This is a story about the Hawaiian Islands, but most of it takes place in Canada.
I was born and raised in Hawai'i. Now I live in the Canadian Gulf Islands. These little islands lie off the mainland of British Columbia, just south of the 49th parallel, almost three thousand miles north and east of the Hawaiian Islands. Getting to the Gulf Islands requires perseverance, plus a ferry or maybe a floatplane. They’re prone to ocean fogs, they have epic tides, and the hills are forested with cedar and fir.
The island I live on now is called Salt Spring. It’s a friendly place, full of artisans and farmers, snowbirds and digital nomads. As you drive from the ferry terminal to town, there’s a handmade sign at the side of the road that reads “You got this.” The flip side says, “We need each other.”
Like many places in Canada, Salt Spring’s streets are named for early settlers. There’s Stark Road, Robinson Road, Roland Road. When I first moved here, people would tell me I had come to the Hawai'i of Canada, and I laughed. We’re in the very southwesternmost corner of Canada, so I thought they meant the climate. I had a lot to learn.