Port Alberni, BC – Usma Nuu-chah-nulth invited children in care to an event designed to teach the children about Nuu-chah-nulth war veterans and the familial connections that exist between them and their war heroes.
“Usma is inviting children and youth to share a meal with local veterans and have the opportunity to honour their past and present family members,” said the invitation. The event was held at the Usma office building in Port Alberni on Oct. 21 and started with lunch.
Usma staff gathered names and photos of Nuu-chah-nulth veterans and made a display and a Remembrance Day wreath.
“The event is a beautiful way to connect our present youth to their ancestors, a way to connect present to past,” said Leisa Hassall, Usma Connections Worker. “This was an opportunity for youth in care to see how they are directly related to each other, coming from the same families,” she added.
Usma Nuu-chah-nulth Family & Child Services is a delegated Aboriginal agency. It works to ensure the health and safety of Nuu-chah-nulth children. Part of that work includes building awareness among children in care of their cultural and familial identities. “We wanted to plant a seed for children and caregivers to learn more about the identity of our children, to create curiosity about who they are connected to,” said Hassall.
Following lunch and presentations, the children were given gifts. “The children received mugs with the pictures of veterans they are directly related to, in hopes that they will continue learning about their family members and identifying other family members.
“The idea was to host the event before Remembrance Day so children can continue learning about their ancestor leading into Remembrance Day and be proud to share with their peers that they are a descendant of a Nuu-chah-nulth hero,” Hassall shared.
According to Hassall, the children saw a presentation about their Nuu-chah-nulth veteran ancestors then learned how they are related to them. “The glaze in the children’s eyes and the ear-to-ear smiles as they opened up a special gift from Usma was a moment I will always remember,” said Hassall.
The pre-Remembrance Day event was planned and led by Usma’s Prevention Team. The team identified descendants of the veterans by using their Family Tree Data Base. Pictures of veterans were collected from multiple sources.
Usma plans to build on this presentation, making it an annual event.
The Wall honoring our Nuu-chah-nulth Veterans will stay up in the Usma Cultural space until after Remembrance Day, Hassall shared.