People ... Nature ... Culture ... Stories

Kwakwaka'wakw people had a winter village well established on Yalis by the time European settlers showed up in the mid-19th century. From that time the stories of the 'Namgis First Nation and Alert Bay have been connected. Today these island neighbours work together is an way that is distinctive among communities with First Nation and non-First Nation people.

But possibly the most distinctive thing about Cormorant Island-Yalis is in fact the people ... at least that's what visitors tell us. Most of us are curious, and we're likely to say hi and wave even if we don't know you. So, along with  the formal attractions below, odds are good you hear sights, activities or stories just by talking to people. In the meantime, here are things you'll find details for on this page:

  • fishing success at alert bay cormorant island

umista cultural centre doors

The famous doors of the U'mista Cultural Centre



The U'mistal Cultural Centre is known around the world. The core of its collection is masks and regalia confiscated from a potlatch in 1921, when potlatches were still illegal in Canada. The confiscated objects were sold around the world. Kwakwaka'wakw people, 'Namgis among them, fought for decades to get them back. The first return of pieces around 1980 was one of the first instances in the world of indigenous objects returned to their home communities. The U'mista Cultural Society is very active in advancing Kwakwala language and Kwakwaka'wakw culture through many programs.
This brochure (680 KB pdf) has more history.
Call or write U'mista for details.
info at

Umista building face

The face of the U'mista Cultural Centre


Totem poles
World's tallest totem pole next to the 'Namgis Big House
Memorial poles in the 'Namgis burial grounds
Other poles around the island
Totem pole brochure (2.7MB pdf)

T'sasala Cultural Group
First Nation dance group

Alert Bay Library-Museum
Public library, settler history and public computers

Alert Bay Artloft
Local artists' society gallery
250-974-8147 or 2787

Culture Shock Interactive Gallery
First Nations art and experiences and coffee

John Ingraham Gallery
Art gallery


Sea Smoke Whale Watching
Whale watching on a sailboat

Alert Bay Ecological Park
Boardwalk through a bog with unusual plants, birds and culturally modified trees
Brochure (1 MB pdf)

16 km of walking trails throughout the island
Maps at the Village office or visitor centre

Alert Bay Cabins Marine Tours
Boat tours, charters, whale watching
alertbaycabins at

Blackfish Adventures
Kayak lessons and tours

Hilarity Charters and Canvas
Marine charters and sails


June Sports
Annual soccer tournament

Alert Bay 360
Annual kayak race (any non-motorized vessel can enter)

Alert Bay Seafest & Musicfest
Annual weekend of family fun and music

Alert Bay Salmon Run
Annual 5 and 10 km walk/run
info at

Contact us

© 2016 Cormorant Island Tides of Change