Gwaai Edenshaw

Gwaai Edenshaw

Gwaai Edenshaw (Haida name: Hluugiitgaa) is an Eagle from the Ts’aalth clan of the Haida tribe.  He was born in 1977 to Jenny Nelson, an author and teacher, and Guujaaw, a drummer, carver, and political leader.  As a baby in Skidegate, a village on Haida Gwaii—or the Queen Charlotte Islands—he hung from a pole in his Jolly Jumper while his father carved.  Since then, his experience has ranged from comic books to totem poles to gold, silver and argillite jewelry.

At sixteen he was mentored by the late Bill Reid, who trained him in the traditional forms of Haida art.  Another of Gwaai’s mentors was Hibby Gren, a local character who carved folk art from fishing floats and avocado seeds.  Hibby died when Gwaai was very young and so the only way that he knew him was through his carvings.

When he was nineteen, Gwaai worked on his first totem pole under Guujaaw.  It was a forty-footer, which now stands in Indonesia.  Since then he has worked on three more poles with his father, and assisted on numerous others for finishing.

In 2002 Gwaai assisted Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas with his graphic novel, “A Tale of Two Shamans”.  This experience nurtured in Gwaai a penchant for more experimental themes in Haida art.

Gwaai is a graduate of Vancouver Community College where he studied Jewelry Art and Design.  Of particular interest to him was casting, which to date, remains his preferred medium. Gwaai currently splits his time between making jewellery and sculpture. He has been carving for almost 20 years.

Gwaai is also one of the founding members of the Q’altsi’da Kaa players who are currently engaged in their inaugural project- “Sounding Gambling Sticks”, a play to be performed entirely in the Haida language. In 2010, Gwaai was involved in the Vancouver Playhouse Theatre’s production of Bruce Ruddell’s ‘Beyond Eden’.