Every culture has a creation story. Every important object and artifact across the span of human existence has an origin story. Even if we have forgotten the words, even if it’s no longer held in living memory, even if the dusty relic of narrative has been obscured and fragmented beyond recognition – there is a first point at which all important things caught like a seed in the soil of human consciousness. There is a point at which all important things pushed through that soil and began a slow climb skyward.
The story we’re going to tell here encompasses many creations, many origins. It takes the heap of tangled spruce roots that represents all the people, all the lives, all the moments concerned with the telling – and it weaves them into a tight basket. We will show you some of the immense treasures that basket holds.
We are Heiltsuk. Our name is a story, our people are many stories. Our territory is a long, broad landscape and seascape on which many stories are written. Our people have existed in this place since time before memory, and our very identity is intimately tied to our land and waters. Others have plied the channels and inlets of our motherland, followed the waterways and deer trails into the heart of the rich outer coastal islands that have sustained us since our creation. This is not their story. They are a part of it. This is our story. We are telling our own story.
We practice a strong, strict and beautiful storytelling tradition. We invite you to witness the story we are about to share with you. To stand as a witness is a great honour. You will carry this story with you, and when the time comes, you will be able to stand before our critics and our celebrants and say to them, I know this story. I witnessed this story’s first telling. And I attest that it is true, and that the storytellers acted in the correct way. In the Heiltsuk way.
Thank you for witnessing our story.