Gwa’sala-’Nakwaxda’xw Nations to Construct Big House
Gwa’sala-’Nakwaxda’xw Nations will soon start building a Big House across from their reserve at Tsulquate, adjacent to Port Hardy on northern Vancouver Island.
The Gwa’sala-’Nakwaxda’xw Nations’ request for rezoning the site was approved by Port Hardy’s mayor and council at its first reading. The application is awaiting subsequent readings of the bylaw and the results of a public hearing that is taking place Sept. 5 inside the District of Port Hardy’s council chambers.
Since a 1964 relocation of Gwa’sala-’Nakwaxda’xw Nations to the Tsulquate reserve removed the Nations from their traditional territories of Smith Inlet and Seymour Inlet, the Nations have not had access to their own Big House.
The Big House is a sacred place for potlatch ceremonies and traditional dance. Potlatches conducted in the Big House mark important events like marriages, naming of children, or mourning the passing of a loved one. It is also a place to conduct the traditional ways of governance for the nation. Hereditary chiefs can settle disputes over claiming a title or feuds between families within the Big House.
KEDC has also recently finished constructing a carving shed on-reserve where master carvers will complete parts of the Big House’s beam structure, wood posts and totem poles. GNN is waiting to hold a blessing ceremony over the carving shed and the Big House totem poles made there.