Canada hands ‘long-overdue’ title over more than 200 islands to Haida Nation

Last Updated: June 21, 2024By

Land Returned to Haida Nation: A Victory Long Awaited


For ages, the Haida folks have understood that the dense forests and abundant waters of Xhaaidlagha Gwaayaai – known as “the islands at the boundary of the world” – were more than just home; they were life itself.

After years of back-and-forth talks, British Columbia finally sees what the Haida knew all along: those 200+ islands off Canada’s western edge belong to the Haida Nation, fair and square.

This past Sunday, Premier David Eby showed up at a signing bash for the “about time” handover of native land title to the Haida Nation. The whole shebang, graced by big-shot government figures and Haida Council reps, rolled in hot on the heels of the Haida’s announcement: over 500 folks gave a big thumbs-up to the Gaayhllxid/Gíhlagalgang “Rising Tide” deal.

This deal, a trailblazer, means the Haida don’t gotta jump through hoops to prove they own the land anymore. No more hassle.

Now, don’t go fretting about your private digs on the islands or local government rules – those stay put. But by handing over the title, British Columbia’s throwing in the towel, signaling they’re up against the ropes in court.


Once the ink’s dry on the new law, nearly half a million hectares of Crown land are heading back to the Haida Nation.

This move, recognizing Haida ownership without a courtroom showdown, flips the script on the usual legal tussles that leave Indigenous groups shelling out millions for lawyers. This ain’t just about Haida Gwaii; it’s a lesson for First Nations across the map.

“This deal ain’t just good news for us Haida – it’s a game-changer for the whole shebang. More chances, more dough for us and the rest of the crew, not just here but all over,” says Eby.

Just days ago, Canada’s top court called out the feds for pulling a fast one on the Blood Tribe in Alberta, and they’re gearing up for another big case on treaty payback.

Don’t worry, your everyday services won’t skip a beat – airports, ferries, clinics, schools, all safe and sound. And yep, the Haida are still duking it out in court over airspace and parts of the Hecate Strait.

The Haida have been fighting tooth and nail for their slice of those 200 islands off BC’s coast. Back in the day, the government treated it like a free-for-all, with mines digging up copper and trawlers scooping up fish. And let’s not forget the shady business of plundering ancient villages under the guise of “preserving history.” In the ’80s, the Haida put their foot down, saying “enough” to the destruction of their turf.

Thirty years back, the Haida Nation and the feds inked the Gwaii Haanas deal – a global model for managing disputed land and giving Indigenous folks a say in conservation.

Almost half of Haida Gwaii’s land is now under protection, thanks to agreements made since ’93.

“We’re the ones who know these lands and waters best. BC won’t do it, Canada won’t do it – so it’s up to us to keep our islands safe,” says Tyler Bellis, a local forester.

So here’s to the Haida, finally getting what’s rightfully theirs – a victory ages in the making. Cheers to that.

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