PORT HARDY—School District 85 trustees, administrators and staff were joined by Kwakiutl Band members at the SD85 office in Port Hardy for a ceremonial unveiling of a traditional territories map.
At a recent SD85 board meeting School District Superintendent Scott Benwell floated the idea of the map to Kaleb Child, District Principal of First Nations Programs, saying that the board would find it helpful to know in which Nation’s territories its schools and students were located.
The suggestion was met with approval around the table, and this week a ceremony was held to unveil the map — a copy of the version displayed in the U’mista Cultural Centre on Cormorant Island — situated in the entry to the School Board’s office in Port Hardy.
“I am reminded of one of my favourite authors, Gary Howard, who said, ‘We can’t teach what we don’t know’,” said Benwell at the ceremony. “This will remind us of who we serve.”
Child welcomed staff and visitors to the office before Chief George Hunt led a blessing ceremony, with eagle down being spread, dancing from PHSS students, and song.
The map was then unveiled to the assembled group under a header reading “Gilakas’la,” Kwak’wala for welcome.
Child explained that the map, developed by U’mista, covered the territories of the Kwakwaka’wakw or Kwak’wala speaking peoples, and divided the region into dialects of the language family, with Kwak’wala speaking regions differentiated from Lik’wala and so forth. Each dialect region is then subdivided to delineate regional and component tribal boundaries.
After the blessing, the group moved inside and had a chance to inspect the map before joining in a meal in the School Board office.
“Thank you all. It means a lot to be able to have such a striking and appropriate reminder of who it is we serve,” said Benwell.