Nuu-chah-nulth nations show up in strength at annual Hoobiyee celebration

Vancouver, BC

More than 100 Nuu-chah-nulth-aht made the trip to Vancouver to take part in Hoobiyee, or Nisga’a new year celebration, on Feb. 28 and 29.

The Nisga’a new year is guided by the lunar cycle. It begins during the waxing of the crescent moon in late winter. According to Nisga’a Ts’amiks Vancouver Society, Hoobiyee, pronounced Ho-BE-yeh, is celebrated wherever Nisga’a live, including back home in the Nass Valley, in the northwestern British Columbia.

The Nisga’a people watch for the positioning of the moon and the stars. They take the placement of these celestial bodies in the sky as a prediction of how plentiful the coming harvest will be.  

In Vancouver, the Nisga’a of Ts’amiks represents 1,400 members. They host this celebration each year, inviting dance groups from other nations. Together, they celebrate the strength, beauty and diversity of Indigenous cultures. Hoobiyee 2020 was held at the PNE Forum. Hundreds of people showed up for the free event.

Outside were food trucks selling bannock, Indian tacos and other goodies. Inside, a large room was set aside for vendors selling anything from t-shirts and beadwork to moccasins and drums. Other tables were set aside for the children to color or learn how to make drums.

Information tables were also set up where visitors could find health or educational information.

More than a dozen dance and drum groups took part in the celebration. Representing Nuu-chah-nulth nations were the Tla-o-qui-aht, who performed on the first day.

The next day Tseshaht performed, followed by Ahousaht’s Maaqtusiis School and Ahousaht Nation.

Each group wished the host nation a happy Hoobiyee.

The event is free and open to anyone to attend. Dozens of volunteers showed up to guide the crowds, do the cleaning, serve refreshments and to help the elders.

While the crowd was mostly Indigenous, there were a few families from other cultures enjoying the performances. Children could be seen dancing in the bleachers along with the performers on the floor.

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