Huu-ay-aht sees cultural centre partnership as exciting step in reconciliation journey

Huu-ay-aht First Nations is excited by the announcement of funds that will alow the community to move forward with their cultural centre in their village. The announcement was made today by the governments of Canada and British Columbia, and the Nation sees it as an exciting and important step toward reconciliation.

Today, the Honourable Catherine McKenna, Minister of Infrastructure and Communities; the Honourable Maryam Monsef, Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Rural Economic Development; and the Honourable Scott Fraser, Member of Legislative Assembly for Mid Island-Pacific Rim, on behalf of the Honourable Selina Robinson, B.C. Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, announced funding for 22 projects on the Island under the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Plan.

Huu-ay-aht’s cultural centre was among the recipients. The projects are an investment in community infrastructure by the two levels of government to benefit communities on Vancouver Island. The project is also expected to support economic recovery in the wake of COVID-19.

Huu-ay-aht will build a new culture centre to provide the community with a language training room, a kitchen, dedicated areas for the production and the sale of arts and crafts, multi-purpose rooms, and washrooms. The facility will also have a multi-purpose field with bleachers for soccer and softball, and a presentation stage with stands for outdoor cultural events.

Huu-ay-aht Councillor Charlie Clappis attended the announcement and spoke about the important role this cultural centre will play in the remote community on the west coast of Vancouver Island.

“We want to find ways to continue to invest in our community as we work toward bringing our people home,” Councillor Clappis said. “We are excited to participate in this partnership, and we look forward to starting this long-awaited project.”

He added that there are several components to the project that will help promote cultural wellness in their community. The centre will feature an elders’ section that will give opportunity storytelling, which is an important part of Huu-ay-aht’s culture. It will also offer recreational opportunities in the upper village with a plan to build playing fields beside the centre.

Under the treaty, Huu-ay-aht also negotiated the return of some significant cultural treasures from the Royal BC Museum and Archives in Victoria. Several of these items were returned in 2016 and are on display in the government office in Anacla. The cultural centre will give these items a permanent home and make room for the return of more treasures.

The Government of Canada is contributing more than $33.2 million, the Government of British Columbia is contributing over $8.7 million and the individual applicants are contributing more than $12.2 million to these projects through the Community, Culture, and Recreation Infrastructure Stream (CCRIS), and the Rural and Northern Communities Infrastructure Stream (RNIS) of the Investing in Canada Plan.

More than $23.2 million of the federal and provincial funding is going to eight projects in Indigenous communities.

For more details on these projects, check out the full announcement.