Grade 9 students from GidG̱alang Ḵuuyas Naay and leaders with Mount Moresby Adventure Camp boated to Tanu and Windy Bay/Hlk’yah G̱aawG̱a. (Jason Shafto/Full Moon Photo)

Grade 9s on Gwaii Haanas trip visit “the best spot on Haida Gwaii”

Now in its fourth year, Grade 9 trip gives Haida Gwaii youth a chance to visit Tanu and Windy Bay

On an island near Windy Bay/Hlk’yah G̱aawG̱a, Grade 9 students from GidG̱alang Ḵuuyas Naay studied intertidal life, then built a fire on the beach.

Cooks Kiku Dhanwant and Edda Koenig had brought freshly caught trout from Mount Moresby Adventure Camp, and they cooked it right there on the beach, serving it on flat rocks with a variety of seaweeds on the side.

“It was just magical,” says Toby Sanmiya, one of the camp leaders who led this year’s Grade 9 Gwaii Haanas trip.

Since 2015, Gwaii Haanas, the Haida Gwaii School District and Mount Moresby Adventure Camp have all supported a three-day trip where students boat down from Moresby Camp to the Tanu village site, then go on to the giant spruce, low-tide wonders, culturally modified trees, and Legacy Pole during a two-night stay at Windy Bay.

Sanmiya said this year was a standout, for two reasons: MMAC hosted one of its biggest Grade 9 groups ever, with 28 youth, and it was the first time they all ate a fire-cooked meal together of freshly caught and gathered food.

“That’s really important for the students to have knowledge of,” he said, adding that they hope to do it again for the Grade 9s next year.

“It’s part of culture and local food, being nourished by the place that you’re in.”

Grade 9 students from GidG̱alang Ḵuuyas Naay and leaders with Mount Moresby Adventure Camp gather around the big spruce by Windy Bay/Hlk’yah G̱aawG̱a. (Jason Shafto/Full Moon Photo)

Leslee Mackey is executive director of MMAC, a non-profit outdoor learning camp by Mosquito Lake that teaches forest stewardship and outdoors skills.

Mackey said that after four years, new Grade 9 students start the school year knowing they will get a chance to visit Gwaii Haanas at the end of their spring camp at MMAC.

“It really feels like a thing now,” she said.

Some of the comments this year’s students made were that all students deserve to see Gwaii Haanas at least once.

“It’s great to see where the Haida were before contact,” said one student.

“It’s unfair to grow up here without seeing Haida Gwaii’s best spot,” said another, who was sure that spot is Windy Bay.

Giving all Haida Gwaii high school students an opportunity to visit is one of the goals in Gwaii Haanas’ draft Land-Sea-People plan, which sets out management goals for Gwaii Haanas over the next decade.

Moving dozens of students from Moresby Camp to Tanu to Windy Bay isn’t easy — this year’s Gudangaay Tlaats’gaa Naay trip had to be cancelled due to rough weather — and it’s also expensive, with typical transportation costs of well over $10,000.

But it’s a worthwhile goal, said Sanmiya, noting that most Grade 9s on the trips had never been to Gwaii Haanas before, despite growing up on island.

Last year at Windy Bay, the students gathered in the Looking Around and Blinking House to hear stories from the U.S. team of ex-Navy SEALS who took part in a massive project to eradicate the invasive deer from Ramsay and four nearby islands. They explained the project in detail, and spoke about why it was so difficult — for one thing, unlike the white-tailed deer they had mainly dealt with before, the Sitka black-tailed deer on Haida Gwaii don’t snort when they scent people.

“Our deer don’t do that — they just quietly walk off, and then they come in behind you, working their way around and sorting of investigating what’s going on,” Sanmiya said. The shooters called them “ghost deer.”

In previous years, Grade 9 students visiting Windy Bay have also met scuba divers studying runaway “urchin barrens,” or set up microscopes to study lichens from the surrounding old-growth forest.

Sanmiya said the trees around MMAC and Mosquito Lake are beautiful, but as second-growth, it’s altogether different, and the comparing the two serves students well.

“You go down to Gwaii Haanas in this old-growth at Windy Bay and all of a sudden you grasp this something bigger going on,” he said. “You feel the age of the place.”

“I think that sticks with us.”

Gwaii Haanas

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Dinner is served, on the beach, fresh from the water. (Jason Shafto/Full Moon Photo)

Just Posted

Haida Gwaii libraries resume inter-branch deliveries

Users can once again access materials from entire Vancouver Island Regional Library system

Masks mandatory in Old Massett as Haida Gwaii COVID cases total 26

Old Massett Village Council says curfew will be enforced with community service

All-Islands Protocol Table working to restore Haida place names

List of 12 priority names created; Queen Charlotte, Port Clements councils vote to support changes

B.C. premier ‘not going to be apologetic’ about closure of Haida Gwaii fishing lodges

Horgan says ‘public health takes the priority’ over business in implementation of travel restriction

B.C. mogul sells private Naikoon properties to parks system in $1 million deal

NIHO founder Rudy Nielsen sells 320 acres to BC Parks; Ministry statement expected in ‘coming months’

53 new COVID-19 cases, no new deaths cap off week of high infection rates in B.C.

Roughly 1,500 people are self-isolating because they either have COVID-19 or have been exposed to it

VIDEO: Internet famous Yukon-based bhangra dancer explores Vancouver Island

Gurdeep Pandher spreads joy through dance, forms cross-cultural connections amid pandemic

Unofficial holidays: the weird and wonderful things people celebrate around the world

On any given day of the year, there are several strange, silly or serious holidays to observe

Moving on: Tanev scores 11 seconds into OT as Canucks oust Wild

Vancouver beats Minnesota 5-4 to move into first round of NHL playoffs

Gene editing debate takes root with organic broccoli, new UBC research shows

Broccoli is one of the best-known vegetables with origins in this scientific haze

VIDEO: U.S. Air Force pilot does fly-by for B.C. son amid COVID border separation

Sky-high father-son visit plays out over White Rock Pier

3 Vancouver police officers test positive for COVID after responding to large party

Union president says other officers are self-isolating due to possible exposure

New mothers with COVID-19 should still breastfeed: Canada’s top doctor

Dr. Theresa Tam made the recommendation during World Breastfeeding Awareness Week

Collapse of Nunavut ice shelf ‘like losing a good friend:’ glaciologist

The ice shelf on the northwestern edge of Ellesmere Island has shrunk 43 per cent

Most Read