‘Yau’ from Bella Bella

March 15, 2011

After a couple of valiant travel attempts, we have officially arrived and have been welcomed with open arms to this stunning part of the world! Connie, our lovely host has taught us our first Heilstuk word; ‘Yau’.  ‘Yau’ sounds like ‘Yo’, and means hello.

Yesterday we made our way, gear in tow, to the YVR South Terminal. Needless to say, we were giddy and eager to finally be heading to the field. Little did we know what we were in for. After painstakingly putting the patient Coastal Pacific staff through weighing and checking in our 22 pieces (600lbs) of luggage, we boarded the small 40 passenger plane headed to Bella Bella via Port Hardy. A slightly nerve-racking, turbulent flight got us safely to Port Hardy.

Unfortunately upon arrival, we were notified that our plane had a mechanical issue with the wing. We would have to wait for mechanics to be flown up before we knew whether we would go onto our final destination. A few hours later, we were informed that our plane had been cancelled and our only option was to fly back to Vancouver. What followed was quite the reorganization (thanks to our 22 pieces of luggage that had come up on 2 separate flights) and, once again, a real test to the Coastal Pacific system! With good humor we made it back to Vancouver on an even smaller 20 passenger plane, arranged to have our gear stored overnight, and parted ways for one last sleep in our own beds.

Despite our interesting day yesterday, our enthusiasm prevailed and our second travel attempt was a success!! Today we arrived safe and sound in Bella Bella. We were immediately welcomed by members of the community who kindly brought us and our 21 pieces of gear (amazingly in the chaos, we have only 1 piece missing!!) to various spots around town. Already we have had the pleasure of meeting and sharing our research ideas with some of the members of H.I.R.M.D. (Heiltsuk Integrated Resource Management Department). With plenty of suggestions and positive feedback, we are well underway! If today is any indication, our time here will be full of excitement and a wealth of valuable and interesting knowledge.

Britt Keeling

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