2024 Inside Passage Flotilla North – Day 11 Port McNeill Lay Day | NW Explorations
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2024 Inside Passage Flotilla North – Day 11 Port McNeill Lay Day

It was a rainy, slow morning in Port McNeill. To take advantage of the lay day we decided to catch a ferry and take a little trip into Alert Bay on Cormorant Island, home to the Namgi First Nation.

The main highlight of the day was our visit to the U’mista Cultural Center which displayed regalia such as ceremonial masks and dress worn while performing traditional song and dance. The largest collection was the “Potlatch Collection” which highlighted the sacred regalia returned to the Kwakwa̱ka̱ʼwakw people after the lifting of a devastating ceremonial potlatch ban in 1885. The regalia on display had been confiscated during a potlatch deemed illegal in 1921. It was not until 1973 that repatriation efforts were made to return the artifacts to their rightful home.

Outside of the U’mista was a powerful and emotional memorial dedicated to the indigenous children who lost their lives in the St. Michaels residential school, formerly located directly behind the cultural center before being torn down. The large, wooden orange T-shirt is symbolic of the reconciliation of the residential school survivors, the acknowledgment of our painful history, and the commitment to correcting the harm that has been caused. Red dresses could also be seen hanging from the branches of trees in honor of all the missing and murdered indigenous women.

There was an array of indigenous art throughout the town, with totem poles posted in front roads and native motifs decorating building walls.

An abundance of large, ruffled ravens covered the shores, while hawks and eagles perched on wooden posts and dominated the sky, circling above.

On the ferry ride back, we reminisced on the eventful day and played card games to pass the time. Once we made it back, we excitedly greeted John and Carol’s son and daughter-in-law, who had arrived in Port McNeill that evening. With an early departure planned for the morning, everyone got to bed early for the night.

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