On Wednesday, May 12, Damon Rampanen, Nuu-chah-nulth Education Worker (NEW), and Madison Lucas, grade eight student at ADSS, set off to make traditional Nuu-chah-nulth invitations to the NTC Executive for the ADSS class of 2023 graduation ceremonies.
For Lucas, this wasn’t her first invite, she had done many invitations with her father for her Coming of Age potlatch, held on April 8, 2023.
“My father and I used to go potlatches and just go invite the chiefs of all nations to come participate in my coming of age,” said Lucas.
“I was always told that when it came to inviting, either if it was a hereditary chief, or if it was a chief and council, or if it was just an elder, or someone that's important in our communities, we would go and we would have a face-to-face and hand deliver, either a letter or whatever we were going to be doing,” said Rampanen. “It would show that sign of respect [for] traveling out and finding that person that we wanted to invite.”
Rampanen notes that many Nuu-chah-nulth traditions such as prayer and cedar bark harvesting are performed with the Nuu-chah-nulth protocol, respect.
“That was what we wanted to do on Wednesday,” he continued. “Meet the three that we got to go and invite, and to gift them [and] to say thank you for your time and accepting to come in and sit down and witness these graduates of this school year.”
The pair delivered three invitations that day in this way. There was the NTC Executive, Brandy Lauder elected chief of Hupačasath, and Tom Tatoosh a hereditary chief of Hupačasath.
When they invited the executive, they gifted Judith Sayers, NTC president, with canned salmon.
“For us salmon is one of the biggest gifts that we can give,” said Rampanen.
Salmon was a huge component of ancestral living, said Rampanen. It was something that Nuu-chah-nulth ancestors would trade, he continued.
“It’s still thought of as gold to a lot of people,” he said.
In her first year at ADSS, Lucas said she has many opportunities to work with the Nuu-chah-nulth Education Workers.
“I was pretty grateful that I was asked to go do this with Damon,” said Lucas. “[I’ve] also been taught to always show your respect to chiefs and elders.”