That’s how long and how far Norm Hann paddled his standup paddleboard earlier this month along the east coast of Haida Gwaii, British Columbia. The expedition was documented from a 40 ft sailboat as part of the upcoming film STAND.
The primary purpose of this trip was to help raise awareness of the threat an oil spill could cause to Haida Gwaii and the nearby Great Bear Rainforest.
Enbridge, a Canadian energy transport company, is proposing the construction of a pipeline through northern British Columbia to transport oil from Alberta to BC’s West Coast. Oil would need to be transported by oil tankers through some of the most pristine coastal ecosystem in the world, an area that is also highly susceptible to storms and other navigation hazards. An oil spill would cause unspeakable damage.
Setting out from Old Masset on the northern coast of Graham Island, Hann began paddling on June 7, 2012, making his way along North Beach, rounding Rose Spit, and continuing along the east coast of Haida Gwaii. Hann eventually made his way past Queen Charlotte City where he then entered Gwaii Hannas, an island archipelago, a National Park Reserve and a place that is very special to the Haida.
Gwaii Hannas has been home of the Haida First Nation for the past 12,000 years and is where the Haida used to reside in villages that are now called Haida Watchmen sites. Hann completed his journey at perhaps the most powerful of the Watchmen sites, SGang Gwaay.
“I felt really honored to be shown those sites by the Haida.” describes Hann. “There was a real feeling of spirit and power in those places. The watchmen were true hosts of the land and welcomed us with open arms.”