Born in Prince Rupert, Gwaai Edenshaw grew up on Haida Gwaii. He is the eldest son of Guujaaw, former president of the Council for the Haida Nation, and with whom he has worked on four totem poles, one of which can be seen standing in front of the Haida Gwaii Museum in Skidegate on Haida Gwaii.
Edenshaw was born into the ts’aalth or Sea Lion clan and also holds the name hloogii’tga, which means “Heron.” In addition to working with his father, Edenshaw lived and trained with Bill Reid in Vancouver for a year when he was a young man, then went on to complete the Jewellery Art and Design program at Vancouver Community College. He works in all sorts of media scale, making masks and miniatures in wood, drawing and painting on 2D surfaces, as well as carving small pieces in jade, bone and jasper. He is best known for his beautiful jewelry which often utilizes 22kt gold and abalone inlay.
Edenshaw enjoys playing with unconventional themes, and has assisted Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas in illustrating one of his graphic novels which marry Haida formline with Japanese manga illustration (called Haida Manga). In 2008 he and his brother Jaalen wrote and produced “Sinxii’Gangu, Sounding Gambling Sticks” the first play to be written in the Haida language. Edenshaw is also a founding member of K’ah (Laughing Crow, Haidawood on Youtube) Productions, a story telling Society on Haida Gwaii. Through this venue he has contributed to several stop-motion videos including “Haida Raid 2: A message to Stephen Harper” which was part of the 2012 exhibit at the Bill Reid Gallery of Northwest Coast Art Carrying on “Irregardless: Humour in Contemporary Northwest Coast Art. Edenshaw has recently worked on two important totem poles with his brother Jaalen. The first is the 45′ “Two Brother Pole”, commissioned to replace a totem pole that stood in Jasper Park carved in 2011 (A book was made to accompany the pole that Jaalen and Gwaai illustrated and wrote). The second pole is to be raised in the summer of 2013. The “Gwaii Haanas Legacy Pole” is 42′ in height and is a project headed by Jaalen Edenshaw. It will be the first contemporary carved pole to be raised in the jointly managed National Park and Traditional Haida Territory of Gwaii Hanaas.