1st Session, 41st Parliament,

Volume 148, Issue 157

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

The Honourable Noël A. Kinsella, Speaker

Nuyumbalees Cultural Centre

Hon. Mobina S. B. Jaffer: Honourable senators, on Saturday, April 27, I was warmly welcomed by the emcee Dan Smith, who is with the First Nations Summit, to the Nuyumbalees Cultural Centre’s dinner and art auction on the Quinsam Reserve, in Campbell River.

This annual event, which was very well organized by Jodi Simkin, provides much needed funds to support the operation of the cultural centre and receives generous support from Tom Pallen and Derrick Pallen, prominent businessmen in Campbell River.

More importantly, however, it offers the opportunity for guests to see first-hand how the cultural and artistic traditions passed from generation to generation continue to thrive and evolve through the hands of the artisans whose work was on display.

Nuyumbalees Cultural Centre is home to the Sacred Potlatch Collection, which was repatriated from the federal government in 1975. It is a source of great pride amongst the Laich-Kwil-Tach peoples and represents what is possible with collaboration, determination and perseverance, as my host, Chief Ralph Dick, explained to me throughout the event.

Although located in Cape Mudge, Nuyumbalees represents 15 First Nations whose territories span from the northern tip of Vancouver Island through to the Comox Valley.

To see the Potlatch Collection returned to the community is to see the possibilities for the future. Youth here are inspired to learn and embrace the traditions of their elders, with an enthusiasm for cultural identity and expression that is unprecedented. They recognize that through language, cultural traditions are defined and that without a comprehensive understanding, those teachings are compromised.

With fewer than one dozen fluent speakers in the community, there is an urgent need to capture language and traditions from the elders. It simply cannot wait any longer — these elders are aging and the legacy they will leave behind is jeopardized if we do not respond to the call for action.

Nuyumbalees Cultural Centre has ambitious plans for the coming year that focus on meaningful and respectful opportunities for learners of all ages to participate in language, culture and arts programs. By ensuring that the tools necessary to facilitate language and cultural revitalization are available to the community, they ensure that traditions that define them, at least in part, are safeguarded for future generations. The centre promotes strong cultural identity as the foundation for building inclusive, healthy and prosperous communities.

Nuyumbalees’ vision for the teaching of language and traditions speaks to the need for healing and education, not only for children and youth but also for the entire community. They are committed to supporting the cultural revitalization that is just beginning to take shape.

We should embrace the opportunity to be part of this journey and demonstrate, with great abandon, what is possible when we work together for the common good.

[Translation]

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