Summer student jobs at Gwaii Haanas are varied and often fun, like hanging out with Parka and making buttons for local youth in Port Clements. (Submitted)

Gwaii Haanas Report: What does it mean to be a Gwaii Haanas summer student?

By Shyanna Sawyer

Before working with Gwaii Haanas I had more than a few assumptions about the type of person you had to be to work there. I thought to myself, “I am a nursing student. I am not going into marine or terrestrial biology. I have no background in cultural resource management, and I cannot name one person I know that works there. Why would I apply?”

The job I have now had for the past two summers was suggested to me by one of my best friends. She said, “Believe me, the people you’ll work with are really encouraging, the work you’ll be a part of is fun and engaging, and you’ll more than likely get a trip into Gwaii Haanas.”

I was sold! A paid trip into Gwaii Haanas sounded like a dream, but I was still unsure what kind of work I would be able to help with there.

For each student the summer is different. If you work in Resource Conservation, your day may include time in the field surveying vegetation regeneration on Ramsay Island, measuring abalone, combing through eel grass, or examining ancient Haida artifacts.

For an External Relations summer student, like myself, your summer is likely to be filled with community events, writing for the Kii.ngaay, our year-end review, managing the swag and merchandise line, and taking over the Gwaii Haanas Facebook for a few months.

In Visitor Experience, you’ll be engaging with members of the community and visitors every day by helping with the short programs, orientation, and the different activity stations, such as cedar weaving where we give examples of how to cedar weave and the sea station where you examine creatures and plants of the sea.

Although I have never worked for Tech Services, I understand that their motto is: “You break it, we fix it.” As a Tech Services summer student you might find yourself assisting a small-engine technician in small-vessel repair, conduct groundkeeping at shop facility yard, and helping with maintenance at a Haida Gwaii Watchmen site and Gwaii Haanas operation stations.

Each summer almost all of the students get to participate in Haida cultural activities. Last year, we learned how to gather and weave cedar with Aay Aay Hans and this year we gathered and prepared spruce roots with Dolly Garza. We also had the incredible opportunity to watch Evelyn Vanderhoop weave parts of her raven’s tail robe in the Haida Gwaii Museum. Each summer that I have spent with Gwaii Haanas has been one to remember.

If you’re looking for meaningful and fun summer work, look no further.

To inquire about working as a Gwaii Haanas summer student for summer 2019 please contact: Elaine Stahl, Human Resources Manager, 250-559-6304,

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