Today we went to a new spot for us, Kitwanga, B.C. It was 253.0 miles in 4 hours and 40 minutes.
As we passed through the First Nation Community of Iskut, there was a large building that looked like perhaps a meeting hall. It said Chief Louis. My curiosity got the best of me again, so I had to look this up.In 2005, dressed in traditional regalia, a group of Iskut elders led by Iskut Chief Louis Louie, confronted representatives of Shell Canada and told Shell that the Iskut First Nations Band Council would enforce the moratorium adopted by the Telegraph Creek Elders earlier in the year. “Our land is our kitchen, when you bring your poison onto our land you are poisoning our kitchen.” And also, “We will defend in any way necessary our rights and freedoms, to be self-determining.”
While reading about Chief Louis, I also came across Chief Joseph additionally of this area of South Western B.C. who stood his ground against Canada in a law suit in the late 1980’s.
He was a native artist coming from a family of well-known carvers and was fascinated by the myths, legend, and history of his people so that he expressed his passion through wood carvings. In 1974 he became House Chief taking on the responsibility for ensuring that his house members followed Witsuwit’en law.
In October of 1984, Chief Alfred Joseph stood alongside Albert Tait, the Gitxsan hereditary chief Delgamuukw, and filed the statement of claim for the most important Indigenous Rights case in Canadian history. The case, which did not formally begin until 1987, eventually became one of the longest in Canadian history. It took 374 trial days before the trial judge released his decision in 1991. The trial judge originally dismissed the Witsuwit'en and Gitxsan claim, and the case was appealed, proceeding all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada in 1997.
The Justices of the Supreme Court overturned the trial decision. The case set new precedence, establishing a doctrine of Aboriginal Title in Canadian Law. Further, the Supreme Court Justices recognized the validity of Indigenous “traditional knowledge”, such as the Witsuwit'en kungax (trail of song), as a form of evidence in the courts.
Here is a link: If you would like to read more about Chief Joseph.
As we proceed along the highway, snowy or glacial peaks of the Coastal Range were occasionally trying to show through the low clouds. Suddenly, a Mama Bear and one Cub ran across the highway in front of us, but the highway was too bouncy for me to take a photo.
Point of interest along here as we now see poles and wires in the wilderness: “Born of the Klondike Gold Rush of 1898, the 1,900 mile Dominion Telegraph Line linked Dawson City with Vancouver via the CPR wires through Ashcroft. Built in 1899-1901, the line blazed a route across the vast northern section of the Province but gave way to radio communications in the 1930’s. Today some of the trail and cabins used by the isolated telegraphers still serve wilderness travelers.” We are seeing a lot more wires along the highway here in this wilderness section. Only a First Nation community every now and then and road work with miles and miles of forest.
We had the Coastal Mountain Range to our west and the Skeena Mountains to the east. They were mostly hidden by low clouds. Had it been clear, these mountains would have been spectacular. The Coastal Range is very tall, rugged and glacial.
It rained most of the way, light and heavy. The last 40 miles we began seeing small handmade signs saying, “Turn Left at Hwy 16”, then “Always Open”, and “Clean & Cozy”, and then they began to repeat. Near Hwy 16 the sign said, “Buckley Motel”. It reminded me of the Burma Shave signs that stretch across the desert of Arizona on Route 66.
We arrived at Cassiar RV Park, a nice campground with new owners, as the rain subsided. Behind the office building, I looked up to see a fairly close glacial peak trying to show its glacier above the cloud layer. There is also a lumber mill next door that I watched the crane stacking the logs with such dexterity, like it was a living being.
Again, we were joined in the campground by Steve & Carol, for a nice social evening. We friended them on Facebook, and got to read their adventures to Alaska for their grandchildren. He’s a really funny guy and his adventure stories are filled with whimsy. Sadly, we are parting ways tomorrow as they are going west to Prince Rupert on the coast.