Canada- On the Land Project

March 21, 2004
I am a teacher from Nova Scotia and I am traveling across Canada during the 2003-2004 school year with my six-year-old daughter. We left home in July and Flat Stanley caught up with us during the winter. We spent the winter months in Ucluelet, B.C., eight kilometers south of the Long Beach Unit of Pacific Rim National Park on the west side of Vancouver Island. This is the traditional territory of the Nuu-chah-nulth people. “Nu-chah-nulth” means “along the mountains”. There are six First Nations represented with twenty-two parcels of reserve land within the park, one of which is inhabited- Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation. The First Nations of the area were not consulted when the park was established in the 1970’s. However, there is increased first nations represented on the staff and the position of First Nations Program Manager was established eight years ago. Last year, the Nuu-chah-nulth Trail was opened and a totem will be erected in the near future. Several Nuu-chah-nulth principles are highlighted in the work of the park: “hishuk ish ts’awalk” (everything is one or everything is interconnected); “himwitsa” (storytelling); and “iisaak” (respect).
The Long Beach Unit of Pacific Rim National Park is within the Clayoquot Bioshpere Reserve. It is the only rainforest in the world that is dominated by conifers. Sea otters and abalone are species at risk. The sea otters have been reintroduced. Studies show that they are the greatest predators on sea urchins. Without the presence of sea otters, the urchins population rises and in-turn impacts the kelp forests since the urchins eat kelp. Without kelp, many other species are negatively affected.
April 13, 2004
Flat Stanley visited Haida Gwaii on April 5-9, 2004. Haida Gwaii is an archipelago of 138 islands. It was formerly known as the Queen Charlotte Islands. These islands are the home of the Haida nation for thousands of years. It is now the site of Gwaii Haanas Nations Park Reserve and Haida Heritage Site. The designation of the park is unique in Canada as it is a partnership between the Canadian government and the Council of the Haida Nation. This partnership is more noticeable lately as all items displaying logos will now display not only the Parks Canada logo, as in other parks in Canada, but also the logo of the Council of the Haida Nation.
The Haida Gwaii Watchmen live in five of the traditional villages inside the park. They are there as guardians and hosts. The name, Haida Watchmen, comes from the three-headed figure on the top of some Haida totem poles. These watchmen warned of approaching danger.
One historic village, Sgang Gwaay, has been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in recognition of the village being the only remains of a traditional Northwest Coastal First Nations village site, including three types of totem poles: house front poles, memorial poles and mortuary poles.
The Gwaii Haanas logo is a sea otter holding a sea urchin. In addition to being the symbol of the park, it has been authorized by the Haida as a crest for the “family” of park staff to wear at ceremonies.
The Canadian government, through Parks Canada, has partnered with the Council of the Haida Nation in the creation of the Qay’llnagaay Heritage Center in the Haida village of Skidigate. The Center is planned for opening in 2006. The Gwaii Haanas offices will be located in the Center.
A ten-kilometre boundary around Gwaii Haanas is the site of a proposed Marine Conservation Area.
Flat Stanley has been visiting the National Parks in the Rocky Mountains and Kluane National Park in Yukon. In the Rocky Mountains, the hoodoos are one feature of the landscape that exemplify the difference in Aboriginal and mainstream worldview.
The Ktanaxa include the hoodoos in their creation story, explaining that when the water monster was killed, his body was cut into pieces. The hoodoos were his ribs and, in part, mark the boundary of their traditional territory. The scientific explanation for the hoodoos is that they are composed of sand, silt and gravel cemented together with dissolved limestone. Running water has eroded the uncemented material away and the hoodoos remain.
Kluane National Park is the traditional territory of the Champagne and Aishihik First Nations and the Kluane First Nations. The recent land claims agreements have ensured that these First Nations will again have use of these lands, as well as input into the management of the park.