Huu-ay-aht celebrates nine new babies

Five babies born in the past two years were celebrated and welcomed into the Huu-ay-aht community on Friday, May 4, in a ceremony in Port Alberni.

Although absent from the ceremony, an additional four babies were also celebrated and welcomed. Huu-ay-aht’s nine new babies are:

  • Violet Daisy Johnson (mother Latisha Johnson)
  • Charleigh Rose Danielson (parents Miles Danielson and Quinn Turgeon)
  • Margaret Johnson (parents Keira Lucas and TJ Johnson)
  • Reyna Jack (parents John and Crystal Jack)
  • Emily Marie Violet Cunningham (parents Ashley Bodaly and Colin Cunningham)
  • Evan Mack (mother Natasha Mack)
  • Twins Cassandra and Marissa Dennis (parents Philip Dennis and Katherine Frank)
  • Jordan Rayner (parents Marina Rayner and Noah Plonka)
    (Pictured – L to R) Clara Clappis and Emily Cunningham, Latisha and Violet Johnson, Keira Lucas and Margaret Johnson, Quinn Turgeon and Charleigh Danielson, Ezri, Reyna, and Crystal Jack

Huu-ay-aht’s Tayii Ḥaw̓ił ƛiišin (Derek Peters) opened the event, followed by a welcoming song and a ceremonial wrapping of the babies. Each baby was wrapped in a blanket, symbolizing all the things a baby needs – food, shelter, love, community, culture, and more. Edward R. Johnson Jr. called each family to stand beside him at the front of the room, as he spoke of the baby’s family history and its roots.

“It’s important to understand where everybody comes from and making connections to our family,” he said. “Understanding these connections allows you to recognize who your relations are and where you come from.”

The room was full of friends, family, and community members witnessing these histories. Many of the family members also spoke of the ties between different Huu-ay-aht families and how everyone is connected.

The ceremony embodied ʔuuʔałuk, ensuring the success of our families for generations to come. These new babies are supported physically, spiritually, emotionally, and mentally, and they will grow up healthy, strong, and connected to their families and to Huu-ay-aht First Nation.

Lunch was served after the ceremony, followed by drum-making for the babies.

ƛiišin closed the event, speaking about how it takes a community to raise a child, and therefore we must start by understanding who they are and where they come from.