Dancers take to the floor at Wakas Hall last weekend during the two-day feast held to commemorate the relocation to Tsulquate.

G&N Nations mark 50 years

Wakas Hall was filled with song and story last weekend as the community commemorated 50 years since the relocation to Tsulquate.

 

PORT HARDY—Wakas Hall was filled with song and story last weekend as the community hosted a two-day feast to commemorate 50 years since the relocation to Tsulquate.

Part reflection, part celebration and part community healing, the event served as a forum for a stark look back at the Nations’ forced move from their homelands in 1964 and the struggles endured since. But there was also a hugely positive feel to proceedings as the community took stock of its strength and tenacity and looked to the future.

As MC Charles Willie noted Sunday, “As it was yesterday, we acknowledge all the struggles that the Gwa’sala and ‘Nakwaxda’xw went through and at the end of the night we celebrated that survival. Today we celebrate your living — all your accomplishments since relocation: education; children coming back to their families from care; people going out and getting an education and coming back and working with our people.”

In the early sixties the Gwa’sala and ‘Nakwaxda’xw were encouraged to move to Tsulquate from their homelands with the promise of new housing, education and medical care.

On leaving, village sites were burned to prevent the people returning.

They arrived at Tsulquate to find a handful of unfinished houses without proper moorage or running water.

“You couldn’t describe it,” said hereditary chief Hiłamas Henderson. “A few houses with additions on additions.” He recalled people “strung out all over the floor” of the houses while others bunked down in boats beached in the river. “Our lives turned from day to night; we left our ground, our traditions, our culture, our identity in our homelands.

“The township of Port Hardy didn’t want us. Every person we bumped into asked us what we were doing there, they wanted us to go back where we came from,” he said. “That was really heartbreaking.”

Various speakers across the weekend spoke of the effect the relocation had: the impact on language and culture, struggles with alcoholism and the suicide of community members. Time and again community leaders offered support to anyone struggling with addiction or thoughts of self-harm.

Along with confronting its wounds, the community celebrated its successes and growth. Several highlighted the school and the growth of cultural programs. One of Sunday’s highlights was Tristan Swain’s powerful and positive rap on the relocation which received a standing ovation.

Sunday also saw the Chiefs acknowledge the Kwakiutl, who facilitated the move to Tsulquate — originally a campsite for Kwakiutl clam diggers — by presenting a carving to representative Harry Humchitt.

“Last two days it’s been amazing what we’ve done,” said Chief Paddy Walkus. “We’ve put a lot aside but we need to keep pushing… we have to maintain our cultural values.”

 

Just Posted

Island Foods renovates bottle depot and cans old bottle return system

“I don’t want people to spend the whole day here,” said Angela Taylor on Port McNeill’s bottle depot.

Yukon man facing new attempted murder charge in Port Alice exploding mail case

Leon Nepper, 73, is now facing one charge each of aggravated assault and attempted murder

Sointula Resource Centre to hold fundraising play

The play will “grab people’s attention” says Stephanie Rockman.

Risk of thunderstorm this afternoon for Vancouver Island and Lower Mainland

A special weather statement calls for heavy rain and wind over the next 48 hours

Western Forest Products goes ahead with harvesting, despite Falconer’s concern

WFP will “mitigate impact on local wildlife” near Coal Harbour.

VIDEO: Neighbours fear impact of B.C. tent city residents

Greater Victoria residents opposed to campers voice concerns at provincial campground

B.C. premier apologizes for removal of 1950s totem pole at Canada-U.S. border

First Nations say pole was raised at Peace Arch but removed to make way for tourism centre

Tornado touches down in Ottawa and Gatineau, Que.

Environment Canada says cars and homes have been damaged by severe thunderstorms and high wind gusts

An unexpected sight: Bear spotted eating another bear in central B.C.

Cheslatta Carrier Nation Chief finds bear eating another bear’s carcass

RCMP confirm death of missing BC teen Jessica Patrick

No details on cause were given. Case is under criminal investigation and police are asking for tips.

CUTENESS OVERLOAD: 2 sea otters hold hands at the Vancouver Aquarium

Holding hands is a common – and adorable – way for otters to stay safe in the water

B.C. teen with autism a talented guitarist

Farley Mifsud is gaining fans with every performance

B.C. man who left hospice to run in upcoming election dies

A week after leaving hospice to go to city hall to declare his candidacy, David Hesketh has died.

Tilray Inc sees $10-billion in market cap go up in smoke

Tilray’s share price closed at $123 US on Friday, a decline from its intraday peak of nearly $300 US earlier in the week

Most Read