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Place Names


Working with elders at Skidegate Haida Immersion Program (SHIP) © Parks Canada

Gwaii Haanas staff have been working for many years with the Elders at the Skidegate Haida Immersion Program (SHIP) on place names. The end result has been the creation of six maps that provide Haida place names for land and ocean features in Gwaii Haanas.

To create the maps, Gwaii Haanas staff and the Elders used both early ethnographic records and contemporary sources, including tapes, to find references to Haida place names. Some of these books, including John R. Swanton’s Ethnography of the Haida (1905), are valuable sources because they provide place names as well as information on the cultural history of the Haida. The Elders provided their own knowledge of Haida, English and the orthography to provide accurate meanings to the place names.

As well, several Elders went on a boat trip into Gwaii Haanas in 2007, sparking memories of place names used during childhood. Working from an extensive list, the place names are spelled using today’s orthography and their locations have been marked on maps.