Premier Gordon Campbell was joined by Haida Nation executive, chiefs, Hereditary Chiefs, elders and members in an unprecedented cultural ceremony today to formally return the name Queen Charlotte Islands to the Crown and restore the name Haida Gwaii.
"The name Haida Gwaii represents a proud people with a history of achievement stretching back into time and a nation respected for its enormous contribution to the life of our province," said Premier Campbell. "I want to thank the Haida Nation for sharing their culture with the people of the world and for teaching us the value of reconciliation."
"We received our life and our culture from Haida Gwaii. Over countless generations, our bodies are reclaimed by the lands we call Haida Gwaii," said Guujaaw, president of the Haida Nation. "Haida Gwaii is not only where we are, this is who we are. While we cannot unwind history, we will leave colonialism behind us, as we have laid the foundation for a respectful relationship into the future."
In the Aajii kyee gan saa guudang aas.uu sahlgaan dang ga t'alang isdaang - Yahguudang dangad kiigaay dang gwii t'alang sdiihlda (Giving Back the Name with Respect) ceremony, Premier Campbell officially accepted the returned name, Queen Charlotte Islands, in a traditional Haida bentwood box. Local schoolchildren participated in the ceremony with dancers and singers from the Haida Nation.
On June 3, 2010, the provincial government passed Bill 18, the Haida Gwaii Reconciliation Act, which legally restored the name Haida Gwaii to the Queen Charlotte Islands. The legislation also enshrined B.C.'s commitment in the historic Kunst'aa guu - Kunst'aayah Reconciliation Protocol to engage in joint decision-making with the Haida on Haida Gwaii.
In recent years, the name "Queen Charlotte Islands" has been largely replaced by "Haida Gwaii", meaning "Islands of the People". The use of the name Haida Gwaii reflects pride in Haida culture and recognition of the unique history and contributions of the Haida Nation to B.C.'s identity. The change will be reflected on maps and official government correspondence.
The name "Queen Charlotte Islands" was given to the Islands in 1787 by George Dixon, a fur trader and captain of the vessel, Queen Charlotte, which was named for the wife of King George the III.
For more information about the Kunst'aa guu - Kunst'aayah Reconciliation Protocol, please visit www.gov.bc.ca/arr