Case Study: Huu-ay-aht First Nation
Huu-ay-aht First Nations is a self-governing First Nation whose Traditional Territory and Treaty Settlement Land is situated in Barclay Sound on the west coast of Vancouver Island, at the entrance to Alberni Inlet. The Nation is committed to balancing the objectives of strong and diverse economic growth with environmental sustainability and social responsibility and operates under the premise of “Ancient Spirit, Modern Mind”.
Kiixin is the traditional capital village of the Huu-ay-aht, and is the only known First Nations village of more than 100 villages on the southern B.C. coast that still features significant, standing traditional architecture. In 2017, the Huu-ay-aht decided to offer cultural tours of the National Historic Site, not only to share their rich history with visitors but also as a way to keep their culture alive among their people. In order to do that they needed to create a brand story that honored the rich cultural history but also appealed to visitors to the area, with a view to a longer-term plan of creating a tourism hub among their sites & properties in the Bamfield area.
We conducted a discovery session with key stakeholders from the Huu-ay-aht Nation to determine their values and common themes as a community as well as to consider as a group what visitors to the area were in search of. Together we brainstormed important aspects of the Huu-ay-aht culture as they related to Kiixin. From this we developed a brand story for Kiixin centered around the follow image and the tagline “Journey with our Ancestors”
1. The three stars are an important aspect of Huu-ay-aht culture, derived from their first ancestors and woven throughout modern day undertakings.
2. Kiixin fortress (Execution Rock) is pictures and is a well known symbol, visible from the Kiixin site. It symbolizes the connection between the outside (the ocean) and the inside (the village)
3. The colours used were chosen to represent the trees, the ocean and the sand.
Tagline: Journey with our Ancestors was adopted because of storytelling that occurs on the tour. Visitors should feel that they are going back in time to experience Kiixin Village 1000 years ago, through the stories related by their guide while at the same time honouring those ancestors for all that they have built for today’s generation of Huu-ay-aht people.
The Kiixin brand story has been welcomed by the Huu-ay-aht people, who are proud to be able to showcase their rich heritage with visitors to the area. In the eight short months that it has operated with one tour daily, 1500 people have had the privilege of journeying with the ancestors of the Huu-ay-aht and experiencing the magic of Kiixin.
Visit the Kiixin Tours website to take your own Journey with the Huu-ay-aht and their Ancestors.