Score the Kiixin 411 on this reconciliation experience
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Get to know Kiixin Village, a 5500-year old Indigenous heritage site on the West Coast of Vancouver Island, through the words of Kiixin tour guide Wishqii - as told to ZenSeekers' Jim Barr.
Kiixin Village, Huu-ay-aht First Nation – “What surprised me the most about this tour was that as you were standing in this ancient village site that dates back over 5,000 years ago, while hearing, LIVE, Wishqii’s stories of his ancestors and their history on the land you’re standing on, it was so powerful,” explains Kevin Farrell.
Kevin's words resonated with me. At ZenSeekers, we have been honoured to work with the Nation over the years to spread awareness of the experience here at Kiixin. But who better than a Huu-ay-aht Nation speaker and Kiixin Tour guide to bring you this “Kiixin 411” feature.
Along with his family, Kevin had sailed up from Seattle to the seaside village of Bamfield to experience Kiixin Tours and a hike on the West Coast Trail. If the Farrells can make it sailing, we know you can make it too, for an adventure that will transform and enlighten. Seasonal tours continue through September, and with the rush of summer holidays waning, late summer is an ideal time to visit.
Watch this video and read on to get a sense of the experience in Huu-ay-aht knowledge keeper Wishqii’s own words.
Who: Meet your tour guides
Welcome to Kiixin Tours, a West Coast Indigenous coastal experience produced and offered daily through September 18, by Huu-ay-aht First Nations.
Please meet your tour guides Wishqii and Stella, two Huu-ay-aht First Nations knowledge keepers and guides allowing any traveller to come walk with their ancestors over this four-hour walking and historical tour.
As Wishqii, your tour guide describes, “A Kiixin tour is a journey with our Huu-ay-aht ancestors.
Your journey begins with a walk through the ancient rainforest. The walk takes you to one of the most beautiful beaches in the world, our Kiixin Beach. You get a chance to see the historic village, the ancient remnants of a life long ago. It really is almost like a journey through time.
The walk into Kiixin is very unique. We’ve spent a great deal of time and effort to make it more accessible. So, we have it partially board walked.
We have identified a number of culturally modified trees so that you can kind of see that ancient, Indigenous connection to the forest and to the land through the modifications that we've made to the cedar. Even just the hike into Kiixin is an experience on its own.”
“The Kiixin village, one of the main reasons why it was identified as a National Historic Site of Canada, is because it is one of the only places in BC with the exception of Haida Gwaii where you can actually see a complete village with standing remnants or partially standing remnants of traditional long houses.”
First of all, it's shorter than you think. As Wishqii describes “the route here from Nanaimo, which is almost central on Vancouver Island...
Possibly make a stop in Cathedral Grove, a protected heritage site where you can see the ancient rainforest; stop in the city of Port Alberni...
And make your way out towards the fishing community of Bamfield, which, depending on your comfort, could be anywhere from two to three-hour’s drive to get out here, and Kiixin Tours leaves from Bamfield.”
"I’m glad I went on the tour, as it adds depth and understanding to this place,” explains tour participant Marlene Farrell, a travel and local community writer for a variety of Washington State publications. “The stories and the information Wishqii shared helped us see and feel so much more.”
“He showed us the traces of Huu-ay-aht use of cedar trees. He helped us envision the glory of longhouses from the corner posts still standing. He turned over mossy logs to reveal they were whale bones leftover from a successful hunt.
He sang, drummed and shared stories of his people’s five thousand year connection to this place, the tragedy of the extensive stripping away of the Huu-ay-aht culture, and the joy over progress towards restoration and reparations.
Wishqii’s story about the return of the potlatch moved me deeply and I better understand Huu-ay-aht resilience and healing through sharing this knowledge.
I strongly recommend this tour to visitors and locals alike.”
When you Go
How would you experience Kiixin?
1) Book your tour here – available until Sunday Sept 18 (take the evening tour if you get the chance, for an experience you likely won’t ever forget; beauty sunset or not!)
2) Here are some tips from Wishqii on how to make the best of your trip:
“Once you arrive here, we have a lovely campground on Pachena Bay, the world renowned Pachena Bay Campground.”
“We have a market that takes care of all your possible needs, as well as a restaurant and a pub.
And for accommodations, if you want to look for something beyond camping, we have the Hacas Inn, which is owned and operated by Huu-ay-aht First Nations.”
ZenSeekers has been honoured to have been working with Huu-ay-aht’s Kiixin Tours for years, for more on the experience, read our story on Huu-ay-aht Kiixin Tours
Connect the dots and discovery #IndigenousCoastBC – link your Bamfield stay/Kiixin Tour with a night or three at Tla-o-qui-aht’s Tin Wis Resort, support their #Tlaoquiaht Tribal Parks movement.