Saturday was a time of celebration and connection for Huu-ay-aht citizens and the residents of Bamfield.
Four months after closing on a deal that saw Huu-ay-aht take over ownership of 11 properties in Bamfield Inlet, the Nation invited everyone to join in a community celebration. Close to 150 people gathered together on April 23 at the Motel and the Rix Centre for Ocean Discovery.
“I’m happy to be able to celebrate this big step for our nation. It’s an historic day for all of us, for this whole community, both Bamfield and the Huu-ay-aht tribe,” Tayii Ḥaw̓ił ƛiišin said at the ribbon cutting at the newly purchased Motel in Bamfield. “It’s very fitting that we wanted to come down here and celebrate with the Bamfield community, because we’re one community.”
ƛiišin acknowledged the importance of involving the Bamfield residents, given that all of the properties Huu-ay-aht purchased are in their community. Huu-ay-aht hopes that by purchasing these parcels, which include hotels, gas bars, marina, retail opportunities, pub, airport and development opportunities, the Nation will help breathe new life into the West Coast community.
“We’re really proud of that step for our nation,” he said. “It’s a growth in the right direction.”
He said that, although there are many differences between the close communities, “We’re the First Nations village that lives just three miles away. We’re a nation that’s never left here, and we’re never going to leave our homeland.”
ƛiišin stressed that Huu-ay-aht has a connection to the land and cares deeply about the future of the Bamfield area, as well as their traditional territory. He acknowledged that many Bamfield residents probably feel the same way.
Following the ribbon cutting, Huu-ay-aht hosted a luncheon at the Rix Centre. The atmosphere was positive, and you could feel the pride of a Nation in the room.
Councillor Connie Waddell spoke on behalf of executive council. She said it is an exciting, historic day, with Huu-ay-aht citizens and community residents gathered together to celebrate.
“Our goal was to bridge the communities, and I think today is a huge step in doing that.” she said. “As you know, I grew up here, and that’s why it’s emotional. I’m a Huu-ay-aht citizen, and I’m a Bamfield citizen, and that’s why I say today, we are all one citizen. I hold my hands up to all of you today. Thank you very much on behalf of executive council.”