Not long ago, my family took a trip to Haida Gwaii off the northwest coast to celebrate my Mom’s 70th birthday.
Often called the Canadian Galapagos – and historically referred to as Xhaaidlagha Gwaayaai meaning “Islands on the Edge of the World” – this archipelago is an extraordinary place to visit.
Our zodiac trip to Skedans was a highlight. We were thrilled to visit the village made famous by the late painter Emily Carr and located in Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve and Haida Heritage Site.
Emily Carr once wrote of her visits to Skedans – well-known for its tilted, majestic totem poles – that “memories came out of this place to meet the Indians. You saw remembering in their brightening eyes and heard it in the quick hushed words they said to each other in Haida.”
The boat ride to and from this haunting village, where we had to navigate through wild, post-storm Pacific waters, was exhilarating and the extremely cool fried egg jelly fish that we passed along the way made the journey even more fun for the kids.
The Haida Heritage Centre was also worth visiting – both to hear local interpreters bring Haida Gwaii’s history alive and to see totem pole carvers, the air rich with the smell of fresh cut cedar, busy at work on site.
But what I remember most from this trip, aside from my my Mom’s continuous smile given that she’d dreamed of coming here all her life, are the eagles.
When the boys returned, triumphant, with their boat load of halibut, the fish were cleaned with the remainders tossed in a bucket.
Edgars suggested we take this pail of fish guts to a nearby beach as an offering to the resident bald eagle population.
We threw the remains high into the air and watched, gobsmacked, as eagles swooped down from the overcast sky – their muscular legs outstretched and their talons splayed – to catch these bloody treats mid-air.
Yes, it’s the eagles I’ll remember. Masters of the sky, precise and athletic and flying so close to us we could almost feel the wind off their magnificent wings. — Kim Gray