Today, National Geographic Sea Bird arrived at the Alert Bay dock on a still, quiet morning. We headed to shore to hike through the coastal temperate rainforest, admiring the many massive Western red cedars, known as the “tree of life” in the Pacific Northwest. We continued to explore a muskeg environment. Muskegs are unique ecosystems, housing plants with special adaptations to live in extreme bog conditions.

In the afternoon, we headed to the U’mista Cultural Centre where we learned about the history and culture of the Kwakwaka’wakw people. The U’mista exhibits include regalia used in potlatch ceremonies which were banned in Canada between the 1880s and 1951. We also saw historical exhibits of First Nations art, traditions, and stories of what indigenous people have endured in the area. We then went to a cultural sharing at the ‘Namgis Big House where we experienced cultural dances and stories of the Kwakwaka'wakw people. Visiting the ‘Namgis Big House is a moving experience, emotional given the dark history, yet a joyful celebration of their resilience.