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Gwaii Haanas Report: Free walks, talks and ways to learn

By Victoria Leslie
People learn about tidal treasures during a Gwaii Haanas intertidal beach walk. (Gwaii Haanas)

By Victoria Leslie

Did you know that you can learn about Gwaii Haanas without travelling there? The Gwaii Haanas visitor experience team provides free guided walks, programs and activities that facilitate fun interactive learning for all ages! Experience the culture and environment of Gwaii Haanas within Skidegate with our Gwaii Haanas interpreters!

The intertidal beach walk in front of the Haida Heritage Centre is my favourite interpretive program because each tide brings in new exciting creatures to meet and learn about. A cool fact I learned is moon snails take days to drill a small hole in a clam shell, and then they pour an enzyme in to liquefy the clam to drink it like a smoothie! Beach walks are offered when the tide is low so that you can get a glimpse into the world between the tides.

The Spirit Lake guided walk offers the opportunity to learn about how Haida use the forest in a sustainable and respectful way. Many of the plants that you’ll learn about on the Spirit Lake trail are in Gwaii Haanas as well. My favourite part of this walk is learning about the culturally modified trees and the traditions that carvers would follow when cutting a tree and carving it.

Daily programs happen in the Gwaii Haanas classroom within the Haida Heritage Centre in Skidegate. The three daily programs running right now are “Cedar: Tree of Life,” “Where the Land and Sea Meet,” and “Traditional Food Harvesting.” Did you know Haidas used to make fruit leathers by dehydrating berries in between skunk cabbage leaves?

Everyday after the programs are done, an activity station is set up in the same area. The themes are related to the program of the day. The activity stations are a fun way to learn about the topics because the interpreters make them very interactive and appropriate for all ages. There are fun art projects to make at each such as colouring post cards and making cedar rope bracelets. At the seaweed and food harvesting activity station there are samples of seaweed to try along with other traditional foods.

If you can’t make the trip into Gwaii Haanas you can still experience many aspects of the culture, history, and environment within. Attending these programs before your trip to Gwaii Haanas would be beneficial because you’ll have new knowledge to make connections to the place during your trip.

Each of our interpreters has a vast knowledge of the area along with personal stories to share, so each program will be sprinkled with unique and refreshing insights each time. I have attended a lot of the Gwaii Haanas programs over the last three years and I still learn something new every time. Check out our website or our Facebook page to confirm the dates and times of each of our interpretive programs!