Last night, an earthquake of 7.7 magnitude occurred off the west coast of Canada. According to a Globe and Mail, news story, the “earthquake occurred along the Queen Charlotte Fault – west of Haida Gwaii between two major plates – in an area that has experienced many large earthquakes in the past.” The area is peopled by the First Nations Haida. They were very lucky the earthquake caused little damage.
Two main islands make up most of the land mass of Haida Gwaii and, small though it is, it is an area rich in beauty and wildlife. Protected areas include a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve and Haida Heritage Site and Naikoon Provincial Park. The many animals of the area are revered by the Haida and figure strongly in their spirituality. The Haida may best be known for their carvings of such fauna on totem poles. While I have yet to travel to this remote area of B.C., when I do, I especially want to go to Skidegate. Referring to the whole area, the UNESCO website explains “it is above all the 32 totemic and mortuary columns on the edge of the dwelling zone which contribute to the world renown of the site,” according to the entry.
A person who has also contributed to the fame of Haida Gwaii is an artist named Bill Reid whose father was Scots/German and mother was Haida. The onetime Canadian Broadcast Corporation reporter studied the art of jewelery-making and carving. “In 1951, he returned to Vancouver where he eventually established a studio on Granville Island, and became greatly interested in the works of (Charles) Edenshaw,”according to the Wikipedia entry,”working to understand the symbolism of his work, much of which had been lost along with the many Haida traditions.” The photographs which follow are of Reid’s masterpiece, “Spirit of the Haida Gwaii,” which depicts a canoe filled with animal and human figures, all chosen for their spiritual and cultural symbolism. “The sculpture was originally created in 1986 as a 1/6-scale clay model, enlarged in 1988, to full-size clay. In 1991, the model was cast in bronze,” states Wikipedia. You can find out about the animals that are portrayed and what they represent in the same Wikipedia entry.
Thank you, Mother Nature, for sparing Haida Gwaii.
“Spirit of Haida Gwaii, the Jade Canoe,” sculpture by Bill Reid, in bronze, at the Vancouver International Airport. By Reinhard Kraasch via Wikimedia Commons“Spirit of Haida Gwaii, the Jade Canoe,” bronze sculpture by Bill Reid, Vancouver Airport, Richmond, British Columbia, Canada. By D. Gordon E. Robertson via Wikimedia Commons.