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REPORTING · 2nd June 2010
Walter McFarlane
The sky was just like he left it although the water sat lower in the docks at Kitamaat Village when Norm Hann returned to Kitamaat for the start of the Solidarity Gathering of Nations on Saturday, May 29th.

“Many of you know by now that Norm Hann started his journey right here in Kitamaat; 387 odd kilometers later, he ends up in Bella Bella on paddleboard [...]. He was in 7 foot waves when I left him out by Kitkiata Old town,” said Gerald Amos.

He expressed his reaction in the Haisla Language “Kum-Suwa’ which means: “Only a white guy would do that.”

“But in this instance, we say that with a lot of respect from the bottom of our hearts. It was an incredible trip,” said Amos. “Fortunately, the weather cooperated with him. It was much like this on the outside waters for him, which speaks to the effort we’re all here to speak to. Somebody’s looking out for us and what more can I say.”

He thanked everybody for coming and the drumming and singing began welcoming Hann back to Kitamaat. Hann paddled his board from beyond the rocks and came to a stop at the docks where he ascended to greet the drummers who performed their second song with the message “We don’t need Enbridge on the Douglas.”

Hann was welcomed to Kitamaat by both, Dan Paul, Chief G’psgolox and Chief Earnie Hill. Gujaaw of the Haida Nation sang for him as they left the dock. Hann would present on his voyage later in the day.

Towards the end of the first half of the days presentations at the Haisla Community center in Kitamaat Village Norm Hann took to the stage to address to crowd of over 600.

Hann originates from Squamish British Columbia and has been a guide in the Sacred Circle for the last ten years around Hartley Bay. Inspired by an Elder, he decided to travel from Kitamaat to Bella Bella by Paddleboard. On the 29th, he was speaking about his trip.

After leaving Kitamaat Village, he spent the night with three generations of the Amos family. Amos shared information on where the Haisla get their food and how tanker traffic could damage the ecosystem.

Their next major stop was Old Town outside of Hartley Bay where they looked at the pictographs carved into the rocks. “What might that rock look like with oil on it? Every time I went on this journey, I just can’t imagine tankers. We were right on the route. There is something powerful about being on the potential of something so disastrous. We stayed right on that route and we wanted to see for ourselves, what was on this route, where they would be going,” said Hann.

He spoke highly of the people of the coast who shared in their journey and helped them get to where they were going. He showed a video of coming into Hartley Bay. He stated the people of Hartley Bay know where all their food came from.

As he paddled, he stopped over the site of the Queen of the North. He said the Gitgan were unable to harvest clams for four years and they suspect this was a piece of the aftermath from the Queen of the North. “That is nothing compared to the potential of what could be on our coastline,” said Hann.

Coming around Gill Island, they encounter four humpback whales right along the path of the Tanker route. “These passage ways which are very narrow are natural marine highways. It would be like taking a bulldozer down the highway in Vancouver and telling everybody to move. There is big large wildlife, Sperm Whales, Humpback Whales, Transient Killer Whales,” said Hann. “These animals will be displaced and the shoreline will be hammered by the waves.”

They stopped the night at Cetacealab. They took a day to rest there. Herman and Janey explained this Coast was a sanctuary for the whales. They encountered Killer Whales along the route.

“There’s like, once in a lifetime things that happen every week along this coastline,” said Hann.

The weather held during what could have been a hazardous crossing and they stopped to see shoreline rock formations and natural monuments. He was shown Kitiasuu Bay where all their traditional food can be found.

“We paddled past burial sites, we paddled past pictographs, we paddled past centryglyphs,” Hann said. “There was so much history, it was simply amazing.”

They reached Klemtu where they were given a welcome. The last day was the wettest. They traveled approximately 40 kilometres a day. They arrived into Bella Bella where they were welcomed. He asked everyone present to do what they can; for if they stand up the groups they oppose will have a tough time coming in.