Little Big House
Ma’amtagila Land Rematriation Project

With my good friend and fellow carpenter, Catherine Wallace, and a crew of countless volunteers, we built this “little big house” for Tsastilqualus Ambers and her son Makwala Smith.

The build took place over two weeks on the UVic campus and, like the other community builds I’ve been a part of, was an absolute pleasure to be a part of. 

You can read more about the project here:


The Ma’amtagila are a nation within the Kwakwaka'wakw,

or the people who speak Kwak̓wala. Tsastilqualus and other members of the Matriarch Camp intend to return home to their lands and waters near Hiladi, “the place to make things right,” to affirm their Indigenous title and rights and uphold hereditary systems of governance. The portable Little Big House will enable Tsastilqualus, her son Makwala, their kin, and other Indigenous people to spend time on the land and water. In the process, the Little Big House will help to reinvigorate land-based cultural and spiritual practices, strengthen matriarchal decision-making practices that are integral to Kwakwaka'wakw governance, increase access to traditional foods and medicines, and (re)produce and share knowledge with younger generations.

    However, Ma’amtagila and Kwakwaka'wakw territories and people are also facing the impacts of historical and ongoing colonial violence. The Little Big House will facilitate anti-colonial resistance efforts by serving as a base of operations for the Wild Salmon Matriarch Camp, who witness and document industrial activity and initiate campaigns to oppose unsustainable logging and fish farming practices that threaten the health and well-being of all life on Ma’amtagila territory. The Little Big House will support Ma’amtagila people as they uphold their responsibilities and make things right.

The design of the “Little Big House” was inspired by the traditional Big Houses, particularly by the ‘Namgis Big House in Alert Bay. 
Tsastilqualus and Makwala with their (not quite finished) little big house