Kay Days

Graham Richard

Haida Gwaii came together to celebrate the 11th annual Kay Anniversary Saturday, August 17. Xaaydas Giinaa.ah ‘Laana the Haida Heritage Centre opened its door in 2007 and has partnered closely with Saahlinda Naay Haida Gwaii Museum on numerous important projects ever since. Kay Days is a perfect example of how the partners bring people together to inspire understanding and respect for all that Haida Gwaii is.

The day started with a clan march at 10am. Haida clan members, dressed in regalia bearing crests of their lineages, marched together to arrive amongst the gyaaGalang cedar monuments of Kay Llnagaay, a Haida village site.

Representatives from the hosting groups – including Kayahl ‘Laanas a Haida matrilineage; Xaaydas Giinaa.ah ‘Laana; Saahlinda Naay; and Gwaii Haanas – officially welcomed them. President of the Haida Nation Gaagwiis Jason Alsop addressed the crowd and expressed gratitude to all who attended.

With that the community officially opened the day’s activities, which included food vendors, craftspeople, bakers, 50/50, and loonie auctions. Things started slowly, with the crowd enjoying a salmon BBQ and live music from Ron Souza, Kali Morena, and Greg Williams.

Students of Simon Fraser University’s Environmental Education Program volunteered for many of the day’s activities, and at 1pm they started games for children and cool adults. Competitors battled to win canoe breaker toss, leg wrestling, and daaxsinaay.

Arts and crafts activities included a cedar weaving class. Gaad Gas Raven Ryland taught participants about harvesting and preparing cedar and showed them how to weave cedar bark into bookmarkers and roses. Nearby Nikkayla Gladstone hosted a Xaayda Kil spelling bee where long-standing member of HlGaagilda Xaayda Kil Naay Skidegate Haida Immersion Program Sing.giduu Laura Jormanainen won with a nearly perfect score.

Later in the afternoon, people of the Islands crowded into Gina Guu Aahljuu Naay Performance House for Kay Days’ feature event. Haida drummers and singers of Hltaaxuulang Guud ad K’aajuu Friends Singing Together led a full room of Haida citizens, Islands residents, and guests together in dance. The floor was full of competitors with Xuuya K’aajuu Giis Teresa Russ winning the women’s category; K’uula Jaad Kayden Collinson winning young women’s; Alvin Lewis winning men’s; and Skilaay Ka’ty Russ-Lewis winning young men’s.

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