GWAII HAANAS LEGACY POLE: Celebrating 20 years of cooperative management
The Gwaii Haanas Legacy Pole is a 42-foot monumental pole being carved to honour the 20th anniversary of the Gwaii Haanas Agreement, the cornerstone of a groundbreaking cooperative management relationship between the Haida Nation and the Government of Canada. 2013 also marks the 25th anniversary of the South Moresby Agreement - a commitment made by both the federal and provincial governments to protect the natural and marine resources of Gwaii Haanas. An equal number of Haida Nation and Government of Canada representatives manage this special area through the Archipelago Management Board, renowned throughout the world as a model for cultural and natural resource governance.
• The pole will be raised in Gwaii Haanas on August 15, 2013 followed by a
feast in Skidegate on August 17.
• This will be the first pole raised in the Gwaii Haanas region in over 130 years, building a connection with the historic poles still standing in the villages
of SGang Gwaay (also a UNESCO World Heritage Site) and Skedans
• The carver and his assistant will work on the pole at the Haida Heritage Centre over the coming months.
Jaalen Edenshaw was chosen as the Gwaii Haanas Legacy Pole carver by a six-person selection committee consisting of a hereditary Chief, two Haida citizens, a carver and two Gwaii Haanas staff members. The proposals were put before the committee, with no names attached, and evaluated by storyline and design. Once chosen as head carver, Jaalen decided to ask Tyler York to be his assistant.
Jaalen was born in 1980 and is a member of the Ts’aahl – Eagle clan. In 2009, Jaalen was the head carver of the 36-foot Cormorant pole for the village of Old Massett. In 2010 he and his brother Gwaai collaborated on the 43-foot Two Brothers pole raised in Jasper National Park, Alberta.
Jaalen draws his inspiration from the Haida language, the stories, and the natural world of Haida Gwaii. The preservation of Haida language is very important to him. In 2008 he co-wrote and co-produced the play Sinxii Ganguu, an old story adapted for the stage and performed in the Haida language. He is also part of a team that creates Haida language media to engage the younger generations in language revitalization. Jaalen continues his learning of Haida language with his wife Jusquan and their three children.
Tyler York is a member of the Skedans Raven clan and he lives in Old Massett. He is 23 years old and has been learning to carve and working with other carvers since he was 16 years old. He has assisted Jaalen on several other projects including the Old Massett Cormorant pole and Guujaaw’s 36-foot canoe. Tyler is working to develop his design skills, and has carved paddles and masks toward this end. He is also interested in working with argillite.
Carving Connections between Land, Sea and People
The pole design was selected for its “Land, Sea, People” theme and is inspired by the connections between the Haida Nation and all those who take care of Gwaii Haanas from mountain-top to seafloor. Edenshaw’s pole tells the story of how Canada and the Haida Nation came together through an historic agreement to protect Gwaii Haanas. Visitors, archaeologists, Haida Gwaii Watchmen, Haida Ravens and Eagles, those who participated in protests at Athlii Gwaii (Lyell Island) are all represented in the design.
Figures on the pole from the bottom up represent: Sculpin, Grizzly Bear, Five People Standing Together, Raven, The Visitor, Seal, Sea Grizzly, Dog, Three Watchmen and Eagle.
Some Gwaii Haanas highlights:
• Gwaii Haanas National Marine Conservation Area Reserve (established in 2010) is the only area in the world managed from mountain top to sea floor;
• The Haida Gwaii Watchmen Program and Parks Canada work closely together to protect this special area;
• National Geographic Traveller rated Gwaii Haanas the number one park destination in North America.
• Researchers have helped redefine archaeological dates for human history along the North American coast;
• The International Union for the Conservation of Nature has recognized Parks Canada for best practices in ecological restoration. They identified Yahguudang dlljuu: A Respectful Act, a project to restore salmon habitat on Lyell Island (the site of Haida protests in 1985 that led to the creation of Gwaii Haanas), as an example for the world.