After 13 years leading the First Nations of Haida Gwaii, Guujaaw has stepped aside as president of the Council of the Haida Nation.

Guujaaw has become a Haida icon; through his presidency he staunchly fought to protect Haida Gwaii from logging and off-shore oil drilling, and is the feature of several documentaries. 

What's in a name?

Guujaaw's full name is Giindajin Haawasti Guujaaw.

Guujaw means "drum," and the name was given to him at a potlatch at Kiusta, a Haida northern village.

Through his tenure he earned the praise and respect of politicians and environmentalists alike. But after four terms as president of the Haida Nation, he says he's now relieved to hand that title over to a successor.

"Thirteen years is a long time to be in that," said Guujaaw.

"The Council of Haida Nation is about 30 years old now. You know at that time, there was no influence over anything, and so over the years it's been a lot of fighting to look after our land and our culture was the first part of it."

New Haida Nation president acclaimed

Peter Lantin has been acclaimed as the new president, but Guujaaw says there's still much work to be done is staying on council as a representative for Skidegate.


Guujaaw was first elected president of the Haida Nation in 2000 and served four terms. (Contributed by:

"I don't think there will ever be a time when there's a shortage of things to do. Whether it's still trying to protect our land and culture, there'll still be plenty to do."

Guujaaw was instrumental in establishing Gwaii Hanaas National Park Reserve, and took part in the blockades on Lyell Island in the 1980's, to protect it from logging.

He oversaw the return of Haida Gwaii forestry into the hands of his people, helped end the black bear hunt on the Misty Isles and successfully got the B.C. Government to legally recognize the Queen Charlotte Islands as Haida Gwaii — the area's traditional Haida name.

With files from the CBC's Marissa Harvey