Gukwdzi Bighouse Project

Gwa’sala-’Nakwaxda’xw Nations break ground for historic Gukwdzi (Bighouse) Project

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Tsulquate Reserve – Investing in cultural spaces is crucial to addressing the root causes of violence against Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA+ individuals. Indigenous groups have also highlighted culturally centred spaces as essential to self-determination.

Marc Miller, Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations, and Gwa’sala-‘Nakwaxda’xw Nation Leaders broke ground at the site of the Gwa’sala-‘Nakwaxda’xw Nations’ Gukwdzi (Bighouse) Project. The Government of Canada is providing $8.93 million through the Cultural Spaces in Indigenous Communities Program towards the project, which will be a safe space where Gwa’sala and ‘Nakwaxda’xw men, women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA+ people can practise and share their culture, traditions, and languages.

Historically, the Gukwdzi was the Nations’ seat of government and focus for community gatherings and ceremonies, but the Gwa’sala-‘Nakwaxda’xw Nations have been without a bighouse since they were forcibly relocated to the Tsulquate Reserve over 50 years ago. This space is essential to the identity of the Gwa’sala-‘Nakwaxda’xw Nations, and to their ongoing efforts to provide future generations with a path forward that is governed by traditional ways of knowing that are distinct to Gwa’sala-‘Nakwaxda’xw’s unique relationship as stewards of the land and keepers of their knowledge. The start of this construction represents the culmination of many years of effort by the Bighouse Society, leaders, Elders, and community members.

Budget 2021 announced $108.8 million over two years for the Cultural Spaces in Indigenous Communities Program. This investment is part of the Federal Pathway to Address Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls and 2SLGBTQQIA+ People, the Government of Canada’s contribution to the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Girls, Women and 2SLGBTQQIA+ People National Action Plan and supports the response to Call for Justice 2.3. This transformative program supports Indigenous Peoples in reclaiming their identity as part of their journey towards self-determination.

“The Gwa’sala-‘Nakwaxda’xw Nations have waited two generations to gather in a Gukwdzi, a central institution of governance for their communities rooted in traditional values and practices. The Gukwdzi provides a safe space for people to celebrate together, to mourn together, to discuss and to make significant decisions together. This ground breaking is long overdue, and I would like to congratulate the Bighouse Society, leaders, Elders, and community members who made this possible; this is your accomplishment.” – Marc Miller, Minister of Crown–Indigenous Relations