The Seaplane Base Hall in Ucluelet was filled to capacity September 2nd as the people were asked to witness the transfer of chieftainship from father to son.
Tyee Ha’wilth Lawrence Jack, his wife Bella and family fed their guests a delicious salmon feast before clearing the hall and seating the chiefs that were in attendance. The floor was cleansed with a prayer chant owned by Roy Barney then the Chief’s curtain was opened for everyone to see.
Speaking on behalf of the Tyee, Ron Hamilton invited several Ha’wiih from neighboring nations to sit in front of the curtain. Hupacasath Ha’wilth Hugh ‘Tuffy’ Watts was the first to be called up front followed by Derek Peters, Huu-ay-aht and Bert Mack, Toquaht. These men, along with Chief Jack, Hamilton explained, are descendants of five brothers who went on to become Chiefs around Barclay Sound. The only one missing is a representative for Chief Shewish of Tseshaht.
Other Ha’wiih were called forward to act as witnesses for the historic event that was about to happen: Lewis George, Ahousaht; Vince Ambrose, Hesquiaht, Joe Shaw, Ucluelet, Bruce Frank, Tla-o-qui-aht and Andy Callicum, Mowachaht/Muchalaht.
Hamilton introduced each of the Ha’wiih by their Nuu-chah-nulth names and where they come from. He asked that they witness as Chief Jack passes his ‘power, authority and position to his son Tim. “Klawitawa (Chief Jack) is a quiet, humble man who leads with dignity,” said Hamilton. “The son of Klawitawa watched his father and now will take over as Tyee Ha’wilth of Ucluelet tonight,” he announced.
A pair of Hinkeets dances were shown, one of which belongs to Ed Mack, 2nd Chief of Ucluelet. Tuffy Watts and Derek Peters were asked to dress Tim Jack in his father’s regalia, officially making him head chief of Ucluelet First Nation.
Chief Tim Jack was given a new name; his father’s former name Klawitawa, to mark the occasion and his father took on another name as retiring Tyee. Tim’s wife Jackie Sabbas and son Tim Jr. were introduced and given new names. Hamilton said Jackie would be Ucluelet First Nations’ Hakuum or queen; and Tim Jr. will one day take over for his father becoming the next head chief.
Lawrence Jack’s last order of business was to acknowledge a young man who provided moose meat steaks for the feast. The young man was given the Nuu-chah-nulth name meaning Eagle Rock.
The rest of the evening was filled with singing and dancing as Tla-o-qui-aht was first to take the floor. The Jack family was given plenty of gifts and money in support of the occasion.
By Denise August