First Nations of the Alberni Valley

Port Alberni is located on traditional territory of the Tseshaht and Hupacasath First Nations, two of the fourteen nations of the Nuu-chah-nulth people of western Vancouver Island. The Huu-ay-aht First Nation, Uchucklesaht Tribe and Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council also have government offices in Port Alberni.

To learn about a place, first you must learn about its people.

Nuu-chah-Nulth Tribal Council

Notable Events in NTC’s Organizational History

1974: Founding of Ha-Shilth-Sa Newspaper, Canada’s oldest First Nations Newspaper.

1985: Becomes BC’s first delegated aboriginal agency.

1987: The federal government delegates authority to NTC for the delivery of Child Welfare Services. It is the first block funding agreement in Canada.

1988: Health Canada transfers responsibility for the delivery of Health Services to the NTC. It is the first Health Transfer to a Tribal Council in Canada.

Learn more at nuuchahnulth.org

Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council (NTC)

Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council (NTC) is a not-for-profit society that provides a wide variety of services and supports to fourteen Nuu-chah-nulth First Nations with approximately 10,000 members. Organizational Goals:

  • To advance and protect the ha-ha-hoolthee (territories) of the Nuu-chah-nulth Ha’wiih (Hereditary Chiefs)
  • To pursue self-determination
  • To promote the betterment, prosperity and well-being of the Nuu-chah-nulth people
  • To advance Nuu-chah-nulth culture, language, beliefs and way of life
  • To deliver programs and services for members
Nuu-chah-nulth Nations Nuu-chah-nulth means "all along the mountains and sea"

Source: Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council (NTC)

Tseshaht First Nation Vancouver Island

 

Learn more about the Tseshaht First Nation on their website:
Language + Culture
Traditional Territory
Map

 

Tseshaht First Nation

The c̓išaaʔatḥ (sis sha ahtah or Tseshaht) is a vibrant community with an active and progressive natural resources-based economy. One of the 14 Nations that make up the Nuu-chah-nulth [Nootka] people of western Vancouver Island, they are proud of their culture and work as a community to preserve traditional values and teachings.

At the core of Tseshaht culture is the chronicle of creation; their spiritual origin.

“We were created at c̓išaa (sis-shaa), a place on what is known today as Benson Island, one of the Broken Group Islands in Barkley Sound. It is here n’aas or nahs (our creator) granted our first ancestors (Tseshaht man and woman) the highest spiritual responsibility and stewardship of the Broken Group Islands. Tseshaht translates as ‘people of a rancid smelly place’ because the inhabitants were such great whalers and their village reeked of whale oil, signifying great wealth.”


The Tseshaht First Nation economic development investments include fisheries operations, forestry operations, the Tseshaht Market, and Orange Bridge Cannabis.

Re-Awakening Ceremony, June 21, 2022 – Tseshaht First Nation

Source: Dallas Dalziel Productions on Youtube

Hupacasath First Nation Vancouver Island Port Alberni

 

Learn more about the Hupačasath First Nation on their website:

Place + Language Map
Language + Culture
Map of Traditional Territory

 

Hupacasath First Nation

The Hupacasath First Nation is located on the West Coast of Vancouver Island in Port Alberni, British Columbia. Hupacasath, which means “people residing above the water,” consists of an amalgamation of three distinct tribes: the Muh-uulth-aht, Kleh-koot-aht and Cuu-ma-as-aht (Ahahswinis). For thousands of years the Hupacasath people have owned, used, and occupied their traditional territory. They are a living history of the Alberni Valley. For thousands of years their people have instilled the importance of community here.


You will find the Hupačasath presence in the community in many areas, including their support of many events from the Fall Fair and Sproat Lake Regatta to Thunder in the Valley.

The Hupačasath First Nation is also active in economic development and partnership opportunities in their vast traditional territory, including a majority ownership of the Upnit Power Corporation on the China Creek.

Hupacasath First Nation

Source: Hupacasath First Nation on Youtube

First Nations Artisans and Attractions in the Community

Ahtsik Gallery and Gordon Dick Studio

Source: ahtsik.com

Athsik Gallery & Gordon Dick Studio

Ahtsik Gallery specializes in handmade traditional art of the northwest coast. Ahtsik means “Creating to the best of your abilities,” the guiding philosopher of owner and artist Gordon Dick.

Location: 7133 Pacific Rim Hwy, Port Alberni, BC, V9Y 8Y4 (map)
Contact: Phone | Email | Website
Hours: Tues – Sat 10:30AM – 4:30PM

Source: Kevstan [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Nuu-chah-nulth Whaling Canoe Sculpture

Carved from yellow cedar, this Nuu-chah-nulth Whaling Canoe sculpture is a tribute to the seafaring culture of the local Tseshaht and Hupacasath First Nations. The sculpture was originally housed in the Royal British Columbia Museum in Victoria and is now on display at the Victoria Quay.

Location: Victoria Quay, Port Alberni, BC V9Y 6G3 (map)

Alberni Valley Museum

The museum features collections of local Nuu-chah-nulth First Nation arts and culture; exhibits exploring the area’s industrial roots in forestry and fishing, local folk art, and hands-on displays for youngsters. Send a message on the telegraph or explore the drawers in this visible-storage museum. Come discover the mixture of cultures and people that come together to make the Alberni Valley the heart of the West Coast.

Location: 4255 Wallace St, Port Alberni, BC V9Y 3Y6 (map)
Contact: Phone | Email | Website
Hours: Tues – Sat 11:00AM – 4:00PM

First Nations Historical Site on Vancouver Island

Those interested in exploring more First Nations history on Vancouver Island may want to visit the Kiix̣in historical site. Kiixin is the only known traditional First Nations village remaining on the west coast of southern B.C., with significant standing house remains. It is commemorated as a National Historic Site. Tours run May through September, and visitors are invited to hike the trail to Kiix̣in, while exploring Vancouver Island’s pristine rainforest, beautiful protected beaches, and significant standing house remains. Along the way, guests will learn much of Huu-ay-aht’s knowledge and history, as well as Indigenous culture in the region.

Approximately 2 hrs by car from Port Alberni, the Kiixin National Historical site is located on the rugged and beautiful west coast of Vancouver Island, in the remote community of Bamfield.

How to Get There

From Port Alberni, there are several ways to travel including car, boat and air.

  • By Car: Take Ship Creek Rd to Franklin River Road for 2.4km (3 min). Continue on Franklin River Rd/Bamfield Main for 87.4km (1 hr 55 min)
  • By Boat: Lady Rose Marine Services provides daily sailings (4hr 30min) to Bamfield year round
  • By Air: Pacific Seaplanes has a regular flight (15 min) from Port Alberni to Bamfield (May 1 – Sept 30)

Visit kiixin.ca to learn more and book a guided tour.

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