Haida Gwaii village officially restores ancestral name

·2 min read
The Village of Daajing Giids, located on the southern end of Graham Island in the traditional territory of the Haida Nation. (Steve Ellis - image credit)
The Village of Daajing Giids, located on the southern end of Graham Island in the traditional territory of the Haida Nation. (Steve Ellis - image credit)

A village in the Haida Gwaii archipelago has had its ancestral name restored effective immediately — the first in B.C. to do so, according to the provincial government.

The village, formerly known as the Village of Queen Charlotte, will henceforth be known as Daajing Giids, pronounced "daw-jean geeds."

"It's been a lot of work to get to this point," Haida Nation President Jason Alsop, who also goes by Gaagwiis, said during the announcement on Wednesday.

"This was done with love and respect, and it's very important that we've been able to do this," village Mayor Kris Olsen added.

"We have embraced our responsibility and come through on the right side of this historic moment."

Following the announcement, Olsen told Radio West host Sarah Penton he was on his way to remove the Village of Queen Charlotte signs from the municipal boundaries. He said he'll keep it in the mayor's office to preserve it for posterity.

Submitted by Kris Olsen
Submitted by Kris Olsen

Now, village council will work with the community on a new welcome sign, Olsen said.

Daajing Giids, located on the southern end of Graham Island in the archipelago off B.C.'s North Coast, was given the name Village of Queen Charlotte in 1908 by white settlers.

The change has been in the works since April 2019, when elders and staff with the Skidegate Haida Immersion Program submitted a formal request to council. Earlier this spring, village council voted unanimously to change it back to its original name. Before it could be made official, they had to send a proposal to the province for approval.

Nathan Cullen, minister of municipal affairs, said a number of government agencies have already been using the name Daajing Giids when visiting and working on issues within the community.

"I'm very honoured that I live in a community like I do, that we're able to talk and have conversations like this and do it in such a classy and respectful way. I'm really proud of our community," Olsen said.

Returning place names to their ancestral titles is identified in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People (UNDRIP) as an important step to reconciliation.

Haida Gwaii itself was known as the Queen Charlotte Islands until it was renamed in 2009.

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