REPORTING · 17th August 2013
The Haisla Homecoming took place last weekend, on Saturday, August 10th and Sunday, August 11th at the Kitamaat Village. The homecoming celebration was a tradition until 1982. The weekend festivities were credited to the dream of Brian Grant Junior who, unfortunately, could not attend.
“This weekend, we have a fun filled weekend for everybody, it’s our first reunion of sorts that we’re trying to bring back, they used to have this event back in the 70s and early 80s,” said Kim McKenzie. “Some of our community members have expressed to our committee their memories of homecomings past and we wanted to bring this happy celebration back to the community.”
The Homecoming began with Chief Jassee and the Haisla Hereditary Chiefs drummed into Recreation Centre by the Spirit of the Kitlope Dancers. Chief Jassee (Sammy Robinson) welcomed everyone, both Haisla and from other nations, to the Homecoming.
“You are very welcome to walk around, take in the sites, you are free to do anything, today and tomorrow. We are very happy that you made your journey here today,” said Robinson.
Chief Councillor Ellis Ross and Haisla Council’s Chief Operating Officer Jason Major were called upon to say a few words. Major thanked all the people who helped put this together and wished everyone a good weekend.
Ross expressed this event had the support of the Kitamaat Village Council and they opened up much of the infrastructure for the event. He welcomed the Haisla people home.
Marilyn Furlan spoke on behalf of the elders, asking for a moment of silence for those who had gone home to the creator. She welcomed everyone home.
“On behalf of the elders, I welcome you home. For those that have traveled from far, this is your home. Even though you may not have been raised here, your heart is here, because your ancestors are here. If you would like to know about your past, ask your elders, they will be able to tell you who your family is,” said Furlan.
She stated in the days of her grandparents, people did not need a piece of paper to explain who their children were. As such, the Haisla would look after the children in the village who were in need.
“Keeping our community together, we are small nation compared to our territory neighbour, but we are a strong nation,” said Furlan.
She welcomed the visitors to the traditional Haisla Territory. She asked for those who triumphed over the residential school system stand and be recognized, and share their story with their children and grandchildren as it would be healing for both parties.
“Our belief is that one nation, we can overcome any trials if we stand united. This gathering is a good way to remind each other of our connection to each other, to our homeland, and too our territory. I wish for each of you to enjoy these days, gather new memories and continue on our journey with a pride of being Haisla,” said Furlan.
Cassidi Bolton welcomed everyone and wished them a good weekend on behalf of the youth.
McKenzie expressed there were people coming from BC, Alberta and even Ontario. “Once word got out that we were having this, there was a lot of interest of people to come and there is a lot of local neighbours of ours, with the Haisla Nation being in the media lately, that this is [an opportunity] to invite them over, show them what we are about see, how proud we are as a nation and showcase our culture, our traditions and just let everybody know our doors are open and let them celebrate with us,” said McKenzie.
There were many events scheduled. This included a salmon and crab BBQ dinner, an exhibition of Haisla art, helicopter rides, the Haisla musical group: Second Chants opening for George Leach, Canoe Races, Fried Bread competition and a balloon release commemorating the people who are no longer with them.
There were also gifts given, Debra Wilson Green, on behalf of Brad Starr and his Gallery, presented a Bent Wood Cedar Drum to the Spirit of the Kitlope Dancers for bringing back the Haisla songs and teaching the children about heritage.
The winners of the Fried Bread Competition were Eleanor Paul in first, Flora Grant in second and Roberta Grant in 3rd. We were told only two teams showed up for the canoe races so they raced each other multiple times and were both declared winners.
The presentation of the Bentwood Box Drum
Cooking BBQ Salmon for the Dinner are Heber Grant and Trevor Amos, Steven Grant Junior assists.