It was a beautiful sunny day in the Ḥahuułi (traditional territory) of Huu-ay-aht First Nations as everyone gathered for the swearing-in ceremony for the newly elected executive council on Tuesday, July 4, 2023. The day began at the Pachena River, where Executive Council, Ḥaw̓iiḥ Council (Hereditary Chiefs), and guests took part in a cultural ceremony, Oosimch (Spiritual Bathing), and yax̣šiƛ (brushing). It was followed by the swearing-in ceremony at the House of Huu-ay-aht.
On Saturday, June 17, 2023, Huu-ay-aht citizens of eligible voting age placed their vote, and the newly elected council is as follows:
Edward R. Johnson
Ḥaw̓iiḥ Council has appointed Theresa Nookemus as the Ḥaw̓iiḥ representative for Executive Council.
Before the Executive Council pledged the Huu-ay-aht oath, speaker, Angela Wesley started the ceremony with two council members receiving traditional names, John Jack and Brad Johnson.
Huu-ay-aht speaker and knowledge holder, wišqii (Robert Dennis Jr.), gave Chief Councillor John Jack his traditional name, Sayaač̓atḥ (sa-yaa-chut), meaning “house on the bluff”. Huu-ay-aht citizens, Larry Johnson, gave Executive Council member, Brad Johnson his traditional name, Wiiheyakchikk, meaning “close to shore”.
Ḥaw̓iiḥ council is interested in all Huu-ay-aht people having a traditional name. As Executive Council begins their four-year term, Ḥaw̓iiḥ felt it was important that they all have a traditional name.
Following the naming ceremony, the speaker, Angela Wesley and Executive Council pledged the Huu-ay-aht oath.
As part of the ceremony, Huu-ay-aht Women (Youth and Elders) stood in front of the newly elected council members and asked them questions. Council members stood holding a cedar rope, and this rope symbolizes that they will carry the questions and the pledge they took to support these Huu-ay-aht women everywhere they go.
Huu-ay-aht Youth, Natalie Clappis asked, “do you swear to make decisions and choices that will continue to benefit now and future generations?” and “Do you swear to create opportunities to hear Huu-ay-aht youth’s input ?”
Huu-ay-aht Citizen, Kiana Mio asked, “Do you swear to lead by example in the protection of woman, children, two-spirited, and men of Huu-ay-aht from sexual, physical, emotional and spiritual harm?” and “Do you swear to invest in strengthening social safety and preventative measures to ensure prosperity and wellness for all of Huu-ay-aht community?”
Huu-ay-aht Elder, Deb Cook shared her story as a residential school survivor, and with her story, she asked,
“Do you think that council and staff should protect all citizens from physical, mental, and spiritual abuses?”
“I’d like to see zero tolerance from all Huu-ay-aht citizens. A big ask is that the nation be a substance abuse-free community”
“Can you build and create a wellness/healing center or utilize existing buildings?”
“Can programs be made for our children, youth, and young adults like music, sports, crafts, cooking, to name a few?”
“All Huu-ay-aht citizens or anyone who was convicted of a crime against women and children should be identified and should not be allowed near anyone they offended or allowed in Huu-ay-aht community”
Angela Wesley stood with the women and had two words for council, harmony and unity.
“I want to see us happy and living together as a community” said Angela.
Angela shared a reminder that her uncle Robert Dennis Sr. always says, “There is no “I” in team, but Together Everyone Achieves More”.
The ceremony continued with speeches, singing and dancing, and snacks.
In their new roles, the elected executive council will have priorities and expectations as leaders of their portfolios. Chief Councillor John Jack will work with council members to determine their portfolios and announce them as soon as possible.
Huu-ay-aht First Nations welcomes the newly elected council for their four-year term, 2023-2027.
To see the swearing-in ceremony in full, the live stream can be viewed here: click here