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Chims Fest mixes Indigenous culture, food, fashion and a love story

Education is key to reconciliation, say Tseshaht First Nation hosts Ed and Naomi Nicholson
Walter Tarnowsky, right, general manager of Catalyst Paper—a Paper Excellence Mill in Port Alberni, donates $2,000 to Ed and Naomi Nicholson for their second annual Chims Fest, happening Saturday, Aug. 6 at Chims Guest House. (PHOTO COURTESY NAOMI NICHOLSON)

Chims Fest Indigenous experience returns to Chims Guest House with a love story, Saturday, Aug. 6.

Qu?usin and saasin (Raven and Hummingbird), a Love Story, is the theme for the second annual event, which celebrates Indigenous culture, cuisine and fashion, says organizer Naomi Nicholson.

“This event brings Indigenous and non-Indigenous people together to build relationships through a shared cultural experience—an experience that celebrates rich Indigenous culture through ceremony, song, music, dance, language, traditional cuisine, fashion and artisan wares,” she said.

Gates open at 10 a.m. with a welcome starting at 10:30 a.m. The day begins with a fashion show featuring items from Indigenous designers, followed by a traditional salmon luncheon. The Namwayut Culture Group will perform in the afternoon, and a language and drumming session has also been planned.

The day will feature a number of Indigenous artisans in a vendors’ market.

Nicholson said the spirit of reconciliation is at the heart of this year’s Chims Fest: teaching people about wearing Indigenous clothing and jewelry as a point of pride, not cultural appropriation. She said the subject comes up repeatedly in conversation, and she used to teach workshops about it.

Hosting Chims Fest is a way that she and her husband Ed can participate in the act of reconciliation, she said. “I want to be able to provide a space where people can take a look at their pre-conceived ideas. Even Indigenous people.

“One of the things people aren’t talking about is second-generation survivors like myself,” she said. Nicholson grew up in Ahousaht First Nation (she is Tseshaht by marriage to her husband Ed) and had a difficult childhood with her mother, who attended residential school. Nicholson said she needed to learn to become proud of who she is.

“(People) don’t have an avenue to walk with me…through my healing journey,” she said.

Teaching people that it’s OK to wear items purchased ethically from Indigenous makers is one way others can walk that journey with her, she said. Hence the importance of hosting the fashion show and vendors’ market as part of Chims Fest.

Proceeds from Chims Fest will help Namwayut Culture Group purchase new regalia, and will also assist Haahuupayak School in Nuu-chah-nulth territory.

Chims Guest House is located at A-6890 Pacific Rim Highway, a few kilometres west of Port Alberni.

For ticket information and reservations please go online to, email or call 250-724-4746.

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Susie Quinn

About the Author: Susie Quinn

A journalist since 1987, I proudly serve as the Alberni Valley News editor.
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