The Greater Connection: Bringing awareness of our territories, people, culture, language and stewardship. 

ʔukʷaqiłs Sarah

Age: 24

Where did you grow up? Where have you lived? What brought you to Port Alberni?

I was born in Port Alberni and always been based here. I also grew up in Ditidaht, Alert Bay, and the West Coast (Ucluelet and Tofino). Though, as a First Nations woman, my homes are Ditidaht and Okwunalis.

What do you do? What makes your work unique?

I’m a content creator, social media - online community manager, and event manager. I started photography as a concert and music photographer. Used to be The Academy’s house photographer and event promoter; worked with Dustin Dame as his padawan learner. Several years later I branched off to portrait and adventure photography.

In February 2016, I joined the Aboriginal Eco-Tourism Training Program powered by The Heiltsuk Tribal Council, Vancouver Island University, and North Island College. This program has opened a lot of doors to opportunities. One of which was being The Heart of Vancouver Island’s content creator and event manager for Summer 2016. Shortly after graduation, I started a company called Kakatemma Creative, which is a content creator collective. Under this company there is a social media project called The Greater Connection. This project’s goal is to reconnect the audience and content creators to our wałyaʕas –– through visual and social media.

The Greater Connection aims to bring awareness of the territories, people, culture & language, and stewardship. The Greater Connection wants to embrace the strong connection we have a home as First Nations and Aboriginal people.

Describe the challenges you’ve faced with your business, as well as the opportunities. 

The challenges would be what to share of First Nations and Aboriginal heritage, territory boundaries, and language - language dialects. My class of Heritage Interpretation has really prepared me for this challenge, and I’m in the process of contacting First Nations tribes for help. For language, I’m an aspiring linguist, so my interests definitely helped with this aspect.

The opportunities I’ve faced so far, within a week of launching, is the networking I’ve made through the Aboriginal Eco-Tourism Training program. We met so many people, businesses, tourism sectors, DMOs, etc. during each session that it has become incredibly helpful. I also made connections through Vancouver Island’s instagram families, which helped grow the project quite a bit.

What is Alberni to you?: 

The land around us. We live in a beautiful area that a lot take for granted or don’t know about. Every time I bring friends out hiking, they are always amazed that it’s all within the Alberni Valley

ʔuusaḥiniš tiič nismaʔi

All photos by Sarah Etoile.