Cecil Paul

Cecil Paul, also known by his Xenaksiala name, Wa’xaid, was a respected elder, activist and orator, and one of the last fluent speakers of his people’s language. Cecil was born in 1931 in the Kitlope and raised on fishing, hunting, trapping and gathering. At the age of 10 he was torn from his family and placed in a residential school run by the United Church of Canada at Port Alberni, on Vancouver Island. For years, Cecil suffered from the pain of the abuse inflicted there. After three decades of prolonged alcohol abuse, he finally returned to the Kitlope and the positive influence of his people’s knowledge and ways. Once Cecil’s healing journey began, he eventually became an outspoken leader against the industrialization of his people’s land and traditional territory, working tirelessly to protect the Kitlope, the largest intact temperate rainforest watershed in the world. Cecil worked on two books with Briony Penn: Stories from the Magic Canoe of Wa’xaid and Following the Good River: The Life and Times of Wa’xaid. Cecil lived in his ancestors’ traditional territory and his work protecting the Kitlope continued throughout the final years of his life. Wa’xaid passed away at the age of 90 on December 3, 2020.