By Jack Litrell
As a member of the Gwaii Trust Arts Committee it is always satisfying to support a project that is successfully completed. Even more so for a project that includes all the island communities, and imparts traditional knowledge to a younger generation.
Led by Erika Stocker, the "Hunted to Danced" regalia making project presented its final element at the Kay Performance House on Wednesday, May 9th.
During this project youth were taught how to tan deer hides with traditional methods. The finished hides were cut and sewn into regalia, and adorned with Haida designs.
We started off with a buffet feast of local specialties by Roberta Olson, including delicious venison. There was a festive mood in the crowd, and anticipation of the regalia being danced for the first time.
What followed was a celebration of creativity and culture. The Hltaaxuulang Guud ad K’aajuu dance group came in with resonating drumming and singing. The eagle and raven danced through the audience. Then the regalia was brought to life with dancing throughout the space. It came in all sizes. Even the smallest dancers had leggings and aprons made of soft deerskin with painted designs and fringe. It was a whirlwind of color, shape and movement.
I thought one of the best aspects of this project was the collaboration of the island communities, the elders, the youth, and everyone who witnessed the event. It shows how strong communities can pass on knowledge, and traditional practices, at the same time creating art that will be seen and enjoyed for a long time.