“In order to move forward we must reconcile both worlds”, my late uncle would say. As head of our family, he received a big hereditary chief’s name and position amongst the Musg̱a̱makw Dzawada̱’enux̱w. The big name was Yaḵała̱nlis. Ernest Willie was brought up in the days when the Potlatching, in Kingcome Inlet and Gilford Island, was still going strong. In 1945, when he was only 8 years old, he was initiated into the Hamat̕sa secret society. As he grew older he moved away to become educated in western society. He felt that he needed to learn how to survive and reconcile both worlds; that he did!
My uncle Ernie also became a Minister for the Anglican Church. He often would tell me that he could relate to the stories in the Bible to our own local stories within the Kwakwa̱ka̱’wakw. “It’s all about the gift of self”, he would say. He truly knew what it meant to reconcile both worlds.
This totem pole represents, not only the 4 tribes of Kingcome, but also how we are not inferior to the Anglican Church; our pole is not behind, or in front, it is beside it. Our people went through a lot of turmoil just to put it up. They had to say it was in memory of King George the 5th in order to erect the pole. Indeed, my old people were smart! It was against the law in 1938 to practice our culture. During the Potlatch ban (1884 to 1951), some of our chiefs actually went to jail for practicing our traditions. In this church you can see that our old people incorporated our First Nation’s elements within the building. The foresight they had during that time is remarkable. They truly left us a path for us to follow!
Travel~Truth~Beauty and Educational!