A recent survey of Queen Charlotte residents showed support for changing the name of the village back to the ancestral Haida name, Daajing Giids Llnahaay.
The survey presented at the regular council meeting on May 2 indicates 48.8 per cent, 185 responses strongly supported the name change, with 11.8 per cent somewhat supporting it, 36.3 per cent not supporting it and 2.9 per cent with no opinion on the matter.
The council discussion and survey were sparked by an April 28, 2019 letter from the Skidegate Haida Immersion Program sent to the council requesting the restoration of the ancestral, ancient Haida name.
“We believe that our precious Haida language will continue to flourish when the restoration and reclamation of our Haida language place names are gently and respectfully given back to the land and sea,” the letter stated.
In total, the village distributed 901 surveys to residents and non-resident property owners of the Village of Queen Charlotte. The final figures are based on the 380 valid responses received.
The name change would be a “step towards undoing aggressive actions by settlers in the past,” one survey respondent wrote in an optional comments section published in the report. Respondents were kept anonymous.
A non-supporter of the name change stated that the new name would be difficult to spell and pronounce, causing negative impacts on tourism and other businesses.
However, the majority of business owners at 54.5 per cent did not believe it would have unfair costs or consequences. Sixty-two per cent also did not believe a name change would result in unfair costs or consequences to their personal lives.
One of the respondents commented they felt “very attached emotionally to the current name.” While another commenter countered the sentiment stating “people who feel attached to [the name Queen Charlotte] after a few generations of residence need to consider the same feelings in the Haida who have lived there over 10,000 years.”
In comparing support levels for the name change across age groups, younger age respondents were more likely to report strong support, whereas older respondents were more likely not to support it.
A handful of respondents suggested a third option, to keep both names and name the municipality a variant of Queen Charlotte/Daajing Giids Llnahaay.
Forty-one respondents felt they did not have enough information to form an opinion on changing the name, and in the optional comments section, many respondents wanted to know what the new name meant.
SGaan Kwah Agang, an employee at the Haida museum, explained the meaning of Daajing Giids on a recent radio program where he said Daajing Giits means a cedar dance hat.
Council will continue discussing the survey results during the next general council meeting on May 16.
Kaitlyn Bailey, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Prince Rupert Northern View