By all measures, the 2017 One Wave Gathering was a resounding success. All participants, be they local, Nuu-chah-nulth, Kwakwaka’wakw or South Pacific Islanders, were extremely pleased with the participatory, inclusive and educational proceedings. A number of elders were moved to tears and speechlessness by the unprecedented and historical importance of this event.
– April Ingham, Executive Director of Pacific Peoples’ Partnership
As an annual event hosted by PPP, One Wave has celebrated international Pacific community, arts and culture in Victoria, British Columbia since 2008. In 2017, motivated by ongoing steps towards First Nations reconciliation and global Indigenous movements, PPP presented an enriched and expanded One Wave Gathering.
This year’s theme, “healing through celebration,” permeated every aspect of the event creating a supportive village atmosphere while celebrating and honouring all those in attendance.
To all that have made this vision a reality: hay’sxʷqa. Read our full acknowledgement here.
This event was unprecedented: a gathering of many communities from across the North and South Pacific. Guided by their unique customs, protocols and histories, they came together on the British Columbia Legislature lawns as a village. Through this Gathering, thousands of members of the Victoria public, including political leaders from various levels of government, had the opportunity to build meaningful relationships with one another in authentic spaces.
Thanks to the BC Legislature invitation for the Gathering to use the lawns overlooking Victoria’s Inner Harbour, it was the first time in many generations that four longhouses stood on this former traditional Lekwungen village site.
This year, One Wave Gathering was marked by a unique symbolic installation: the Longhouse Project. Under the direction of Nuu-chah-nulth artist Hjalmer Wenstob, and with the active support of the BC Legislature, four First Nations and Maori youth were selected to design art for the façades of the temporary longhouses. The houses were created in the styles of the Coast Salish, Kwakwaka’wakw, Nuu-chah-nulth, and South Pacific Islands respectively. Inside each longhouse, community members from each area had full rein in creating welcoming and educational interactive spaces for the public throughout the day.
Longhouse designs were created by Sarah Jim (Coast Salish), A.J. Boersen (Nuu-chah-nulth), Juliana Speier (Kwak’waka’wakw), Jazzlyn Markowsky (Maori) and a phenomenal dance curtain, later gifted to Songhees and Esquimalt Nations, was created by James Goldsmith-Brown (Esquimalt Nation). The journey of youth, participating artists and community members who produced and programmed within the longhouses was captured in a documentary to be showcased at PPP’s upcoming AGM and Holiday Feast on December 10.
What we wanted to do was bring people into our homes, truly and honestly do it. Bring people into our homes and share. Share a meal, conversation and story, and learn a little bit about each other and the history and how we can move forward together.
– Hjalmer Wenstob (Lead Artist, Nuu-chah-nulth)
Hosted on Lekwungen territory, the Gathering’s organizers worked respectfully with Songhees and Esquimalt Nations to ensure the event was meaningful to both Nations. This led to a second unprecedented aspect of One Wave Gathering: all materials and signage on site were produced in both English and Lekwungen.
Chief Ron Sam of Songhees Nation, Chief Andy Thomas of Esquimalt Nation and Joan Morris of Songhees Nation opened the event by speaking to the Indigenous history of the Inner Harbour area, including customary place-names and sites of significance. They also spoke about the impact of colonization on the area.
Two Lekwungen dance groups (Lekwungen Dancers & Esquimalt Singers and Dancers), two Polynesian dance groups (Pearls of the South Pacific and Tusitala Polynesian Dancers), one Kwak’waka’wakw dance group (Kwakiutl Dancers) and one Nuu-chah-nulth dance group (Ahousaht Dance Group) presented on the main stage. The dance presentations ended with a participatory dance for all the public led by the Kwakiutl Dance Group.
A big part for me was that everyone came together and that we all celebrated as one race, the human race; I hope that eventually more and more people come each year and that soon racism and stereotypes end for everyone.
– A.J. Boersen (Nuu-chah-nulth), Longhouse Project Youth
During the day, the City of Victoria’s Indigenous artist-in-residence Lindsay Delaronde facilitated a corn-husk doll-making activity with public participation, and partnered with Tlingit artist Nahaan to produce a theatre piece called Remembering. Nuu-chah-nulth elder Moy Sutherland Sr. guided the public in games of slahal, a traditional bone game that in years past was an important fixture of the local economy.
At the end of the day, Pacific Peoples’ Partnership was pleased to partner with the Moose Hide Campaign for a public feast featuring both local and international foods.
One Wave 2017 was an outstanding program with a wide range of community impacts, and we are still actively consulting the community around how to move the program forward. Were you at One Wave Gathering, and do you have an idea to share? We would love to hear from you.
Feel free to email email@example.com with your comments and feedback, or get involved next year!
View more photos in our Facebook album.
Please donate today so that we can continue to produce One Wave Gathering.