It’s official. It’s Haida Gwaii!

  • Dec. 11, 2009 8:00 a.m.

The Queen Charlotte Islands are no more. Premier Gordon Campbell has just announced that the colonial name of the islands, used for more than 200 years, will be dropped and replaced by Haida Gwaii on all provincial maps and in all provincial references. The name change was announced at a ceremony in Vancouver Friday morning (Dec. 11) as Mr. Campbell and Haida Nation president Guujaaw signed a reconciliation agreement between the Haida Nation and the province. “I am pleased to announce on behalf of the province that the Queen Charlotte Islands will become known as Haida Gwaii,” Mr. Campbell said to sustained applause and cheers. Guujaaw said he welcomed the decision to use the rightful name of the islands, saying the name “Haida Gwaii” has never gone away. He said the Premier will be coming to the islands this spring and that the Haida Nation will return the colonial name to the crown at that point. The name Queen Charlotte Islands came from Captain George Dixon, who surveyed the islands in 1787, and named them after his ship, the Queen Charlotte. The name of the ship came from Queen Charlotte, wife of King George III of England. “I never met her but she sounds like a wonderful person, it’s a long name,” Guujaaw said. Changing the name means more than just changing a few words, he said. The name Haida Gwaii reflects Haida culture and the Haida relationship with the land. Outgoing CHN vice-president Arnie Bellis, who witnessed the signing, thanked Mr. Campbell for the decision. “I’m going to be a grandfather in the next week or so, I hope,” Mr. Bellis said. “My grandchild will be born into a world named Haida Gwaii, so thank you.”

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