Museum at Campbell River first stop for Sacred Journeys exhibit

The opening of the Sacred Journeys exhibit at the Museum of Campbell River was a chance for many to catch up. Ronan O’Doherty/ Campbell River MirrorThe opening of the Sacred Journeys exhibit at the Museum of Campbell River was a chance for many to catch up. Ronan O’Doherty/ Campbell River Mirror
Laverne Henderson of Wei Wai Kum First Nation dances at the Sacred Journeys exhibit opening. Ronan O’Doherty photo/ Campbell River MirrorLaverne Henderson of Wei Wai Kum First Nation dances at the Sacred Journeys exhibit opening. Ronan O’Doherty photo/ Campbell River Mirror
Kwakwaka’wakw master carver Bill Henderson of the Wei Wai Kum First Nation thinks back fondly on a giant canoe he made with fellow carvers for an ocean voyage. Ronan O’Doherty/ Campbell River MirrorKwakwaka’wakw master carver Bill Henderson of the Wei Wai Kum First Nation thinks back fondly on a giant canoe he made with fellow carvers for an ocean voyage. Ronan O’Doherty/ Campbell River Mirror
Heiltsuk First Nation elder Margaret Brown was overcome with emotion at the upliifting messages being shared by speakers at the Sacred Journeys exhibit opening. Ronan O’Doherty/ Campbell River MirrorHeiltsuk First Nation elder Margaret Brown was overcome with emotion at the upliifting messages being shared by speakers at the Sacred Journeys exhibit opening. Ronan O’Doherty/ Campbell River Mirror
Dancers celebrate the Sacred Journeys exhibit opening on Saturday, July 17. Ronan O’Doherty photo/ Campbell River MirrorDancers celebrate the Sacred Journeys exhibit opening on Saturday, July 17. Ronan O’Doherty photo/ Campbell River Mirror
A little boy helps cut the cedar ribbon for the opening of the Sacred Journeys exhibit at Museum at Campbell River. Ronan O’Doherty photo/ Campbell River MirrorA little boy helps cut the cedar ribbon for the opening of the Sacred Journeys exhibit at Museum at Campbell River. Ronan O’Doherty photo/ Campbell River Mirror
The centrepiece of the exhibit is a canoe painted with four Heiltsuk crests. The raven and the whale on one side, and the eagle and wolf on another. Ronan O’Doherty photo/ Campbell River MirrorThe centrepiece of the exhibit is a canoe painted with four Heiltsuk crests. The raven and the whale on one side, and the eagle and wolf on another. Ronan O’Doherty photo/ Campbell River Mirror
The Sacred Journeys exhibit has many interactive elements to it. Ronan O’Doherty/ Campbell River MirrorThe Sacred Journeys exhibit has many interactive elements to it. Ronan O’Doherty/ Campbell River Mirror
Frank Brown (centre) is the hereditary chief of the Heiltsuk Nation and the executive producer of the Sacred Journeys exhibit. Ronan O’Doherty photo/ Campbell River MirrorFrank Brown (centre) is the hereditary chief of the Heiltsuk Nation and the executive producer of the Sacred Journeys exhibit. Ronan O’Doherty photo/ Campbell River Mirror
Smiles were plentiful at the Sacred Journeys exhibit opening on Saturday, July 17. Ronan O’Doherty photo/ Campbell River MirrorSmiles were plentiful at the Sacred Journeys exhibit opening on Saturday, July 17. Ronan O’Doherty photo/ Campbell River Mirror

Saturday afternoon’s Sacred Journeys exhibit opening at the Museum at Campbell River doubled as an uplifting cultural gathering.

Members of the Heiltsuk First Nation were greeted warmly by their Wei Wai Kum First Nation brethren. A common bond of paddling the open ocean has joined the two bands, and it was discussed heartily, and at length.

The exhibit explores the social and ceremonial impact of the original coastal peoples’ primary mode of long distance transportation through art, as well as immersive audio and video. It is inspired by, and intertwined with Tribal Journey, an annual event which sees tribes from all across the Pacific Northwest coast travel hundreds of kilometres by canoe to fellow nations in order to built solidarity.

Kwakwaka’wakw master carver Bill Henderson of the Wei Wai Kum First Nation spoke fondly of building a massive canoe for a Tribal Journey at the request of Heiltsuk hereditary chief Frank Brown, who is he executive director of the exhibit.

“The log was 980 years old, and the bark on it had been peeled, so when we put it in the water, I stood on top of it and tagged it, and said this is going to be the top of our canoe, that’s the way it is going to float,” he said.

Once built, he had nothing but pleasant memories of the journey, following the routes his ancestors would have for thousands of years.

“I’ve been on a lot of holidays, but none can take the place of that one,” Henderson said.

“It was very touching. Every community we stopped at we had a pow wow, feasts and sing songs.”

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Brown took the microphone to explain how important the exhibit is.

“The story of the ocean-going canoe on the coast is all of our story,” he said. “The canoe made our society what it is. It mobilized us, where we can harvest the abundance of the sea and the land to evolve to be the great cultures that we are.”

Brown said he believes the act of putting on the exhibit mirrors the effort it takes to build a large canoe.

“It was done in the spirit of the canoe work because it takes lot of people to make it happen. Not just one person.”

The art work of Ian Reed, KC Hall, and Chazz Mack is featured, as is the video work of Green Coast Media’s Mark Winch.

The museum’s executive director Sandra Parrish described the exhibit as powerful.

“It’s been in the works for a number of years, but we’ve always been that first stop for it, which is very important to us,” she said.

The exhibit is scheduled to go to a number of other museums across Canada and the United States.

“It is wonderful,” Parrish said of the travelling exhibit. “While we’re all familiar with tribal journeys on the coast here but to get that very positive story elsewhere will be very good.

While it will be going elsewhere, there is still lots of time to see it locally. Sacred Journeys will be shown at Museum at Campbell River until November 7.



ronan.odoherty@campbellrivermirror.com

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