Department of Canadian Heritage

Department of Canadian Heritage

June 15, 2015 12:00 ET

Preserving and Safeguarding Kwakwaka'wakw Culture on British Columbia's Central Coast

The Honourable John Duncan announces funding for the U'mista Cultural Society

ALERT BAY, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwired - June 15, 2015) - Department of Canadian Heritage

The U'mista Cultural Society will receive funding of $49,694 through the Museums Assistance Program to create an exhibition at the U'mista Cultural Centre showcasing Kwakwaka'wakw women and weaving as an art form.

The new exhibit is inspired by a rare ceremonial chilkat blanket created by celebrated weaver Anisalaga (Mary Ebbets Hunt), a high-ranking Tlingit noblewoman who settled near Port Hardy, on northern Vancouver Island, around 1850. The U'mista Cultural Centre will conduct interviews with Kwakwaka'wakw weavers, prepare exhibition content and design, develop community engagement programs and install the exhibition.

Funding will also enable a secondary project focus. The Centre will produce a disaster planning manual, which will include best practices, policies and procedures to manage fire, theft, flooding and infestation. Once completed, this document will be shared with other museums and help build professional practices for the preservation of Aboriginal artefacts.

This investment was announced today by the Honourable John Duncan, Minister of State and Member of Parliament (Vancouver Island North), on behalf of the Honourable Shelly Glover, Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages.

Quick Facts

  • The U'mista Cultural Society was founded in 1974 with a mandate to ensure the survival of the cultural heritage and language of the Kwakwaka'wakw people, traditional inhabitants of the coastal areas of northeastern Vancouver Island and mainland British Columbia.
  • The U'mista Cultural Society operates the U'mista Cultural Centre, a museum and cultural education facility. Built in 1980, the Centre was one of the first to house repatriated potlatch artefacts and is one of the longest-operating First Nations cultural facilities in British Columbia.
  • The Museums Assistance Program provides funding to Canadian museums and related institutions for projects that foster excellence in museum activities and that facilitate access to the treasures of our collective heritage.


"The U'mista Cultural Centre is a rich part of the local community, promoting a better understanding and appreciation of the Kwakwaka'wakw people, culture and heritage. Museums and cultural institutions like this one build lasting legacies by safeguarding treasures and artefacts so that we can learn, appreciate and enjoy."

- The Honourable Shelly Glover, Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages

"Since opening its doors more than 30 years ago, the U'mista Cultural Centre has continued to present compelling exhibits, exciting tours and educational programming. Our Government is pleased to support this respected institution and its efforts to preserve and promote British Columbia's unique Aboriginal heritage."

- The Honourable John Duncan, Minister of State and Member of Parliament (Vancouver Island North)

"We are very grateful for the essential support from the Government of Canada, which will allow us to develop a temporary exhibition that celebrates Kwakwaka'wakw women and weaving, and helps ensure that this extraordinary form of traditional art will be created and appreciated for generations to come. With this support we will also produce a guide to support best practices in disaster management in hopes of improving preservation of First Nations artefacts."

- Sarah Holland, Executive Director, U'mista Cultural Society

Associated Links

U'mista Cultural Society

Museums Assistance Program

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Contact Information

  • Marisa Monnin
    Director of Communications
    Office of the Minister of Canadian Heritage
    and Official Languages

    Anna Gravelle
    Regional Communications Manager
    Canadian Heritage
    Western Region

    Media Relations
    Canadian Heritage