British Columbia: Indigenous People reclaim their name

“This is bringing us back up to more modern times,” Kulesha said Friday. “This is what the islands are named; they’re Haida Gwaii. The confusion is the fact that some maps say one thing, and other maps say another. So now, it’s official, and that’s great.

“B.C.’s Queen Charlotte Islands have officially been renamed Haida Gwaii as part of a historic reconciliation agreement between the province and the Haida Nation, Premier Gordon Campbell announced Friday in Vancouver.

The modern native name for the group of more than 150 rugged islands off the province’s north coast will appear on revised provincial maps and all other official provincial documents and presentations, the premier said.

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The archipelago was first named after one of the ships of British Captain George Dixon in 1778, who called his vessel Queen Charlotte after the wife of King George III.

The agreement builds on the success of the Strategic Land Use Agreement signed between B.C. and the Haida in 2007. “We have already agreed to the care and protection of the land; and now, we develop processes for more responsible management,” Guujaaw said. “This marks an opportunity to build a relationship on mutual trust and to design a model for a sustainable economy.”

The deal will create a unique joint management council that will make development decisions along with a process to resolve disputes between Haida and Crown title. It also includes $10 million for the Haida to buy out forest tenures on the islands and revenue-sharing on future resource development in the region. The pristine islands are in the centre of B.C.’s vast offshore oil and gas fields, but development of those reserves remains under a federal moratorium.

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