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Haida Gwaii, British Columbia

Haida Gwaii is an archipelago off the coast of British Columbia, Canada that is home to the Haida people and their culture.  The Haida people have lived on Haida Gwaii for thousands of years. They have strong connections to the land and the sea, and have traditionally lived off of the natural resources found on the islands and in the seas around them.

Extending in a north–south direction for roughly 175 miles (280 km) and with a land area of 3,705 square miles (9,596 square km), the islands (about 150 in number) rise to nearly 4,000 feet (1,200 metres). The rugged islands have mild winters because of warm ocean currents. Naikoon Provincial Park occupies the northeastern corner of Graham Island. ). The islands are separated from Alaska by Dixon Entrance, from the BC Mainland by Kanalii Gwii (Hecate Strait), and from Vancouver Island to the south by Queen Charlotte Sound.

In 1988 the southern half of Moresby Island became Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve, National Marine Conservation Area Reserve and Haida Heritage Site Park (formerly called “South Moresby National Park”) which contains several islands and areas with NO ACCESS to visitors.

Haida Gwaii’s three largest settlements are Skidegate L:anding (in the south) where the ferry to-from Prince Rupert docks, Port Clements in the middle, and Masset in the north.

The Haida people have a rich and complex culture, with a long tradition of art, storytelling, and carving. They lived in longhouses, built of cedar planks, and had a complex social structure, with chiefs and sub-chiefs, and a strict system of inheritance (which is matrilineal, inherited from the mother).

The first Europeans to sight the island group were Spaniard Juan Pérez (1774) and the Englishman Captain James Cook (1778). When  Captain surveyed the islands in 1787 and named them the Queen Charlotte Islands after his ship, which was itself named after Charlotte, the queen consort of King George III.

After these European explorers arrived, the Haida people became involved in the fur trade. As a result of increased contact with Europeans, new diseases devastated the Haida population. In the mid-1800s, the Haida people began to resist European encroachment on their land and resources, and several battles were fought between the Haida and the British.

In 1852, a treaty was signed between the Haida and the British, which gave the British control over Haida Gwaii. This led to a period of great hardship for the Haida people, who were forced to give up their traditional way of life and adopt European language and customs. This was further worsened when the Indian Act was passed by the new Canadian Government in 1876.

In the early 1900s, the Haida people began to reclaim their culture and traditions, and Haida Gwaii became a center for Haida art and carving. Today, the Haida Heritage Centre at Kaay Llnagaay, located in the community of Skidegate on Haida Gwaii, is a major tourist attraction and a center for Haida culture and education. The Haida people continue to work to preserve their culture and traditions while also adapting to the modern world.

An agreement in 2009 between the Haida and the government of British Columbia created a joint management council so that the province and the Haida could share in decision making regarding the management of the islands’ resources. In 2010m that agreement officially changed the islands’ name to Haida Gwaii to honour the Haida people’s long history and habitation of the islands.

Marine Charts online 

Prince Rupert-Haid Gwaii Ferry

Note:

Ferry Schedule & Reservations

 

The one-way rates for 2 adults in car or SUV is about (under 7 ft tall, under 20 feet long) $250

The one-way rates for a family of 4 in a camper-trailer or RV  $330

The ferries (weather permitting) leave Prince Rupert (westbound) and Graham Island/Skidegate (eastbound) at 10:30 (BUT may leave at 10 am or 10 pm on some days) . Ferries that leave in the AM tend to be daylight cruises (depending on time of year) , and those that leave in the evening are overnight cruises.
Schedules and departure days are limited in the off-season from  October 1 to March 31.

The length of the day in Prince Rupert varies extremely over the course of the year. In 2023, the shortest day is December 21, with 7 hours, 18 minutes of daylight; the longest day is June 21, with 17 hours, 13 minutes of daylight. See specific sunrise/sunset timing.

You can book accommodations on Haida Gwaii through BC Ferries https://www.bcferries.com/vacations/haida-gwaii (prices posted include ferry passage)

The Haid Gwaii Pledge

Before you visit Haida Gwaii, it I recommended you review and sign the Haida Gwaii Pledge at https://haidagwaiipledge.ca/

Haida Gwaii is now open to fully vaccinated visitors

Because the islands are unceded First Nations territory, and the susceptibility to  COVID by indigenous peoples, the Islands require ALL  visitors to be vaccinated (August 2023)

Haida Gwaii Attractions

Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve and Haida Heritage Site

Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve, Moresby Island, Haida Gwaii, B
250-559-8818
Website

Gwaii Haanas is a remote and pristine wilderness area that includes both terrestrial and marine ecosystems. It’s also an important cultural site for the Haida people, with numerous totem poles and other artifacts on display. Visitors can take a guided tour of the park, go hiking or kayaking, and learn about Haida history and culture.

Haida Heritage Centre at Kaay Llnagaay

550 Beach Road, Skidegate, Haida Gwaii, BC, Canada
250-559-7885
Website

The Haida Heritage Centre is a museum and cultural center dedicated to the art and history of the Haida people. Visitors can view traditional Haida art and carvings, learn about Haida history and culture, and participate in workshops and cultural events.

SGaang Gwaii (Anthony Island)

SGaang Gwaii, Haida Gwaii, BC, Canada (about 150 km S of Skidegate by air)
250-559-8316
Website

SGaang Gwaii is a UNESCO World Heritage Site located off the coast of Haida Gwaii. It’s an important cultural site for the Haida people, with numerous totem poles and other artifacts on display. Visitors can take a boat tour to the island to explore the site and learn about Haida history and culture.

Haida Gwaii Area Map