“My name is Wa’xaid, given to me by my people. ‘Wa’ is ‘the river’, ‘Xaid’ is ‘good’ – good river. Sometimes the river is not good.
“I am a Xenaksiala, I am from the Killer Whale Clan. I would like to walk with you in Xenaksiala lands. Where I will take you is the place of my birth. They call it the Kitlope. It is called Xesdu’wäxw (Huschduwaschdu) for ‘blue, milky, glacial water’.
“Our destination is what I would like to talk about, and a boat – I call it my magic canoe. It is a magical canoe because there is room for everyone who wants to come into it to paddle together. The currents against it are very strong but I believe we can reach that destination and this is the reason for our survival.”
Stories from the Magic Canoe of Wa’xaid is a book by respected elder, activist and orator Cecil Paul, one of the last fluent speakers of the Xenaksiala language.
Told in Paul’s singular, vernacular voice, Stories from the Magic Canoe spans a lifetime of experience, suffering and survival. This beautifully produced volume is in Paul’s own words, as told to the award-winning writer of creative non-fiction books Briony Penn.
Along with Penn’s forthcoming biography of Paul, Following the Good River (Fall 2019), Stories from the Magic Canoe provides a valuable documented history of a generation that continues to deal with the impacts of colonization and environmental change.
To mark the launch of Stories from the Magic Canoe in Kitimat, booksellers Misty River Books and the author will be at Kitimat Valley Institute on Tuesday, June 4 at 7 p.m. where Paul will talk about his book.