Thursday, 24 April 2014


One of the great things about the Great Box project is that the artists involved, Gwaai Edenshaw and Jaalen Edenshaw, are working in many ways in their community to preserve Haida culture. One of their ventures has been 'Haidawood', a series of stop-animation videos in Haida language, some with English subtitles, telling important Haida stories. Made with family and community members, these are remarkably creative and engaging animations. Their story about the origin of  Taaw, or Tow Hill, in the north end of Haida Gwaii with English subtitles has just been released on YouTube:

The struggle to preserve Haida culture and language is political as well as creative. After over a century of assimilation policies, Haida people are fighting to keep their language from extinction. Now Haida culture faces a new threat, in the form of proposed oil tanker routes which would cross their territory. Given the dependence of Haida people on the pristine marine ecology and the way that culture and ocean and land are woven together, the effects of tanker movements or any oil spilled would be disastrous.

Gwaai and Jaalen and the Haidawood crew are using their animated videos to get this message across. Their ‘Haida Raid’ videos have now given rise to a crowd-funding campaign to make a ‘Save Our Waters’ video (both below).

It’s powerful. Art isn’t just something that enhances life. Sometimes, you use it to survive.

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