Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s firewood (Derek Marham/Flickr).

The Drive Home: Ten Commandments for Haida Gwaii

“It all seemed eerily familiar, but I couldn’t quite remember where I had seen it all before.”

By Chris Williams

After a weekend of badminton and barbecue, I am often in need of religious cleansing, which can be difficult because I am not religious and I’m not terribly good at cleansing. I usually just go for a walk into the woods and let nature guide me back to the path of respectability.

But something weird happened the last time. I was up on the ridge behind my house, lost in a deeply religious thought about doughnuts, when a great crack! of lightning tore through my consciousness. I suddenly felt as if I were not alone, that there was some other being there with me.

In vain I scanned the forest for the creature I knew to be there, but none could I see. Then, all of a sudden, I did see something. At first I wasn’t sure what it was, but then my eyes focused and I could make out some sort of stone tablets.

“Could it be?” I wondered. “Could the great prophecy finally be realized and a clear set of rules be laid out in stone to clarify Haida Gwaii’s inevitable journey to greatness?”

You know what? It was. Ten commandments to guide us to salvation. It all seemed eerily familiar, but I couldn’t quite remember where I had seen it all before. Anyway, here is what was written on the stones:

The 10 Haida Gwaiian Commandments

1. Thou shalt question thy neighbour’s income when that neighbour maketh a huge purchase and you happen to know that they doth not maketh enough money for the purchase, forsooth.

2. Though shalt post an opening time on thine place of business even though thou doth not intend to open thy business at the posted time.

3. Each man, woman, and child on Haida Gwaii shall openly scorn any entrepreneurial endeavour if it be shown that such endeavour may actually be good.

4. In Tlell particularly, but also across the land, thou shalt not covet thy best friend’s partner even though thy friend’s partner is often drunked and coming on to you mightily.

6. Remember to keepst the Sabbath day (by whicheth I mean make sure thou hast such fun on the Sabbath that thou maketh Monday the Sabbath also).

7. Honour thine mother and father by not stealing their beer, but by buying thine own beer elsewhere. Also, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s firewood.

8. Thou shalt not kill more than 12 tourists within the cycle of 12 moons (unless they driveth really slow and asketh silly questions of you).

9. Thou shalt not commit adultery (by whicheth I mean thou shalt not ever act like an adult, and shall instead acteth like a child who hath eaten too much sugar).

10. Thou shalt not taketh the Council of the Haida Nation’s name in vain, but singeth it as if it hath been the name of a beautiful angel with a multitude of lawyers atop its wings.