The Museum at Campbell River offers boat tours to beautiful Bute Inlet this summer.

Bute Inlet: The heart of Homalco culture

Last year was the inaugural year for the Homalco Band’s Cultural Experience tours taking place at their traditional territory in Orford Bay, located in the historic and stunningly beautiful Bute Inlet.

The Museum at Campbell River, in partnership with Discovery Marine Safaris and the Homalco Band, offered two trips in 2015 which were extremely popular by the participants and this year, the Museum will increase the number of trips to three. Each trip is on a Sunday, and is about 10 hours long; leaving Campbell River by boat at 8 a.m. and returning around 6 p.m. that evening. The dates are June 5, 12, and 19.

Bute Inlet is one of the most stunning waterways on the coast, flanked by soaring mountains and containing crystalline waters. For many living in coastal B.C., it is rare to be able to travel up into these far away inlets to enjoy their outstanding beauty. Rarer still is the opportunity to visit a First Nations reserve and to experience an ancient culture.

The Homalco Band has been making efforts over the past few years to reconnect to their traditional lands along the Orford River. The area is abundant with wildlife, being a prime location for grizzly bear viewing. The Band along with General Manager of Homalco Wildlife Tours Inc., Shawn O’Connor, has worked with its youth to create cultural experiences for visitors. O’Connor says that they are continually adding to their guides’ training in such areas as ethnobotany, First Aid, Small Vessel Operator Proficiency (SVOP) and Coast Salish culture. Most importantly he said, “The young people are enjoying every minute of it.”

The tour will include the opportunity to paddle a traditional 18-foot Salish design ocean going canoe, witness a demonstration of cedar weaving, learn Homalco history, visit with a Homalco artist, peek in at a hatchery and visit the grizzly bear platforms. If local wildlife make an appearance that will be a bonus.

But of special note will be a delicious traditional seafood feast prepared for lunch.  Last year’s participants couldn’t say enough about how much they enjoyed both the feast and the enthusiasm of the Homalco youth who proudly demonstrated traditional dancing, drumming and singing both during and after the meal.

It has taken many years, but at last members of the Homalco Indian Band of Campbell River have come full circle; reclaiming their history on their own ancestral lands. To witness Band members telling their own stories is a profound way to gain insight into this remote and spectacular area. Homalco means “people of turbulent, or fast running water.” The Homalco language is a Coast Salish dialect, and their core traditional territory extends from Dent Island to the vicinity of Raza Passage and includes all of Bute Inlet. The cost for the trip is $205 and includes the seafood feast, on-board interpretation both to and from Bute Inlet by a knowledgeable historian, as well as all activities upon arrival.To reserve a seat, call the Museum at 250-287-3103. Check the Museum website at www.crmuseum.ca for a full listing of all the Historic Boat Tours this summer.

The Museum at Campbell River offers boat tours to beautiful Bute Inlet this summer.