Clayoquot Sound

A Special Ceremony with the Ahousaht Nation

Written & Photographed by Eric Delvin, Clayoquot Sound Project Director

Earlier this month, I was invited, on behalf of The Nature Conservancy, to attend a special ceremony with the Ahousaht Nation in Clayoquot Sound, BC.  The Ahousaht were honoring the Premiere of British Columbia, Christy Clark, with an Ahousaht name, to recognize her willingness to hear their voices about the future of their land and territory.  At the ceremony, a protocol agreement between the Ahousaht and the provincial government was signed, which will provide a path for a new relationship between the Nation and the Provincial Government.

 The Nature Conservancy has been working with the Ahousaht and the other Nations in Clayoquot Sound for several years to conduct comprehensive land use visions, and support each Nations' desires to conserve areas of their territory and gain more management authority over their traditional lands and waters.  The ceremony on Friday marked a significant step in that journey.

Witnessing the event, I was proud to know the role that TNC had in supporting the Ahousaht in their journey.  In addition to our joint conservation planning work, last year, as part of our Emerald Edge leadership initiative, TNC sponsored a delegation of Ahousaht leaders to go to the Haida Nation to learn how that Nation had achieved a more equitable management relationship with the Provincial government. 

That community exchange helped to spark the idea for the protocol agreement signed on Friday, and for me helped to validate the importance of the community focused work we are doing in the Emerald Edge.  It is an honor to work for an organization with a mission that not only conserves the lands and waters upon which all life depends, but achieves that mission while ensuring that people and local communities are the driving force of that conservation future.

This is an image of the ceremonial curtain that was hung on the stage.  The Ceremonial curtain, or Thliitsapilthim tells the story of a family. Curtains were originally painted on cedar planks or panels using locally derived pigments, including charcoal, ochre and other minerals. However, in 1885 the prohibition of First Nation ceremonies driven by the Indian Act drove the Thliitsapalthim underground and the Nuu-chah-nulth began the practice of painting on sailcloth or cotton so that the curtains could be folded up and hidden from the Indian agents

See the news coverage of the event here

Learn more about the Emerald Edge