Our first full day in Haida Gwaii was spent in Daajing Giids, a small coastal town on the central east coast of this archipelago. It is just a few minutes from the Haida Heritage Center, a living museum focusing on the art, history, and future of this dynamic place and its culture.

Just a few days ago, Haida Gwaii was formally given title to all their ancestral lands for the first time since they were settled by Canadians and incorporated into the province of British Columbia. This is a profound step towards reconciliation and Haida autonomy from provincial and federal influence. Our time in the heritage center was guided by James, an impassioned Haida activist who caught us up to speed on the recent political progress of this small island nation.

After our visit, we headed into the forest at the Spirit Lake Trailhead to take in some of the island’s interior. Dwarfed by huge Sitka spruce and western redwood trees, some with decades-old scars from logging and cultural harvest, we quickly came to appreciate the varied habitats of this remote island.