An extremely disheartening theft shook Ucluelet Tuesday night as a First Nation longhouse display set up by Tla-o-qui-aht artist Hjalmer Wenstob was vandalized and the display’s tent-covers were stolen.
“After this past Saturday’s cultural festival, I left up the longhouses and tents for two days, upon going down today to take them down, we found someone stole the tent covers 30X18 feet and the side walls,” Wenstob wrote in a Facebook post Tuesday night. “But to add insult to injury, they decided to knock over the Nuu-chah-nulth longhouse and cracking/breaking the boards!”
Wenstob had worked with First Nation youth to create four, eight-metre-wide, Cedar longhouse fronts as part of an Esquimalt First Nation village site display at Victoria’s Parliament building on Sept. 16, 2017, in celebration of the tenth anniversary of the One Wave Festival.
He had set up two of those longhouse fronts at Ucluelet’s Seaplane Base Field to be part of Saturday night’s Indigenous Culture Crawl event, hosted in conjunction with the Pacific Rim Summer Festival.
“What we did with these houses is we put them up on the Legislature lawn in Victoria. We see a lot of protests happening in that space. It’s a space where governments and communities, kind of, come together. But, this wasn’t a protest. It was, instead, to bring people together and say, ‘Let’s have a conversation. Let’s come together for once, instead of being opposed to each other as we are a lot of the time,'” Wenstob said during Saturday’s Culture Crawl event. “That’s why they’re here today. To invite you into our houses and have a conversation and come together.”
This story will be updated when new information comes in.