is one of an immense network of culturally important places in Heiltsuk territory. It is the land where C̓uṃ́qlaqs gave birth to her wolf children, and where we have lived for millennia, making our imprint on the land. Húy̓at collectively refers to several socially and geographically connected bays on northern Hunter Island, located in what is known today as the Central Coast of British Columbia. Húy̓at is just down the channel from the present-day village of Bella Bella where many of our people now live.
Our Land
From mountaintop to ocean floor, Heiltsuk history and identity are rooted to and embedded in the memories, oral traditions, place names, geological features, archaeological sites, and gardens and orchards of Húy̓at.
When many of our Elders were children, Húy̓at was a place of total immersion in being Heiltsuk. At a time when many Heiltsuk traditions could not be openly practiced or celebrated because of government sanctions, at Húy̓at our people could freely speak their language, and live their traditional values of working together as family units to harvest and process food. This was done with respect for each other, the environment, and the resources that sustained them. Knowledge and values were imparted and reinforced in many ways including through oral traditions—stories passed down through the generations from ancient times.
"Húy̓at... was a place where I heard lots of stories, that's a place where I really learned my family and cultural heritage, a place where I learned about how to, how our family interconnected with salmon and how we treated salmon as part of our life... That's where we learned how to be Heiltsuk... all the other stuff we learned at the residential school."
- Gvágva̓u Steve Carpenter
These oral traditions, as well as the archaeological evidence, in the form of ancient villages, fish traps, and clam gardens, reflect the fact that these Heiltsuk practices are age-old in Húy̓at. By re-affirming our connection to Húy̓at today, and by bringing Heiltsuk youth to Húy̓at to experience its magic, we are re-embracing the places dear to us, and asserting our traditional rights to occupy and manage our lands and seas.
"This place is my personal history and has tremendous meaning for me."
- Gálǧṃkas Jim White
"It was home away from home."
- Joan Hall
"That was heaven for me."
- Yím̓ás Q̓vúmán̓akvla Wilfred Humchitt