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Hauyat is a quiet inlet along the central coast of British Columbia, sheltered from the wild swells of the open Pacific Ocean, about 400 kilometers north of Vancouver. An outsider may see few traces of human habitation on the landscape, but the ancestors of the Heiltsuk Nation lived here for millennia, managing the landscape and cultivating a deep connection between people and place. People stopped living at Hauyat in the 20th century, but many still visit and recall childhoods spent here, in the words of one elder, learning how to be Heiltsuk. Today, many Heiltsuk live nearby in the small village of Bella Bella, which has been in the news more than usual of late. In September, it was the site of a royal visit by Prince William and Duchess Catherine. In October, the US articulated tugboat Nathan E. Stewart ran aground nearby, spilling diesel into the surrounding waters for a month before crews finally salvaged it on November 14.
This video explores the importance of this coastal place to the Heiltsuk and highlights an ongoing collaborative project that combines Western science with traditional knowledge to tell the story of Hauyat.