The name Cowichan means ‘The Warm Land’, and I can verify this as I have lived in Duncan many years ago and braved their hot, dry summers in the past. It felt like being in the Alabama or Mississipi of Vancouver Island, with the Cowichan River pouring through the middle of town.
Since my time there, a new addition has sprung up. In 1990, the Quw’utsun’ Cultural and Conference Centre was built. It is owned and operated by the Cowichan Band’s members.
Located on the Picturesque Banks of the Cowichan River
The building is situated on 6 acres of land and has the beautiful Cowichan River running alongside it. In summer, you can gather for a specially prepared salmon BBQ which is served on cedar planks for the minimum of 40 people. This is when you can get a personal vision of the traditional dancers in full garb and feel the drums and chanting throughout your whole body!
For the cultural side of the Centre, there is a multi-media production called ‘Great Deeds’ available to you that takes one into their world of tradition, legend and other little known facts of these early settlers. The film runs for about an hour. But you won’t be totally on your own, a guide will explain the true meaning behind the totems and answer your questions. I believe this is a thoughtful, educational way to celebrate the Band and to provide employment for the community.
The Quw’utsun’ Conference Centre Offers State-of-the-Art Amenities
The four Conference rooms can provide an architecturally striking backdrop for small or large groups and electronic equipment and mikes can be rented out for a small fee. The theatre room is suitable for larger presentations, plus there is a projector to use as well. Weddings are possible here in this traditional meets modern setting, and would make wonderful photos with the river (a recognized Heritage River at that) flowing in the background.
Visitors to the QCCC get to see and buy a traditional Cowichan sweater in the Gift Gallery, knitted by a tribe member. The patterns and designs are passed down from earlier generations and are considered to many to be a unique piece of traditional textile art. Also available is jewelry, moccasins, carvings and Bentwood boxes and baskets. Admission rates are 13$ for adults, 10$ for seniors and youths, 6$ for kids 5-12 and children under five are free.
The Centre is Available for Hosting a Variety of Events
Consider this cultural spot when hosting out of town guests for a memorable visit. We once had a couple from England come visit us in Duncan and they went crazy for anything Cowichan related. They bought a lot of gifts and saw some galleries then, but that was before the Centre was open. I can imagine they would have loved it there and absorbed it all.
Over the years, there has been more and more opportunities for Band members to honour their past and move forward in a positive way. The QCCC is an example of this and the public can get an accurate depiction of their colourful and fascinating past by visiting it.
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