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Salish Sea Sentinel | December 7, 2019

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Hɛhɛwšɩn signs unveiled at Willingdon Beach

Hɛhɛwšɩn signs unveiled at Willingdon Beach

Above, from left: John Louie (yaχwum), Phil Russell (kʷʊnanəm) and Cyndi Pallen (čɩnɛ). 

New signs have been unveiled in Tla’amin territory as a way to commemorate the Hɛhɛwšɩn carving project. 

The six-panel sign on Willingdon Beach now sits on the spot where carvers worked with the public to shape two canoes in a process that began in 2017. 

Hɛhɛwšɩn, meaning “the way forward,” is an initiative that officially began with the canoe carving but has encompassed a larger reconciliation initiative between Tla’amin and larger community. 

The Hɛhɛwšɩn group led the sign project to commemorate the ongoing work and to give the nation a larger presence on the beach. The signs were unveiled in a ceremony on Nov. 17.  

A statement from Hɛhɛwšɩn — led by Cyndi Pallen (čɩnɛ), John Louie (yaχwum), and Phil Russell (kʷʊnanəm) — said the sign project took two years to complete. 

“The gathering at Willingdon Beach worked to raise awareness of the history of Tla’amin,” the statement said. 

“Our non-Indigenous neighbors were invited to participate in this act of reconciliation.” 

The signs include photos from the canoe carving process, information about the history of Willingdon Beach, a traditional place names map, a harvest calendar and a timeline about the history of Tla’amin post-contact. 

“Our goal is to support the survivors and families and to fully understand the nature, causes and the extent of colonialism,” the statement said.