U’mista operates a modern museum and cultural education facility in Alert Bay. Our operations include the museum, an extensive art gallery and gift shop, group tours, and presentations by dance troupes. Our facility hosts international scholars and supports researchers in a range of disciplines.
THE MEANING OF “U’MISTA”
The potlatch was banned in Canada between 1885 and 1951. The masks and other regalia that you see here were all confiscated after an illegal potlatch in 1921. After the ban was lifted, the Kwakwaka’wakw people fought for decades for the return of their sacred regalia that had ended up in museums and private collections around the world. Most of the regalia has come home and it is shown here at the U’mista Cultural Centre and at the Nuyumbalees Museum.
The U’mista Cultural Society was incorporated under the British Columbia Societies Act on March 22, 1974. Since that time, it has worked towards fulfilling the mandate to ensure the survival of all aspects of the cultural heritage of the Kwakwa̱ka̱ʼwakw. To facilitate the accomplishment of this mandate, the Board of Directors, composed of any person who is an individual, family of honorary member and can trace ancestry to a member of any tribe of the Kwakwa̱ka̱ʼwakw, is responsible for developing, implementing and monitoring all policy