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Welcome Family and Friends to Our Bighouse

This contemporary story is told through the voice of a 12-year-old Kwakwaka’wakw girl named Gana, who lives in ‘Yalis (Alert Bay, BC). From the time she is little, Gana attends Potlatches and ceremonies in the Bighouse. The regalia she wears—a button blanket, dancing apron and masks—were designed and made for her based on her family origins or clans. The ancient cultural teachings she learns in the Bighouse are useful to Gana in her everyday life and continue to have value in the 21st century.

• Full colour illustrations showing aboriginal masks and regalia in context
• Contains some Kwak’wala words with meaning and pronunciation guides
• 11” x 8.5” soft cover, 96 pages



Nella Cook Nelson, originally from the N’amgis Nation, was born and raised in Alert Bay, B.C. It wasn’t until Nella was in grade 4 that integration occurred and aboriginal students were allowed to attend the public schools. When she was 12-years-old, the first Bighouse since the anti-potlatch law had been lifted was built in Alert Bay.
Nella attended both Camosun College and the University of Victoria. When she started teaching in public schools in 1979, aboriginal content didn’t exist. After 11 years teaching, she has coordinated the Victoria School District’s Aboriginal Nations Education Division for 27 years. She serves on Provincial, college, university, community boards and advisory committees to improve aboriginal health, safety and education.
Nella has recieved the Queen’s 125 Commemorative Medal, YM/YWCA Women of Distinction, Camosun’s Distinguished Alumni, and Excellence in Cultural Heritage & Diversity Awards.

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