A Haida Wedding

ISBN 9781772034516
Softcover | Publication Date: November 21, 2023
Book Dimensions: 8.75 in. x 10.5 in.
96 Pages

About the Book

A visual and cultural celebration of a traditional Haida wedding ceremony, exploring its roots, rituals, symbolism, joyfulness, and contemporary significance for a thriving Indigenous Nation.

In 1996, Terri-Lynn Williams and Robert Davidson celebrated their wedding with a traditional ceremony, the first in over a century that was legalized under Haida law. This book provides an intimate photographic window into that momentous day and marks the resurgence of a tradition that was nearly lost to colonial forces.

Relying on recorded knowledge their ancestors had shared with ethnographers and anthropologists, and the few details living Elders could recall about the tradition of guud ‘iina Gihl (“becoming married”) in the time before the arrival of Christian missionaries, the couple carefully planned out a seven-part celebration. It involved a canoe procession, ceremony, feast, dancing, and dowry payment, signifying the coming together of two people, two families, and two clans. The occasion is lovingly and painstakingly recounted through imagery and text in this fascinating tribute to a resilient culture and the unbreakable bonds of love and family.

About the Author(s)

For more than fifty years, Robert Davidson has worked as an artist and has produced an internationally acclaimed body of work. His work is found in a number of private and public collections including the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa, the Vancouver Art Gallery, the Canadian Museum of History in Hull, Quebec, and the Southwest Museum in Los Angeles. His Haida name is Guud Sans Glans, which means "Eagle of the Dawn.” Davidson’s passion to revive and perpetuate a variety of forms of Haida cultural expression, including song, dance and ceremony, has fuelled his remarkable output throughout the years. He has been responsible, among other things, for carving and raising the first totem pole in his hometown of Massett in nearly 90 years when he was just 22 years old. Davidson has received many honours for his accomplishments, including: an Inspire Award (formerly, the National Aboriginal Achievement Award) in art and culture; an Order of British Columbia; an Order of Canada; the Governor General’s Award for Visual Arts; the Audain Prize for Lifetime Achievement Award in the Visual Arts; and numerous honourary degrees from universities in Canada and the US. He is a leading figure in the renaissance of Haida art and culture and is a founding member of the Rainbow Creek Dancers with his brother and fellow artist, Reg Davidson. He is also one of the founding members of the Haida Gwaii Singers Society, started by Terri-Lynn Williams-Davidson.

Terri-Lynn Williams-Davidson is a multi-award-winning Haida musician, an artist, and a lawyer, well known for her work in Indigenous-environmental law and as a keeper of traditions. She is the author of Out of Concealment: Female Supernatural Beings of Haida Gwaii, and co-author of Magical Beings of Haida Gwaii and Magical Beings of Haida Gwaii Colouring and Activity Book. Born and raised in Haida Gwaii, Terri-Lynn has dedicated herself to the continuation of Haida culture. On the front lines of Indigenous Rights, she strives to open new vistas to her audiences rooted in Indigenous world views, Haida language and laws, music, and oral traditions, and branches out to explore their relevance to contemporary society.


"Indigenous Peoples now have the chance to revive our forms of self-government. We can once again celebrate our own laws and traditions without fear of reprisal. We only need the courage to proceed as we once did before the arrival of Europeans. Thank you, Terri-Lynn and Robert, for forging a path forward for us all by conducting your beautiful marriage ceremony according to Haida Law and recording it in this book."
—The Honourable Grand Chief Steven Point, Stó:lō Nation
“Thank God this beautiful book is here. We remember this wedding as performance art—a bright, happy, mind-blowing feat of Haida brilliance, the union of rich culture and creative excellence. Now it’s captured on the page. Magnificent.”
—Dr.Tara Cullis, President, David Suzuki Foundation,
and David Suzuki, scientist, author, and host of CBC’s The Nature of Things
“In this intimate and utterly enchanting account of the marriage of two of Haida Gwaii’s most revered cultural leaders, we are offered a glimpse into what it took for Terri-Lynn and Robert to research and revive complex rituals so they could be married ‘the Haida way.’ What an extraordinary gift.”
—Ian Gill, author of All That We Say is Ours: Guujaaw and the Reawakening of the Haida Nation
“Robert and Terri-Lynn have gifted us a historical document, a profound look into their ancestral union of love and joy. To witness the first Haida marriage ceremony in over a century is an honour and a privilege. I am grateful for this gift, Gila’kasla!”
—Sonny Assu (Ligwiłda’xw of the Kwakwaka'wakw Nations), artist, author of Sonny Assu: A Selective History
“An eloquent and elegant celebration of Haida ceremony, art, regalia, and legal protocols, founded on ancient and evolving traditions. Feast your eyes, heart, and mind not on horse-drawn gilded carriages, but richly painted ocean-going cedar canoes; not bejewelled crowns and silk robes, but finely woven spruce root hats and Raven’s Tail cloaks.”
—Michael Jackson K.C. Emeritus Professor of Law. Allard School of Law, University of British Columbia
“As beautiful as it is important. A book that honours the ancestors, ceremony, and one of the greatest cultures on earth: this is Haida.”
— Susan Musgrave, author of A Taste of Haida Gwaii: Food Gathering and Feasting at the Edge of the World