Hišinq – “All Together”
Working in a Good Way
In February 2014, the CBT held a retreat at Black Rock Resort to explore the vision for the future Biosphere Center. During the gathering, Tammy Dorward and Terry Dorward, on behalf of the Hawiith (hereditary chiefs) of Tla-o-qui-aht, invited the CBT to continue to situate the Biosphere Center in Tla-o-qui-aht Haḥuułii (traditional territory), a central location with easy access for all communities in the Biosphere Region. This invitation was witnessed by Chief Anne Mack of Toquaht Nation, as well as Violet Clark representative of Ahousaht Nation.
This invitation from Tla-o-qui-aht was a huge milestone in the project's development as making progress in a good way and following protocol has been a priority from the beginning. Another integral part of the process has been to ground the work in the Nuu-Chah-Nulth principles of hishukish ts'awalk "everything is one, everything is interconnected, and nothing exists without the other", Iisaak "respect with caring action", and qʷaaʔakqin tiičmis “it is how we live; it is our culture”. This space will truly be unique in the Biosphere Region, a place where everyone will be invited to come together to share knowledge, food, and connections.
Over the years, the CBT has invited input about the needs and purpose of the Biosphere Centre through open houses, feedback sessions, and surveys, making this a true collaboration. The project is being led by a development committee composed of a diverse group of volunteers to help guide the architects and CBT staff in creating a building that will reflect regional values.
In 2020, during a development committee meeting, Lorena Frank spoke about the importance of bringing people together in unity. Inspired by her words, the group wanted to honor and recognize her call to action and the idea of having a Nuu-chah-nulth word to represent the Biosphere Center project was put forward. The name Hišinq meaning "All Together" was proposed by Lorena Frank after consultation with her husband Nuukmiis, Tla-o-qui-aht Ḥaw̓iiḥ (hereditary chief) and knowledge holder. The name was adopted and has been used to convey the idea that the Biosphere Center will be a welcoming gathering place for all communities and will allow people to come together in unity to collaborate on initiatives that will make the region a better place for people, and the ecosystems that sustain us.
That same year, a blessing ceremony was held by Tla-o-qui-aht cultural workers Chris and Hayden Seitcher to prepare the land for the work ahead and cleanse the area to start the project in a good way. In June 2022, Chris and Hayden returned to join the CBT staff and development committee members to mark the milestone of rezoning the property. This gathering was an opportunity for everyone to reflect on the work achieved, take the time to look toward the future, and reflect on what they envisioned for the work ahead.
"The purpose of these cleansing ceremonies is to offer protection by taking away the negative and inviting the positive."
– Chris Seitcher
The Work Ahead
With input from the community, the CBT and partners will keep working towards creating a culturally safe and welcoming space to celebrate education, science, and culture. In addition to planning the physical building, we’re also envisioning new programs that will bring the Centre to life, such as visual art and an Elder in Residence. The new public building will also create opportunities to further partnerships and programs that empower youth, offer place-based learning, invite reconciliation, advance climate action, and develop innovative solutions for biodiversity conservation and sustainable development.
The CBT team looks forward to welcoming you to the Biosphere Center! We’re aiming to open doors in 2026 and are now focused on capital campaign fundraising. To learn more about the Biosphere Centre or donate to the project, don't hesitate to get in touch with Michelle Hall (Campaign & Donor Relations Lead) at email@example.com.