Station #74 – Gitxaala
Gitxaala is a remote island community located approximately 45 km south of Prince Rupert on the Nortwest Coast of BC. The name Gitxaala means, “people of the salt water” which befits this village of lifetime mariners. Gitxaala is the oldest continuously inhabited place on the entire coast of North America. Radio-carbon dating of cultural materials found here place the people of Gitxaala here for at least ten thousand years.
The people of Gitxaala have harvested their sea resources for thousands of years. Being on the water is something that is inherently part of their genetics, thus making them master seamen in their own right.
The waters surrounding the island are complex in their reefs, rocks and submerged objects and can present many challenges, especially given the storm force and hurricane force winds of the fall and winter. This extreme weather added to the strong tidal currents often cause mishaps for mariners passing through the territory.
Station 74 has been in place for just over 20 years and has seen many challenges in terms of adequate vessels and gear for responding to incidents. The past ten years has seen the unit develop, equipped with a new Titan vessel capable of enduring the rigors of the waters. Membership is about 20, with an active crew of ten who strive to increase their skills through the training offered. There are currently three certified coxswains, with two more close to achieving this within a couple of months.
Living on the Nortwest Coast of BC never gets dull. As Gitxaala is situated right next to Hecate Strait, taskings may come at any time given the foul weather that is often present year round. Rescue on the water has been a way of life for these people, well before organization of the Auxiliary Units, so they are very capable of response to any situation.