Whale in the Door

A Community Unites to Protect BC's Howe Sound


This is the place for photos of what’s going on in Howe Sound/Atl’kitsem, and whatever I come across as I continue to fall even more deeply in love with this beautiful fjord. I welcome your additions. You can send me photos: songspinner(at)shaw(dot)ca

Photos from the Knowing Our Place celebration of National Indigenous Peoples Day on Bowen Island. Knowing Our Place is a reconciliation initiative I began in 2017 with the support of the Bowen Island Library and the Arts Council.

Bowen celebrates National Indigenous Peoples Day

Pauline welcomes the audience (Photo Len Gilday)

Tsissayxemaat Squaish Nation storyteller

Rebecca Duncan/Tsitsayxemaat, Squamish Nation storyteller (Photo Len Gilday)

Tsitayxemaat, her nephew and her son

Rebecca/Tsitsayxemaat and her son and nephew (Photo Len Gilday)

Eagle Dance

Taneesha, Rebecca’s daughter, demonstrates the Eagle Dance (Photo Len Gilday)

Recent Reading and Workshop Photos:

Waubgeshig Rice and Pauline Le Bel

Waubgeshig Rice and me giving a reconciliation workshop at the Creative Nonfiction Conference in Toronto PHOTO Judy McFarlane

Alanna Mitchell and Pauline

Alanna Mitchell, author of Seasick and me in conversation at the Toronto Public Library. Alanna asked very thoughtful and challenging questions about Whale in the Door. She is an excellent interviewer as well as a deeply creative and committed writer. She is currently working on a new play. PHOTO Anne Rochon Ford












Pauline signing books at the Yorkville Branch of the Toronto Public Library


Jorge Amigo and Pauline Le Bel

Jorge Amigo, Senior Director of Special Events at Toronto Public Library. I am trying to convince Jorge to sing Gracias a la vida, an exquisite song by Violetta Parra, Thanks to Life. Jorge organized this wonderful event so I forgive him for making me sing it by myself. PHOTO Colette Coughlin









Glass sponge reefs




Glass sponge reef

Glass sponge reef in Howe Sound photos Diane Reid

These magnificent glass sponge reefs were recently discovered in Howe Sound/Atl’kitsem. These rare bioherms were common during the Jurassic period and thought to have become extinct sixty million years ago. Today they are found only on BC coasts. Some of them are as large as a small car. Although they look like plants, sponges are in fact one of the oldest animals on Earth. They  form a critical component of Howe Sound’s marine environment, modifying currents, providing ideal habitat for fish and other species, serving as refuge for juvenile rockfish, and filtering impurities in the ocean water. And they are so beautiful!

Sleeping Woman Mountain

Sunset on Sleeping Woman Mountain PHOTO PAULINE LE BEL

This is my most recent photo of Sleeping Woman Mountain – the view from my living room. Her head (on the right) is also known as Mount Strachan. Her breast has no name – yet – and her very pregnant belly is called St Mark’s Peak. To the left of the large Douglas Fir is Chíchiyuy –  the Squamish name for The Lions. From my window I see only the left facing Sister or Chíchiyuy.

Melia reading Whale in the Door

Melia is the youngest person to have read Whale in the Door? PHOTO Mai Yasue



My favourite photo of this spectacular falls – among the highest in the world – taken by my friend Virginia. I remember the day she took the photo. We had to navigate around a film crew from the U.S.


Randall Lewis

Randall Lewis and Pauline in Squamish  PHOTO PAUL FAST

This photo was taken almost three years ago when I began my research for Whale in the Door. I had an important first meeting with Randall Lewis, the Environmental Advisor for the Squamish Nation. He turned out to be an incredible ally with his vast knowledge of the ecosystems in Howe Sound and his memories of growing up in Atl’kitsem. Randall insisted on a photo to mark the occasion and we stood in front of the welcoming figure at the head of the Sound in front of his office.