Huu-ay-aht First Nations host 2023 Nuu-Chah-Nulth Artist Symposium

Huu-ay-aht First Nations hosted a two-day 2023 Nuu-Chah-Nulth Artist Symposium, on September 12 and 13, 2023, at the Best Western Plus Barclay Hotel in Port Alberni, BC.

This event was made possible through a grant Huu-ay-aht First Nations’ Economic Development Department was able to obtain through the Canada Council for the Arts.

“We would like to thank the Canada Council for the Arts for their support of Nuu-chah-nulth art and culture,” says Chief Councillor, John Jack.

He continues to say, “we believe that this a vital step and a first step in the direction to help organize, support and promote indigenous art and artists and helping to define how it is we can ensure authenticity and protect the cultural and economic importance of this aspect to our life as indigenous people.”

The first day, September 12, was a closed event solely for invited master artists. In attendance, there was 11 master artist from various backgrounds of work. There were cravers, jewellers, sculptors, weavers, and clothing makers.

The 11 artists included:

Artist Work Type
Tom PattersonCarver
Connie WattsMedia Artist & Designer
Tim PaulCarver
Rodney SayersCarver
Edward Johnson Sr.Carver
Geraldine Edgar TomWeaver
Hjalmer WenstobSculptor & Carver
Hipolite WilliamsCarver
Lavern WilliamsWeaver
Gerren PetersCarver & Jeweler
Gordon DickCarver

To start off the morning of September 12, 2023, guests were led by Master of Ceremonies (MC) Trevor Little in song and prayer, following a land acknowledgement that the event was being held on the unceded traditional territory of the Tseshaht and Hupač̓asatḥ First Nations.

Breakfast was served to the artists, and following this, master artists were broken into three groups and participated in round table discussions. This activity brought the group to lunch, and they resumed another set of questions after lunch.

Questions that the master artists answered are the following:

  1. How do we create a way to protect our art from being stolen and lost?
  2. What are some ways to protect indigenous artists from being taken advantage of?
  3. What art do we want to share with the world?
  4. What traditional forms of art should be protected and kept private?
  5. How do we inspire the next generation?
  6. What could mentorship look like?

On day two of the event, the public and vendors joined to converse with master artists and join in on the conversations of preserving and protecting Indigenous Artists’ rights and authenticity.

Through breakfast and lunch, individuals purchased from vendors, talked with artists, and participated in cultural songs. From this, the group was transitioned into sitting in a sharing circle discussion. People introduced themselves and shared their thoughts regarding Nuu-Chah-Nulth Art.

Throughout the two days, feedback was received from artists and the public which was collected and will be compiled into a report and will be sent to Canada Council for the Arts.

This is just the beginning of the Nuu-chah-nulth Artist Symposium. With the work Huu-ay-aht has started, there are hopes this can continue and become something bigger and meaningful to all Nuu-chah-nulth Nations to join in on and participate.

If funding is available for next year, there are already suggestions to incorporate traditional language with art to help educate the history and value of an art piece being created.

“I felt very lucky to be a part of this event. Witnessing various artists, vendors, and the public take the time to attend spoke immensely to the significant importance of this Symposium. Throughout the conversations, the biggest feedback was how we could positively support Nuu-chah-nulth artists and First Nation art and culture, as well as, the challenges they face. This Nuu-Chah-Nulth Artist Symposium laid the groundwork for this year’s goals, but also helped provide insight for next year.” Says Executive Councillor, Stephen Rayner.

The Huu-ay-aht First Nations anticipate that the results of this event will help fund a second Nuu-chah-nulth artists symposium in 2024.

We acknowledge the support of the Canada Council for the Arts.

About Canada Council for the Arts

The Canada Council for the Arts contributes to the vibrancy of a creative and diverse arts and literary scene and supports its presence across Canada and around the world. The Council is Canada’s public arts funder, with a mandate to “foster and promote the study and enjoyment of, and the production of works in, the arts.” The Council’s grants, services, initiatives, prizes, and payments support Canadian artists, authors, and arts groups and organizations. This support allows them to pursue artistic expression, create works of art, and promote and disseminate the arts and literature. Through its arts funding, communications, research, and promotion activities, the Council fosters ever-growing engagement of Canadians and international audiences in the arts. The Council’s Public Lending Right (PLR) program makes annual payments to creators whose works are held in Canadian public libraries. The Council’s Art Bank operates art rental programs and helps further public engagement with contemporary arts through exhibition and outreach activities. The Council is responsible for the Canadian Commission for UNESCO, which promotes the values and programs of UNESCO to contribute to a future of peace, reconciliation, equity, and sustainable development.

For more information about Canada Council for the Art, please visit:

Knowledge Gathering Workshop

Huu-ay-aht is currently undertaking community research to understand the significance of the Old Village Site, Kiix̣in, historically and in the present context as perceived by the community, to develop a collective vision for the future growth potential of Kiix̣in and its surrounding areas. This project is funded by the First Peoples’ Cultural Council’s (FPCC), Sense of Place Grant. 

We would like to hear from the community and understand the significance of the Village Site in the present context and the cultural relationships of Huu-ay-aht people to the Village Site. This will be explored in the first half of the session. The second half of the session will examine the potential for the Kiix̣in Village Site and the neighbouring areas for future growth and examine what that growth looks like. 

The engagement Workshop will be held in person in Bamfield. This will be a limited-person engagement seeking 3 Elders, 3 Youths and 3 Adults to include diverse voices and varied perspectives. Enrollment in the Workshop will be required to secure a spot. Honorariums will be provided to the Workshop participants for their valuable time and feedback. 

Details about the Workshop are mentioned below.

When – Thursday, May 11, 2023, from 9 am to 12 pm (Lunch will be provided).

Where – Bamfield B.C., The Market

Please call 250-723-0100 Ext 106 or email to secure your spot for the Knowledge Gathering Workshop for the Sense of Place Grant Project. 

We thank you for your time and support!

Huu-ay-aht and WFP build foundation for long-term and strong relationship

Western Forest Products Inc. and Huu-ay-aht First Nations announce that they have completed a transaction for the sale and purchase of three properties, including Western’s dry land sort, located in Sarita Bay, British Columbia for a purchase price of $3 million. The transaction also involves a long-term lease back of the dry land sort to Western, an agreement to harvest 200,000 cubic metres of timber from Huu-ay-aht Lands, and an employment and training agreement that seeks to increase the number of Huu-ay-aht citizens participating in the forest sector.

The transaction provides a strong foundation for Western and Huu-ay-aht to develop a long-term partnership with respect to lands and timber resources in the Bamfield-Anacla area.

Huu-ay-aht Chief Councillor Robert J. Dennis Sr. commented regarding the sale, “As a Nation, we want to focus on building a safe and healthy community, and that starts with good relationships, first with our citizens, but also with our neighbours and business partners.” He added, “Our citizens gave us the message that moving forward with Western is a key priority by providing their support at our Special People’s Assembly. Western has shown it respects Huu-ay-aht’s philosophy of Ancient Spirit, Modern Mind and our core values. We are writing the book on how business is to be done in our Ḥahuułi and opening the door to economic opportunities that will bring our people home and create a strong future for the next generation.”

“We recognize the importance of the Sarita area to the Huu-ay-aht and are pleased to have delivered a mutually beneficial transaction to support increased economic benefits from the forest sector to First Nations communities and to Western”, said Don Demens, President and CEO of Western.

For the Huu-ay-aht, the Sarita River is the “Heart of the People” and the properties involved in the agreement with Western complete the reunification of Huu-ay-aht-owned lands at Sarita Bay. Huu-ay-aht received strong support for the land acquisition from its People’s Assembly held February 19, 2017. With a long-term lease in place, Western will continue to operate its dry land sort at Sarita, supporting its timber operations in TFL 44.

Sarita and Nuumaqamis Open to Bivalve harvesting

The subareas 23-4, to 23-6, and 23-10 are open to manila clams, littleneck clams, oysters and mussels only, closed to all other bivalve shellfish.

Marine Biotoxin – Toxins that are produced by certain species of naturally occurring microscopic algae that bloom under favourable conditions. Filter-feeding bivalve shellfish accumulate the toxins when they ingest toxic algae as a food source. The consumption of toxic shellfish can lead to illness and even death. The toxins do not kill the shellfish nor cause any discernible changes in the appearance, smell or taste of shellfish that would alert consumers of toxicity. As conditions (e.g., water temperature, salinity, and nutrient levels) become less favourable, the algae bloom subsides and with time, shellfish rid themselves of toxin and are once again safe to eat.

For more information on Marine Biotoxin and Sanitary Contamination Closures, go to Fisheries and Oceans Canada.


Investment in Bamfield by Huu-ay-aht appreciated by residents

In late January, the Nation purchased 11 properties in the Bamfield area. It took a lot of hard work to close the sale and even more to get the turnkey operations open and ready to accept visitors.

On April 23, 2016, Huu-ay-aht First Nations invited its citizens, dignitaries, and residents of Bamfield to join them in a celebration to mark this accomplishment.

The event exceeded all expectations, filling the Rix Centre for Ocean Discoveries for the luncheon and a large crowd gathered at The Hotel for singing, dancing, and a ribbon cutting. It was a chance for Huu-ay-aht to thank everyone involved in making it happen and welcome the community. It was also an opportunity for people in attendance to hear Huu-ay-aht’s vision for the future.

Following this successful event, Tayii Ḥaw̓ił ƛiišin (Derek Peters) and Elected Chief Councillor Robert J. Dennis Sr. received the following letter and a photo collage from the day. He wanted to share it with the community.

The letter follows:


I have been meaning to congratulate you both on your ribbon-cutting ceremony on April 23.

Bamfield needed a fresh start and you have been doing a wonderful job of being that catalyst and including the whole community in your plans.

Growing up in Bamfield in the 1950s and early 60s, I have watched the gradual decline of our community – first with the commercial fishing demise and then the stagnation of so much of the commercial property.

I feel a hope for Bamfield again, which I have not had for some time. 

Best regards and the best of luck on your venture,

Marc Phillips