SALMON’S NEVER BEEN SO SWEET

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - Escape - - WELCOME - JANA FRAW­LEY, NA­TIONAL TRAVEL EDITOR

Can­died salmon has never fea­tured in my lunch box nor that of my two chil­dren, but on a visit to a re­mote part of Canada called Haida Gwaii, the kids I chat­ted to de­clared it the treat of treats. By the end of a week, de­spite be­ing a fan of salmon, I still hadn’t ac­quired the taste, but I had eaten this fish at al­most ev­ery meal. I also dined on giant crabs pulled from pots just off shore and tried in-sea­son chanterelle mush­rooms with eggs at break­fast.

It felt like a priv­i­lege to eat this food. Through­out the days I had been re­ceiv­ing his­tory lessons from the tra­di­tional own­ers of the area and gain­ing an un­der­stand­ing of their deep con­nec­tion to land and sea.

One day I copied down a mes­sage carved on a walk­ing trail board. It said: “I am the Yak­oun River, the largest in Haida Gwaii. In my wa­ters swim all species of salmon in­clud­ing sock­eye, chum, coho, pink and chi­nook. In my wake, cedar-carved ca­noes drift. I look af­ter the Haida; I feed their fam­i­lies, nour­ish their forests, and en­ter­tain their chil­dren. In re­turn, they gather on my banks to share their catch with a com­mu­nal feast. The fish re­turn to the river to com­plete the cir­cle of life.”

Fur­ther along the path an­other read: “I am the grand­mother of the Haida. One of the thou­sands of trees – yew, spruce, cedar, pine, hem­lock and alder – that grow to pro­vide, nur­ture, and teach the Haida. Use my bark for weav­ing bas­kets, my wood for carv­ing ca­noes, and my branches as canes ... The Haida ac­knowl­edge and thank us for pro­vid­ing and never take more than they need.”

Sure, flop-and-stop re­sort hol­i­days are lovely but a trip which opens one’s eyes to new cultures and pro­vokes thought is just as im­por­tant.

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