Jack Layton remembered Haida Gwaii: Nathan Cullen

  • Aug. 22, 2011 7:00 a.m.

Jack Layton spoke often about the visit he made to Haida Gwaii in the summer of 2004, Skeena-Bulkley Valley MP Nathan Cullen said Monday following the NDP leader’s death. “He talked about your communities forever,” said Mr. Cullen, who had just been elected for the first time back in 2004 when he invited Mr. Layton to visit the riding. Mr. Layton and his wife, Olivia Chow, spent 10 days here, kayaking in Skidegate Inlet and hitchhiking their way throughout the rest of the islands communities. “He’d reference it back,” Mr. Cullen said. “When we were sworn in, he brought an eagle feather from Haida Gwaii. He was just in love with the north.” Mr. Cullen said he was making breakfast for his kids Monday morning when he got the news that Mr. Layton had died, just weeks after stepping down temporarily as party leader to fight cancer. “To hear this was just shocking,” he said. “I knew Jack was sick… I fell into the camp that this guy could beat even this.” Mr. Cullen said he was with Mr. Layton in late June. He seemed vigorous and was working on plans for the future, and there was no sign of illness. Mr. Layton’s care and concern was evident in the final letter he wrote to Canadians, published after his death. “I thought it was a beautiful piece,” Mr. Cullen said. “That summarizes Jack for me – he knows that he is dying and he says, take hope, be optimistic. He was very interested that other people do not feel despair.” MLA Gary Coons was also mourning the death of a colleague and friend Monday. “It’s an extremely sad day for a lot of people and our nation,” he said. “He was an extraordinary and a great leader.” Mr. Coons said he had happy memories of drinking with Mr. Layton at the Oceanview Hotel in Prince Rupert during various election campaigns. He last saw him in the middle of May during the federal NDP convention in Vancouver, just after the NDP won 102 seats in the federal election and became the official opposition for the first time. “He was in great spirits,” Mr. Coons said. “He had just won the hearts and souls of Canadians, I believe, of all parties. He was up there telling jokes, he even danced a jig.” A state funeral will be held for Mr. Layton Saturday in Toronto.

Just Posted

Northern B.C.’s Ridley coal terminal sold, Canada divests, First Nations to own portion

Ten per cent of shares transferred to the Lax Kw’alaams Band and the Metlakatla First Nation

Haida artist Derek Edenshaw helps Rupert spruce up city

A giant kraken, painted by local artists under Edenshaw’s tutelage, is now on display

Haida Gwaii teacher denied paid bereavement travel leave

Arbitrator sides with B.C. Teachers Federation in dispute over funeral trip

Skeena mainstem closed to recreational sockeye

Escapements expected to be below 800,000 threshold

Rainbow Yarnbombing takes over

Haida Gwaii Knitting Group surprise the islands

‘Bad choices make good stories’: Margaret Trudeau brings her show to Just for Laughs

Trudeau says over the decades she has been suicidal, manic, depressed

UPDATE: Youth seen with gun at Nanaimo mall, suspect now in custody

Woodgrove Centre shut down during police incident

B.C. man dies from rabies after contact with Vancouver Island bat

Last known case of human rabies in B.C. was 16 years ago

Crown recommends up to two-year jail term for former Bountiful leader

Crown says sentence range should be 18 months to two years for Bountiful child removal case

B.C.-wide police efforts identify Vancouver Island robbery suspect

Warrant issued for arrest of North Vancouver man for TD Bank robbery

VIDEO: Wolf spotted swimming ashore on northern Vancouver Island

Island wolf population estimated at under 150 in 2008, says VI-Wilds

Diversity a Canadian strength, Trudeau says of Trump tweets at congresswomen

Trudeau avoided using Trump’s name when he was asked about the president’s Twitter comments

B.C. couple bring son home from Nigeria after long adoption delay

Kim and Clark Moran of Abbotsford spent almost a year waiting to finalize adoption of Ayo, 3

Garneau ‘disappointed’ in airlines’ move against new passenger bill of rights

New rules codified compensation for lost luggage, overbooked flights

Most Read