BC commissioned a Yellow cedar aal from artist Yaahl ‘Aadaa (Cori Savard). The paddle will be presented as a gift from the Province to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge by Premier Christy Clark on 26 September 2016.
Yaahl ‘Aadaa’s design is of classic Haida formline and incorporates a painted eagle with a frog below its wing. The eagle and frog are closely associated Haida crests.
“In ceremony, entering the house while paddling, as if travelling by canoe shows unity and the journey taken by those who have come to witness the event,” Yaahl ‘Aadaa explained. “If paddlers go at their own rhythm, the canoe doesn’t go very far. In working together and paddling in unison toward a common goal, the canoe becomes efficient and powerful.”
“The paddle also symbolizes the relationship and responsibilities of our governments to First Nations. We are fortunate to have ancestral ties to our cultures so that works of art such as these may be created and presented to the outside world. It is fitting in a time of truth and reconciliation in Canada to showcase the rich history of First People’s cultures. May we all continue our journey together, in unison.”
Historically the aal propelled Haida canoes at least as far as California, Kamchatka Krai, and Hawaii. The canoes are carved from single giant Red cedars that proliferate throughout Haida Gwaii’s rainforests. During their visit to Haida Gwaii the Duke and Duchess plan to paddle such a canoe with the Skidegate Saints, the basketball team from the nearby Haida community of HlG_aagilda.
The largest Haida canoes reached up to 80 feet long and could carry well over 50 people, making them the biggest in the world.
Yaahl ‘Aadaa is a member of Yahgu’ Jaanaas, a Haida family of the Raven moiety. She completed an eight-year apprenticeship under renowned artist Skil ḵaatl’aas (Reg Davidson).