Nisga’a Village of Gitwinksihlkw Opens Welcome House Café and Gift Shop
The Nisg̱a’a Village of Gitwinksihlkw is investing in and developing their tourism infrastructure to bring people into their community and keep them coming back. In late 2020, they opened the Welcome House Café and Gift Shop, operated by entrepreneur Sally Nyce.
In the midst of a global pandemic, you might be more likely to hear news about a business closing than opening, but the Nisg̱a’a Village of Gitwinksihlkw is forging ahead on its business development, working around the challenges presented by COVID-19.
Near the end of 2020,the Village announced the opening of the Welcome House Café and Gift Shop. The businessis operated by Nisg̱a’a entrepreneur Sally Nyce and will be one of the few places to dine out in the beautiful Nass Valley.
Overlooking the brilliant green of the Nass River and beautiful lunar-like landscape of the Nisg̱a’a lava beds, the Welcome House is to become a cornerstone of the Village’s bourgeoning tourism strategy. “The Welcome House will be the hub for all of it,” says Chief Executive Officer Linda Morven. “People can stop in there to buy something to remember the Nass Valley. It will be the starting and ending point for visitors coming to Gitwinksihlkw.”
The Village hascommenced developingthe Saasak’hiking and biking trail systemthat encompasses a brand-new viewing platform overlooking the picturesque Lava bed.The Village is looking to expand it to include a River Walk along the banks of the Nass River, and a Lava Walk trail through the stunning landscape produced by the volcanic eruption of the of Tseax Cone.
Nisg̱a’a Lisims Government is developing ways of uplifting and connecting tourism attractions throughout the Nass Valley. To enhance the visitor experience, the Nisg̱a’a Lisims Governmentdeveloped a cultural tourism and marketing initiative; itscentrepiece isan auto-tour along 100 kilometres of the Nass Valley.
“We needed to develop and invest in tourism infrastructure,” says Bert Mercer, Economic Development Coordinator for Nisg̱a’aLisims Government“The whole idea was to draw people into the Nass Valley.”
Gitwinksihlkwis pursuing a similar path. They’re building the infrastructure to bring people into their community, and to keep them coming back. “The Welcome House is beautiful,” says Morven. “It’s going to be part of the Main Street experience in Gitwinksihlkw.”
Completing construction during the COVID-19 pandemic was no small feat says Morven. She had to work closely with Timber Creek Homes, the construction company who designed and built the Welcome House, to ensure that there were correct safety protocols in place. The Village, too, developed their own safety plan during the construction of the building.
Although the Nass Valley remainsclosed to visitors during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Village sees the importance of opening the Welcome House. Morven has worked closely with Sally Nyce to address the difficulties presented by the pandemic, and developed solutions to ensure the successful operation of the business including catering for local meetings, serving takeaway meals for the four Nisg̱a’aVillages, and ensuring COVID-19 safety requirements are met onsite.
It has been a long road to completing the project, and Morven is grateful for the support the Village received throughout.
“We’re very thankful for everyone who supported this project and for the understanding over the length of time it took,” she says. “We couldn’t have done it without that understanding.”
Coast Funds Board of Directors approved $250,000 in funding to the Nisg̱a’a Village of Gitwinksihlkwtoward the Welcome House Café and Gift Shop.
Sign up to receive the online edition of Talking Stick and discover inspiring stories, news, and updates from the Great Bear Rainforest and Haida Gwaii.