N’alag̱a / Ḵ’áw kuuna (Avis O’Brien), a Haida/Kwakwa̱ka̱’wakw artist and Land Based Cultural Empowerment Facilitator, was born in Alert Bay, British Columbia. She belongs to the Kawaas Sdaast.aas Eagle Clan from the Village of K’yuusda in Haida Gwaii and the Gigəlǧəm n̓əm̓ina sa Liǧʷiłdax̌ʷ people of Cape Mudge, one of the 18 Tribes of the Kwakwaka’wakw.
She is a weaver, teacher, singer, dancer and land based Cultural empowerment facilitator. She started her company, Nalaga Consulting in 2013 as a way to share the cultural knowledge and beauty of cedar bark weaving with the world. Cedar bark weaving has been her connection to the rich culture of the Haida and Kwakwa̱ka̱’wakw, and has also been a doorway for her into cultural empowerment facilitation. Cedar bark weaving has been part of the culture of the peoples of the Northwest Coast for thousands of years; it was and continues to be an integral part of the culture. Her jewelry, baskets and hats represent an important continuation of the ancient legacy of Northwest Coast woven adornment. Avis fuses age-old techniques with modern style to create products that can be shared with the world.
Avis offers Community Land Based Healing Workshops that are rooted in Decolonization, Reconciliation, Indigenous Land Based Healing & Breath & Embodiment Practices. Her work aims to highlight the intersectionality of Colonial genocide, Impacts of trauma, residential schools and how we can utilize Ancestral forms of healing to regain a sense of balance and harmony in body, mind and spirit. Drumming, sining, dancing, medicine harvesting, ceremony, weaving, breath & embodiment practices are utilized as self regulation tools, guiding folks down the path of neurdecolonization. Her work within Non Indigenous communities has a focus on building Allyship and dismantling racist stereotypes against Indigenous folks
The name Nalaga comes from the Kwakwak’wakw peoples of the North West Coast, and was placed on her through her Gigəlǧəm n̓əm̓ina Treasure Box. Nalaga means “bringer of daylight” or “woman of light” in Kwakwala. This name has been passed down in her family for generations. Avis has an important responsibility when carrying this name; to carry herself in a way in which reflects sharing her light with the world. The name Ḵ’áw kuuna translates to One Who Sits Great in X̱aad kil, language fo the Haida Peoples. She is preserving her culture and traditions as a way to fulfill her social and cultural responsibilities of her traditional names, and doing her best to make her Haida & Lig̱wiłda’x̱w Ancestors Proud in the ways she carriers herself in the world.