A true privilege
I was delighted to see the two articles in The NEWS by Auren Ruvinsky about former Qualicum Chief Kim Recalma-Clutesi.
As an ethnobotanist and ethnoecologist, I have had the privilege of knowing and working with Kim, Oqwi’low’gwa, for over 20 years.
My husband Bob and I have visited her and Clan Chief Adam Dick, Kwaxsistalla, at their home at Qualicum Beach many times, and on numerous occasions they and their friend and relative Dr. Daisy Sewid-Smith (Mayanilth) have spent time with my students, colleagues and me at the University of Victoria, and out on the lands and waters of their homelands.
As well as being kind and respectful to all those she meets, she carries tremendous knowledge, experience and wisdom, based on decades of careful attention to elders, leaders and teachers in her family and community.
She is a thoughtful and talented communicator, and the films that she directs and produces are breathtaking in their artistry and in the careful attention to accuracy and detail in the information provided. Smoke From His Fire, directed by Kim, is the story of Kwaxsistalla’s childhood and upbringing, as the last orally trained Kwakwaka’wakw Potlatch Speaker. This award-winning film also presents an amazing analysis of the Potlatch and its related institutions and reflects the philosophies and cultural relationships of Kwakwaka’wakw society with the natural world.
In short, Kim is an insightful educator and interpreter of her culture. She lives in a modern world, but retains the values and wisdom of her ancestors. She has the ability to move and mediate between mainstream society and her own Indigenous culture. For me, it has been such a privilege to know and collaborate with Oqwi’low’gwa, Kwaxsistalla, and Mayanilth.