Decades in the making, B.C. signs agreement handing over title to Haida Gwaii

HAIDA GWAII — The B.C. government and the Council of Haida Nation have signed an agreement officially recognizing Haida Gwaii's Aboriginal title, more than two decades after the nation launched a legal action seeking formal recognition.

The province announced last month that it had reached a proposed deal with the Haida, which Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation Minister Murray Rankin called a "foundational step in the reconciliation pathway of Haida Nation and B.C."

The deal recognizes the First Nation's title throughout Haida Gwaii, but does not impact private property or government jurisdictions, and Rankin said at the time that litigation would've created "uncertainty for residents and businesses."

The province says the "Rising Tide" title agreement is a "first-of-its-kind" deal negotiated between the government and the nation, shifting "ownership and jurisdiction of land from the Crown to the Haida Nation in Crown law."

A statement released Sunday by the nation's Ministry of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation says it is yet to be determined how the title will be implemented in a "planned and orderly way."

At a signing ceremony on Haida Gwaii Sunday, BC Premier David Eby said the title of the Haida people over the territory was never in question and recognizing it was "so long overdue."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 14, 2024

The Canadian Press