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Káx!áya Gvì!ás Opens at the McCord Museum
A Truly Memorable Evening!  

Montreal, Wednesday, April 9, 2003 — This evening at the McCord Museum Montrealers had a rare opportunity to see and experience a vibrant Northwest Coast First Nations culture. April 9 marks the McCord's official opening of Káx!áya Gvì!ás — "The ones who uphold the laws of our ancestors," a travelling exhibition of historic and contemporary Heiltsuk art. Community leaders and the Urban Heiltsuk Dance Group were present to honour the occasion with traditional ceremony, song and dance, and were welcomed by their contemporaries from the Mohawk territory at Kahnawake.

The title, Káx!áya Gvì!ás (pronounced "kax-liyá gwee-ee-lás") reflects the melding of art and culture in Aboriginal life. Opening ceremonies at the McCord furthered this sentiment by bringing together representatives of two far-flung Native groups and the Montreal museum community for a dynamic cultural exchange. The evening got underway when Heiltsuk community leaders arrived in the Théâtre J. Armand Bombardier, in movements symbolic of a paddled canoe. Mohawk Faithkeepers Ka'nahsohon and Otsi'tsakhn:ra invited the visitors ashore and conducted a Thanksgiving Address, after which the Heiltsuk chiefs conducted a Chiefs' Dance. For their part, McCord Chairman George MacLaren and Executive Director Victoria Dickenson presented their honoured guests with baskets filled with fresh fruit and gifts, following a West Coast Native tradition.

"We are proud to be able to offer our visitors a chance to experience a facet of First Nations art and history so little known in this part of the country," said Dr. Dickenson. "It's an even greater privilege to host such an exhibition with the participation and blessing of the Aboriginal community that created it."

A collaborative effort on the part of the Heiltsuk Nation, the Royal Ontario Museum and the Royal British Columbia Museum, Káx!áya Gvì!ás is on display at the McCord from April 11 to October 5, 2003.

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Source and information: 
Nike Langevin
(514) 398-7100, ext. 251  

Káx!áya Gvì!ás was curated by Pam Brown, the Heiltsuk Nation and Martha Black, Associate Curator in association with the Heiltsuk Tribal Council, the Heiltsuk Cultural Education Centre, Waglisla, B.C., the Royal British Columbia Museum and the Royal Ontario Museum. The Royal Ontario Museum is an agency of the Government of Ontario.