As the darkness of night set in, Hayden Seitcher resorted to his headlight to guide the way up 5040 Peak. It was only the beginning of October but the mountain was already covered in snow. Pushing through, the Tla-o-qui-aht man mounted higher until he noticed faint lights glimmering in the distance.
He immediately recognized them as the 5040 hut.
Alongside youth warriors, Evan Touchie, Ethan Tom, Daniel Williams and Tyson Touchie, Seitcher made the journey for the naming ceremony of the hut.
Of the roughly 35 Alpine Club of Canada (ACC) huts, it is the first to be named by First Nations.
The Quuquuatsa Language Society, an organization focused on Nuu-chah-nulth language revitalization, decided on Hišimy̓awiƛ, which means “gather together.”
For Seitcher, it felt like the perfect fit.
“It doesn’t signify just one nation, it signifies everyone gathering together,” he said.
Traditionally, the ACC have named their huts after a prominent or deceased club member, said Chris Jensen, project lead for Hišimy̓awiƛ.
“I wanted to do something a little bit different,” he said. “Something that honoured the history of the area.”
The following day, the youth warriors gathered around a white bucket that doubled as a makeshift drum. Having forgotten their own, they used spatulas and other miscellaneous items from inside the hut as drumsticks, recalled Seitcher. Together, they sang a victory song during the naming ceremony.
“It was something to celebrate,” he said.
With views that extend hundreds of kilometres wide, “it’s a very powerful spot,” said Jensen.
There’s no better place to view the traditional Nuu-chah-nulth territories than the alpine, he said.
It is unknown how huts will be named in the future, but Jensen said he hopes the ACC has turned a corner.
“This may become the normal process,” he said. “It will be up to each project to decide how they name it, but I think this sets the precedent for this national organization and we hope future huts follow in this direction.”