Thursday, January 27

Visiting K'uuna Llanagaay with Watchmen - Skedans, Gwaii Haanas

After a night moored at McCoy Cove, we sail toward K'uuna Llanagaay, formely know as Skedans, where we get our first exposure to Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve and Haida Heritage Site. Although this ancient village is technically outside the boundary of the reserve, is is staffed by Haida watchmen, in partnership with Parks Canada. The watchmen, often seen atop Haida poles in groups of three, were traditionally those who kept watch for unwanted visitors to the village, giving warning when undesirable company showed up at K'uuna Llanagaay. Today's watchmen have pretty much the same role as they had when this was a thriving Haida village with hundreds of inhabitants.

Before we go to shore, we must radio ahead to the watchmen from our sailing vessel and ask permission to come to shore. The watchmen are keepers of the material remains on behalf of the Haida. They do not have to give tours, but will open up for honoured guests such as us, with whom a well-established relationship has been built over time. We meet watchman Paul Rosang of Skidegate today.

Apparently visited by famed artist Emily Carr in 1912 at a time when many glorious poles were still standing, a counscious decision has been made in recent years to let the village's remains go back into the land over time. This is what the Haida see as the most natural and desired outcome. Today many poles covered with moss are virtually indistinguishable from other logs laying on the ground. Howewer, the foundations of majestic long houses are easily made out all around us at K'uuna Llanagaay.