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Haida Gwaii Totem Tour

An epic cycling tour from B.C.’s fabled Haida Gwaii to Edmonton to raise funds for the Stollery Children’s Hospital Foundation.

On June 16, 2014, about 30 cyclists will gather at the Yellowhead Highway Mile 0 sign in Masset, Haida Gwaii, and begin a 16-day, 1,760-kilometre journey to bring a three-metre high totem pole to Edmonton for placement at the Stollery Children’s Hospital.

Nick Lees, an Edmonton Journal columnist, came up with the idea after being inspired by beautifully carved figures on totem poles during a visit to Haida Gwaii (formerly the Queen Charlotte Islands) several years ago.

“I learned that totem poles told a story based on Haida beliefs and thought these beliefs could be inspirational in helping families who had a child facing a life-threatening illness. It was easy to convince cycling friends to escort a totem pole back to Edmonton for the Stollery Children's Hospital.”

The cyclists will visit native and non-native communities along the Yellowhead to talk about the totem, the ride and the Stollery, which provides specialized health services to children across western and northern Canada. Money raised by riders and through sponsorships will pay for the pole and programs at the Stollery.

Renowned Haida carver Ben Davidson will create the totem over the winter months of 2013/14 at his All About U Arts gallery in Skidegate, Haida Gwaii. Images appearing on the pole will include a mother bear and cub, an eagle, a bison and butterflies.

An eight-member support crew will help the cyclists as they pedal distances ranging from 100 to 170 km a day on their journey to Edmonton, arriving in Alberta’s capital city on Canada Day.

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