On Sept. 24, in front of a standing-room only audience at Kwisitis Visitor Centre, Parks Canada unveiled a new name for its theatre.
The new name, is the late Barbara Touchie’s Nuu-chah-nulth name, pronounced Sitch – KHOO – ootl, in recognition of her contributions to the Park and the West Coast. The name means “a dorsal fin coming around a point of land.”
Born on June 20, 1931, Ms. Touchie was a life-long resident on the West Coast.
Her father was from the Toquaht Nation and her mother was from the Ucluelet First Nation.
She made the Ucluelet First Nation territory her home following her marriage to Samuel Touchie.
Her family of eight daughters and seven sons quickly grew and includes 76 grandchildren, 17 great-grandchildren and six great-great grandchildren.
From 2007 to 2011, Ms. Touchie was an instrumental member of the Nuu-chah-nulth Working Group, which provided traditional knowledge and culture guidance during the revitalization of the Kwisitis Visitor.
“She spent the last 18-years of her life as an educator, teaching the Nuu-chah-nulth language and demonstrating the importance of preserving language,” said Parks Canada representative Helen Davies.
“From her collaboration in writing curriculum for the language courses to her contribute to a website dedicated to Canadian Indigenous languages to her last project of transcribing the Declaration of Interdependence into the Nuu-chah-nulth language, Barbara proved how generous she could be with her time, her knowledge of Nuu-chah-nulth language and her culture…I’m certain she will forever be remembered fondly at Ucluelet Elementary School where I understand she conducted language classes and she will be missed dearly by Ucluelet and Toquaht members as well as the citizens of the town of Ucluelet.”
One of Ms. Touchie’s family members, Bob Mundy, thanked the crowd for being there to support his mother-in-law.
“She helped me a lot, especially in language. I would try to say something to her that I thought I knew, and it wasn’t received with a hard slap on the hand it was a gentle ‘no you’re wrong’,” said Mundy.
“I just want to say thank to all of you for coming, for being here with us, supporting our family. We appreciate that you’re here to support this event. It’s a wonderful thing to see,” he said.
Ucluelet Elementary School principal Jennifer Adamson said Ms. Touchie was the driving force in creating the momentum to bring Nuu-chah-nulth to the entire Ucluelet community.
“Because of her passion and dedication, her legacy lives every day in the school as all our children are now sharing her teachings and have a desire to learn the language. She recognized the urgency of the need to do it now and do it openly that included all the community,” said Adamson.
In addition to naming the theatre after Barbara Touchie, Parks Canada created an Nuu-chah-nulth language learning box, which anyone can access at the Kwisitis Visitor Centre.