On the sidewalk, outside the Old Masset community hall, people were milling about and talking to relatives and neighbours. Ramsey, a large bear of a man, caught my eye and gave me a familiar greeting. We banter back and forth for a while and he laughs his warm, wheezy laugh. The Haida Bear Crest covering his chest bounces up and down as he chuckles. “Going inside?” he asks and gestures to the door. Wondering if I have time, I mention that I am on my way to the pole raising, but he assures me that there is plenty. It then dawns on me that in addition to the pole raising, there must be other festivities planned in honor of National Aboriginal Day.
For those of you unfamiliar with National Aboriginal Day, it is a day that recognizes and celebrates the vibrant culture of the First Nations peoples of Canada. And in Northern British Columbia, in the remote first nations community of Old Masset, the Haida were in the process of observing the occasion through a traditional feast with singing, drumming and dancing.