The Ahousaht First Nation, nestled on the wave-swept shores of western Vancouver Island, embarked on a cultural and economic renaissance Monday with the launch of a new Hot Springs Cove tour and symbolic renaming of an internationally renowned park.
Under the watchful eyes of orcas traversing their territory, the First Nation unveiled their new endeavour: Indigenous wildlife and hot springs tours at the famous Hot Springs Cove, a business move that will provide a long-awaited direct economic benefit to their community.
“So we have a pathway forward now. Right in our backyard for the next generations,” stated Richard George, a Hereditary Chief of the Ahousaht First Nation.
In a ceremony imbued with deep symbolism and respect, the Ahousaht Hereditary Chiefs, together with Roseanne Archibald, National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, announced a significant name change.
Maquinna Marine Park, where Hot Springs Cove is located, will now bear a name that pays homage to the Ahousaht people: Nismaquin.
“Park was never supposed to be named after a hereditary chief. So what we’re doing today is historical, we’re changing the name to Nismaquin, which is the land that we care for. So this is a long time coming,” said George.
Archibald also voiced her support for the bold new vision.
“It really is a positive step and a really good step toward what I call economic reconciliation,” she said.
The unveiling of Ahous Adventures, an eco and cultural adventure tour company owned and operated by the Ahousaht Nation, heralds a fresh chapter for the community and for those who will visit the rejuvenated park.
Tourists from around the globe are expected to flock to Hot Springs Cove, which now exclusively opens its gates to Ahousaht members during early morning and evening hours.
As part of the immersive experience, visitors will learn about the cultural significance of the waters and local legends.
“There’s a lot of pieces here that we’re building upon moving forward,” George added, hinting at the ambitious plans ahead.
During the pandemic, the boardwalk leading to the Cove has seen $1 million in improvements. Now, the Ahousaht Nation looks forward to reaping the economic benefits from these waters, the same healing waters that have nurtured their people for generations.
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