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Tla’amin Nation blesses ground for Ɂəms ʔayɛ “Our House”

Press Release

First cultural house to be erected in Tla’amin territory in over 200 years.

TLA’AMIN TERRITORY, BC, Feb. 20, 2024Tla’amin Nation blessed the ground so that construction could begin on Ɂəms ʔayɛ (uhms aya) Cultural Centre and Traditional Foods Processing facility.

Ɂəms ʔayɛ (Our House) Cultural Centre will include a 2000 square foot feast hall and cultural gathering space which will accommodate up to 350 guests and be used for sharing songs, dances, ceremony, and feasting. Located in the heart of the t̓išosəm community it will play a vital role in the promotion of Tla’amin language, culture, food security, and well-being.

Hegus John Hackett says that the new cultural centre is two decades in the making and is essential to the survival of Tla’amin ways of knowing and being. “Our language, laws, and way of life come from this land, and it’s our responsibility to uphold the relationships that we have sustained for thousands of years.” He added “Ɂəms ʔayɛ is going to be a teaching ground and a place to transmit ʔəms taʔaw (our teachings) and to prepare the next generation of Tla’amin people to carry on our sacred responsibilities.”

Ɂəms ʔayɛ will feature a small museum to house Tla’amin cultural treasures and climate-controlled repository to store and archive Tla’amin material culture. A state-of-the-art language lab and recording studio for the transmission of Ayaajuthum from one generation of Tla’amin Citizens to the next.

“It’s very special to be here on Tla’amin territory to take part in this groundbreaking and see how federal funding is having a positive impact on Tla’amin Nation revitalizing culture and teachings. I hope this investment serves as a symbol of our dedication to continue working together on our nation-to-nation relationship as we move forward,” said Federal Minister of Crown and Indigenous Relations Gary Anandasangree

Ɂəms ʔayɛ will also have a commercial kitchen for preparing foods for cultural gatherings and community feasts and will include a covered outdoor area for processing and cooking traditional foods. Onsite office space will house the growing Cultural & Heritage team who work passionately to revive Tla’amin culture.

“This new culture house, the Ɂəms ʔayɛ Cultural Centre, will be a gathering space for people in the Tla’amin Nation for years to come, fostering social belonging and cultural connection,” said Anne Kang, Minister of Municipal Affairs. “The Province is honoured to be a partner in supporting this vital project. We will continue to work with First Nations and local government on projects like this which contribute to vibrant, healthy communities.”

A new Traditional Food Processing Facility will be located adjacent to Ɂəms ʔayɛ (Our House) providing a home base for Elders, knowledge keepers and harvesters, to share wisdom about procuring and preparing foods from Tla’amin lands and waterways. Ample teaching space, large game and seafood processing areas, and large commercial freezers and coolers are among the facility’s prominent features.

Both buildings will be community and wheelchair accessible. Gardens for medicinal plants, a smokehouse, and a carving shed on site will serve as a cultural hub for the Nation.

“This project is exciting and monumental for the cultural strength of our Nation. Tla’amin has been working through the design for over 5 years. We have taken our time to ensure these buildings are designed intentionally as teaching sites and with the comfort of Elders at the forefront. Thank you to Brandon Bresden, our Project Manager for pulling together community input, cultural staff needs, and constructability to get us to this stage,” said Tla’amin Director of Public Works & Capital Infrastructure, Carmen Galligos.

Funding for the project was announced in 2022 and the Government of Canada has contributed  $3,159,508 through the Community, Culture, and Recreation Infrastructure Stream of the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program, while the Province of BC added $1,053,169.

Photos of the ground-blessing ceremony will be posted here following the event.

About the Tla’amin Nation

The Tla’amin Nation is a self-governing modern treaty nation with significant land holdings in the qathet region on British Columbia’s Sunshine Coast. The Tla’amin Treaty with Canada and British Columbia came into force in 2016. The Tla’amin people have occupied the region for millennia, stewarding the land and sea in accordance with Tla’amin law and respect for the natural world. To learn more please visit www.tlaaminnation.com.

For further information: Please contact: Davis McKenzie, Communications Director, Tla’amin Nation, 778-834-7934, davis.mckenzie@tn-bc.ca

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