Alert Bay, British Columbia and cruising Black Fish Sound

Sep 11, 2017 - National Geographic Quest

Early this quite rainy morning, National Geographic Quest docked at the Government Dock in Alert Bay on Cormorant Island. Joining our groups, we made our way by shore transportation to the U’mista Cultural Center, to begin our day visiting the Kwakwaka’wakw people of Central British Columbia. The community of Alert Bay was established in 1870 to house workers for the salmon canneries. First Nations came for work and to follow their children who were forced to attend residential school in Alert Bay. The community has changed dramatically since the 1800s. The First Nations continue to rise above the effects of residential schools; continuing as part of a living and vibrant culture. After visiting the cultural center and learning about the Potlatch society we were hosted by the T’sasala Cultural Group in the Big House. A huge fire was lit, several Namgis people sat at the drum log and as singing began dancers entered the main floor of the Big House. They represented the path of their ancestors in the great celebration called the Potlatch, as has been done for thousands and thousands of years.

After the fun dance where we were all invited to dance and share in the fun of circling the ceremonial fire, a lunch combining traditional First Nations food and a little extra from the Quest’s galley and hotel staff rounded out a lovely morning. Time allowed for a wonderful walk back to the ship and we set sail for Black Fish if on cue, the marine mammal world opened up with harbor porpoise, white sided dolphins, Dahl’s porpoise and at long last, killer whales! 

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About the Author

Sharon Grainger

Naturalist/Certified Photo Instructor

Sharon’s degrees in Psychology and Anthropology from Eastern Washington University have given her a good base to pursue her profession as a naturalist and photographer. With five generations of artists behind her, she has developed a portfolio of images covering many interests including indigenous cultures, ethnobotany, natural and cultural history. Photography gives voice and interpretation to her experience of the world. Spending many years with Native peoples has dramatically affected her attitude towards how and what she sees. She recognized, through these experiences, the diversity of peoples around the world. This began a lifelong curiosity about the variety of ways in which different cultures relate to each other and this planet.

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