On Haida Gwaii, or as some know it better as the Queen Charlotte Islands, there is much to wonder about.  After an eight hour ferry trip to get there you’ll be encompassed by a whole different world. Part of a national reserve and shared with the Haida people there is a wide history of the area.  Some parts were used as an army base, today there are still old abandoned buildings that they used. Totem poles scatter the islands with new ones being made still today, and representing generations of people, stories they told or even spiritual beliefs. Carvers hand pick the tree, then using techniques that they have developed, and some relearned, start carving away. Sometimes carving with a careful plan and sometimes building the design as they go.   A beautiful museum for the heritage of Haida Gwaii holds many important objects that are a part of the island, displaying beautiful artwork such as paintings, sculptures, and other things from local artists.  In the front of the museum a row of Totem poles is in place.

Image source: Haida Heritage Centre, 2015

The forests that engulf Haida Gwaii are filled with massive trees, beautiful in size, a stunning site to see. Logging as been a big part of Haida Gwaii recent history, on the islands you can see parts that have been clear cut and destroyed because of it. Many Haida people work with some of the big logging companies; others protest against it. Since the island of South Morse by and surrounding ocean is now a national park there is less logging. Unfortunately this puts some people without jobs. The culture between the Haida and the other people that live there is refreshing. When I was there a man walked into this small coffee shop and brought in a halibut with him. He gave the fish to the guy at the counter, traded, and got a coffee and credit on his account for it. I wish this was how our economy worked regularly.

Photo by: Anna

The beaches surrounding the outer part of the island can change very quickly. With the tide coming in and going out at extreme lengths. The water can be a mile away from your camp at noon and then be right at your door in the evening. Some of the beaches are covered in Agate and other assorted round rocks, some are sandy and others are covered with sheets of rock. When wind and water carves out a rock enough you can have a tide pool. Tide pools have their own little ecosystems within them, holding anemones, tiny fish, mussels, small crabs, starfish, hermit crabs, etc. This beautiful place is the farthest west part of Canada.

Photo by: Anna

I was inspired by everything that Haida Gwaii had to offer, I took pictures and drew nonstop. I could go out and discover something new everyday. I could sit, listening to the waves, breathing in the clean salt air. It gave life to things I did. The wild life, the beaches, the animals, the solitude. It affected my art a lot. A famous Canadian artist, Emily Carr, went to Haida Gwaii many times and was inspired by the trees, the totem poles and Haida art style. She made some amazing paintings of this place. She absolutely loved it, as you can see through her artwork she interpretation of what she saw was just stunning. If you have the opportunity to visit Haida Gwaii you should go. You never know what it might inspire in your life.

Artist Emily Carr,   Image source: BC Archives
Image source: Royal BC Museum


Author: Anna