Prepared by Tana Thomas, Arts and Culture Coordinator, Pacific Peoples’ Partnership
ÍY SȻÁĆEL (Good day) to the city of Victoria that resides on the traditional unceded territory of the Lekwungen People. In our own canoes, we’ve all had to adapt to a new way of paddling through this global pandemic. After several waves of the triggers that come with the unknown, the spirit of the Pacific Ocean continues to bring unity amongst nations.
This September, Pacific Peoples’ Partnership (PPP) is delighted to once again deliver One Wave Gathering, an annual celebration of Pacific and Indigenous Cultures. At One Wave, artists, speakers, and leaders share stories through song, dance, carving, weaving, traditional foods and art. This year, we will offer events within the safe constructs of social distancing or delivered online to you in the comfort of your own home. Offerings you may enjoy this year include digital media, pop-up performances, youth arts, and maybe even a drive-in theatre! We also have planned broadcasts of the youth opera “Flight of the Hummingbird” youth opera, Roy Henry Vickers’ “Peace Dancer,” and the unveiling of the Pacific Peace Post, the culmination of a two-year collaboration between Carvers Bradley Dick and Ake Lianga.
As delegated guests arrive from near and far to participate in a sacred cultural exchange, they are traditionally welcomed by the hereditary caretakers of this land. Wherever you may travel in this world, Indigenous people have followed their ancestral protocols of welcoming visitors into their territory. Historically, the ancestors of Pacific Islanders and coastal First Nations have voyaged these waters and shared stories with one another since time Immemorial.
Since 2008, the One Wave Gathering has been held on the unceded traditional territory of the Lekwungen people, which consists of the Songhees and Esquimalt nations. Lekwungen traditionally means “A place to smoke herring”. As told by many elders, our teachings stem from the roots in our territory. Every spectrum of the land and ocean explored has a language in which it speaks. Learning the language of the land gives us insight into how to coexist with one another and provides a deeper understanding that isn’t perceived in the English language.
One Wave Gathering is a historical and transformative opportunity for guests of all ages to learn and interact with Pacific knowledge keepers and artists. It’s a true honour to witness the stories being told and gain insight on the deep-rooted connection between our lands and peoples. As communal people, It’s a vital responsibility to our spirit to reform connections and participate in meaningful circles of dialogue.
For many years it’s been a delicate time to publicly share Indigenous cultural protocols and ceremonies outside of our communities. Globally, Indigenous people are survivors of urbanization, colonial institutions, and cultural genocide. Visitors that join the circles must educate themselves about the historical traumas Indigenous people have faced due to the loss of territory, the loss of the children, and the loss of language. Many of our teachings have gone underground. Certain songs and dances were not always accessible. Many ceremonies and teachings were ultimately protected by those who were told to keep them sacred while remaining a secret to the outside world. It has been a long and resilient journey back to feeling safe enough to learn about and share our true identity.
To gather and culturally share with one another is a vigorous act of resilience. The One Wave Gathering wouldn’t be possible without the courageous act of each individual artist sharing their story. Our hands go up to all of you!
When healing takes place in our communities and our intergenerational shame has been acknowledged as something, not ours to carry, we are able to share in a good way. It is up to each individual that’s joining the circle to create a safe place for cultural exchange. When we are sharing teachings with one another, we understand that there are many threads of life that add to the lesson as a whole.
As a previous attendee of this beautiful event, I have left with the feelings of being surged with hope and pride. I stood alongside many allies as a firsthand witness to the transformation that’s happening within and through our nations. The One Wave Gathering has created a safe place in which Indigenous-led dialogue is highly valued and respected. Pacific Peoples’ Partnership has done an extraordinary job collaborating with the local nations to strengthen the collective vision of constructive steps towards unity.
We hope to see familiar and new faces join the canoe at One Wave this year as we ride the next wave into resurgence!