy explained that typically, after the tournament, the foundation holds a silent auction. However, due to COVID, the foundation wanted to focus all their efforts on hosting a safe tournament this year and decided to hold the silent auction on a date yet-to-be-announced, possibly as early as this upcoming November. 

For more information, be sure to like and follow the Leah’s Dream Foundation Facebook page and check out their website at LeahsDream.org 

After a busy weekend Leah and her mom shared two more updates via the foundation’s Facebook. The first informed everybody that they surpassed this year’s goal, raising approximately $35,500. The second was a short video clip of Leah posing next to one of the sponsor signs while making a heart-shape with her hands and saying “I love you” to everyone who had a hand in making the fundraiser a success, and of course to all of her friends and family in the local special needs community – everyone who is a part of Leah’s Dream. 

High On Life: Tommy Chong brings iconic humor to Tulalip Remedy

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

On Saturday, July 10, Grammy Award winning comedian Tommy Chong graced Tulalip’s retail cannabis shop with his legendary presence. Best known as part of the iconic comedy duo Cheech & Chong, the now 83-year-old Chong is enjoying his twilight years as a patron saint within the country’s largely decriminalized and ever-growing pot industry. 

“What does cannabis mean to me? Well, for starters my career as an entertainer has spanned 50 years now and it’s all thanks to this amazing green plant,” marveled Chong in his trademark gritty voice. “When I sit back and reflect on my life, there are so many moments I’m still am in awe of. From writing and directing movies to making music to making millions of people laugh around the world…and doing it all while high, man. It’s unbelievable.”

His enthusiasm and pure joy was shared by lucky Remedy customers whose names were entered and pulled in a weeks’ long raffle to meet the cannabis icon. Adoring fans, the VIP meet and greet winners showed up with their valuable Cheech & Chong collector’s items with the intention of getting Chong’s authenticating signature. Even more valuable than his signature was the opportunity to embrace Chong like that world’s coolest grandpa and express how much he meant to them. 

“It’s crazy because never did I think I’d be in this kind of situation to meet someone of Chong’s status in the stoner industry. It’s surreal being able to hang out with him and talk about a subject we’re both super passionate about,” said Tulalip tribal member Carmen Miller. In his possession was an original 1973 Cheech & Chong album with accompanying rolling paper that Chong himself was stunned to see again.

“I grew up watching all his movies. Up In Smoke is an all-time classic and as a teenager I couldn’t watch it enough. Some might say those experiences led me to being nominated as ‘Stoner of the Year’ in high school,” joked Billy Burchett while sporting a super limited scratch and sniff Up In Smoke vinyl. As for the particular scent of the scratch and sniff vinyl? “Cannabi for men,” he said.

Within the smoke-filled world, Chong’s green haze aura still reigns supreme, even after five decades. If anything time has made his counter-culture legend grow bigger. When one loyal fan produced a limited edition Cheech & Chong bong with his likeness on it, the grey haired toker commented on how ironic the moment was. Back in 2003, Chong was sentenced to nine months in a federal prison after pleading guilty to one count of conspiracy to distribute drug paraphernalia. He was part of the financing and promotion of his son’s business, Chong Glass, which sold handmade glass water pipes or bongs. Now in 2021, it’s legal for companies to mass produce bongs. How quickly times change.

“It’s always been a medicine to the people, but the legislators chose to demonize because they couldn’t profit off it like your typical pharmaceuticals. We’ve come a long way and I’m thrilled to see it being used to treat so many common ailments today.” 

“It’s not that public perception has changed when it comes to wide-spread acceptance of cannabis use, it’s the public officials, police, and the judicial system that have changed. If the public didn’t accept marijuana in the 60s and 70s, Cheech & Chong wouldn’t exist,” reflected Chong. “It’s always been a medicine to the people, but the legislators chose to demonize because they couldn’t profit off it like your typical pharmaceuticals. We’ve come a long way and I’m thrilled to see it being used to treat so many common ailments today. However, it’s only when they fully legalize it federally that we can say the war on drugs is finally over.” 

It’s been nine years since Washington State voters passed Initiative Measure 502, legalizing the use of recreational marijuana for people 21+. Shortly thereafter, the Board of Directors opted to decriminalize marijuana on the Tulalip Reservation. Then the Tribe became one of the first in the nation to open a retail cannabis store, Remedy, in August 2018. Remedy has thrived under the Quil Ceda Village enterprise and guidance of store manager Jennifer Ashman. 

Balancing traditional values with the realities of the 21st century means embracing a changing culture that views marijuana and cannabinoids as natural medicines, especially when compared to prescription pharmaceuticals that have countless side-effects and potentially lethal health warnings.

Remedy’s success has led Tulalip leadership to think much bigger and bolder when it comes to the business side of cannabis.

“Bottom line the Remedy model is profitable and the tax generated from cannabis sales stays within the Tribe and QCV to benefit our community via support services and programs,” explained Martin Napeahi, Quil Ceda Village general manager. “Our vision is to open another cannabis dispensary on Marine Drive, across the street from the new Quil Ceda Creek Casino. Also, it’s only logical that we have our own grow operation and processing facility to become vertically integrated. To be able to sell directly into the 502 market and our own stores means more profits and more job opportunities for our people.”

Like Chong declared during his Remedy special guest appearance, “All thanks to this amazing green plant. Crazy, man.”

Family Spirit: Evidence-based, home-visit program developed for Natives by Natives

Sasha Smith, Family Haven  Family and Youth Support Coordinator.

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News

To spread the word about their new program, Family Spirit, Tulalip Family Haven held a giveaway last month, raffling off fun summertime prizes such as sidewalk chalk, a Radio Flyer Wagon and bubble wands for young kiddos and their families. Participants were entered into the raffle simply by calling-in and inquiring about the program and hearing how Family Spirit can assist them along their parenting journey.

Geared toward tribal members who are either moms-to-be, expectant fathers, grandparents or caregivers of a Tulalip child under the age of three, the program is a resource that families can utilize during the early years of their kid’s childhood, to help establish a strong foundation for both the child and parent as they grow together.  

Although Family Spirit is new to the community of Tulalip, the program has actually helped thousands of tribal families across the country since the early nineties. Developed by the John Hopkins Center for American Indian Health, Family Spirit is a home-visiting program that was designed for Natives by Natives, who unfortunately knew all too well about the struggles that many Indigenous families face, largely due to a lack of resources and support for first-time parents and families raising young children.

Sasha Smith, Family Haven’s Family and Youth Support Coordinator, explained, “Family Spirit has been really successful in other tribal communities. It’s evidence-based and the information is culturally relevant, and we really try to intertwine our Tulalip culture and what those experiences look like for us. We talk about historical trauma to get a better understanding of why parents parent the way we do.”

Addressing future participants of Family Spirit, Sasha continued, “Your first meeting would be an opportunity for us to get to know you, what stage of parenting you’re in, a little bit about your hopes and dreams and what parenting looks like for you. And depending on where you are at, we’ll go from there.”

The program’s area of focus surrounds having a safe and healthy pregnancy and subsequently, raising a healthy and happy baby by teaching parents about childbirth, newborn care, and early childhood development. The participants design a personalized parenting plan and Family Spirit provides any necessary and available resources, as well as modern and traditional teachings in regards to parenting. Most importantly they offer their support, helping empower young parents by giving them the tools to ensure their child has everything they need to embark on a bright future.

  “We have lessons that we go by, but if you don’t want to talk about a certain topic right away, we can form it to the way you need it to be,” Sasha stated. “If you don’t want to talk about labor and delivery, we can talk about getting the home ready and what a safe home looks like to bring home baby. Or we can do goalsetting for a healthy family. And at the beginning and the ending of each meeting that we have, we’ll do referrals. So, if they need to get on WIC or they need to contact housing, whatever it is, we can check up on that – just making sure we share those resources with them.”

Along with helping their clients with all their children’s needs, Family Spirit also assists parents by making sure they’re on track to meet their personal life goals, providing referrals for job training, or helping them through the process of beginning or continuing their academic career, and even routinely checking-in with a parent who is in recovery.

Ideally, in a COVID-free world, the Family Spirit paraprofessional (i.e. Sasha) would pay a weekly visit to the client’s home in order to conduct lessons or provide services, for as long as the parent or family requested or until the child reached the age of three. However, since the virus is still present, Sasha explained that for the time being they are willing to make adjustments so that parents, caregivers and families are comfortable when participating in the program. 

“We’ll meet the client wherever they want,” she said. “Primarily we are an in-home service, but it all depends on the comfort level of the parent. We can do Zoom, we can meet in-person at my office, or we can find a place where they’re most comfortable. The kids can be included or not included. It’s really just trying to meet them where they’re at, building that personal connection and learning what they need to grow as a parent.”

To learn more about Family Spirit, please contact Family Haven at (360) 716-4402.

Roy Robinson Subaru donates $16,200 to Tulalip Foundation

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News

“We’ve been in Tulalip and the Marysville area for almost 50 years now,” said Robb McCalmon, Roy Robinson Subaru General Manager. “We have a very good relationship with the Tribe and it’s important for us to give back to our community. They’re the reason why we’re here and why we get to stay here.” 

A giant check amounting in $16,200 was presented to the Tulalip Foundation on a warm summer afternoon in late June. Each winter, Subaru dealerships around the country take part in a holiday seasonal event known as Share the Love. A donation is made each time a vehicle is sold during the two-month promotion. The buyer selects where they would like the donation to go, either the National Park Foundation, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), Meals on Wheels, the Make-A-Wish Foundation or a local hometown charity handpicked by the respective dealership. To date, the Share the Love event has raised over $200 million for the four foundations and made donations to over 1,440 hometown charities, including the Tulalip Foundation. 

“This is our third year being the hometown charity for Roy Robinson,” exclaimed Tulalip Foundation Executive Director, Nicole Sieminski. “They were nice enough to choose us and they could’ve chose anyone.”

The donation is dispersed in $5,000 increments through grants to help fund local programs and community events. Nicole explained that after Roy Robinson’s first donation in 2018, the Share the Love event contributed to the Tulalip Tribe’s Natural Resources summertime youth Mountain and Fish camps, the suicide prevention Warrior Walk held at Tulalip, The Tulalip Restoration Program’s Planting project, and Leah’s Dream Foundation’s Christmas program. And thanks to the 2019 Share the Love donation, two grants were awarded, one to the beda?chelh Sponsor-A-Child Christmas event and the other to the Healing to Wellness Court’s incentive program.  

Rochelle Lubbers, the Tulalip Foundation’s Secretary, expressed excitement during the check presentation, stating that this year’s donation will result in at least three $5,000 ‘mini-grants’. The Tulalip Foundation is a non-profit organization dedicated to empowering the wellbeing of the Tulalip reservation and the surrounding communities. Since 2007, the Foundation has worked with numerous programs to create a brighter future for the Tribe, founded on three important values: education, justice and culture.

  Over the years, the Tulalip Foundation has awarded several grants to a number of programs based on those three values including the Betty J. Taylor Early Learning Academy and the Tulalip TERO Vocational Training Center for education; the Tulalip Office of Civil Legal Aid (TOCLA), the Healing to Wellness Court and the Criminal Conflict Counsel program for justice; and the Hibulb Cultural Center for culture. The Foundation also hosts a number of their own fundraising events throughout each year such as the Hibulb Cultural Center Salmon Bake and the Tulalip Foundation Giving Tuesday event. 

Although the funds from this year’s generous donation by the Roy Robinson dealership have yet to be decided, the Tulalip Foundation is excited just thinking about the possibilities the Share the Love event will help support in the near future.

Patti Gobin, the Tulalip Foundation Vice-Chairwoman expressed, “This is such a great thing because the Tulalip Tribes only has so much within their budget to spread throughout the Tribe to meet the community’s needs. This helps in areas that mean a lot to our community members, some of them are grassroots and trying to get things started. I think it’s a wonderful opportunity for those programs and the Tulalip Foundation is honored to be the vehicle.” 

For more information, please contact the Tulalip Foundation at (360) 716-5400.  

Tulalip transitional units near completion

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

In early May, tribal council officially broke ground on what was dubbed ‘emergency transitional living units. In the process they began a long requested service that will benefit Tulalip’s membership. It’s been two months since that ground breaking and the first of several planned sites intended to prevent homelessness is nearing completion. 

Located across the street from Tulalip Bay fire department, the inaugural site consists of five units that will be fully furnished when complete. Essential amenities include a bath tub with shower, kitchenette and washer and dryer. The living space is compact (240 square feet) and meant for emergency purposes and short term living only. 

“These transition units will be a blessing for our community,” stated Chief Operating Officer Wendy Fryberg. “We recognize that our people sometimes have transition requirements, and homelessness should not be a concern for our members who have find themselves in such challenging circumstances.

“We anticipate as soon as these units are complete we will find a location to build more,” she added. “These units are designed to assist tribal members to live independently on a short-term basis while they create relationships with various programs. Those programs will become their stepping stone, providing resources needed for long-term solutions in the prevention of homelessness.”

In addition to providing a sense of stability for families who will use the transitional units as a stepping stone to independent living, each unit will provide crucial comforts like water and sewer utilities, electricity, and the ability to have cable or a Wi-Fi connection.

Rent will be $300 per month to cover the water, sewer and Public Utility District (PUD) costs. There will be more information coming out about the policy, eligibility, and application process for Tulalip membership interested in temporarily residing in one of these transitional units.

By contrast, the Tulalip Tribes homeless shelter utilizes shared utilities, including a shared kitchen area. Many of the region’s tiny home villages that have become more and more common also lack running water and cooking facilities. 

“This is our first project of this type. Yes, we have the homeless shelter, but these units have their own bathroom and kitchenette,” explained Vice-Chairman Glen Gobin. “These transitional units will provide a foundation for tribal members to build upon and carry on in a good way. We pray this will be a success for individuals and families who find themselves in such circumstances. This project is intended to assist and help them build a good positive foundation and move forward in that good way.”

Tulalip’s committed construction team has been diligently putting in the necessary work for what is sure to be a game changer in our community. During the recent record-breaking heat wave, construction superintendent Bob Lapham was on-site for each unit’s roof completion. According to Bob the builder, his crew is well coordinated and excited to be working on such a meaningful project. For such a compact size, the units have a large bathroom setup and living quarters with all the necessities, plus they’ll be nice took at both inside and out, he said. 

C.O.O. Wendy Fryberg wants the community to know these initial transitional units are on schedule and expected to be complete by July 31st.  The procedures and application process will be announced soon. Stay tuned.

Cannabis supports war on COVID

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

Seems like only yesterday both federal and state governments were raging the war on drugs. Now in a stunning turn of events, marijuana, the long hyped ‘gateway drug’, is being strategically used in a war against COVID.

Washington State’s Liquor and Cannabis Board announced earlier this month it would allow state-licensed cannabis retailers to provide one joint to adult consumers who receive COVID-19 vaccination at an in-store clinic. The weed-friendly program is the latest vaccination incentive in Washington, where an impressive 73.1% of all adults are already vaccinated, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). 

When word reached Tulalip’s own Jennifer Ashman, manager of the Tribe’s cannabis store Remedy, she immediately contacted Tulalip Pharmacy staff to coordinate a Joints for Jabs event. It didn’t take long to work out the details and send out promotional materials to Remedy’s dedicated fan base. 

“We were fortunate that Tulalip declared our retail shop and employees as essential early on in the pandemic,” explained Jennifer, cannabis enthusiast and Remedy manager. “This is a poetic opportunity for us to not only give back, but to incentivize efforts to create a more vaccinated community. Plus, it’s truly a historic occasion being able to give out free cannabis. Who doesn’t love that idea?!”

On Tuesday, June 22, a red medical tent was setup outside Remedy where diligent Pharmacy staff awaited with both scheduled appointments and casual walk-ins who were eager for the sense of relief that typically accompanies the vaccine. 

“I’ve been wanting to get vaccinated, but it never worked out with my hectic work schedule,” shared 24-year-old Bayley King after participating in Joints for Jabs. “When I found out about this event I was excited because it was on my day off and the process of making an appointment was so simple. Getting my shot means returning back to normal and regaining my freedom.”

With roughly 200,000 small businesses forced to shut their doors forever as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, it’s quite the unanticipated accomplishment that retail cannabis shops like Remedy continue to thrive. Industry-wide cannabis sales continue to soar as a result of society doing its best to cope with the uncertain times brought on by COVID and the residual aftereffects of isolation, social distancing, and incessant mask wearing.

Remedy has benefited from an influx of new customers as it’s stellar reputation for customer service and product knowledge has spread via word of mouth advertising. While some cannabis enthusiasts look to relieve every day ailments associated with aches and pains, others desire to elevate their mental state in an effort to calm their nerves, diminish anxiety and lower tensions brought on by the new normal. 

“It’s a real stressful time right now and being able to just relax is a real luxury,” said Remedy regular and Marysville resident Michelle Moe after receiving her single dose vaccination. “Cannabis helps with pain and anxiety and depression, it’s an all-in-one therapeutic really.

“I’ve put off getting vaccinated for a long time now because I was really nervous about it. Ideas like if there’s been enough research or has it really been proven to be safe made me hesitant,” she added. “But at this point so many of my friends and family are vaccinated and doing just fine. Figured that was good enough for me to make this decision now and add the additional protection for myself and those I’m around socially by getting vaccinated. I’m definitely feeling a new sense of freedom already. Just in time for 4th of July celebrations.”

Participation in Remedy’s Jabs for Joints event reached the double digits. Although not allowed to spark up their free pre-rolled joint while getting vaccinated, one participant was witnessed lighting up that complimentary melon-flavored Stinger in his car. Imagine this community oriented citizen thinking to himself, “Merica! Boosting the vaccination rate one puff at a time.”

What a time to be alive.

It’s lit: Boom City 2021 is here

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News

Rows upon rows of brightly-painted and uniquely named firework stands are now open for business at Boom City. The pyrotechnic mecca of Snohomish county, and arguably the state, has returned to the gravel lot located directly behind the Tulalip Resort Casino for the holiday season. When you think of Independence Day, you think of fireworks. And when you think of fireworks, you think of Boom City, at least for those who grew up at Tulalip or nearby communities.

Every summer, for the past forty some-odd years, vendors have set-up shop at Boom City, selling a large variety of fireworks that are not available for purchase off-rez. People travel from all around Washington hoping to score a good deal on their favorite cakes, firecrackers, bottle rockets, sparklers, Roman candles, fountains, smoke bombs, pop-it’s, among many other exuberant explosives. 

“I’ve been doing this since 1976,” said stand owner and Tulalip tribal member, Louie Pablo Jr. “We started by buying our fireworks out of Lummi, out of a fireworks stand, and we’d sell them at the end our driveway. That was back in ‘75 when I was still in high school. The following year there were so many people doing that, they opened up Boom City. There were nineteen stands and we were one of them. I have customers that have been coming to see me for 44 years. To have clientele like that, that’s what Boom City is about.” 

This year, as a result of the worldwide pandemic, there is a nationwide shortage on fireworks as manufacturers from overseas are facing a number of challenges exporting their goods. If you are an explosion enthusiast, vendors are urging you to visit Boom City sooner than later for all your Fourth of July needs, before they are all gone. 

Louie explained, “The fireworks are at a limitation this year, you only get so much per stand. If you go to the wholesalers, they’re only going to give you a case, maybe two. It’s all because of the shipment. The containers coming-in are getting pushed back because they are putting Costco, and all the other stores, all that stuff that gets shipped-in from out-of-country, that goes out first. The fireworks got pushed back. That’s why there’s a shortage.”

One might wonder why the sale of certain fireworks are illegal and not offered on the non-Native marketplace and the answer is tribal sovereignty. By permitting their membership the right to buy and sell federally-legal fireworks at Boom City, Tulalip has provided an opportunity for tribal entrepreneurs to earn another source of income for their families, and not to mention gain some experience in commerce and business ownership. 

“I always say that our kids, they get to have three Christmases a year out here,” joked Louie. “I figure there’s Christmas, New Year’s fireworks and then Boom City fireworks in the Summer. And because of Boom City, we get everything we need for our homes, for our elders.”

Boom City is open daily, 8am-Midnight, until July 4th.

Graduation banquet celebrates Class of 2021, honors the dream chasers

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

“Welcome to our 2021 ceremony to celebrate our graduates,” said Chief Administrative Officer Rochelle Lubbers as she greeted the hundreds of family and friends who ventured to the Tulalip Resort on June 15. “We’re so excited to have you all here and our hearts are beyond full to be in the same room with our community.

“Reflecting on all our beautiful students today, I thought about all the different journeys they have taken to get here, and how each journey is unique and special. Not a single one had the same walk, but there are some commonalities that they experienced being seniors during a global pandemic. They experienced distance learning and all the challenges with technology that came with that. However, what I’m most impressed with is they exemplified perseverance. Our students overcome these challenges and pushed through in whatever way they had to in order graduate. For that, their entire Tribe is proud of them and that’s why we’re here to celebrate this wonderful accomplishment.”

The celebratory atmosphere was palpable in the Orca Ballroom, where a last minute venue change from the outdoor Amphitheatre meant the hopes and dreams aplenty from the Class of 2021 could be properly presented with a stylish graduation banquet. 

A whopping seventy-four high school seniors, accompanied by their loved ones, convened to commemorate the rite of passage. There were traditional songs sang and drummed, opportunities to immortalize the occasion with a visit to the extra-large photo booth, a decadent buffet-style dinner, and plenty of motivational words offered from Tulalip’s next generation of leaders.

One emphatic message that was repeated throughout the night from graduates, parents and elders alike was a reminder to the praise worthy 18-year-olds that receiving a high school diploma is only the first major milestone on their journey to manifest their dreams into reality. For some the dream may be finding a convenient job to establish independence via a one bedroom apartment, or joining the Tribe’s next TERO vocational training center class in order to enter the construction trades. There are those newly minted adults who are far too eager to start a family of their own, and there are a few who never thought they’d graduate high school and having achieved the seemingly impossible are in search of what the next step is. 

Then there are the awe-inspiring dream chasers. The type of high school grads who aren’t satisfied with just the one diploma. They want more; more education, more diplomas, and more experiences than what can be found within the boundaries of Snohomish County or the Tulalip Reservation. These individuals intend to redefine the expectations of success as it pertains to Native Americans and the education system. 

Like, homegrown Tulalip tribal members Keyondra Horne, graduate of Marysville Getchell, and Desmond Valencia, graduate of Marysville Pilchuck. They were chosen as Class of 2021 student speakers and shared heartfelt words to the Ballroom crowd.

“I didn’t write an elaborate speech, instead wanted to share from the heart,” said Keyondra from the podium. “High school was really hard in the beginning. Getting used to the pace and how teachers don’t wait on individual students to catch up. Instead, they teach the lessons and it’s expected for us to learn quickly and complete our homework the same day. But after a while, I found a rhythm that worked for me and started looking forward to learning new things.

“Now that’s my inspiration moving forward, to travel around, explore the world and continue learning new things. Tulalip will always be our home. It’s okay to leave home for a while and travel new places to experience what the world has to offer,” she added. Keyondra plans to do just that as she will be attending Hult International Business School in Cambridge, Massachusetts this fall.

 Meanwhile, Desmond shared how he really struggled his first two years of high school because of a bad mindset. He admitted to being stubborn, not prioritizing his school work, and only doing the bare minimum because college wasn’t an option. Then everything changed during his junior year after taking up his Native Advocates Doug Salinas and Matt Remle on their offer to tour Washington State University.  

“I remember meeting Native college students there. They spoke so passionately about their educational pursuits and how by improving themselves they could eventually return to their reservations and improve their tribal communities,” Desmond recalled. “They sparked something in me that day, a burning desire to be better. When I returned home from that trip I made my education the highest priority. My grades improved dramatically and by the end of the year was getting all A’s. I participated in multiple clubs at school including JROTC and DECA to bolster my high school resume. I’m proud to say that my hard work has paid off and I’ll be attending W.S.U. next year.”

Becoming leaders of the present may seem like a daunting task to most 18-year-olds who have grown accustomed to a daily consistency and a comfortable support system provided by a public K-12 education. However, for Native youth, they’ve been bucking the trend and blazing new paths to academic success for years now without even realizing it. They’ve overcome long odds that said they wouldn’t earn a high school diploma and broken down barriers that prevented previous generations from attending college.

For some students, their ability to thrive in the public school system and graduate high school with top honors meant not only proving the doubters wrong, but also proving their ancestors right. The right for future generations to be educated and have the ability to pursue a Bachelors, Masters or Doctorate Degree was something previous tribal leaders fought and sacrificed for. Their vision comes true every time a Tulalip citizen boldly ventures off to a University armed with strength of culture and a tribe’s worth of support. 

Kanum Parker doesn’t reside in Tulalip, nor anywhere even close. He lives all the way in San Antonio, Texas. Half a country away and yet he’s always felt the pull of his people. In fact, he had a diamond studded necklace made featuring the Tulalip orca and his family name ‘Parker’ so that wherever he goes, his tribe does too. Kanum graduated at the top of his class at Central Catholic High School. Described by his educators as an ambitious and determined young man that demonstrates self-awareness while unselfishly giving back to his community, Kanum was awarded one of the two coveted Tulalip Senior Student of the Year scholarships.

“I’m happy beyond belief to be here today with my Tulalip family because we’re all brothers and sisters connected through culture,” declared the Texas resident and soon-to-be Baylor University undergrad after being awarded the scholarship. “My education is everything because my dream is to be a doctor. I want to become an Anesthesiologist, and that means another 8-12 years of school. It’s important for us [as Native Americans] to get educated because it’s something that can never be taken away, no matter where you go.”

The second Tulalip Senior Student of the Year scholarship winner is the instrument toting, A.P. class tutoring, Associates Degree earning, and proud Tulalip Youth Council member, Evelyn Vega-Simpson. The typical high school class load wasn’t enough for Evelyn, so she participated in Running Start and earned two full years of college credit as well as her diploma. She’s mentored classmates, fellow Tulalip youth, and other Native students in her role with Urban Native Education Alliance. Her educators say she’s provided an abundance of examples of her stellar leadership, work ethic, brilliance, compassion, patience, and exceptional commitment to improving both herself and the world around her. Evelyn has earned many accolades and scholarly achievements, but what stands out most is her humility and willingness to embrace challenges and new learning opportunities.

She’ll have plenty of challenges to embrace and opportunities to learn as she is taking her talents across the pond to pursue a career as a medical professional at the University of Nottingham, located in England. 

“I feel really proud of myself because I’ve been working so hard over the past four years. Whether it was taking advanced high school classes or college courses through Running Start, my goal has always been to do better than I did last quarter,” shared Evelyn, a rare dual graduate of both Marysville Pilchuck and Everett Community College. “Even when I was much younger my dream was to travel abroad and use my education to get me places that most people wouldn’t consider possible. Now it’s coming true. My education will be taking me to the University of Nottingham. I want to thank my support system of family, friends, and teachers who motivated and supported me. Their support made it possible for me to keep challenging myself and embrace new experiences even when I felt I lacked the courage.” 

The graduation banquet culminated in a ballroom’s worth of support hooting and hollering as each graduation strutted down a red carpet to a podium where education staff and school district representatives awaited. All seventy-four graduates were wrapped in a stunning wool blanket titled ‘Tribute’ from Native owned company, Eighth Generation.

Congratulations to all those Tulalip students who put in the hard work and dedication to earn their high school diploma. The hard work isn’t over now that you have graduated. This is just the beginning as you all prepare for new opportunities and unanticipated challenges waiting in life’s next chapter.

iLocalbox makes prescription pick-up easier at Tulalip Pharmacy

By Kalvin Valdillez

“When the pandemic first hit, we were very concerned about what would happen if our staff members became ill,” expressed Tulalip Clinical Pharmacy Director, Kelvin Lee. “What if we could not continue face-to-face service, what were we going to do? This is basically a solution to that question.”

The iLocalbox is a new and safe option for Tulalip Pharmacy patients who need to pick up their prescriptions after the pharmacy’s standard hours of operations. While utilizing the technology’s large touch screen, patients will be required to verify a number of credentials before receiving their medication from the new distribution system. 

Kelvin said, “This is a new concept. And it is also the very first dispensing kiosk in Washington state. A similar product to this would be the Amazon lockers, which most people are familiar with. When you go to a Whole Foods store, you see those lockers where you can pick up your Amazon orders, and this is kind of equivalent to that. We wanted to have a mechanism to dispense prescriptions to patients after hours and this machine can definitely do that. When they order their prescriptions, they can ask us to put it in the kiosk and they’ll be able to pick it up after hours.”

The kiosk is located right outside the pharmacy’s doors. With over fifty storage units, the iLocalbox can hold any type of medication, including refrigerated items. This was an important feature that the pharmacy sought out, as many of the pharmacy’s patients are being treated for diabetes, and medication such as insulin needs to be stored at a specific temperature in order to be effective. 

“The bigger units are actually refrigerated units,” said Kelvin. “We need those because a lot of our members are diabetic and they need insulin and have medication that needs to be refrigerated. We don’t want to limit this service to just regular prescriptions, and we are happy to have the refrigerated units, so we can store all those items and our diabetic patients can pick-up insulin after hours.” 

The contactless self-service system allows the patients to engage in a fully-digital pharmacy experience, where they can order, pick-up and even pay for their prescriptions with their smart phones. 

“When the prescriptions are ready, they will be getting an e-mail notification from us as well as a text message notification,” Kelvin explained. “On the notification, there is a QR code and they can bring their phone to the kiosk and scan the QR code on the machine. After they sign their names on the screen, the corresponding locker will open-up and they can pick-up their prescription. Safe and secure, because we want to make sure the prescription goes to the right person. Our patients also have the option to pay for their prescription right when they receive the e-mail or text notification, or they can choose to pay for it on location. It’s very convenient.”

Kelvin explained that there are some restrictions to the kiosk’s services and they are listed as follows: 

  • Prescriptions will only stay in kiosk for seven days.
  • No controlled substances will be allowed in the kiosk.
  •  Patient must receive consultation before they are allowed to pick up new prescriptions.
  • No pick up from 12am – 7am.
  • This service is straightly for patients who cannot make it to the pharmacy during regular business hours. Please refrain from ordering kiosk service if you can pick up during regular hours as there are only limited number of lockers available.

To learn more about the iLocalbox, please contact the Tulalip Clinical Pharmacy at (360) 716-2600.