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Village of Queen Charlotte votes to restore ancestral Haida name

“Maybe this will start spreading east and more communities will look at doing what we’re doing”
The Village of Queen Charlotte offices. (Haida Gwaii Observer file photo)

The Village of Queen Charlotte is returning to its roots.

Queen Charlotte Council passed a motion to restore the ancestral, Haida name, Village of Daajing Giids, during their regular meeting on May 16.

Council members voted unanimously in favour of the motion.

The meeting was held at the Queen Charlotte Community Hall and was open for the public to attend in-person. After Mayor Kris Olsen announced “motion carried” the building erupted into applause.

“You know we are as far west as you can go,” Olsen said. “Maybe this will start spreading east and more communities will look at doing what we’re doing. I stand behind the process. I stand behind the community. And I am honoured to be here tonight to make this vote.”

Village staff presented the results of a community engagement survey during the May 9 meeting, which suggested the majority of residents supported the request to restore the Haida name.

During Council’s discussion of whether to restore the Haida name, councillor Lisa Pineault said she wanted to see a referendum.

“The community has asked us numerous times to do a referendum and we gave them a response form,” Pineault said. “And the response form, the information we got back from it, was not as definitive as I would have liked.”

Councillor Jesse Embree, on the other hand, expressed why he did not believe a referendum was the right choice.

“We open every community meeting with the recognition that we are on the unceded traditional territory of the Haida Nation,” Embree said. “Had we gone to a legally binding referendum, we would be in effect saying, if enough people are opposed, we will ignore the Haida’s rights. The right to their language, the right to their history, and the right to designate their own names for committees on their territory. To allow a process that that is a possible outcome would have damaged our relationship with our Haida friends and neighbours.”

Embree also spoke to why he did not think it was appropriate to include a village name with both titles, such as Daajing Giids-Queen Charlotte, an option that was suggested by residents in the engagement survey.

Having a dual name does not reflect the outcome of the community response survey, nor does it reflect the original request from the Skidegate Haida Immersion Program (S.H.I.P.), Embree said. He also added it would not support positive relationship-building with the Haida Nation.

“I look at this process of restoring Daajing Giids and replacing the Village of Queen Charlotte, as one of our many steps that we are in the process in reconciliation in the community, as well as on Haida Gwaii,” Councillor Sean Young said.

The next steps in the process will be to formally engage with the province, Village staff said.

READ MORE: Village of Queen Charlotte name survey results are in

READ MORE: Queen Charlotte name change will be a long process

 Kaitlyn Bailey | Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
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