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.