On Friday, July 14, 2000 Huu-ay-aht First Nations began a weekend of celebrations for the opening of the House of Huu-ay-aht. Throughout the afternoon, guests from neighbouring First Nations arrived at Pachena Bay by canoe, as their ancestors have for centuries before them.
The Huu-ay-aht welcomed hungry paddlers and guests from the Bamfield community with a traditional salmon barbeque, and celebrations continued into the evening.
Grand opening ceremonies were held the following morning at the House of Huu-ay-aht.
“House of Huu-ay-aht Opens in Anacla”
By David Wiwchar, Southern Region Reporter
Ha-Shilth-Sa – Canada’s Oldest First Nations Newspaper
July 15, 2000
Printed with kind permission by the author.
More than 1000 people scaled the mountain across from the community of Anacla to join in the celebration for the magnificent new House of Huu-ay-aht.
Beneath four 30-ton spruce logs, supporting two-dozen smaller roof logs, the standing-room only crowd threatened to raise the massive roof with their cheers of appreciation and joy for the new community centre.
After Huu-ay-aht Elder Aggie Peters and Tyee Ha’wilth Spencer Peters cut the cedar-bark ribbon, each Nuu-chah-nulth Nation was invited in one after another to come inside the $2 Million House of Huu-ay-aht.
After all the Chiefs were seated, and all the people gathered had finished filing in, Huu-ay-aht Chief Councillor Robert Dennis asked: “So how do you like our building?” A massive cheer then shook the walls as everyone voiced their strong approval for the new House of Huu-ay-aht.
“It was the dream of our Chiefs to have a place to gather and to show our governments,” said Robert. “That’s why we’ve seated people the way we’ve seated them today. It’s important that we have a place to do this.”
After the Huu-ay-aht Nation performed two songs and dances, they asked for the honour of feeding all those who had come to join the celebration, and then sang a dinner song.
Nuu-chah-nulth Nations were then asked to add their voices to the celebration, in the same order the Huu-ay-aht canoe Klee klee ha had gone out throughout Nuu-chah-nulth-aht to invite the First Nations to their special opening.
“This has been the greatest day of my life,” said Huu-ay-aht Tyee Ha’wilth Spencer Peters, adding that he went without sleep for about 60 hours, through all the celebrations and special events. “The magnitude of the past few days has been so uplifting. It has been absolutely incredible.”
The opening celebration of the House of Huu-ay-aht went through the night and into the morning, with one of the highlights being the presentation of a canoe to the Huu-ay-aht youth.
The canoe, carved by Joe Martin, was given from the Mowachaht / Muchalaht youth to their Huu-ay-aht peers, and according to Jerry Jack, is the largest gift Mowachaht / Muchalaht has given to another First Nation in living memory.
The canoe was held aloft by the Mowachaht / Muchalaht paddlers for more than 15 minutes as Mowachaht / Muchalaht and Huu-ay-aht members danced around it inside the hall.
Later that morning, a chant and small ceremony on Pachena Beach sealed the gift as the proper blessings were given and performed.