Gala planned for longhouse effort

Tsawout First Nation still raising money to replace its longhouse

First Nations dancers will perform at a special gala Oct. 27 to help the Tsawout First Nation rainse funds for its new longhouse.

Since 2009, members of the Tsawout First Nation have been trying to raise the money necessary to rebuild the longhouse that burned down in July of that year.

In August of 2011, the community blessed the site where they plan to rebuild the longhouse — a badly-needed centre for learning and teaching and a core part of Coast Salish culture.

However, the society that was formed to rebuild the facility is still searching out sources of funds for the project.

To that end, the Tsawout SNEPENEKS Cultural Society is hosting a gala dinner and cultural event on Saturday, October 27.

Event co-ordinator Farrah Sylvester says the QELENSEN gala will be a celebration of Coast Salish culture, featuring entertainment and traditional food, such as halibut, salmon, oysters and prawns.

“Many people from the community are working on this event,” she said, adding local youth will be serving each table.

Gala performances include illusionist Eric Bedard, award-winning Cree singer/songwriter Art Napoleon and TV star Adam Beach (CBC’s Arctic Air and Smoke Signals).

The gala also brings in the Snuneymuxw First Nation Dancers as well as the Cowichan Tzinquaw Dancers, who were part of the Vancouver Olympics opening ceremonies.

“They are awesome,” said Sylvester, adding this is an important event in the Tsawout community.

“We really feel the loss of the longhouse because it is the symbolic base of our culture,” she explained.

The event hopes to help bring the society closer to its goal of $300,000 to pay for the foundation of the new longhouse.

The estimated cost of the project is $900,000.

Tsawout housing officer Gwen Underwood has said to the News Review there are no government cultural funds available for longhouses they can tap into.

Construction plans have been pushed back numerous times as the community continues to raise funds.

To get tickets to the gala event, call Farrah Sylvester at 778-426-3401 or email her at fsylvester@tsawout.ca. For details on the project, visit www.tsawoutsnepeneks.ca.

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