Former Port Hardy Inn transformed into modern Kwa’lilas Hotel with ties to a distant past.
All First Nations ceremonies have deep historical significance but the one in Port Hardy Wednesday outside the former Port Hardy Inn was about looking ahead as much as it was about looking back.
The new hotel is called Kwa-lilas or “bedroom, place to sleep.”
The old Inn was purchased by the Gwa’sala-‘Nakwaxda’wx First Nation and the $8 million transformation is now complete.
“It’s amazing to see the feeling in the building” Conrad Brown, CEO of K’awat’si Economic Development Corporation, said.
“We built a big beautiful building and now the spirit of our community is going to shine through.”
There are First Nations accents and art throughout the building telling the story about these people who were moved from their original land by the Canadian Government in 1964.
A massive art piece in the lobby will greet visitors as well.
The hotel is already taking bookings and it’s believed it will be an economic game-changer for the small First Nation.
“This hotel has made a statement on behalf of Gwa’sala-‘Nakwaxda’wx First Nation people, hey we can achieve something and we can move ahead” Chief Paddy Walkus said.
“We can participate in the economy and growth, not only for ourselves but all of our people in Port Hardy.”
“It is an epic deal” Davis Henderson, Tourism Coordinator for K’awat’si Tours added.
“We’re sharing our culture and our history for everyone to come see.”
The First Nation made a point of stating the venture was funded by a loan though Bank of Montreal, not Canadian tax dollars.
“We’re attempting to be a part of society in a more positive way than we have in the past.” Walkus said.
“The change is that it is a 3.5 to 4 star destination, nothing like it anywhere else on the island as far as we’re concerned and the real game-changer in here is the culture, the spirit and art that’s going to emanate from this building.” Browne said.