FORT RUPERT—A few weeks ago, Kwakiutl master carver Tony Hunt began work on a totem pole on the grounds of Government House in Victoria.
Last Friday, the current resident of that house repaid the favour with a visit to Hunt’s hometown.
The Honourable Steven L. Point, B.C.’s Lieutenant Governor and a Grand Chief of the Stó:lo First Nation, was treated to dancing at the Kwakiutl Big House and addressed band members before being guided on a walking tour of the community.
“Inside a building like this, the children can learn their history and culture,” Point said while admiring the Big House. “They can hear their language spoken. In this house the stories are passed down to the children, and I know that history continues.”
The visit wrapped up a larger tour of coastal First Nations communities by the Lieutenant Governor, which included a stop in Alert Bay one day earlier.
He was feted by the both the ‘Namgis and Kwakiutl bands and shared gifts while touring the communities.
Point traveled in the company of Bob Blackwood of the Rotary Club, with whom the Lieutenant Governor’s office has partnered to bring books and libraries to remote first nations communities.
Point spoke at some length about projects both completed and in progress, including an effort to bring a satellite post-education program to Kingcome Inlet to encourage students to continue their studies beyond elementary school.
“We found kids were quitting school rather than leave home to attend school in Campbell River or elsewhere,” said Point.
He also spoke of the importance of the critical need for highly skilled workers to aid Aboriginal communities in their effort to establish economic sufficiency, self-government and self-management of their natural resources.
Point even gave a plug to the Canadian Forces as a potential outlet for young people to gain those qualifications.
“I know it’s hard to leave your home,” he said. “In the military you’ll receive an education at the same time you wear your uniform. You can gain skills you can bring back to your community and put to work to benefit everyone in your community.”