Haida canoe exhibition in Vancouver

  • Jul. 15, 2011 4:00 p.m.

By Heather Ramsay–Bill Reid’s passion for the Haida canoe can be explored at a new exhibit in Vancouver at the Bill Reid Gallery. The show features photographs by two renowned photographers, Phil Hersee and Robert Semeniuk and sketches made by Bill Reid that have never been shown publicly before. The photographs were taken of Bill Reid’s well-known canoe, the Loo Taas, during the canoe building phase in the mid 1980s and a later trip to France, in which the canoe was paddled up the Seine in Paris. The Vancouver exhibition, curated by Martine Reid, traces distinct phases during which the canoe played a critical role in Bill Reid’s life: the creation of Loo Taas, the journey home to Haida Gwaii, the journey up the Seine in Paris, his journey creating the Spirit of Haida Gwaii sculpture and his final journey in the Loo Taas to his burial site on the islands. According to the news release, Mr. Reid was in awe of the elegant traditional Northern-style sea-going canoe and what it represents visually, symbolically, and culturally. The exhibition runs until January 8, and will feature several public programs including the first one July 20 featuring traditional canoe songs and drumming. Kwiaawah Jones of Skidegate is now based in Vancouver and is the public programmer for the show. She’s called this first event Mamook Chantie, a term in Chinook (trading jargon developed throughout the Northwest Coast) meaning to sing. The singing traditions of four different nations were celebrated: Salish, Kwakwakw’akw, Tsimshian and Haida. Each singer shared canoe travel songs, welcome songs, traded songs from other nations, along with their meanings.

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