Mowachaht/Muchalaht First Nation is one step closer to building a new welcome house in Nootka Sound, with funding support from Island Coastal Economic Trust’s Capital (ICET) and Innovation Program.
The Ahaminaquus Welcome House will function as a visitor centre, community hub and museum. It will also host ceremonies, workshops and educational sessions focusing on the nation and settler history in the region, including Captain Cook’s first landing in Nootka Sound in 1778.
Azar Kamran, Mowachaht/Muchalaht First Nation CEO and administrator, said the nation’s culture will be highlighted through signage and art.
Located 13 kilometers from the village of Gold River, the project represents a key component of the nation’s redevelopment plans for their Ahaminaquus lands.
Kamran said the house is a “very small piece of the overall development strategy” the nation is working on.
A new RV park and campground, trail network and satellite museum on Nootka Island are also in the planning phase.
“The nation believes economic development in its territories is vitally linked to forestry, fishery and tourism,” said Kamran. “Ahaminaquus Welcome House is a major first step in coordinating [the] tourism industry in the region … further promoting Nootka Sound as an adventure destination on Vancouver Island.”
Built with cedar wood planks and Douglas fir beams, the house’s design will reflect the traditional style of Nuu-chah-nulth architecture, according to ICET.
While the trust is contributing $300,000, additional funding is needed to bring the $1,303,000 welcome house to life.
Founded by the province in 2016, the Island Coastal Economic Trust has approved over $55 million towards economic development initiatives which have attracted more than $270 in new investment to Vancouver Island and the surrounding region.
“This project significantly expands the region’s tourism infrastructure, providing increased capacity to meet existing and future demand for authentic Indigenous and west coast experiences,” said Aaron Stone, ICET board chair. “The welcome house will support the dispersion of visitors from saturated markets to rural, remote and underserved areas.”
Kamran said the welcome house will be a place where visitors can stop in to ask questions about the region.
“[It’ll be] a launching ground for all the various activities that visitors can do in the region,” he said.
Mowachaht/Muchalaht’s welcome house and tourism development plan has been “long awaited,” said Kamran.
“This is just the very start,” he said.