Kiixʔin yaxšiƛin – Brushing ceremony

By Wish-key

First off, I would like to, and on behalf of Tayii ƛiišin, thank all who participated in the day at Kiixʔin. This was for certain a Team Huu-ay-aht effort.

The day started out beautifully and nature, it seemed, was on our side for this important ceremonial brushing out at Kiixʔin. The day was clear, the air was crisp, and Team Huuayaht was preparing to start the hike to Kiix?in – our First Village and birth place of the Huu-ay-aht Peoples. Participants included Christine, Stella, Mila, Cory, Steven, John, Ambar, Chelsea, Rowan and myself, Wish-Key.

As we walked out toward the first village, I remained quiet, listening and preparing my spirit for the journey we were about to embark on. I learned plenty from the team as they have a vast amount of experience out in the field. The crew was discussing and identifying Culturally Modified Trees along the muddy hike out to Kiixʔin. The discussions, it seemed, set the tone for all along the way, and especially when discussing the age of some of the CMTs. It was quickly made very clear that we were indeed going to an Ancient Village. That added to the significance of the spiritual work we were about to embark upon.

Kiixʔin yaxšiƛin: We all know that Kiixʔin is our first village and yaxšiƛin means “we brushed.” The ceremony too is a reflection of our Ancient Spirit and in order to allow for transformation and growth. We had to prepare this space spiritually for transformation. This was done by the Brushing ceremony, and the tools we used were an Ancient Spirit Chant, a rattle, a thunder drum, boughs of cedar and, of course, the brushers themselves.

We literally brushed all around each of the eight identified long house dwellings and, in particular, the posts that are remaining. We had two male and two female brushers, to represent the Ancestors or Grandparents and equality amongst genders. They were armed with boughs of cedar, the most sacred of all ever greens and that represents life and the air that we breathe. This ceremony will prepare the space spiritually, and that will allow for transformation to manifest physically. The work that is intended for the site will start off cosmetically first, but it will continue to transform through time in order to live up to its designation of a National Historic Site of Canada.

This was definitely a daunting task, and much bigger than even I had expected. We dealt with this by taking shifts. As we moved from house to house, we passed on and shared our duties. With all of Team Huu-ay-aht taking turns in brushing of spaces, singing Ancient Spirit chants and even doing the drum roll on the thunder drum. Whatever the task we were assigned we also shared. With one exception Naa`siis mis ʔaksup or Stella Peters from the tayii family. She did not give up her boughs. She remained consistent and was a trooper brushing each and every site that needed brushing.

At the end of the ceremony, we reflected on the beach, the importance of Kiixʔin the birth place of the Huu-ay-aht, on the work we done on that day and the work that will happen in the future. That is a key point to why we have our three principles of Huu-ay-aht. They are: ʔiisaak (Respect with caring), Hišuk ma c̕awak (Everything is one and connected) and ʔuʔaałuk (taking care of. They are a reminder to us to think of time in a continuum remember past Huu-ay-aht, present day Huu-ay-aht and future Huu-ay-aht. For, all that we decide for the people of Huu-ay-aht, must be based on the principles and values of our people.

This work was very special as this is not only our First Village, and birthplace of the Huu-ay-aht, it is currently an undeveloped National Historic Site of Canada. One day this place will draw people from all over the world, so that they too can come and see the oldest remains of a long house on Vancouver Island. Team Huu-ay-aht got together and prepared this space spiritually for transformation for the benefit of Huu-ay-aht of all time. Pay attention to Kiixʔin the First Village for it is on a state of growth, and it will transform into the natural wonder that it is.