CORMORANT ISLAND, B.C.—The ‘Namgis First Nation was proud to celebrate the grand opening of their new waterfront boardwalk and five traditional awak’was.
“Our Government is happy to support British Columbia’s coastal communities whose economies have relied heavily on seasonal fishing industries,” said Aboriginal Affairs Minister John Duncan, on behalf of the Honourable Lynne Yelich, Minister of State for Western Economic Diversification.
Awak’was means a “place to sit and talk” in the Kwakwala language and represent the five ‘Na’mima — clans — of the ‘Namgis Nation.
The Awak’was were the summer seats where ‘Namgis Chiefs met, women often gave small potlatch gifts out to other ladies and was a general place to meet, discuss and make decisions for the people.
The new look was made possible because of a partnership with the Government of Canada, the Island Coastal Economic Trust and the North Vancouver Island Aboriginal Training Society.
“This grand opening of our boardwalk and these awagwas represents a ‘Namgis ‘Na’mima,” said Chief Bill Cranmer.
“This is a positive step towards enhancing our waterfront and more importantly our culture,” he said.
“I hope these awagwas will bring our community and our nation closer together and I am eager to see our people utilizing these structures as our past hereditary leaders did, as our elders did.”
The enhanced waterfront will feature a new boardwalk that connects the Cormorant Island ferry terminal to the world famous U’Mista Cultural Centre.
It will also feature five traditional awak’was — each awak’was represents one of the five founding namimas (families) of the ‘Namgis First Nation.