Three canoes in the works in Skidegate

  • Jul. 2, 2007 5:00 p.m.

The first monumental project at Qay’llnagaay since the poles were raised in 2001 is about to get underway. Three Haida carvers, along with two apprentices each, will carve three traditional cedar canoes under cover of the carving shed at the Haida Heritage Centre.Three huge logs were delivered on June 29, with butt-ends as wide as four-feet across. The three master carvers are Guujaaw, Garner Moody and Bill Bellis. Skidegate Band Councillor Richard Russ says these are the first canoes to be carved in Skidegate since the Loo Taa was made for Expo 86. The canoes are to be used, he says, envisioning many chances in the future for young people to get out in the boats. He’d love to see the day when a group of young men request a canoe for a six-day trip into their territory. The Loo Taa has served the islands well, but, he says, because Bill Reid carved it, the canoe has become priceless in value. “We have to be so careful with that canoe,” he says. He says it will be saved for times when the prestigious canoe must be used. Some day, he’d like the Haida to have an armada of canoes and see a canoe carving industry on island too. He says carving one canoe can keep three men working for a third of the year. The logs will be prepared and the canoes, dug-out carved and steamed at the carving shed. The elders at the Skidegate Haida Immersion Program have been involved in coming up with names for the yet-to-be-carved canoes.The canoe carving project is funded by Gwaii Trust.