Haw yah hawni naw, Prince Rupert BC, 1967-1986
In 1967 Ken and Margaret Harris began the Haw yah hawni nah Festival in Prince Rupert through their work with the Native Benevolent association. The first festival drew a crowd of 1,500 people and highlighted artists such as the Chilkat dancers from Alaska with renowned visual artists demonstrating their skill such as Frieda Diesing. At this time in our history, the festival was a pivotal moment in the revival of First Nations culture in the northwest coast of BC. A driving force for Ken and Margaret to start the festival was to give others an understanding of the rich culture that they had and also to challenge the stereotypes of the day. There was no such thing as Native arts and crafts, so I had to run all over town looking for artifacts. There were no dancers and now we have dance groups in every village on the coast, Margaret Harris, Prince Rupert Daily News, 1983.
Having followed the awakening of our traditions after the lifting of the Potlatch Ban the purpose of the festival was to build community amongst the many people working to regain their ancestral dance and art traditions and a source of inspiration for the young artists. The festival was maintained for twenty years and it grew to be a highly anticipated major annual event showcasing many visual artists and dance groups.
Coastal First Nations Dance Festival Vancouver BC, 2008-present
In 1986 Ken & Margaret Harris moved from Prince Rupert to Vancouver. They continued to lead the Dancers of Damelahamid in Vancouver, however, the Prince Rupert Haw yaw hawni naw festival did not continue in their absence. In 2002 Ken and Margaret, then in their 70's, passed on the responsibility of directing the family dance group to their youngest daughter Margaret Grenier. Margaret has revitalized the festival in Vancouver to continue the work in the direction that her parents had started.