First Nations Studies

Bill Reid Centre unveils interactive new Húy̓at exhibit

February 14, 2019
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Simon Fraser University’s Bill Reid Centre has unveiled a new exhibit to honour Húy̓at and the Heiltsuk people, also formerly known as the Bella Bella.

The descendants of Heiltsuk-speaking peoples of the Central Coast of British Columbia, the Heiltsuk have a vibrant culture and history rich in storytelling and oral traditions. Some of these stories have been recorded by ethnographers, while others have been passed down from generation to generation, in an intergenerational practice of sharing known as núyṃ́.

The exhibit allows for viewers to learn about these ancestral stories and explore the landscapes of Húy̓at in an interactive format. In a panoramic digital setting, viewers can scroll through the picturesque backdrops in Húy̓at and click on interactive explanations of scenic points, vegetation, people, and locations to learn about the culture and the land.

A collaborative effort, the Heiltsuk Nation teamed up with researchers at SFU and UVIC, as well as partners at Greencoast Media, to create the exhibit as an invitation to explore the beauty and depth of Húy̓at’s culture and history. The collection of Heiltsuk memories, knowledge, and oral traditions were the result of painstaking community-initiated research, including ethnographic sources, archival documents, and roughly 30 interviews all assembled over a six-year period from 2012 to 2017.

Many Heiltsuk people today continue to feel a deep connection to Húy̓at, especially due to the relatively little disturbance in the landscape. As one of many places on the Heiltsuk landscape that are important to its people, the proximity of Húy̓at to Bella Bella encourages the potential for community input and education of its youth.

The Húy̓at exhibit is available to be viewed at the Bill Reid Centre in the Department of First Nations Studies located at Saywell Hall (SWH 9091).