Gwawaenuk Nation

Hopetown, Watson Island

Gwawaenuk Territory. Photo by Ian McAllister Pacific Wild
Gwawaenuk Territory. Photo by Ian McAllister
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The main community of the Gwawaenuk is located in Hopetown, on BC’s South Central Coast

Gwawaenuk Nation

Hopetown was traditionally known as Heghums and has been the main village , winter village, and Potlatch site for the Gwawaenuk community for over 4,000 years.

Archaeological studies have shown that thousands of members of the Gwawaenuk Tribe inhabited village sites all along the Watson Island shoreline, confirming that Heghums was historically one small part of a larger Gwawaenuk community that likely inhabited all of Watson Island.

The Gwawaenuk community has a governance structure whereby the Hereditary Chief takes direction and guidance through discussions with the heads of each family in the tribe.

Chief Charlie Williams is the Hereditary Chief of Gwawaenuk and he regularly updates the head of each family personally. Important decisions can be made between the Chief and the head of each family, however overarching community planning decisions are made at the community level where the entire community, including children, are involved.

The hereditary system brings continuity to long-term community planning, relationship building, and accountability.  It also ensures that all major community decisions are guided by traditional protocols and priorities.

Gwawaenuk Organizations and Resources