There were once 26 longhouses on Skedans, each occupied by multiple families. Now evidence of that ancient populace has been reduced to the faint outlines of animal symbols on a group of towering, weathered totem poles: eagles, frogs and killer whales. Unlike many of the world’s cultural heritage sites, the poles of K’uuna Llnagaay are not roped off and protected; instead, in accordance with Haidabeliefs, they have been left to collapse back into the earth. I’d never seen totem poles of this magnitude, left to disintegrate. Up close, even the cracks in the weathered wood seemed to hold meaning.
As Mike Willie said, an oral history needs to be repeated to ensure it is propagated, scattered around the world. The story of being on that beach, in the presence of those momentous totems and longhouse remains, is connected to stories that are inextricably linked to the geography of B.C. This place can never serve simply as a backdrop, and traveling to these beaches, through this water, forges those links again and again. In this province, listening pays off. The scenery’s great, but the stories are even better.
Masset and Sandspit are the two main airports on the islands of Haida Gwaii, off the coast of. British Columbia. The Port Hardy Airport, serving Port McNeill as well, is accessible via a connection in Vancouver.
Haida Style Expeditions Explore the waters of Haida Gwaii on a 8.5-meter Zodiac. Summertime cultural tours include visits to the villages of Skedans, Windy Bay and more.
Sea Wolf Adventures Learn about Kwakwaka’wakw culture throughout the Broughton Archipelago. You may spot a few grizzlies along the way.
Cluxewe Resort Twelve cabins near Port McNeill with full kitchens and views of the Broughton Strait.
Jags Beanstalk A collection of comfortable rooms upstairs from a cafe. Take advantage of the bike and kayak rentals.
Skwachays Lodge This boutique hotel in downtown Vancouver has 18 uniquely designed suites filled with aboriginal art.
Cowbay Cafe Pasta, pizza and locally sourced seafood, accompanied by B.C. wines and beautiful waterfront views.
Salmon n’ Bannock Inspired by First Nations cuisine, the menu at this Vancouver favorite features hearty fare like boar meatballs and variations on bannock, the traditional First Nations unleavened bread.