Periodic Report on the Application of the
World Heritage Convention

Section II

Report on the State of Conservation of
SGaang Gwaii (Anthony Island)
 

1 INTRODUCTION
 

1a State Party
CANADA
1b Name of World Heritage Site
SGaang Gwaii (Anthony Island)
1c Geographic Coordinates
Latitude 52°06' N / Longitude 131°12' W
1d Date of inscription
30/10/81
1e Date of subsequent extension(s)
Not applicable

1f Organization(s) responsible for the preparation of report

Organization Name: Parks Canada
Name: Gladstone, Ernie
Title: Field Unit Superintendent, Gwaii Haanas Field Unit
Address: Box 37
City: Queen Charlotte City, British Columbia
Postal Code: V0T 1S0
Telephone: 250 559-8818
Fax Number: 250 559-8366
Email: gwaii.haanas@pc.gc.ca
 

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2 STATEMENT OF SIGNIFICANCE

2a Original justification for inscription
The Haida Language Authority has confirmed that the correct spelling of the Haida name for Anthony Island is SGang Gwaay, and the correct spelling of the Haida name for the village of Ninstints is SGang Gwaay llnaagaay. Throughout this report, these Haida names are used, except where other documents are quoted directly. In the future, the State Party will formally request a change to the name of the site to SGang Gwaay.

The nomination stated that "the original site of Ninstints village, which is located on Anthony Island, provides a unique opportunity for visitors to perceive the very close inter-relationship which existed between man and nature on the northwest coast of North America before the arrival of non-Indian cultures. These cultures were inseparable from their natural environment - they were one."

Further, it stated that "enough remains of this remarkable cultural past to make Anthony Island the most unique site of its kind in the world. Most impressive of all is the collection of bleached and weathered totem poles situated around a bay protected from the elements by a small island. This site cannot be duplicated anywhere else in the world."

The nomination emphasized that "the totem poles and mortuary poles which still remain on Anthony Island are representative of a combination of the highest form of primitive art achieved anywhere in the primitive world. The art of the Haida people, especially as represented in heraldic totem and mortuary poles, is recognized by anthropologists and art experts everywhere as one of the finest examples of primitive art in the world. They represent the apex of aesthetic achievement on the northwest coast of North America ... It is unique in the world."

The nomination also stated that "the village of Ninstints also stands as a mute reminder and as a unique example of the influence of a foreign culture on a once great society... Only on Anthony Island do we have the remains of an almost entire village complete with totem and mortuary poles and the remains of great cedar long houses."

The nomination concluded that "this site ...justifies inclusion on the World Heritage List under cultural criterion (iv) as a most characteristic example of a type of structure representing an important cultural, social and artistic development, and under criterion (v) as a characteristic example of a significant traditional style of architecture and human settlement that is fragile by nature or has become vulnerable under the impact of irreversible socio-economic or cultural change."
 

2b Criteria for initial inscription
Cultural Criteria:
iii
Natural Criteria:
 

2c Agreed upon Statement of Significance
At the time of inscription, the World Heritage Committee did not agree upon a Statement of Significance.
Proposed Statement of Significance
The Committee inscribed SGang Gwaay under criterion C(iii).

SGang Gwaay is located on south-west coast of the Queen Charlotte Islands (Haida Gwaii). Remains of the houses, together with the carved mortuary poles and memorial poles, illustrate the Haida's art and way of life. The site commemorates the living culture of the Haida and their relationship to the land and sea, and offers a visual key to their oral traditions.

(Note: The Statement of Significance proposed here reflects the definitions and numbering of the criteria at the time the site was inscribed on the World Heritage List. Changes in the definitions and numbering of the criteria since that time will need to be taken into account when officially submitting a Statement of Significance to the World Heritage Committee for approval.)
           

2d Criteria added after initial inscription
Since the initial inscription, the World Heritage Committee has not added additional criteria to the inscription.
 

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3 STATEMENT OF AUTHENTICITY/INTEGRITY

3a Initial evaluation of authenticity/integrity
Canada, in its nomination, stated that; "The site contains many more structural remains than any other comparable northwest coast Indian property and steps are being taken to preserve these in-situ. The site is fully authentic in design, materials, workmanship and setting."

ICOMOS, in its evaluation, wrote: "A series of unit dwellings, cedar log houses, still exist of which ten are in good condition, but it is above all the 32 totemic and mortuary columns on the edge of the dwelling zone which contribute to the world renown of the site, frequently illustrated in handbooks of ethnography, art history and religious history. These wooden columns, sculpted with stylized anthropo-zoomorphic figures, have suffered considerable erosion at the hands of nature. A holding action, concretized by the adoption of a plan of protection, to be prepared for 31 March 1981, will guarantee optimal conditions of preservation of the village of Ninstints and its wooded environment at the extreme southern tip of Anthony Island."
     

3b Significant changes in authenticity / integrity
Since inscription, there have been significant changes in the authenticity / integrity of the site.
Description of changes in authenticity / integrity
In 1995 and 1997, Parks Canada and the Haida Nation worked together in a major conservation project to straighten and stabilize several of the monumental poles at SGang Gwaay llnagaay. This project, which received direction from and approval of the Haida hereditary leaders, has extended the life span of the major cultural features at the site for several more years.

Additional work, including removal of invasive vegetation from the poles and house remains, and the removal of Sitka deer, which posed a serious threat to the poles and other cultural objects, has been carried out on a yearly basis.

The village poles and house remains continue to undergo the natural process of decay.  

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4 MANAGEMENT

MANAGEMENT REGIME
4a Ownership/Management

Management under protective legislation

Management under contractual agreement(s) between State Party and a third party

Management under traditional protective measures

Description: The Canada National Parks Act gives the Minister authority to enter into an agreement with the Haida Nation for the management of Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve (GHNPR) and Haida Heritage Site (HHS). SGang Gwaay is located within Gwaii Haanas (GH) and is managed under the authority of the Gwaii Haanas Agreement (1993) signed by the Government of Canada, represented by the Minister of Environment, and Council of the Haida Nation (CHN), represented by the President of the CHN. It was witnessed by 9 Hereditary Leaders of Haida Gwaii and 9 other Haidas. The Archipelago Management Board (AMB), consists of 2 representatives each from Parks Canada and the Haida Nation. The AMB provides direction for the management of the natural and cultural heritage values of Gwaii Haanas, including SGang Gwaay.
   

4b Level of authority
Other
Description: The AMB is a unique body which is put in place to manage GHNPR and HHS, of which SGang Gwaay World Heritage Site (WHS) is a part. (See question 4a above) The AMB determines all operational, planning and management actions. A consensus based decision-making model is used.
 

4c Legal status
SGang Gwaay llnagaay, located on SGang Gwaay, is a National Historic Site (NHS). The island of SGang Gwaay is located within and is part of GHNPR and HHS.
 

4d Agency/agencies with management authority

Agency Name: Archipelago Management Board
Name: Gladstone, Ernie
Title: Co-chair
Address: Box 37
City: Queen Charlotte City, British Columbia
Postal Code: V0T 1S0
Telephone: 250 559-8818
Fax Number: 250 559-8366
Email:
 

Agency Name: Archipelago Management Board
Name: Boyko, Cindy
Title: Co-chair
Address: P.O. Box 909
City: Queen Charlotte City, British Columbia
Postal Code: V0T 1S0
Telephone: 250 559-6302
Fax Number: 250 559-8366
Email:
 

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4e Protective measures and means of implementing them

  • Canada National Parks Act (2000)
  • Parks Canada Agency Act (1998)
  • Parks Canada's Guiding Principles and Operational Policies (1994)
     

4f Administrative and management arrangements
The Gwaii Haanas Agreement (1993) outlines the agreement to co-operatively manage GHNPR and HHS, including SGang Gwaay.

The AMB examines all initiatives and undertakings related to the planning, operation and management of the GHNPR and HHS, of which SGang Gwaay is a part.

The XaayDaaga Laana AawGaalang (Hereditary Leaders) have moral authority over the "village sites", which isn't in writing but is recognized. In the management of the WHS/NHS, the XaayDaaga Laana AawGaalang are consulted and issues discussed,and the solution is based on advice provided by the XaayDaaga Laana AawGaalang.

The Haida Gwaii Watchmen (HGW) Program is managed by the Skidegate Band Council and is an essential part of the management structure of GHNPR and HHS, which includes SGang Gwaay. This program is funded by contracts from the GHNPR and HHS.
 

4g Significant changes in management regime since inscription
The site was transferred from British Columbia, where it was a provincial park, and became part of the area now designated GHNPR and HHS, through the signing of the South Moresby agreement in 1988. It has retained its status as a WHS and NHS since 1981.
 

4h Management plan
There is a management plan in place for the site.
Summary of management plan
There is a Management Plan for GHNPR and this includes SGang Gwaay. There is also a site plan specific to SGang Gwaay, which provides more specific management direction. The SGang Gwaay Site Plan, approved in 1998, recommended that specific management actions be taken to minimize the impacts of visitation.

  • Recommend to visitors that they use the north beach as their point of access.
  • Create a loop trail to minimize overlap between different visit groups, to allow greater solitude ... and to provide visitors with a better perspective on the village's environment.
  • Formalize the trail, harden where necessary.
  • Use the beach on the southern portion of the village as a trail to minimize the impacts of foot traffic on artifacts.
  • Provide shelter at the south end of the beach for gear storage, rather than the beach or village.
  • Provide a site pamphlet to assist visitors in gaining a better understanding of the island's features.
  • Install a solar composting toilet at Watchmen cabin.
  • No public mooring buoys, sea floor can withstand anchoring.

All 8 items have been implemented since 1998.
 

FINANCIAL RESOURCES
4i Annual operating budget

C$ 60 000
 

STAFFING LEVELS (HUMAN RESOURCES)
4j Staffing levels
Full time: 0
Part time: 0
Seasonal: 4
Other: 3

Gwaii Haanas conservation staff work part time at SGang Gwaay. The staff include;

  • Cultural Liaison Specialist/Cultural Conservation Specialist
  • Cultural Conservation Specialist Assistant
  • Back Country Manager
  • Chief of Resource Conservation
  • Haida Gwaii Watchmen
  • Heritage Presentation Specialists
  • Volunteers
  • Parks Canada historian and
  • Archaeologist(s).
       

SOURCES OF EXPERTISE AND TRAINING IN CONSERVATION AND MANAGEMENT TECHNIQUES
4k Sources of specialized expertise, training and services
Additional technical expertise is obtained through the Parks Canada's Western Canada Service Centre: Victoria, Vancouver, Calgary, and Winnipeg, and also from National Office, Gatineau, Quebec.
 

VISITATION
4l Visitor statistics available

Visitor statistics are available for the site.
Annual visitation, methodology and trends

  • average of 1,610 annually (range 1,204 to 2,035) from 1993 through 2002.
  • GHNPR and HHS requires each visitor entering into the protected area to receive an Orientation and Registration. This provided the numbers of visitors, along with a guest registration on site.
     

4m Visitor facilities
Visitor facilities include:

  • mooring buoys
  • Toilet facilities: solar composting toilet
  • Visitor shelter
  • Trails: hardened and with boardwalks
     

4n Tourism/visitor management plan
There is a tourism/visitor management plan in place for the site.
Summary of tourism/visitor management plan
Gwaii Haanas Backcountry Management Plan - (2003) A summary of this plan is available on: www.parkscanada,gc.ca/gwaiihaanas under the heading "Park Management"

  • Provide orientation to all independent visitors, tour clients.
  • Require complete orientation if it is longer than 3 years since last orientation.
  • Restrict the size of parties landing on shore at any one time to 12.
     
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SCIENTIFIC STUDIES
4o Key scientific studies and research programs

Research programs (undertaken and/or supported) include:

Scientific and research studies carried out at SGang Gwaay since its designation by the World Heritage Committee (WHC) include the following projects:

  • 1981 Conservation Assessment of the condition of sample poles at SGang Gwaay. (Unpublished)
     
  • 1982 Canadian Conservation Institute carried out additional scientific studies on the poles. (Unpublished)
     
  • 1980s and 1990s, archaeologists conducted survey. Supplements early archaeological studies directed by Wilson Duff of the British Columbia Provincial Museum in the 1950s. These projects have assisted in documenting historic patterns of land use at the village or associated features on the island. (Unpublished)
     
  • 1990 to present Archaeology, conservation and monitoring on site is part of the on-going management of SGang Gwaay World Heritage Site.
     
  • 1990 - present removal of invasive vegetation from the poles and house remains.
     
  • 1994 - Planning for issues of conservation. Survey of background information; Addressing the issues and recommending action.
     
  • 1995 and 1997 Major conservation project to straighten and stabilize monumental poles. Direction and approval from Haida Hereditary leaders.
     
  • 1998 - present Removal of introduced Sitka Black Tailed Deer. Serious threat to the poles, and other cultural objects in-situ through their trampling and leaning on these in-situ articles.
     
  • In 2000-20002, botanical and paleo-botanical research was carried out for the preparation of a vegetation inventory of indigenous and non-indigenous plants on SGang Gwaay.
     
  • In 2002-2003, historical research on SGang Gwaay was carried out and a synthesis report prepared, incorporating historical and archaeological documentation ,to provide interpretive material for the Haida Gwaii Watchmen program. (Unpublished).

Use of results of scientific studies and research programs
Collectively, the research studies have provided a sound basis for the conservation and presentation of SGang Gwaay so that its significant features are protected for future generations and information can be disseminated to the visiting public. A notable example was the projects in 1995 and 1997 to straighten and stabilize the poles, which has ensured that these poles will continue to stand for years to come. Archaeological and historical studies are also assisting the Haida Gwaii Watchmen to present important aspects of the site's history to the visiting public, including the values of international significance.

Role of WHS designation in design of scientific studies and research programs
The various studies on this site were specifically carried out in connection with the designation of SGang Gwaay as a NHS of Canada. The specific mandate for the work came from Parks Canada's responsibilities as the custodian of this site. The WHS designation was not a significant motivating factor in completing the work.
 

EDUCATION, INFORMATION AND AWARENESS BUILDING
4p WHS plaque

There is no plaque at the site indicating that it is a World Heritage Site.
 

4q Use of WHC logo
The World Heritage Convention logo is not used on all publications for the site.
 

4r Educational programs for schools
There are not any educational programs about the site's World Heritage values aimed at schools.
 

4s Special events and exhibitions
There are no special events and exhibitions concerning the site's World Heritage values.
 

4t Facilities, visitor centre, site museum, trails, guides, information materials
In addition to the facilities described in 4m, the WHS has the following:

  • Haida Gwaii Watchmen provide direction on closures, information on the place, people, and other information relevant to SGang Gwaay.
  • SGang Gwaay World Heritage Site Exploration Guide Booklet - for all visitors and locals. Published in French and English. Explains the Haida name, its meaning, who occupied this village, 2 maps, information on conservation projects, the natural environment and poles
     

4u Role of WHS designation in education, information and awareness building activities
This site is promoted and conserved based on the fact that it represents the living Haida Culture. It has importance to the people who are the descendants of the old Haida. The fact that this site is a WHS reinforces its importance, but is not the most significant reason for the conservation, promotion and preservation.
 

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5 FACTORS AFFECTING THE PROPERTY

5a Development Pressures
N/A

5b Environmental Pressures
It was noted in the ICOMOS report, "These wooden columns, have suffered considerable erosion at the hands of nature."

The wind, rain and general decomposition of the cedar poles and house remains continue. Efforts are made each season to slow the process as much as possible. Since 1991, the GHNPR and HHS conservation staff remove the growth of trees, berry bushes, grass, and flowers off the standing poles, house remains and wooden remains lying on the ground. This is done twice a year, in the spring and again in the fall.

Recent winter storms have caused erosion of the beach and moved the shoreline closer to the poles. Global warming is thought to be leading to an increased frequency and severity of winter storms.

In 1995 and 1997 a total of 6 poles were straightened up, and braced. This will give the poles a longer life.

The larger trees in the village have been either completely removed or trimmed to avoid unnecessary erosion by branches coming in contact with the poles and house remains.

Culls of introduced black tailed deer took place in 1998, 2002 and 2003 to reduce browsing on native vegetation. A total of 58 deer have been removed to date. They were having an impact on the in-situ artifacts by standing/leaning on these artifacts. The situation is reviewed on a regular basis and culling happens as required.
 

5c Natural Disasters and Preparedness
In case of a tsunami (tidal wave) there is very little that can be done. The island is low and sits unprotected from the open ocean. Tsunamis are very large waves caused by earthquakes or underwater landslides. A tsunami could potentially flood the village site and destroy many of the artifacts.
 

5d Visitor/Tourism Pressures
The cultural resources at the site are very fragile. They cannot withstand any degree of human disturbance. Unsupervised visitors may inadvertently damage artifacts by touching them or walking on them.

Visitor's impacts have been minimized by limiting the number of visitors in the village at any one time to 12 and they must be supervised by Watchmen staff at all times.

  • Large passenger vessels have been encouraged to go elsewhere, the village environment is fragile and cannot stand large constant impact.
     
  • Formal paths are marked and used each season, to minimize visitor impact to cultural and ecological features. A boardwalk has been built. The southern terraced area of the village is closed to visitors, to protect the remains of the poles in this area.
     
  • Boaters are not permitted to land in the village. The new entrance to the island is located in the north bay.
     
  • Solar composting toilet has replaced the pit toilets.
     

5e Number of inhabitants within property, buffer zone
Four (4) Haida Gwaii Watchmen live on the Island from May 15 until September 15 each year.

Camping on SGang Gwaay is not permitted unless it is an emergency or for management purposes.

Helicopters are only permitted to stop on the island for emergencies.
 

5f Other
During the off season, commercial fishermen are in the area and able to wander through the village unsupervised.
 

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6 MONITORING

ADMINISTRATIVE ARRANGEMENTS FOR MONITORING PROPERTY
6a Formal monitoring program

There is a formal monitoring program established for the site.
Description of formal monitoring program
Key indicators for monitoring the state of conservation of the property's cultural resource values have been developed by the site's management authority and monitoring has been implemented. Planning and monitoring was formally started in 1994. The conservation is done by the Cultural Resource Management personnel of GHNPR and HHS.

  • Monitoring of the poles is set up and done each year.
    This consists of taking pictures, measuring the inclination of the poles, evaluating the condition of the wood, the integrity of the poles and house remains and the village generally.
     
  • Conservation work, aimed primarily at removing vegetation growing on the cultural artifacts, is conducted each year.
     
  • As the conservation is done, pictures are taken of each of the poles and changes are noted.
     

KEY INDICATORS FOR MEASURING STATE OF CONSERVATION
6b Agreed upon key indicators

No key indicators for measuring the state of conservation of the site's World Heritage values have been agreed upon.
Future development of key indicators
The current monitoring programme for the site, described in 6a, is considered to be sufficient, and there are therefore no plans to develop indicators specifically linked to the recognized World Heritage values of the site.
 

RESULTS OF PREVIOUS REPORTING EXERCISES
6c State Party actions in response to World Heritage Committee recommendations

N/A
   

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7 CONCLUSIONS

WORLD HERITAGE VALUES
7a Main conclusions regarding the state of the property's World Heritage Values

SGang Gwaay WHS continues to retain and protect the values for which it was designated. The most significant change to the cultural resources at the site is from the ongoing natural decay process. It would be impossible to stop the decay process given the remote geographic and environmental conditions at the site. This change is not a negative one, but a natural one. As the Hereditary Haida Chiefs have expressed it, the cedar poles and house remains should be allowed to return to the earth. Despite those changes, there have been others which have improved the condition of the resources. Some key examples are:

  • the pole straightening which occurred in 1996 and 1997,
  • the establishment of a formal trail and boardwalk in 2002,
  • improved shelter facilities for the watchmen
  • removal of the introduced deer from the island and the return of native vegetation communities
  • implementation of strict controls on visitors to both protect the remaining artifacts and provide the opportunity for visitors to enjoy a high quality visitor experience.
     

MANAGEMENT AND FACTORS AFFECTING SITE
7b Main conclusions regarding the management of and factors affecting the property

Management of the site is acceptable and protects the integrity of the values noted by the WHC. Factors affecting the site are being managed to the extent possible given the site's remote geographic location, while respecting the wishes of the Heriditary Leaders of the Haida. At some point in the future, the extant house remains will disappear and the remaining standing poles will fall over in the winter storms. Despite these changes the site will continue to be a location at which the integral link between the Haida and the natural environment remains clear and present. The degree of influence the natural environment has had on the Haida art and culture will continue to be experienced strongly at the site. The location of the site within GHNPR and HHS, add further protection to the site through legislative protection, professional management, technical expertise and the involvement of the Haida in all decisions relating to the site.
 

PROPOSED FUTURE ACTION(S)
7c Approved future actions

  • Provision of training - to each Haida Gwaii Watchmen team; as the "crew change" happens every two months from May 15 - Sept. 15.
  • no change from current management regime.
     

RESPONSIBLE IMPLEMENTING AGENCY(IES)
7d Agency(ies) responsible for implementing actions

Agency Name: Parks Canada
Name: Gladstone, Ernie
Title: Field Unit Superintendent, Gwaai Haanas Field Unit
Address: Box 37
City: Queen Charlotte City, British Columbia
Postal Code: V0T 1S0
Telephone: 250 559-8818
Fax Number: 250 559-8366
Email: gwaii.haanas@pc.gc.ca
 

TIMEFRAME FOR IMPLEMENTATION
7e Timeline for implementation of actions

On-going, routine seasonal.
 

NEEDS FOR INTERNATIONAL ASSISTANCE
7f Anticipated Requests for International Assistance

It is not anticipated that International Assistance, through the World Heritage Fund, will be requested.
 

ACTIONS STATE PARTY INTENDS TO REQUEST FROM WORLD HERITAGE COMMITTEE
7g Potential Decisions for the World Heritage Committee

  • Change to criteria for inscription
  • Proposed new Statement of Significance, where previously missing