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Haida Nation’s Inherent Rights Recognized by the Province

Photo: Mary Helmer
L-R: Premier David Eby; Gaagwiis Jason Alsop, President of the Council of the Haida Nation; Murray Rankin, Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation. (Photo: Mary Helmer)

The Haida Nation continues to make history.

On April 6, Haida citizens voted to approve the Gaayhllxid • Gíihlagalgang Rising Tide Haida Title Lands Agreement, which marks a pivotal moment in the ongoing reconciliation process between the Haida Nation and the Province of British Columbia.

Through a Special House of Assembly, held by the Council of the Haida Nation (CHN), a majority (95%) of Haida citizens who attended voted to approve Gaayhllxid • Gíihlagalgang. Under the terms of the agreement, the Haida Nation will receive title to land on Haida Gwaii, an archipelago off the northwest coast of British Columbia.

Once Haida citizens approved the agreement, CHN invited BC government representatives to Haida Gwaii on April 14 for the signing of the Gaayhllxid • Gíihlagalgang agreement with Haida citizens and their neighbours in attendance.

Photo: Mary Helmer
Laanas Tamara Davidson, Council of the Haida Nation Representative and Coast Funds board member. (Photo: Mary Helmer)

“This does not mean that the government is granting us anything,” said Laanas Tamara Davidson, a CHN representative who also serves on Coast Funds’ board of directors, at the signing. “We have always held our inherent rights and title to our lands. We were born knowing this is ours.”

The agreement follows extensive negotiations between the Haida Nation and the BC government and commits both parties to meaningful dialogue and collaboration, while reaffirming the Nation’s inherent rights to manage and protect its territory.

We have always held our inherent rights and title to our lands. We were born knowing this is ours.

Gaayhllxid • Gíihlagalgang is unique because negotiators reached agreement outside of the courts. The absence of overlapping claims and successful collaborative management on Haida Gwaii helped made this agreement achievable, setting a positive precedent for other Nations pursuing title recognition.

Photo: Mary Helmer
Stephen “Buck” Grosse, Vice President of the Council of the Haida Nation and Minister Murray Rankin. (Photo: Mary Helmer)

In the coming years, CHN and the Province will work together to coordinate jurisdictions, strengthen governance, and promote economic development opportunities that benefit all communities on Haida Gwaii. The agreement will not affect public services, including health, education, transportation, and fire and emergency services. It also protects and maintains private property (fee simple) rights for people living on Haida Gwaii, while creating an option for the Nation to buy back private property on a willing seller-buyer basis.

For the Haida Nation, Gaayhllxid • Gíihlagalgang represents a long-awaited recognition of their inherent rights to traditional territories. By gaining title, the Haida Nation can exercise greater jurisdiction over land use and management, ensuring the preservation of cultural values and environmental stewardship for future generations.

The Haida have stewarded their territories for thousands of years. To learn more about their recent efforts, click here for a list of projects financed through Coast Funds.