Skidegate streets getting Haida names

  • Jul. 8, 2005 8:00 p.m.

By Heather Ramsay-The signs have been ordered and within the next couple of weeks, Skidegate and all of its streets will have new monikers, all in the local Haida dialect.
Over 100 signs fashioned in the shape of a copper with the red and white raven and eagle logo adorning them will state Skidegate Haida street names and the English translations.
Some of the names are translations of existing street names, while others are the original Haida names or new names reflective of the actual place.
The elders in the Skidegate Haida Language Program worked very hard to come up with this list of names, says Gail Russ, education adminstrator at the Skidegate Band Council.
Creeks and buildings in the village will also have bilingual signs posted on them. Two original names for Skidegate will be posted on signs at both ends of the community.
“The purpose is to ensure more people in Skidegate as well as tourists are exposed to the Haida language,” says Ms Russ.
She says 13 drafts were produced, which the elders went over with a fine tooth comb. In Skidegate Haida, if one sound or inflection is changed, the entire meaning of the word can shift, so it was important to get the words right.
The project was funded by the Gwaii Trust.
The Skidegate Haida Immersion Program has also been working on place names on Haida Gwaii for Parks Canada.
They have received a grant of $21,000 from the First Peoples Heritage Language and Culture Council, which will enable them to produce four more CDs – phrases, Haida stories, prayers and Skidegate place names. Adding these to the collection will mean there are 32 Skidegate Haida language CDs for sale.
Funding to keep the school open again this September is thanks to the Skidegate Band Council and Gwaii Trust.