I am the Yakoun River. The largest in Haida Gwaii. In my waters swim all species of salmon including Sockeye, Chum, Coho, Pink and Chinook. In my wake cedar-carved canoes drift. I look after the Haida, feed their families, nourish their forests and entertain their children. In return, they gather on my banks to share their catch with a communal feast. The fish return to the river to complete the circle of life.
I am generous and plentiful. The Haida have fished my waters since time immemorial. They fish here now. Their descendants will fish here in the future.
I am the grandmother of the Haida. One of thousands of trees - Yew, Spruce, Cedar, Pine, Hemlock and Alder - that grow to provide, nurture and teach. The Haida use my bark for weaving baskets, my wood for carving canoes and my branches as canes for Haida elders, among many other uses. The Haida acknowledge and thank us for providing and never take more than they need.
I am life. I am an ancestor of the people of the cedar. I remain the heart of the Haida.
I am nature and a lesson of the Haida culture. Look after each other and be generous. Never take more than you need. Enjoy, share and respect the lands and waters that sustain you. Everything I have has a purpose. Look after me and in turn, I will always look after you.
Do not look back. There is much more to see, feel and love.
I am more than a forest; I am a lifeline. Within my canopy is a pharmacy for sustaining life. Liquorice root, Mint and Yew provide proven remedies. I am rich with life - Geese, Deer, Bear, Cranes and Ravens. The Haida eat only what is necessary. I can be transformed into paddles, medicines, art, nourishment, baskets, tools, clothes and homes.
I provide food, shelter and survival. In turn, the Haida bestow allegiance, thanks and respect. Together, we live harmoniously.
I was once the Golden Spruce. They called me Kiidk’yaas. Here is my story.
An old man and his grandson were in the forest during a snowstorm. They began to make their way downriver when the grandson decided to go defecate in the forest. The grandfather told him it is not right to disrespect nature. The two continued on and the grandfather said to his grandson: ‘Don’t look back. Things will never be the same.’ But the boy did not listen. He looked back and he began to grow roots. The boy grew into the Golden Spruce.
Though felled after 300 years, my lessons will carry forward.