All-Islands Protocol Table working to restore Haida place names

Council of the Haida Nation send list of 12 priority names to Geographical Names Office

UPDATE: Tuesday, Aug. 25, 9:30 a.m.

The Village of Masset council also voted in support of restoring Haida place names at their regular meeting on Aug. 24.

UPDATE: Monday, Aug. 17, 7:30 p.m.

The North Coast Regional District has also voted in support of restoring Haida place names.

At the regular meeting on Friday (Aug. 14), Area E Director Evan Putterill moved that the board sign the draft letter provided by the All-Islands Protocol Table, including the list of 12 priority place names to be changed to Haida.

The motion was seconded by Area D Director Johanne Young.

“I was surprised they didn’t rename Langara, but thought maybe it’ll make the second draft,” Young said.

ALSO READ: What’s in a name? The story of Revelstoke’s Mt. Begbie

A Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development spokesperson told the Observer the Geographical Names Office received the request from the Council of the Haida Nation to change the 12 names on Jan. 21.

For any naming request, the spokesperson said comments are invited from municipal, regional and Indigenous governments, and relevant regional organizations, such as search and rescue groups, to ensure a naming proposal reflects the heritage values of the area.

“The 12 name changes are in the very beginning stages of the community comment period,” they said. “Comments requests are still being sent out to organizations.”

If a geographical name is officially changed, they said a rigorous notification process is followed to ensure widespread understanding of the name change for future maps, charts and communications.

UPDATE: Friday, Aug. 7, 1 p.m.

The Village of Port Clements council has voted in support of restoring Haida place names on the islands.

At the regular meeting on Tuesday (Aug. 4), councillor Kazamir Falconbridge made a motion to support signing of the draft letter provided by the All-Islands Protocol Table, including a list of 12 priority place names to be changed to Haida.

Councillor Brigid Cumming, who seconded the motion, requested that the protocol table provide educational support when it comes to the pronunciation of the names.

“In principle I don’t object to changing names,” Cumming said. “But as a language isolate, Haida is considered an extremely challenging language for anybody to learn, so it would help to have very basic pronunciation guides attached to these proposals.”

Councillor Ian Gould also raised safety and navigation concerns, saying he has worked in Gwaii Haanas and trying to relay the new information may be difficult in the event of an emergency.

“Think of a tourist kayaking down there and they have difficulty trying to radio for help. It could become a nightmare for trying to have search and rescue find people,” Gould said. “Simplicity does help a lot.”

Falconbridge, who is also a first responder, said he did not believe the name changes would be an issue for search and rescue personnel since they would be knowledgeable of the names, old and new, and there are other ways of locating people, such as landmarks and geographic coordinates. However, he suggested council “put the request to the [Council of the Haida Nation] to ensure that the local emergency response people get notification of these changes directly.”

Mayor Doug Daugert said he would share the councillors’ requests with the protocol table.

ORIGINAL: Friday, July 24, 10 a.m.

The All-Islands Protocol Table is working to restore Haida place names on Haida Gwaii.

On July 15, protocol table executive assistant Linnaea Fyles sent an email to the Village of Queen Charlotte, attaching a draft letter of support for restoring Haida place names as an act of reconciliation, as discussed at the June 30 protocol table meeting.

“Restoring places to their original X̱aad and X̱aayda kil names is an act of reconciliation and a demonstration of Haida title,” the letter said, adding that direction for the project came from Haida citizens through a House of Assembly resolution. “It shows yahguudang/yahgudang respect to ancestors and citizens who have lived with the lands and waters on this archipelago for millenia.”

An attachment included a list of 12 priority names to be changed, to be signed by the village’s protocol table representative.

“The signatories below support this initiative as a whole and will continue to work together, and with the province, to restore Haida place names,” the letter said.

ALSO READ: Third councillor in 3 weeks resigns mid-term on Haida Gwaii

Mayor Kris Olsen introduced the initiative at the July 20 regular council meeting, looking for a motion to approve of him signing the letter.

“A lot of these are just misspelled names and others are names that basically need some changing due to colonialism,” Olsen said, proceeding to read the list aloud.

The 12 priority names to be changed are:

  • Lepas Bay – T’aalan Stl’ang
  • Mission Hill – Iits’aaw
  • Delkatla Inlet – Dal K̲aahlii
  • Masset Harbour – Dal Kun
  • Tow Hill – Taaw
  • Juskatla Inlet – Juus K̲áahlii
  • Mount Poole – Kunxana
  • Burnaby Strait – G̲aysiiG̲as K̲’iidsii
  • Dolomite Narrows – K̲’iid Xyangs K̲’iidaay
  • Poole Inlet – Gid G̲waa GyaaG̲a GawG̲a
  • Francis Bay – Sk’yaaw G̲awG̲a
  • Poole Point – Sk’yaaw Kun

ALSO READ: Will the Village of Queen Charlotte change its name?

Before the motion was approved, councillor Jesse Embree said it was “nice to see them working on it and seeing the erasure of … Francis Poole … the individual who was one of the main forces of bringing smallpox to Haida Gwaii.”

“He shouldn’t be commemorated, having his name slapped all over Haida Gwaii,” Embree said.

Councillor Lisa Pineault added that she was looking forward to educational support from the protocol table when it comes to pronunciation of the names.

“Even yourself, with your extreme exposure to Haida language, were going through the list and having some issues, so for us to be able to move forward as a whole Haida Gwaii, we do need to have some support in that regard,” Pineault said to Olsen. “I think we also need to have some information about the transitioning to the names in regards to safety.”

ALSO READ: LETTER: Time to rename British Columbia

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