SESQUI Stories: Cynthia Samuels


I’m from the from the Ts’aahl laanas/jaanas clan in Old Masset. My Haida name is Gulee, which means gold. I started Haida dancing when I was smaller, with my Mom. Throughout the years I’ve done a little bit of dancing and singing, but more so in the last six or seven years.

We try to include singing, dancing and drumming in everything that we do, whether it’s local potlatches or celebrations of some sort. I think it’s our responsibility to showcase that and to celebrate it and be good ambassadors of the Haida nation, and singing, drumming and dancing is one of the ways to do that.

I see it as a responsibility for the generations to follow to carry through the songs, the dances and what you wear to dance; the regalia. Leading up to the dance performance you have to have Button Blankets, you have to have drums, you know those things have to be made. So that’s part of teaching the younger generation what needs to be done. We try to keep it alive and showcase it to the world.

Singing, dancing and drumming connects us to our culture; it’s fun; it’s what we do. It enriches our lives. When we’re singing and dancing and drumming that’s our connection to our culture. It makes us feel better and it makes us feel complete.

Canada is where we live. Haida Gwaii is a part of Canada, we have to recognise that but we have to work together. If there’s any differences, then it’s our responsibility to try to come to a resolution. The ultimate goal is to look after the land, water and air for future generations. And we all have that responsibility, no matter who we are or where we’re from.

We hope for the future that we all work together for the land. water and air. The land water and air that we love is Haida Gwaii. And Canada is part of that, and it’s their responsibility as well. There’s different causes and different matters that divide us, but that’s also an opportunity to work together.

It’s my responsibility to tell my children and grandchildren that we may be arguing about this or doing that only because we need you guys to have a sound future. For example, you have to enjoy the salmon like we do – we have to ensure that it will always be there. I don’t want to be talking about salmon in the past tense, it should always be there.