Pavilion Profile: Haida Gwaii House

Post by Mike Klassen in

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Haida Gwaii House host Lorette Smillie welcomes you

Each of the pavilions listed on our Where 2 Be for Free listing has its own message for the thousands of Olympics visitors. Some of the venues are huge – like Richmond's O Zone, or LiveCity Yaletown. Some, like Haida Gwaii House, are in one room. But it's the spirit of the presentation, and the friendliness of your hosts that distinguishes each destination. Before speaking with Lorette Smillie of Haida Gwaii House, one of several venues with an Aboriginal theme at the 2010 Games, I had a chance to speak with one of the women hosts. We talked about Haida Gwaii, and what it had to offer for guests. More importantly, we talked about the presence of Aboriginal culture at Vancouver's Games.

"In the past week I've felt more apart of this country than I ever have," she told me. We were talking about the fantastic presence of the Four Host First Nations at the Olympics opening ceremony, and the efforts of the provincial government and VANOC to include First Nations at theses Games. I've said in past 2010 updates here on CityCaucus.com, to me that is one of the great legacies of 2010 – to see so much confidence, and so much enterprise from BC's First Nations at these Games.

You can take Haida Gwaii House as merely a travel bureau, which in essence it is. If you want to visit our north coast, and see the marvel that is Haida Gwaii, these guys will make it possible for you. But there's more to this venue, which is a hair salon when not running as a 2010 venue. You're immediately struck when you enter by the scent of cedar wood carvings. Several fine Haida art pieces, tributes to their most famous son Bill Reid, adorn the room. Screens display gorgeous photos, and you can sit back and watch an HD video.

The idea of having a 2010 venue was a spur of the moment decision, created by the opportunity of the space becoming available this month. Apparently the salon proprietor – friends of the House's organizers – felt that it would be too hard to run his business next to BC Place stadium during the Games. It was a stroke of luck for Haida Gwaii to become a part of this celebration. Look for the storefront on Beatty Street just north of Robson Street, downstairs at the Hampton Inn hotel.

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Another delightful small venue with the friendliest and most informative staff I've yet encountered. And no line up. Visiting this place made me realise that I've got to start seeing more of our beautiful country.

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