Haida - People of the Pacific North West

Geoffrey Saunders


Region:
South East
Notice Period:
Short (maybe less than one month's notice)
Type:
Rotary, WI, U3A, Travel clubs etc
Fee:
Paid: 70
Category:
Travel
Updated:
8th September 2020
Tagged:
Canada | Geography | History | Pacific

The Haida are one of Canada’s First Nations whose home centred on a group of islands off the coast of British Colombia, close to the Alaskan border. They have an oral history stretching back perhaps 10,000 years. Their islands were one of the few places in North America to escape the last glaciation. Initial contact with Europeans was positive for both parties, developing into a mutually profitable trade in furs and metal goods. Haida wealth enabled a great artistic explosion, most visible in what we know as ‘Totem Poles’. You have probably wondered at them in the British Museum. After many decades of mutual benefit, Smallpox reached the islands with devastating results. Maybe 90% of the population perished. Efforts by the Canadian Federal Government to assimilate the First Nations resulted in further disasters. But a cultural revival has been underway for some years, and a rediscovered past is helping to guide the future of the Islands and People. Travelling to the islands, now known as Haida Gwaii, could be simple. There are daily air services to two tiny airports. But for a more reflective journey, the speaker travelled via rail, bus and coastal ferry. Then for 2 days in an open boat to reach the very heart of Haida culture, the World Heritage site at SGang Gwaay, a small island deep in the National Park, called Gwaii Haanas in the local language, Place of Wonder. For any traveller, surely a suitable destination?

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About Geoffrey Saunders

I have travelled widely, for business and pleasure and have worked on all the continents. Now retired, I have used the experiences of my travels to write and to publish about the wonders of the world, far and near. More than just travelogues, my talks aim to inform, entertain and enthuse. All the groups I have talked to have enjoyed my presentation and most have invited me back straight away.

All the income from my talks goes to the 'Sightsavers' charity


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