Gwa’sala-‘Nakwaxda’xw Showcase Culture and History in Unique New Hotel on Vancouver Island

Gwa'sala-'Nakwaxda'xw Nation hospitality awaits at the Kwa'lilas Hotel in Port Hardy, opened in May 2017.
Gwa’sala-‘Nakwaxda’xw Nation hospitality awaits at the Kwa’lilas Hotel in Port Hardy, opened in May 2017.

Gwa’sala-‘Nakwaxda’xw Nation creativity and entrepreneurial optimism shone May 17 in Port Hardy during a ceremony to officially launch a game-changing economic venture for its people and a significant contribution to the tourism offerings of Vancouver Island: the Kwa’lilas Hotel.

The Kwa’lilas (which means “place to sleep”) Hotel is the result of an $8 million investment by the k’awat’si Economic Development Corporation, which purchased the former Port Hardy Inn with the support of Coast Funds’ economic development funding in 2015.

“This hotel has made a statement on behalf of Gwa’sala-‘Nakwaxda’wx First Nation people … We can participate in the economy and growth, not only for ourselves but all of our people in Port Hardy,” said Gwa’sala-‘Nakwaxda’xw Chief Paddy Walkus.

Conrad Browne, who is the CEO of the k’awat’si Economic Development Corporation, emphasized that there is nothing like the Kwa’lilas on Vancouver Island. Indeed, the full-scale renovation has not only transformed the aging Inn but made it a point of cultural pride. Its 85 guestrooms and meeting space for up to 150 now include high-end amenities and a curated selection of local Aboriginal art—including a spectacular feature copper art piece in the lobby that was created by Shain Jackson to share the history of the Gwa’sala-‘Nakwaxda’aw Nation. Its new Ha’me’ (food) Restaurant and Na’xid’ (drink) pub will feature Aboriginal-inspired West Coast cuisine. Guests at the Kwa’lilas will also enjoy a selection of eco-adventure tours and cultural experiences guided by community members and local experts.

The k’awat’si Economic Development Corporation was created in 2014 with start-up funding support from Coast Funds to capitalize on the community’s strong desire to grow opportunities. As a distinct entity, reporting to Chief and Council, KEDC is tasked with creating, operating and supporting businesses that will be profitable, environmentally sustainable, and culturally significant while respecting the unique cultural values of the Gwa’sala-‘Nakwaxda’xw.

Commemorated by traditional dances, speeches, and blessings by Gwa’sala-‘Nakwaxda’xw leaders in full regalia, the Nation’s excitement was contagious – and generated considerable media coverage:

CTV News
CHEK News
My Comox Valley Now

Check out the hotel and reserve your stay at kwalilashotel.ca Learn about the process of creating the stunning copper mural that graces the hotel lobby—the story of making it, and the stories it tells—here. Find out about how the Gwa’sala-‘Nakwaxda’aw Nation brought the talents of its young creatives and its traditional flavours into this hotel in this short video.

 

Henry Seaweed, Hereditary Chief of Gwa'sala-'Nakwaxda'xw
Henry Seaweed, Hereditary Chief of Gwa’sala-‘Nakwaxda’xw Nation, performs a traditional dance to celebrate the grand opening of the Kwa’lilas Hotel in Port Hardy.