Over 100 remember elder’s place in Hesquiaht community

Eric Plummer, April 4, 2018

Larry Paul’s nephew, Wayne Galligos, will carry his uncle’s title of Hesquiaht beachkeeper. Paul was remembered at the Hupacasath House of Gathering on April 4. (Eric Plummer photo)

Port Alberni — 

Beachkeeper, dedicated son, loving uncle and traditional language teacher were some of the roles Larry Paul was remembered for gracefully filling when over 100 Nuu-chah-nulth-aht converged on Wednesday in Port Alberni to honor his memory. Kiiciny`ahs (Paul) passed on Sunday, April 1 at the age of 84, leaving a legacy that many hope will be retained by future generations.

“I miss him already,” said Tom Curley at the memorial luncheon held at the Hupacasath House of Gathering on April 4. “He was a wise man, I liked listening to him.”

Born in Port Alberni on May 22, 1933, Paul spent most of his life in the ancestral home of Hesquiaht Harbour, with some time in Victoria and in recent years residing in Hot Springs Cove. He was known for his dedication to his mother, Alice Paul, who he frequently transported.  

“He was like a full-time chauffeur to her,” recalled niece Angela Galligos at the memorial gathering.

“I never saw an angry bone in that guy. Very patient, very calm,” added Tom Curley. “I’m sure that he left that behind for his family.”

As a fluent speaker in his Hesquiaht dialect of Nuu-chah-nulth, Paul made the Hesquiaht Dictionary in an effort to preserve the language of his ancestors.

“We lost a good speaker, he was one of the last fluent speakers in our band,” said Pat Charleson. “I know he’s gone to a good place…he’s there with his mom and dad and the rest of the family.”

During the gathering Hesquiaht Chief Councillor Richard Lucas spoke of Paul’s role in passing the traditional language down to Hesquiaht’s younger generations.

“Whenever we needed to understand the language…we went to Larry,” he said. “Whenever we needed a language teacher at the school, Larry was always there.”

Paul held the title of Hesquiaht’s traditional beachkeeper. This role welcomes visitors to the hahoulthee, carrying a historical duty of tying up the canoes – as well as granting permission for the canoes to be released when the visitors depart. The title is now to be transferred over to Paul nephew, Wayne Galligos.

The need to carry on traditions was stressed by many who stood up to speak at the gathering, including Connie Charleson.

“We need to straighten out now,” he said. “We need to get back to our culture and do as our elders taught us, as Larry taught us.”