Transcript for Gwaii Haanas Legacy Pole 2013

Animated Title Sequence: Haida Nation and Parks Canada.

Jaalen speaking and carving,

Monumental poles are more than just art; they hold histories, they mark events and they tell stories.

Animated Title Sequence: "The Gwaii Haanas Legacy Pole: Honouring the Past and Shaping the Future"

Aerial view of a map of Gwaii Haanas

This pole that we’re working on here is 42 feet and it tells many different stories from the Gwaii Haanas area.

It also represents the 20th anniversary of the agreement between the Haida Nation and Canada

to protect Gwaii Haanas from mountaintop to sea floor.

Pictures of Jaalen when he was a child helping carve

When I was a little kid, my dad was always carving he was working on canoes, working on a totem pole right in our house.

Jaalen, Gwaii Haanas Legacy Pole Carver

As I grew up I started to realize how fortunate I was to be able to grow up around that and learn from that.

Images of old villages and totem poles

In the old days the poles used to line the villages, there’d be dozens of them in front of every village.

In the early 1900s the missionaries were coming and encouraging people to cut down the poles and collectors were coming in and taking them.

So it’s really nice to be a part of the bringing back of the poles to Gwaii Haanas.

In an old growth forest, walking around and looking for a good tree to use for the totem pole.

When we’re walking through the forest looking for a cedar to be used for a totem pole or a canoe

it’s a pretty neat feeling because the same features that we’re looking for in a forest

are the same things my ancestors were looking for 5,000 years ago.

They were walking through the same forests.

Hluugitgaa, Gwaai Edenshaw Assistant carver

The pole that we’re working on is the first pole to go up in 130 years in Gwaii Haanas

Image of Lyell Island blockade

What happened was there was a blockade in the early 1980’s and that stopped the logging

Images of Lyell Island bockade when the elders came to help and were being arrested

It was important for me to put the story of Hlk'yah GaawGa on the pole

and a lot of people put in a lot of work to create Gwaii Haanas.

Jaalen carving the totem pole in the carving shed

This is the old story of how earthquakes happened on Haida Gwaii, the figure is Sacred One Standing and Moving.

As he moves that’s when Haida Gwaii shakes and causes the earthquakes.

I put this on because after I started carving the pole we had a major earthquake on Haida Gwaii

and the water in our hot springs down in Gwaii Haanas actually stopped flowing to the pools.

Tyler York, assistant carver

This figure here is a Watchman, a lot of Haida Poles have Watchmen at the top

Watchmen helping guests at Skedans Village Site in Gwaii Haanas

but I wanted to include this because we have the Gwaii Haanas Watchmen and they look after the old village sites.

They educate the people who come and visit.

So it’s really gratifying to be carving this pole, and it shows that our way of life continues.

Things change, but the meaning behind what we do stays the same.

The Gwaii Haanas Legacy Pole celebrates 20 years of the Haida Nation and the Government of Canada working together.

Pole raising, Windy Bay, Gwaii Haanas: August 15, 2013

Watch it live on, August 15, 2013


Community Celebration, Skidegate, Haida Gwaii: August 17, 2013 Gwaii Haanas is protected by a cooperative management board made up of equal representatives of the Haida Nation and the Government of Canada.

" Return to video