breakfast we are welcomed to Alert
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 Alfreds gorgeous bentwood boxes.
On the way to the UMista Cultural Centre, a tribute
to the traditional culture and artistry of the Kwakwala people,
I stop for a brief chat with a young local man, whom I learn is Harolds
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.
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 Tamblyns CDs
and one of Suzukis books. Alexandra
and Cleo Morton join us at Echo
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.
Captains 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.
of the inhabitants of Cortes
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.
afternoon is spent reflecting on our expedition, the places weve
been and reminiscing with and about the people who call these places home.
As we make our way to the quay at Campbell
Chief Cecil Paul bids us a special farewell and is presented with a cheque
for $21,000 to aid in the return of his grandfathers totem pole
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
finds our ship chugging into a slip in downtown Vancouvers Barbary dock and we begin our
farewells 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!