The boardwalk and awakwes are a source of community pride and a key cultural element of the Alert Bay waterfront.
Foot passengers arriving on Cormorant Island from the BC Ferries dock had to, previously, walk in precarious conditions. The only way to reach the world renowned U’Mista Cultural Centre or the Bighouse was bycrossing a muddy embankment along the seawall or follow the road alongside vehicle traffic.The ‘Namgis First Nation wanted to improve the waterfront of their community to create a safe and welcoming environment reflecting their community heritage and develop a walkable locale with improved access to key visitor amenities.
Working toward their vision of restoring the waterfront’s culture and heritage, a boardwalk and 5 awakwes were built going from the BC Ferries terminal to the Bighouse. The awakwes are unique post and beam structures that provide shelter and rest areas, while featuring interpretive photos and signage that represent the founding Namgis families and cultural history.
The ‘Namgis waterfront enhancement project, completed in 2011, has helped further the development of Cormorant Island into a connected community, linking the ‘Namgis First Nation with the Village of Alert Bay. The Boardwalk adds beauty, honours tradition and provides safe walkability for visitors exploring the waterfront and visiting the U’Mista Cultural Centre.