David Suzuki a special guest as girls honored

Ha-Shilth-Sa, November 3, 2007
Port Alberni — 

Many Nuu-chah-nulth members attended the coming of age party for the grandchildren of Kla-kisht-kei-iss (Simon Lucas) and Topat (Julia Lucas).

Ahmber Barbosa’s parents are Lynnette and Shayne. and Brooklyn George’s parents are Claudette and Lloyd.

Linus Lucas, the eldest son of Kla-kisht-kei-iss and Topat, started the party first with a chant. Kla-kisht-kei-iss then asked permission from Walter Thomas to conduct their family business in Tseshaht traditional territory. Kla-kisht-kei-iss acknowledged and thanked Thomas with a gift of money.

Topat explained to Ha-Shilth-Sa that this is called huc-yach. Because the Lucas family are Hesquiaht and are not at home, this had to be done. The importance of protocol was being practiced and followed by the Lucas family.

The Hesquiaht singers then sang a song that has not been done for many years. Kla-kisht-kei-iss explained that it probably has not been done for at least 75 years. The dancers all came out in traditional cedar bark regalia.

Kla-kisht-kei-iss stood up his eldest son Linus. He explained that when his son was born, Kla-kisht-kei-iss’ father came to the hospital. Linus’s grandfather had a Hudson’s Bay blanket that he had kept and saved a long time, and on the birth of his grandson he passed the blanket to Kla-kisht-kei-iss to ensure that his grandson would be blanketed. Kla-kisht-kei-iss mentioned that the blanket was at least 120 years old.

Prior to the lunch being served to the guests there was a very special moment as the family of both Ahmber and Brooklyn were preparing to introduce them to all of the invited guests and extended family members. Both Ahmber and Brooklyn were then carried in on a very special platform made for them on their special day. There were four men who carried the young women from behind the curtain on to the floor.

As the men were singing, the men honored to carry the young ladies into the hall circled the floor and put them down. This was a very special moment to witness as the young ladies were being treated with care by their family members.

An announcement was made for all of the ladies present to come and stand with the dancers and do a dance in honor of Ahmber and Brooklyn. After the song and dance was finished, Kla-kisht-kei-iss spoke.

“I would like to thank all of the ladies that stood up and honored our grandaughters. All of you that stood up, you now have an obligation to say I was there when they were honored at their coming of age party. Relatives and friends, you also now have an obligation to correct them if they are doing wrong,” said Kla-kisht-kei-iss. He also mentioned that the mothers of Ahmber and Brooklyn were celebrating the change in their daughters’ lives.

Kla-kisht-kei-iss then briefly explained the family roots of Ahmber. She is also of Portuguese decent and has roots in Ahousaht from the Rae Arthur family. She has a multi-cultural background. Brooklyn also has strong ties to Ahousaht with the family of McPherson George, Thomas Marshall and Joseph Titian families.

Kla-kisht-kei-iss then announced that Ahmber’s traditional name would be Aa-yaa-tuk (many speak for her) and that the name goes back as far as six generations. Ahmber’s traditional name is Ups-in-oolth (Adorned in Abalone).

Kla-kisht-kei-iss then explained what was displayed on his curtain. He told the young ladies that anytime that they needed strength they should think about the strength of what is on the curtain. The sea serpent, wolf, thunderbird, sea resources and the mountains are all stories that are connected with his curtain. Anytime they needed strength, they should think about the strength of the ancestors who relied on these wonderful resources.

Lunch was then served to all of the guests witnessing the special occasion. Matthew Lucas, who was the emcee, was also appointed to run the floor for anyone wishing to take part in the ceremonies. Lucas asked for those wishing to take part to see him so they could be put on the program.

First on the program was Richard Lucas and members of the family. Bruce Lucas, Richard’s brother, also took part as they sang the families Hiin-kii-its song.

Rueben and Aaron, Bruce’s sons, danced and after the dance they had gifts of money and gifts.

JC Lucas spoke for the Lucas family. He acknowledged  the close family ties to Ka-kisht-kei-iss and called on Kla-kisht-kei-iss and Topat, Linus and Donna Lucas and presented them with traditional shawls.

“We would like to thank both Kla-kisht-kei-iss and Topat for teaching their family members how to dance and sing,” said JC. He said they have taught many members of the Hesquiaht First Nation their culture. For this they were publicly thanked and acknowledged for many years of dedication in keeping the cultural teachings alive. Along with the gifts they also presented money to the hosts.

Many other First Nations performed, including Ditidaht First Nation members–Ha’wilth Paul Tate, Jack Thompson and his family, Ralph Edgar and family. Ray Samuel Sr. and Wally Samuel Sr. and their family members also performed in the afternoon after lunch. Tim Paul performed and gave the hosts money to assist them for the party.

A special invited guest also arrived–Kla-kisht-kei-iss’ good friend Dr. David Suzuki. He was introduced when he entered the hall. Kla-kisht-kei-iss said he would share words during the course of the day.

Prior to dinner being served, Kla-kisht-kei- iss and Tim Paul stood up and called for their friend Ron Hamilton (Ke-kein) and acknowledged and thanked him for all of his many years of keeping up Nuu-chah-nulth practices and traditional teachings.  They also had a special presentation of a very important document on the Klu-kwan-a. Hamilton is well known to be a historian about Nuu-chah-nulth people’s culture.

Joyce White and members of her family presented the hosts with gifts. Ke-kein spoke on her behalf, explaining the family ties. Ke-kein message was especially to the young women being honored. He respectfully asked that they each be like their grandmother Topat.

“Follow in her footsteps as she is a woman of great knowledge,” Ke-kein said.

Dinner was almost ready to be served and it was time for Suzuki to address both of the young women being honored as well as all of the guests. He acknowledged Kla-kisht-kei-iss and his family for the invitation and said he was honored to say a few words. His theme or main message was that of global warming and the environment. 

Suzuki acknowledged the great teachings of First Nations peoples and said society has a lot to learn from them.

Darlene Watts addressed Ahmber and Brooklyn as the family had asked her to speak. Ron Hamilton then spoke for members of the Martin family from Tla-o-qui-aht. Members of the Watts family from Tseshaht then presented the hosts with both gifts and money.

Hii-yup-in-oolth (Billy Keitlah Jr.) then performed a few dances and presented gifts of money to Ahmber and Brooklyn. Gifts of fruit were given to Kla-kisht-kei-iss and Topat with words of gratitude to the hosts in keeping the culture and teachings alive. Other presentations and dances were performed by Robert Dennis Jr. and his dance group. Beautiful shawls were presented to both Ahmber and Brooklyn to honor them on their special day.

Shawls were then presented to the hosts to use as they wish. The shawls were made by Norma Taylor.

Ke-kein then presented gifts to Ahmber and Brooklyn to honour them. He also gave gifts to Kla-kisht-kei-iss and Topat along with money to the hosts. Ke-kein then asked all the men present to guard these two beautiful women and keep them from harm.

 Members of the host family had special presentations to Patrick Barbosa, Maimie Lucas and Elaine Hicks, as well as the cooks and their volunteers. This was followed by the family acknowledging Victor Hansen for the fish he donated for the party. Hansen was presented a mask.

Vince Ambrose and Victor Amos were next on the program prior to the hosts taking the floor. Ambrose and Amos then presented the hosts with gifts.

Finally Kla-kisht-kei-iss and his family took the floor to conclude the very special day for his grandchildren. Money and gifts were presented to those that were left in the hall. Kla-kisht-kei-iss thanked everyone for their support and assistance to help to make the party a success.

By Jack F. Little