Jaalen Edenshaw: The Gwaii Haanas Legacy Pole

Jaalen Edenshaw: The Gwaii Haanas Legacy Pole

                                    By: Tara Chloe Dusanj

The Museum of Anthropology (UBC) is very pleased to welcome Gwaii Haanas Legacy Pole carver: Jaalen Edenshaw. Jaalen will facilitate a rich, visual presentation regarding his work on the Gwaii Haanas Legacy Pole. The disucssion will take place in the Great Hall at MOA on Tuesday, March 5, 2013 at 7:00pm.

The Gwaii Haanas Legacy Pole is 42- foot monument being carved to honour the 20th anniversary of the Gwaii Haanas Agreement. This agreement is the hallmark of a groundbreaking, cooperative management relationship between the Government of Canada and the Haida Nation. Currently an equal number of Haida Nation and Government of Canada representatives manage this special area through the Archipelago Management Board. Gwaii Haanas is renowned throughout the world as a model for governing cultural and natural resources.

Gwaii Haanas Legacy Pole carver, Jaalen Edenshaw,  highlights the interconnections between Land, Sea and People in the Haida Gwaii archipelago. In the Haida Language, Gwaii Haanas means: “Islands of Beauty.” The Gwaii Haanas National Marine Conservation Area Reserve (established in 2010) is the only place in the world which is managed from mountain top to sea floor. Gwaii Haanas has been rated by the National Geographic Traveller as the number one park destination in North America. The protection of this beautiful space is kept by the Haida Gwaii Watchmen Program and Parks Canada Work.  The land and sea of this remarkable place are protected as: A Haida Heritage Site, a National Park Reserve and a National Marine Conservation Area Reserve. The cooperative management agreement was reached after the turmoil of a blockade. After five years of negotiations regarding the Gwaii Haanas, it is now a model for conservation and the governing of natural resources in the world.

  The Gwaii Haanas Legacy Pole tells a story regarding thousands of years, places, people, the past, the present and the deep interconnection between the land, the sea and the people who take pride in this unique environment. Jaalen Edenshaw incorporates images in his design, which display two Haida moieties. The strength of their relationship is represented by several people standing together to reflect those who waited in line at Lyell. There is an eagle at the tope, and a sculpin at the bottom in order to acknowledge the unprecedented agreement between Canada and the Haida Nation. This is an agreement which allows Gwaii Haanas to be managed from mountain top to sea floor. The incorporated image of a visitor corresponds to the idea that those who come from far away are given the chance to experience the spectrum from ancient, oral histories to modern day archaeological studies. This ideology is indicated through the representation of the grizzly bear and dog images, but also through the recent design modification (that took place after the October 2012 earthquake), which include an image of Scared-One-Standing-and-Moving who is draped in the skin of a Wasgo (sea wolf) which enhanced his powers in the epic battle to hold up the Haida Gwaii and is meant to remind us that we are all united. The pole will be visible from a distance at sea. It will complement the thriving feature of the long house, the accessible old growth, the culturally modified trees, the salmon run and the cultural history, which attributes to the speciality of Gwaii Haanas.

The red cedar pole will be raised in Gwaii Haanas on August 15, 2013, which will be followed by a feast in Skidegate on August 17th. 2013. This also marks the 25th anniversary of the South Moresby Agreement, a commitment, which was made by the federal and provincial governments to protect the natural and marine resources of Gwaii Haanas. Additionally, it will be the first pole raised in the Gwaii Haanas region in over 130 years and will serve to build a connection with the other historic poles that are currently standing in the villages of Sgang Gwayy (also known as the UNESCO World Heritage Site).

A six-person committee selected Jaalen Edenshaw as the Gwaii Haanas Legacy Pole carver, whom asked Tyler York to be his assistant on the project. Jaalen was a member of the Ts’aahi- Eagle Clan. He was the head carver of the 36-foot ‘Cormorant’ pole created for the village of Old Masset in 2009. The following year, Jaalen and his brother, Gwaai, work together on the 43-foot ‘Two Brothers” pole, which was raised in Jasper National Park, Alberta. His work is highly inspired by the traditions of the Haida culture: their stories, the natural world of Haida Gwaii, and most importantly the Haida Language. Jaalen is very invested in preserving Haida language. He has contributed to this cause through his co-production of the play “Sinxii Ganguu”, which is an old story adapted and performed in the Haida language. Jaalen is also aware of the need to engage the younger generation with their heritage. He is apart of a language medusa team, which engages youth with language revitalizations. 

Join us for this historical, culturally rich and visual presentation on March 5, at 7PM in the Great Hall. Help honour the past by celebrating the future of Gwaii Haanas.

The event is free with general admission. Admission into the Museum is free for all current UBC students, staff and faculty.


 

 

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