For thousands of years the great ocean-going canoe sustained the cultural and spiritual traditions of coastal First Nations. Yet this century has seen the virtual disappearance of these sacred vessels.
In the 1980s, Native peoples of the Northwest Coast embarked on an emotional voyage of rediscovery. Reclaiming their ancient maritime heritage, they carved majestic canoes from cedars that were living hundreds of years before Europeans arrived in the Pacific Northwest.
Crews from thirty First Nations then set out in 1993 on a remarkable journey, paddling hundreds of kilometres along ancient waterways to an historic gathering of more than three thousand people at Bella Bella, British Columbia.
Qatuwas - People Gathering Together powerfully documents this rebirth of the ocean-going canoe and celebrates the healing power of tradition and the resurgence of Northwest Coast indigenous culture.
Qatuwas - People Gathering Together, Barb Cranmer, provided by the National Film Board of Canada