Meet a Local Legend: K’umugwe Dancers

Posted on September 1, 2015

Ramona Johnson – Store Manager at the I-Hos Gallery in Courtenay on Vancouver Island nominated the K’umugwe Dancers for the latest episode of AtBC’s ongoing ‘Meet a Local Legend’ series.

Taking their name from the traditional Bighouse that sits within the heart of the K’ómoks First Nation, members of the dance group have been practicing and performing together since 2001.

In the featured video, we meet Jessie, a 13-year-old who has been with the group for four years. Although he describes himself as an ordinary kid who swims and plays soccer, Jessie is also not only staying connected with the history and traditions of his people through the K’umugwe Dancers, but also sharing them with others. “The K’umugwe Dancers have been a big part of bringing the culture back to our community,” said Johnson in her nomination of the group.

In the video, Jessie shares some of the culture and values he’s learned along the way, and gives an intimate glimpse into the transformation he goes through when he dons a traditional mask hand-carved from an ancient tree. Jessie, and the other youths in the group, are well aware that sharing the traditions of the past will ensure a bright future for the K’ómoks people. “Knowing where you come from is very important,” he said.

To learn more about the K’umugwe Dancers and the K’ómoks First Nation, visit the I-Hos Gallery, where you can also make arrangements to experience the group’s traditional performances live and in-person at the K’ómoks Bighouse.

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