In June 2012, I spent nearly two weeks traveling through Haida Gwaii, B.C., on a sailboat. This was my first time on a sailboat and it would be for a solid 10 days straight, so I was hoping we would hit some good weather along the way. I think if i were to describe my experiences in Haida Gwaii, it would take way too long for anyone to read. I’ll save those written words for something more editorially appropriate, and provide most of my story telling in the form of images. I like telling stories in various ways, but at the fundamentally simplest level, photographs remain my trump card. Photos are timeless pieces, capturing a bit of history. History that will never be repeated exactly.
The totem poles throughout the watchman sites in Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve are such incredible things to be amongst. These ancient cedars saw 10,000 year old rich and complicate culture of the Haida people in its peak. Complex class systems with rules and regulations and a deep appreciation and respect for art and creativity. With the arrival of Europeans, collapse of the First Nations people was quick via diseases that their immune systems had no way of fighting. An estimated 95% of the Haida people perished from illnesses such as small pox. Cultural genocide was attempted by the government at the time, but the Haida stood strong, albeit in small numbers, and now their culture is on the rise again.
The ocean provides so much. More than anything for me, it provides a place of solace. Without a doubt, the single best place for me to retreat to in times of mental mazes and chaos, is the ocean. A coastal rainforest is the next best substitute. Sea lions and sunstars shared a majestic glassy day on Hecate Strait with Norm Hann, slicing his way through the calmest waters I can imagine. It was a real treat to have this special day where Norm paddled from Burnaby Narrows all the way to SGang Gwaay, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site (pictured below in evening light). In typical coastal fashion, the next day the winds were howling at 56 knots, thats 100 km/h. Do we really want super tankers traveling in seas with 100 km/h winds? Nope.
A rather nice way to end our film shoot in the most logistically difficult shoot of our lives to date, with evening light on the massive onlooking totems of SGang Gwaay.