COAL HARBOUR– The local community came out to celebrate the official opening of the Quatsino Wharf and Fuel Dock, and the unveiling of two new totem poles to commemorate the event.
Moorage space at the existing wharf has been expanded by 350 feet and it now has fueling capabilities. It is hoped this increase in the local marine infrastructure should lead directly to a boost to the local economy and follows on the heels of April’s rededication of the Quatsino Industrial Park.
The wharf project was originally proposed in 2007. Funding was found in February of this year, with Coast Sustainability Trust, Island Coastal Economic Trust and Community Futures joining the Quatsino First Nations in making the plan a reality.
Chief Tom Nelson welcomed everyone to the dock for the opening and thanked all involved for their hard work before introducing master carver Simon James and Clarence Nelson. Clarence is James’ apprentice and Chief Nelson’s son. James’ own son and apprentice Quinn also worked on the poles but could not be in attendance.
Elder Margaret Nelson blessed the ceremony and each of the poles after their unveiling. One in particular, the Ancient Man, has special significance for the Nelsons as the original, which was carved around 1911, came as a dowry with Chief Nelson’s grandmother.
Chief Nelson and Margaret then cut a ribbon to officially open the wharf before K’ak’ot’lats’i Cultural teacher Ryan Nelson led students in two dances. The crowd then went to the Big House to continue the celebration.
Chief Nelson negotiated the transfer of the wharf from the Ministry of Transport seven years ago and said in a statement that it gave his people access to the ocean again. Historically, he said, the Quatsino had always lived beside the water and they have come a long way and have something to be proud of.