The 35th Annual Tlu-piich Games opened Aug. 8 with welcome songs from the two nations whose territories are within the Alberni Valley; Hupacasath and Tseshaht. Hupacasath singers of all ages, led by elder Harry Lucas, welcome visiting nations to Port Alberni (Denise Titian photos)
Emcee Martin Watts asked for a moment of silence in remembrance of those loved ones lost over the past year before welcoming everyone to the 35th annual Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council Tlu-piich Games.
The people of Tseshaht gathered for a welcome song and dance before their elected Chief Cynthia Dick offered words of welcome. After introducing herself in the Nuu-chah-nulth language, Dick thanked the NTC for hosting this very important event for the children.
“I get emotional when I think about our children, but they do deserve the best,” she said. “Events like this not only celebrate our culture but it also helps to feed our (spirits).”
The Hupacasath followed up with their own welcome song and dance. Speaking on their behalf, elder Harry Lucas thanked elected Hupacasath Chief Steven Tatoosh and his council for supporting Hupacasath youth at the Tlu-piich games. He thanked the staff and volunteers for organizing such a great event for the children.
“I wish all Nuu-chah-nulth all the best in all their challenges and know that it is all in fun,” he said.
In her opening remarks NTC President Debra Foxcroft welcomed the people on behalf of the tribal council. “I am proud of the Nuu-chah-nulth people for carrying on with the games with the support of the nations’ leaders and the families,” she said.
Sarah Thomas, a representative for MP Gord Johns, said he sends his regrets for being unable to attend the opening ceremonies. He congratulates the Nuu-chah-nulth-aht for keeping the games going for 35 years and supporting their indigenous athletes.
MLA Scott Fraser was not available to attend the ceremonies but sent a note saying he wishes all athletes and their families all the best.
Games Coordinator Richard Samuel also welcomed the crowd who showed up despite the sweltering summer heat. He introduced the Tlu-piich Games staff before providing a history of annual event.
The games started out as the Indian Games in 1982. Prior to that, Nuu-chah-nulth-aht would travel to Victoria for the annual All Native Olympiad. A few years later the games were named Tlu-piich, which means summer in the Nuu-chah-nulth language. The name was suggested by late NTC education manager and Tseshaht elder, Eileen Haggard.
To view the full photo gallery from this year's Opening Ceremonies click here http://www.hashilthsa.com/gallery/2017-tlu-piich-opening-ceremonies