The coastal forests of northern British Columbia are thick and green, nourished by regular rains year round rains that continue throughout the summer. Except the week we were there onboard the MV Cascadia out of Kitimat. We had no rain at all, which amazed the crew because the previous trips that summer had all had many wet days.
Snowfields were still present that August, high up near the mountain peaks overlooking the inlets we passed through.
The glacial melt made the water green, and fed an astonishing number of waterfalls along the Gardner Canal passage in an area the crew called “Waterfall Way”, in the Kitlope region.
We were also privileged to visit the area in the Kitlope where First Nations elder Wa’xaid (English name “Cecil Paul” lived before he was forcibly taken from his family at age 10 and put into a Candadian Residential School. He was one of perhaps as many as 150,000 indigenous children who suffered the same fate; an attempt by the government and the dominant churches of the time: Catholic, Anglican, United and Presbyterian. The children were so badly treated that tens of thousands of them died, and of those that survived many never saw their families again. It was a systematic attempt to destroy the indigenous cultures.
“I want to get rid of the Indian problem,” stated Duncan Campbell Scott, the former deputy minister of Indian Affairs, in 1920. “I do not think, as a matter of fact, that the country ought to continuously protect a class of people who are unable to stand alone. Our objective is to continue until there is not a single Indian in Canada that has not been absorbed into the body politic.”
You can read his stories in Stories from the Magic Canoe of Wa’xaid, Following the Good River. This totem marks the nearby site where Wa’xaid was buried.