Approximately 1,000 people reside in the community of Ahousaht, but there are nearly 2,200 registered members of the First Nation, according to Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal council records. (Ahousaht First Nation photo)
A huge event - probably the largest ever in recent history - is being planned for National Aboriginal Day weekend in Ahousaht.
The Ha’wiih (hereditary chiefs) of Ahousaht are calling all of their people home to Maaqtusiis village on Flores Island for a gathering that promises to strengthen cultural teachings, family values, a sense of identity and belonging.
“We are coming together in a good way with our families, in our houses, with our ha’wiih to share teachings, stories, to share how we love, support, teach, and hold each other up,” says the Hahah Inuu invitation.
Ahousaht band councillor Julia Atleo worked with the hereditary chiefs and Ahousaht holistic center staff to develop the idea. She said that they felt a need to do something after all of the deaths that occurred in Nuu-chah-nulth territories in 2017.
“There were a lot deaths, especially with young people and we wanted to find a way to create awareness of who we are as a people, we want to create a sense of pride and identity; we want the people to be proud of who they are as Ahousaht,” said Atleo.
The gathering will take place over three days beginning with a free dinner on Thursday, June 21. Following dinner people will be invited to come meet their Ha’wilth (chief).
Each Ahousaht chief has a ‘house’; in the days of longhouses, a chief, his immediate family and extended family members lived in one long house.
Organizers know that not everybody is aware of this concept and some don’t know which house they belong to. These details have been worked out and each Ahousaht Ha’wilth has a list of names of members that belong in their house.
Through this exercise, people will get to know their chief and the other people of their house.
“They will have an opportunity to learn the roles and responsibilities of their chief and also the roles and responsibilities of the others in their house,” said Atleo.
Over the following days people will be invited to take part in activities at five different venues in Ahousaht. There will be cultural teachings, games, family tree exercises and, of course, feasting, singing and dancing.
Atleo says that everyone is welcome to attend but only those carrying Ahousaht Indian Status cards will be provided with free water taxi to and from the community.
People are being asked to register for the event so that organizers can plan for billeting and food. There will be sites available for people wishing to camp as well as homes opened up for the campers to shower. All meals will be provided.
For more information call 1-855-670-9558