Day 141: On Island
Sept. 18, 2017
Prince Rupert to Skidegate, BC
Traditional territory of the Haida
Mostly sun with a little bit of rain
The ferry arrived on Haida Gwaii at 6 AM. In previous travel, getting somewhere early in the morning usually hasn’t been an issue—either I’ve had a vehicle or been in a big enough city that a coffee shop or airport has been open any time of night. Riding off the ferry on bicycle onto the island, however, the night seemed rather dark and the wind was rather cold.
I hung around with some backpackers at the ferry terminal until it was light enough to bicycle safely to Queen Charlotte City, then headed there for breakfast at the visitor centre and a hot chocolate at the local café. Talked to an Indonesian girl travelling from Squamish, a group of local retired loggers and the café owner and was told the visitor centre (when it opened) was a good place to start.
“Maureen will tell you anything you need to know,” one of the old loggers told me. Then he added, “She goes by Mo.”
At the visitor centre I met another local who told me he was there to say goodbye to Maureen, who was headed to Trail on the next ferry. This was her last day of work. When Maureen was free, I walked up to the counter. “Morning, Mo,” I said. “Happy last day of work. Are you looking forward to getting to Trail?”
She blinked. “You’ve been at the café, haven’t you,” she said.
I met a lot of people in the morning, from the café to the visitor centre to a local alternative school to the hospital. I chatted with a woman picking blackberries and complimented a carpenter on his smile. I knew that there was a big funeral happening on the island in the afternoon. Around lunch, I connected with Heather and John from Skidegate United Church and found out that they were going to the funeral. I asked them if they thought it would be inappropriate for me to go. They said there would be many people, both known and unknown, and I was welcome to join them. So I spent part of the afternoon at the funeral, listening to the eulogies and songs and helping set up for the feast after. It was an interesting glimpse of Haida culture, and I felt privileged to have heard about the love the deceased had for her community, and the love that was felt for her in return.
Haida Gwaii feels sort of similar to Prince Edward Island, with a lot of people and stories in close proximity. Lots to learn and I’ll start tomorrow.
#astheravenflies #atrfxello #log