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September 10

At breakfast we are welcomed to Alert Bay on Cormorant Island by Chief Bill Cranmer and his sister Gloria Cranmer-Webster and then we go ashore to visit the community and to see the tallest totem pole in the world.  We have an opportunity to meet with several artists at the Alert Bay Longhouse.   We chat with them at leisure and I admire their work, particularly Bruce “Harold” Alfred’s gorgeous bentwood boxes.   On the way to the U’Mista Cultural Centre, a tribute to the traditional culture and artistry of the Kwak’wala people, I stop for a brief chat with a young local man, whom I learn is Harold’s son-in-law.  The central attraction at the centre is the priceless collection of Potlatch artifacts which was returned years after being outlawed and removed in an attempt to civilize the heathens.  The display is stunning, modeled after a Big House and visitors enter the building from the right in the same manner as a dancer would enter a Potlatch.  The artifacts are generally displayed in the same order that they would appear in an actual Potlatch and it is extremely moving to view them in person. 

Alert Bay Cultural Centre
Totem Poles
Alert Bay Long House
Bench seat in the long house

We preview some of the many photos taken by Danny Catt during the voyage and then participate in an Adventure Canada Bazaar as we make our way into the waters of the Broughton Archipelago.  I pick up a thick warm fleece, a couple of Ian Tamblyn’s CDs and one of Suzuki’s books.  Alexandra and Cleo Morton join us at Echo Bay we gather with them in the Explorer Lounge to discuss the salmon farming industry and offer ideas to help minimize the negative impacts of this rapidly growing industry on the wild fish stocks.  Exhausted, from long days and full agenda, I regretfully slip out part way through for a much-needed afternoon nap.

 The Captain’s dinner event is highlighted by colourful costumes cobbled together by various passengers.  Our roommate, Barb Cunningham arrives dressed as a full-fledged environmentalist amid much chatter and laughter.  I skip the Wolf Project video as I am still feeling tired and do five laps on the third deck for a little exercise before going to bed.  We are heading out into open water again tonight and I take some gravol as a preventive measure.

 

September 11

Some of the inhabitants of Cortes Island, home of our expedition leader, Sabina Leader-Mense and her son Nikko, join us on board and introduce us to life on the island.  They describe their efforts in recycling and their determination to be self-sufficient over the long term in the areas of forestry, fishing and agriculture.  We enjoy a barbecue together on the top deck under a bright sun, as we pass through beautiful Desolation Sound.

                    Eric and the sous-chef Barbecue on deckRecycled DriftwoodThe seiner on the five-dollar bill

The afternoon is spent reflecting on our expedition, the places we’ve been and reminiscing with and about the people who call these places home.  As we make our way to the quay at Campbell River

, Chief Cecil Paul bids us a special farewell and is presented with a cheque for $21,000 to aid in the return of his grandfather’s totem pole from Sweden.  Many of us are moved to tears by his heartfelt response.  We disembark for the long trek to the Maritime Heritage Center where we get a look at the restoration project being carried out on the original fishing boat, whose picture used to adorn our five-dollar bill.  The evening ends with dancing or simply enjoying the music of the Whirlwind band from Quadra Island.

 

September 12 

Dawn finds our ship chugging into a slip in downtown Vancouver’s Barbary dock and we begin our farewell’s over breakfast.   We have enjoyed the company of many new friends and acquaintances:  Wendy, Barb, Karen, Susan & Penny, Cecil, Ian, Judy, Sheryl and Sarah.  Eventually we are all ready to go and make our way out onto the quay to find taxis, buses and rental cars.  We take with us a wealth of warm and wonderful memories, full hearts and a new and expanded awareness of this planet we call home.  In short, we are all, as I describe the experience to my husband when I arrive home, at least a little bit “tree huggered!”

Wendy Artz
Sabina Leader-Mense
Barb Cunningham and Carol Whitaker
Danny Catt

 

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