BLOG: Saying Goodbye to Haida Gwaii

Earl Marriott student Jessica Cooper says she learned a deeper understanding of herself

Earl Marriott Secondary students are on a nine-day cultural adventure at Haida Gwaii, which began on May 1. The students will tour several sacred sites, explore the rich historical significance of the islands while mingling with locals.

The students have offered to write a daily blog post about their adventure, which the Peace Arch News will publish for the duration of their trip.

To read other blog posts from their trip, click here.

‘Saying Goodbye to Haida Gwaii’

– by Jessica Cooper

Saying Goodbye to Haida Gwaii

When we started this trip we were a group of fourteen students, strangers with few things in common other then the nervous excitement of the journey we knew was ahead.

Today, only eight days after leaving home, we stand together as a family.

Through thick and thin we have stood together. As cliché as it sounds, we’ve quite literally bonded through blood, sweat, and tears. And yet with each struggle we’ve pushed ourselves forward in pursuit of knowledge, driving further each day to discover the truth of this beautiful land.

Haida Gwaii is a place of ancient tradition and new beginnings. A place where you can disappear into the wilderness and sleepy towns and emerge with a deeper understanding of your own self and the land where you walk.

Today is our last day before we return home to White Rock, though some of us will never truly leave Haida Gwaii.

Our minds and spirits are connected to the land now, itching for the next adventure.

I held back tears today as I stepped out of the Haida Language Centre where I had the privilege of meeting Haida Elders and learning their language.

They welcomed us with open arms and smiles, excited to share their knowledge with eager young students.

I was seated with my friend Rori next to an elder named Dolly Cooper, Haida name Hiilang-nga Jaad (Thunder Woman).

Her and I bonded over our shared last name, laughing at the quirks we Coopers seem to share.

I began to ask her as much as I could about the Haida Language, scribbling down all the new words and meanings in the small journal I brought along.

She was happy to correct me on pronunciation and even took my journal, writing down her own favorite phrases and sayings in Haida for me to practice later.

Dolly and the others were amazing hosts and wonderful teachers. I will always remember the kindness they showed us today and allow it to inspire my future studies and decisions.

And now, I’m writing this last message before joining my friends in a final walk down to the beach.

We will listen to the waves rise to the shore and watch the eagles soar across the water one last time as we laugh and banter, remembering always this unforgettable journey we’ve taken together.

Haawa Haida Gwaii,

Thank you.

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