A new longhouse is currently under construction in Tsawout First Nation on the Saanich Peninsula.
This is an important and exciting project that is well underway. Tsawout is currently fundraising to cover some of the remaining costs and they are inviting the public to make a contribution.
In 2009, the longhouse in Tsawout was lost to a devastating fire. The smoke from the blaze could be seen across the region and the impact has been felt for the 12 years that our relatives have been without this critical home that is the centre of our W̱SÁNEĆ culture.
It is on the floor of this house that we practise sacred ceremony that has been passed from one generation to the next. It’s where we come of age, celebrate and memorialize life. It’s where we gather as families and as community.
It’s through ceremony that we learn of who we are as WILṈEW̱ People, how we are connected to each other, how we are connected to our territory. It’s ceremony that breathes life into the laws and governance.
When my relatives at Tsawout broke ground on their new longhouse last fall, they shared the deep loss that they have been feeling. But they did not only shed tears of sorrow, of what might have been. They also were tears of joy for what will come when their new home is built. It was evident for all who attended, the deep sense of hope, our SIÁM, our Elders and honoured onee, that once again our beautiful culture will come alive within the walls of this new longhouse.
In 2019, I had the honour of witnessing this is Waglisla when the Heiltsuk Nation Big House was opened. It was a powerful experience. As Tsawout Elder and councillor Mavis Underwood shared with me about the longhouse project, there is already incredible benefits for the community, jobs and skills training for the young men on the site who are also experiencing the energy of having a hand in building this new home that will again invigorate the crucial link with culture, teachings and our Elders.
My Tsawout relatives are inviting the public to contribute to their new longhouse, and while they are nearly all there, they are raising funds to complete the project, and you can learn more at tsawout.ca/bighouse. I hope you’ll join them in supporting this exciting project.