Photo: Carving a legacy: commemorating Gwaii Hanaas National Park 20 years later

(Credit: Jason Shafto, Parks Canada)

By Jodi Stark, Communications and Public Engagement Specialist

This photograph takes my breath away.

It is both a powerful symbol and literal example of the strength of a community coming together.

This week, we will witness recent events that will become legacy in Haida Gwaii.

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The raising of the first totem pole in over 130 years within the boundaries of Gwaii Haanas National Park has completely intrigued me. It's an event and commemoration steeped in history, tradition, reconciliation, art, craftsmanship, environmentalism, spirituality, politics and modernity. These aspects of this pole raising are multidimensional and stacked in much the same way as the pole is itself.

The pole commemorates: the first protected area in Canada that goes from the seafloor to mountaintops; last October's earthquake; the blockade that stopped the logging of an old growth watershed; and, the 20 years of cooperation between the Haida and federal government to protect Gwaii Haanas National Park.

The pole raising is an example of reconciliation — deep reconciliation that goes beyond words and language by actually bringing people together to work for a common objective. The work wasn't easy, and like this photograph depicts, was only possible by many people (aboriginal and non-aboriginal) coming together to share the weight.

The Legacy Pole will be raised at the site of the blockade that led to the agreement to protect Gwaii Haanas as the first national park co-managed by a First Nation and the federal government. Gwaii Haanas carries two designations — a Canadian National Park Reserve and a Haida Heritage Site — providing a unique model for protecting important ecosystems while there is unreconciled land title dispute, as exists across much of this country.

You can join the event live streamed on the Council of the Haida Nation website at 2pm (PST) on Thursday August 15th.

For more about the Legacy Pole, enjoy this beautiful video:

August 12, 2013

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1 Comment

Aug 12, 2013
5:07 PM

I want to say haw’aa ( thank you) to the Haida! We stand with you!

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