The U’mista Cultural Centre has worked towards fulfilling the mandate to ensure the survival of all aspects of cultural heritage of the Kwakwa̱ka̱ʼwakw.
The Meaning of “U’mista” – In earlier days, people were sometimes taken captive by raiding parties. When they returned to their homes, either through payment of ransom or by a raid, they were said to have u’mista. The return of our treasures from distant museums is a form of u’mista.
The potlatch was banned in Canada between 1885 and 1951. The masks and other regalia that you see at the U’mista Cultural Centre 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 museum and private collections around the world. Most of the regalia has come home and it is shown at the U’mista Cultural Centre and at the Nuyumbalees Museum.