I do it out of my passion for the ocean and the coastlines, for the powerful connection between people and our environment, to be able to facilitate the experience and growth for others. After a university basketball and high school teaching career in Sudbury, Ontario I made the decision to travel west to enroll; in a wilderness guide training program in Vancouver, British Columbia. Upon completion I was fortunate to be hired as an adventure guide in the Great Bear Rainforest on the north coast of B.C. The Great Bear Rainforest is a spectacular and mesmerizing place and my passion for the people and place grew quickly. Sharing the beauty and secrets of the temperate rainforest with guests from around the world was an honor for me. The majestic ancient rain forests, the pristine marine ecosystems and the rich traditional territory of the Gitga’at people were my home for many summers. And so it began…
Adopted into the Raven Clan
After working for a number of seasons as a guide, I began to spend more of my offseason time in the community of Hartley Bay teaching and coaching basketball. It was in 2006 that I was given the ultimate coastal honour of being adopted by Eva Hill into the Raven Clan and given the name T’aam Laan meaning “Steersman of the Canoe.” This carried a great responsibility and let me know that I was on the right path.
I discovered the sport of stand up paddleboarding in 2008 and with almost a decade of guiding experience under my belt in the Great Bear Rainforest, Norm Hann Expeditions was born. I knew the paddleboard was going to be an incredible way to intimately experience our coastline. In 2009 I planned my first multi day sup expedition as part of a story for Explore Magazine in the heart of the Great Bear. It was a moving experience that led to the foundation for my business. I was passionate about connecting people to this incredible place and wanted to facilitate experiences for people that would move them and challenge their way of thinking.
Shortly after the first couple of sup trips to the Great Bear and after a decade of summers, the real threat of oil tankers traveling through this area began to take shape in the form of the Northern Gateway Project. I felt a very strong conviction to do something after the place and its people had given me so much. I decided, with the support of kayaker Brian Huntington of the Skeena Watershed Conservation Coalition, that we would paddle the proposed tanker route. The route was from the Haisla village of Kitimaat at the head of Douglas Channel and the site of the proposed tanker port, 400km south to the Heiltsuk village of Bella Bella. The expedition was called Standup4Greatbear and my goal was to highlight the traditional food harvesting areas of the coastal First Nations and the pristine marine and terrestrial ecosystems of the Great Bear. I wanted everyone to know what was at risk. This experience sculpted my future and that same year we ran our first commercial sup expedition giving adventurous guests the opportunity to experience the place and people themselves. My Standup4Greatbear Society continues to promote the education, awareness, and protection of the Great Bear Rainforest and the Great Bear Sea, through conservation expeditions, featured talks and presentations.
In 2012 I was contacted by acclaimed filmmaker Anthony Bonello who had watched the Standup4Greatbear film and had read about our first sup trip to the Great Bear Rainforest with Explore Magazine. He wanted to build a partnership with the goal of bringing the story of the threat to the coast to a larger audience. Shortly after recruiting talented photographer Nicolas Teichrob, the Stand film project began. The film highlights my 350km expedition along the coast of Haida Gwaii, the Heiltsuk students of Bella Bella building their own wooden cedar paddleboards, along with the surfing and coastal connection of waterman and Tofino local Raphael Bruhwiler.
Over the last several years I have continued my focus of facilitating experiences for guests, teaching, protecting our environment, and competing in a few stand up paddleboarding races. Norm Hann Expeditions is built off life passions. I love to teach and to coach. Through my Paddle Canada Instructor courses and SOAR Paddle camps, I have the fortunate opportunity to share stand up paddle boarding. I help develop individuals and business owners who share the same love for the sport and people as I do. Your success is my success. I am also passionate about the Great Bear Rainforest and our coastlines around the world. The expeditions I offer showcase powerful places. Each place provides a unique and empowering experience of connection shared amongst our intimate groups. We also have a responsibility to stand up for these places that give us so much and to protect these areas for future generations. The trip experiences give you that opportunity. Norm Hann Expeditions can connect you with powerful environments so that you can build your own personal connections and experience the things in life that matter the most. I invite you to join me on the water.