In a building that was formerly part of the Alberni Indian Residential School, a place where speaking Nuu-chah-nulth was banned among the children who had attended, eight-year-old Jesse Maquinna spoke in the ancestral language to traditionally invite the NTC executive to a cultural sharing event.
Nuu-chah-nulth Education Worker Marsha Maquinna and her daughter, Jesse, traveled from Gold River to present a cultural invitation to the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council’s executive director, president and vice-president on March 13.
This was Jesse’s second traditional invitation.
“I'm very proud of her,” said Marsha, “for an eight-year-old to stand up in front of people and invite [them].”
“Even when I’m shy,” added Jesse.
“[I’m] realizing that she does teach me,” said Marsha.
The mother explained that when Jesse comes home from school, she shares Nuu-chah-nulth words with her.
Richard Samuel, cultural development supervisor with the Education, Training, and Social Development department at NTC, said it was great to hear Jesse speak in Nuu-chah-nulth.
“To hear… a young person speak Nuu-chah-nulth language in that building, it makes it… positive,” said Samuel.
Samuel added that, “supporting and uplifting one another” is part of the Nuu-chah-nulth way of life. When witnessing a young person speak in the language, perform a traditional dance or song, it’s uplifting, he continued.
“It makes a sense of belonging, and helps us support one another in a positive way,” Samuel said.
“Whatever the schools are doing is… great. It's keeping it alive,” he said. “That's the most important thing we can do now is just keep it alive [by] saying those words, Nuu-chah-nulth words.”
“[It] was very empowering to have a young Mowachaht girl come and invite the NTC executive to a big event in our language. She was confident in herself and spoke well,” wrote NTC President Judith Sayers in an email to Ha-Shilth-Sa. “Following the invite, the tradition of gifting then was done. [It is] so good to see that our young people are being taught the right way to invite people in person. I will make sure I go to that event to see more of our culture on display by our youth.”
In preparation for the cultural sharing event in Gold River, they have been meeting to practice every Tuesday and every other Wednesday. They hold practice at the Mowachaht/Muchalaht’s of House of Unity in Tsaxana.
They have been planning and preparing for this event since October 2022, which will be co-hosted by the Gold River Secondary School and Ray Watkins Elementary School.
The event will be held on May 18, at Gold River Secondary School at 9 a.m.