Tommy Happynook Jr. reconnecting with traditions

Tommy Happynook Jr.

Letter from Tommy Happynook Jr.

Good day,

My name is hii-ni-nah-sim, Tommy Happynook Jr. I come from the House of Caa-caa-tsii-as. I am an anthropology doctoral student at the University of Victoria. I am writing today to share some information about my doctoral research, tentatively titled: “Waatlasheeutlin uuaathluk Caa-caa-tsii-as” – Picking up my responsibilities: a project of (re)connecting with traditional lands, waters, knowledge and identity.

The last time anyone in my family lived in Caa-caa-tsii-as was about 1860. My family, like many others, were swept up and aside in the widespread and systemic colonial project of assimilation. In 1970, Caa-caa-tsii-as, known by then as Carnation Creek, was the subject of an experiment conducted, in partnership, by the Federal government, forest industry and Department of Fisheries and Oceans. (DFO). The experiment saw the complete clearcutting of one third of the watershed. The second third was cleared of underbrush and the last third left as is. This experiment was formed with the intent of understanding what would happen if a watershed was completely clear-cut. The experiment became a long-term and influential study of the effects of logging practices on watershed processes and continues today.

The objective of my research is to document my own (re)connection to the lands, waters, and resources in Caa-caa-tsii-as. I will conduct this research by focusing on my own experience of reconnecting, revitalizing, and restoring my family’s knowledge, presence, and traditional responsibilities in and to Caa-caa-tsii-as. Specifically, I will be reintroducing family practices and ceremonies during my time in Caa-caa-tsii-as. I will also be walking/swimming on the land, river, and bay as a way of refamiliarizing myself with Caa-caa-tsii-as.

My research is important because it will ensure that my son grows up connected to Caa-caa-tsii-as, its knowledge and teachings, and understand where those teachings come from through the experience of having a deep land-based connection to Caa-caa-tsii-as.

I believe that my work will benefit Huu-ay-aht citizens and other Indigenous people/nations looking to develop processes and understandings of territorial revitalization/reconnection and inspire reconnection with traditional territories outside of a colonial context.

Thank you for your time and should you have any questions please contact me. I am happy to discuss my research further. And, if COVID-19 restrictions ease, maybe I will see you when I am out in the territory.

Hii-ni-nah-sim, Tommy Happynook