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(Many Paths)
An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America
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Waap Galts’ap A Hit With Crowd At Official Opening
by Indian Country Staff
credits: Photos courtesy Northwest Community College

Terrace, British Columbia – Hundreds came out May 8 to Northwest Community College’s Terrace campus to witness the historic and long anticipated opening of Waap Galts’ap, the longhouse that is the first of its kind to be built on a Canadian college campus.

To commemorate the event, NWCC invited the public, chiefs, matriarchs, elders and special guests and dignitaries to an afternoon of celebration that kicked off with the ceremonial raising of two nine-foot totem poles carved by graduates of NWCC’s Freda Diesing School of Northwest Coast Art.

Following an explanation of the poles, the doors to Waap Galts’ap – Tsimshian for “community house” – were opened with Irene Seguin (Hagwillook’am Saxwhl Giis T’yooksiy niin), chair of the NWCC Board of Governors, along with dignitaries and representatives from the Kitsumkalum and Kitselas Bands. The building was then blessed by Kitsumkalum Matriarch Mildred Roberts.

Stephanie Forsyth, NWCC president, told the packed audience inside Waap Galts’ap – and many more outside watching the events on TV monitors – the project’s story.

“Today, Northwest Community College is taking another step to show the college is for all the people of the Northwest. Waap Galts’ap is a showcase for northwest First Nations architecture and art and it serves as a glimpse of this very rich culture.

“The designing and building of Waap Galts’ap engaged many First Nations people – our First Nations Council, board members, chiefs, matriarchs and elders of Kitsumkalum and Kitselas. We have been working towards this goal for many years.”

Forsyth then introduced the key people behind the project, including the architect, the project manager and the First Nations artists.

Kept closed to the public until May 8, the 50-foot by 80-foot building houses a sprawling gathering space on the main floor with painted art panels and carved crest poles on four massive main support poles. Instructors and graduates of the Freda Diesing School of Northwest Coast Art produced all of the art specifically made for Waap Galts’ap. NWCC trades instructors and students from the log building, carpentry and electrical programs were involved throughout the construction.

Sanctioned by representatives of the Tsimshian hereditary chiefs and elders of the Kitsumkalum and Kitselas bands and NWCC’s First Nations Council, Waap Galts’ap is to become a gathering place for student and college functions and celebrations and events, as well as a place for public special events.

The opening ceremonies continued with a cultural feast at the Terrace Sportsplex, which featured a series of First Nations dances and speeches from dignitaries and guests. Among the dignitaries in attendance were mayors from across the region, Grand Chief Ed John of the First Nations Summit, Dr. George Iwama of the University of Northern British Columbia, and many guests from across Canada and as far away as Australia.

For more information and a Waap Galts’ap photo gallery visit

To learn more about events and programs happening at NWCC visit

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