Yesterday I dined and danced at the Skidegate home of Roberta, whose Haida name implores her to feed visitors and, as a bonus, share with them the ways of her people. Not every night, but only when interest is sufficient. Joining me was a retired Steveston principal, her teenage son (an archaeology student) and an elderly Scottish-born couple from Vancouver.
Upon arrival we were met by Cohen (15), son of Juanita Richardson, nephew of Miles. Cohen, who is named after the writer-musician Leonard Cohen, ably performed the role of maitre ‘d, emcee, drummer, singer and storyteller. Assisting him was Taylor (11), a native of Cumberland.
After taking our seats Roberta introduced herself, then handed things over to Cohen, who sang and drummed a lovely song before serving us an appetizer plate of dried salmon, breaded scallop and herring roe on seaweed. Following that, a crab salad, supplemented by sea asparagus and cucumber. Following that, the main course: cod soufflé, potatoes, rice, fresh herring roe, cooked carrots and celery, and oolichan. For dessert a berry crumble.
Once stuffed, we were led outside where Cohen sang and drummed a song written by Vern Williams Jr. called “Greeting of the Day”. A couple more songs (one of which featured Taylor's feather dance) before the “Lyell Island Song”, which became an anthem during the protests that led to the creation of the Gwaii Haanas National Park, an initiative Cohen’s uncle, Miles, was instrumental in.
The evening ended with a dance lesson, one that had me, in my flip-flops, threatening to recreate the accident at Balancing Rock.