Haida Gwaii South: Canada Over the Edge (Season 2)This title is a part of the series Canada Over the Edge (Season 2)
Catalogue Number: AR084E
Producer: Arcadia Entertainment Inc.
Subject: Canadian Social Studies
Grade Level: 6 - 8, 9 - 12, Post Secondary
Country Of Origin: Canada
Copyright Year: 2013
Running Time: 52:00
Closed Captions: Yes
Haida Gwaii is an archipelago off the north coast of BC; the Haida people of First Nations descent have lived here for over 20,000 years. Haida is a special language unrelated to that of any neighbouring tribes. Once called the Queen Charlotte Islands by British settlers, they are once again known by the traditional name, Haida Gwaii, a symbolic reconciliation gesture by the province of BC. The Haida Heritage Centre presents the Haida culture and story to the world. Six totem poles represent the clans in the Haida winter villages that once dotted these shorelines, documenting oral histories. The centre also features canoes, displayed where visitors can touch them and learn about their role in Haida culture and society. The Haida are in the midst of a transition from resource extraction to tourism and stewardship.
The town of Skidegate, in Hecate Straight, flourished as a fur trading centre, and became a refuge when smallpox decimated remote Haida villages. Today it has some top Haida artists, including Ben Davidson who comes from a long line of Haida carvers. The “u” shape and the ovoid shape are vital elements of northwest coast ceremonial and decorative art. Masks are also prominent in Haida tradition, enhancing different Haida stories, songs and dramas. Haida artists are constantly learning new techniques, vital to keeping art alive.
The town of Queen Charlotte began when a saw mill was built in 1908, but tourism is slowly growing more important. Moresby Island, connected by ferry, is covered with dense forests, and an earthquake there recently was felt all over Haida Gwaii. During World War II, there was major harvesting of the Sitka Spruce here. The wood has great flexibility and is very light so it was perfect for manufacturing the mosquito bomber.
In 1985, Lyell Island (formerly South Moresby Island) was the site of massive protests against destructive logging practices. This led to creation of a unique protected ecosystem, Gwaii Haanas National Park Preserve, National Marine Conservation Area Reserve and the Haida Heritage site. Today it is known as the Galapagos of the North.