Mowachaht/ Muchalaht hosts annual Summerfest

Ha-Shilth-Sa, August 12, 2007

Young dancers of the Beulah Howard dance group perform at Summerfest.

Yuquot — 

On Sunday, Aug. 12, many of the members of the Mowachaht/ Muchalaht community gathered with visitors and delegates for the popular Summerfest events.

As the Uchuck came to the dock from Gold River, Sam Johnston Jr. stood by Bev Jack, who was dressed in traditional regalia, to welcome all of the delegates and visitors prior to their coming ashore.

Jack was representing her late father, Chief Jerry Jack, whose responsibility it was traditionally to welcome any visitors.

Master of Ceremonies Bill George Williams called on elder Vi Johnston to say the opening prayer. Williams then welcomed everyone to Summerfest.

“On behalf of our Ha’wiih, I would like to welcome you all to Yuquot, and we hope your stay is enjoyable,” said Williams. He then called on the singers to do a dinner song, a tradition amongst the Mowachaht/Muchalaht people.

Many of the youth of the tribe then served the visitors a delicious plate of salmon, potato salad, fresh vegetables and fruit. After lunch was served, Beaulah Howard and her dance group, all children, boys and girls, did a few songs and dances. This was followed by the men and ladies of the Mowachaht/Muchalaht people, who also did a couple of songs and dances.

Howard then made a special presentation to the dance group.

“I just completed making a shawl and was wondering what to do, and then I thought of our dance group who usually are always short of funds. I would like to donate this shawl for the group to raise some money,” Howard said. Brenda Johnston accepted on behalf of the cultural group.

Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council (NTC) Vice-President Michelle Corfield was then introduced by the emcee and was asked to say a few words. Corfield acknowledged and thanked the Mowachaht /Muchalaht for allowing her and her family to be in their traditional territory. She pointed out that Lillian Howard was the first woman to be appointed to a leadership role at the tribal council. Corfield said she was honoured to be the second woman in such a capacity.

“Uplift the role of the woman as they play an important role in Nuu-chah-nulth history,” she said.

In keeping with the theme of the Summerfest, many gifts were handed out to the women of Mowachaht /Muchalaht and a few of the visiting dignitaries. Gloria Maquinna and Vi Johnston were the first to be acknowledged.

Florence Wylie, NTC executive director, was also acknowledged for all of her support over the years. Corfield also was acknowledged too.

Sam and Brenda Johnston have been attending the campout and Summerfest for the last 19 years.

“Our daughter Cynthia was only four days old when we first started to come to Yuquot to camp out. I like the peace and serenity, camping and looking at the beautiful scenery,” Sam said.

Brenda echoed Sam’s sentiments and added that Cynthia was also baptised at the church there by Father Frank Salmon “when she was not even a week old,” Johnston said.

Another special occasion for them was that in 2001, Sam and Brenda were married at Yuquot.

Vi Johnston has been attending the campout and Summerfest for the last 13 years. She camps out in her tent and thoroughly enjoys the annual event.

Although the event this year may not have been as well attended as the previous years, a good time was had by one and all. Ha’wiih Max Savey said that there may have only been a third of the community attending.

Emcee Williams again thanked everyone for attending and wished everyone a safe journey home.

All of the visitors, as well as some community members that were camping, then headed down to the dock to catch the Uchuk back to Gold River. Other community members stayed behind to continue camping.

Story by Jack F. Little