The Yîlîstis Group is the most recent of a series of
Elders' groups that have been active in our community, both in
advising and supporting community services and in preserving and
passing on cultural knowledge and traditions.
In the Fall of 1977, the staff of the Heiltsuk Cultural
Education Centre began calling the Elders to weekly meetings to
record information about Heiltsuk place names, historic sites,
and resource areas. As it was not feasible to take our elders out
on boats, we used large scale maps, and usually travelled around
one map to each meeting. Clarence Martin pointed to different
places along the way and asked for names, and Evelyn Windsor
wrote them down. Land claims issues and the exact extent of
Heiltsuk territories were also discussed at these meetings.
At the meeting of November 30, 1977, Clarence Martin asked if
the elders would like to choose a name for themselves so that
they could be known as something else besides "the elders group."
A number of names were proposed and discussed. Beatrice Brown
offered the use of her name, Yîlîstis, and this
was the name decided upon unanimously.
Yîlîstis is a fitting desription of the
activities of this group of elders and the staff of the Cultural
Centre: completing round trips by map with Heiltsuk territories;
carrying on the larger task of documenting and supporting the
rebirth and continued celebration of our culture; and not
stopping or delaying our work until the task is completed.
Yîl (the same day; without delay or detour) îst ([in
a] circle) is ([in] world, [in] open space)
Our greatest cultural treasure is our Elders. Their special
knowledge an understandings challenge us all to learn, remember,
and preserve this heritage. The Elders, and especially the active
members of the Yîlîstis Group, have been the main
source of inspiration and challenge for those working in the
Cultural Centre and on behalf of our present and future
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