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The Woman Who Sang to the Sea Pets: A story told by Jut-ke-Nau Hazel Wilson

Leading up to the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation on September 30, Figure 1 is sharing excerpts, quotes and stories from select Indigenous Art + Culture titles. This story by Jut-ke-Nau Hazel Wilson is excerpted from Glory and Exile: Haida History—Robes of Jut-ke-Nay Hazel Wilson.

At one time my people were close friends with some sea pets there were at one time three that showed themselves to our people.

When the moon was full and all was quiet. A woman would climb to the highest ridge in Naden Harbour there she would spent the night and at sunrise she would don several layers of clothing for it was very cold there. As the sun rose she would start to sing in a soprano voice when she sang the sea pets appeared she sang till she could sing no more as she sang the sea pets would swim around for they delight with her voice. After that performance the sea pets went to work they would scare the crabs into Naden for the people the last time this was done only two sea pets appeared.

They moved to Uttewas there was not many left.* My people from all over the Island moved to Uttewas it is said only 26–30 people survived the epidemic that swept the Island. My people are not in Naden anymore but the sea pets still appear once in a while it is said turn your radio on at dawn play some opera music, they will appear don’t be afraid they come to delight for the music and sent crabs into the harbour. The sea pets do not harm people even you.


The Woman Who Sang to the Sea Pets 2006 • Melton cloth with acrylic paint, fabric, leather, plastic buttons, thread • 135 × 153 cm


Actions you can take this week and on the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation:

  • Join daily lunch and learns hosted by the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation
  • Attend a National Day for Truth and Reconciliation event near you
  • Buy from an Indigenous artist, give an Indigenous-led podcast a listen or check out new music by Indigenous artists
  • Read a book by an Indigenous author
  • Make a donation to the Indian Residential School Survivors Society
  • Sign up for a free course such as Indigenous Canada at the University of Albert

Figure 1 Publishing is located in the traditional, unceded territory of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish) and səl̓ilw̓ətaʔɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) peoples. We recognize that British Columbia and Canada were created through organized dispossession and colonial violence, and we commit to work responsibly and constructively with Indigenous authors and contributors to help create a vital present and future for Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities living on these lands.

September 29, 2023
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