Naomi and Ed Nicholson, owners of Chims Guest House on Tseshaht territory, have expanded their operations to include four new RV sites and an Indigenous Cultural Centre.
Chims Guest House, at 6890 Pacific Rim Hwy., will expand from one studio suite and a one-bedroom guest house to now include four serviced RV sites. The suites are currently being rented to longer-term tenants and the RV sites will be available for bookings in September.
“We’re going to start with monthly rentals in September and then we’ll have to see how it goes and the kind of people we get in. As April and May come around we may switch over to three-day a week or weekly long rentals,” said Ed Nicholson. “Monthly rental at a reduced daily rate. That’s our way of maintaining our hotel status where we can have people for as long as we want or as little as we want and we don’t have to have a tenancy agreement with them.”
Each RV site includes a tent and picnic table with propane options and firewood available. Each site also has water and a hose.
Ed said providing more housing options in the Alberni Valley is important right now with limited rentals available.
“There’s such a shortage of housing, we get calls all the time,” he said.
Naomi and Ed hosted a grand opening event on Saturday, Aug. 7 to give tours of the new sites and celebrate how far they’ve come.
“I’m very proud that I’ve made it this far and the theme of today is really showcasing to you what’s possible, because I had no idea that we would even be able to do all of this and we did,” Naomi said at the grand opening. “Without the Nuu-chah-nulth Economic Development Corporation I would not be here whatsoever. I took my first loan from them at 19 and they really like Ed and I right now. Thank you to them for loaning us money and the fact that all of the board of directors realized that we need this.”
Naomi said it’s important to her and Ed to be able to offer guests an Indigenous experience when they stay at Chims, which is why they’re currently constructing an Indigenous Cultural Centre on the property.
Experiences may include how to can fish, how to cut fish, drum making, beading and other workshops.
“That’s one of the big things that people are looking for is that Indigenous experience and Indigenous tourism,” Naomi said. “How some of this started was that I was, and still am, a FirstHost customer service trainer and part of the program they say you need to Indigenize your space..”
During the grand opening, Naomi and Ed offered hosted an Indigenous fashion show by the Good family who showcased clothing from Ay-Lelum - The Good House of Design.
“This is how I change the world…having people dressed up, promoting their clothes,” Naomi said “Everyone has their calling and I think our calling is hosting. We’re not fishermen, we’re not artists but we’re hosts.”
Naomi said it’s important for herself and Ed as Indigenous people to showcase what’s possible to local and First Nation’s governments.
“The ACRD (Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District) and Huu-ay-aht have just asked if we can consult and they want to bring the ACRD planner out here so he can see what’s possible. That was one of my goals,” Naomi said.
Mariah Charleson, vice-president of the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council (NTC), said Indigenous tourism brings Nuu-chah-nulth perspective, worldview and how Indigenous people do things and accept people into their traditional territories. She said having an Indigenous experience first-hand is so much more beneficial than reading about it in a book or online.
“We would love to see it happening more within our communities, we live in one of the most beautiful places in the world, the west coast of Vancouver Island,” Charleson said. “To see an Indigenous focus on who we are as Nuu-chah-nulth people, I think that’s where the true value is because you won’t find that anywhere else in the world.”