Sunday, February 24, 2008

Back to my Adopted Family

Well this past week I was back in Hartley Bay. It felt great since the last two winters I had been up there training the teams for the All Native Basketball tournament and since I was coaching at Quest this year I wasn't able to be up there and I was missing it. I was up there representing King Pacific Lodge for our student mentor program and we spent a couple of days interviewing all the students and community for positions at the lodge this year. The students did a great job in the interviews. Our timing was incredible as we arrived on the day that the community fishing vessel, The Qitonsta, was sent to its final resting place. The Qitonsta was owned by Ernie Hill Sr. and sank in the harbour after a very heavy snowfall. This boat ran the waters north to Alaska, west to Haida Gwaii and south to Namu. The boat was towed from the harbour and sank in 900 feet of water in the bay in front of Hartley Bay after a miraculous recovery from the bottom of the harbour. This boat had been in operation for 40 years. It was a very emotional day for the community. Commercial fishing boats in a native community are like family members. The boats provide food for the whole  community, they provide transportation, and they provide real education for the youth as they work on the boats under the leadership of elders of the community. I thank the community of Hartley Bay for allowing the staff of KPL to be a part of this special and intimate moment in the history of the village. As Ernie Hill Jr, Eagle Chief, said " the demise of the salmon runs mirrors the demise of the fishing boats of our community." Cam Hill, the grandson of Ernie Hill Sr. and close friend, felt the loss deeply and I felt privileged to be there with him. The picture above is of Eva, Cam's wife, on the day she told me I was going to be adopted into the Raven Clan. My name is T'aam Laan, Steerman of the Canoe, and I am part of the community and the loss of the the Qitonsta affected me as well. Thank you to the community of Hartley Bay for allowing us to be part of this special day. I am looking forward to going back up in April to run an Outdoor Leadership Program for the youth. Thanks to Cam and Eva, Mr. H and Lynn for their amazing hospitality as usual while we were up there.