Huu-ay-aht First Nations unveils plaque honouring west Vancouver Island village as National Historic Site

Huu-ay-aht First Nations unveils plaque honouring west Vancouver Island village as National Historic Site
Huu-ay-aht Chief Councillor Robert J. Dennis Sr. and Parks Canada CEO Ron Hallman unveil the commemorative plaque. Sept. 20, 2022.

Huu-ay-aht First Nations and Parks Canada are celebrating the installation of a plaque at Kiix̣in on west Vancouver Island, officially designating the area as a National Historic Site of Canada.

On Tuesday, both parties came together to unveil the commemorative plaque installed on a carved cedar frame at the Kiix̣in Village and Fortress.

According to Huu-ay-aht, Kiix̣in is a 19th-century site featuring traditional architecture and evidence of continuous occupation for almost 3,000 years, dating back to 1000 BCE.

The site, which the First Nations says was an ideal location for occupation and defence due to its natural features, remains sacred to this day and illustrates the changing political and economic patterns of the 18th and 19th centuries.

Artist’s rendering of Kiix̣in Village as it looked ca. 1875. (Illustration by Lori Graves)

It was in 1999 when the Government of Canada designated Kiix̣in as a national historic site, with the official recognition referring to four distinct archaeological sites, including the main village and fortress.

Parks Canada then presented Huu-ay-aht with the plaque in 2002, saying the First Nations continues to honour its three Sacred Principles, ʔiisaak (Greater Respect), Hišuk ma c̓awak (Everything is One) and ʔuuʔałuk (Taking Care Of).

Robert J. Dennis Sr., Chief Councillor of Huu-ay-aht First Nations, said in a news release that the official installation of the plaque signifies the importance of Kiix̣in and the rich history it tells.

“Kiix̣in is the main attraction of Huu-ay-aht’s cultural tourism as it offers a truly unique cultural experience for guests who come and visit Huu-ay-aht’s Ḥahuułi (traditional territory),” said Chief Councillor Dennis.

“Now, when visitors come to Kiix̣in, they will hear our stories, see our culture and understand the great Canadian national historical site designation it holds.”

Huu-ay-aht First Nations is a part of the Nuu-chah-nulth Nation, formerly called the Nootka, and is a party to the Maa-nulth Final Agreement — a modern treaty granting five member nations self-government as well as ownership, control and law-making authority over their lands and resources.

“National historic designations are the most significant form of historical recognition that is bestowed by the Government of Canada,” added Ron Hallman, CEO of Parks Canada.

“Parks Canada has enjoyed a positive relationship with the Huu-ay-aht and this designation would not be possible, nor as meaningful, without this Nation’s commitment to preserving and sharing its knowledge and history.”

The First Nations offers guided tours of Kiix̣in to teach all who are interested in learning about its history, culture and traditions. Tours take place between May and September, with more information found online.


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