Today we had the privilege of going to Alert Bay. Alert Bay, located on Cormorant Island off the northeastern coast of Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada, boasts a rich history rooted in the indigenous cultures of the region. Traditionally inhabited by the 'Namgis First Nation, part of the Kwakwaka'wakw peoples, Alert Bay has long served as a cultural and social hub for these indigenous communities.
Totem poles, some of which are the tallest in the world, dot the landscape as silent witnesses to the intricate stories and traditions of the Kwakwaka'wakw. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries the town grew as a fishing and cannery center, attracting settlers and industry. However, it also became a site of cultural conflict during the era of residential schools, institutions aimed at assimilating indigenous children into Euro-Canadian culture.
The U'mista Cultural Centre, established in the town in the latter half of the 20th century, now stands as a testament to the resilience and revival of Kwakwaka'wakw culture, showcasing repatriated artifacts and hosting cultural events. Lindblad guests had the opportunity to visit this site in addition to attending a Big House Ceremony. Big House ceremonies are an important part of Alert Bay culture, from weddings to deaths.
While guests had a delightful ceremony, the undersea team submerged themselves under the dock for a successful dive! Here they were able to see an abundance of giant plumose anemones that covered the pier columns. They were also greeted by a delightful group of sea creatures including candied striped shrimp, basket stars, decorator crabs, and coon stripe shrimp. It was overall a very enriching visit to Alert Bay.