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Haida Gwaii in British Columbia


Photo credit: Sam Beebe on Visual Hunt / CC BY

Haida Gwaii is a remote group of islands — or an archipelago — off the coast of British Columbia once called the Queen Charlotte Islands. It is the ancestral home of the Haida First Nation. The name Haida Gwaii means "Islands of the People" in the Haida language.

If you visit, you can say háw'aa or thank you in Haida

What can you see here?

a group of sea lions sitting on a rock outcropping in the water

Some of the sea lions you can find on the southwestern edge of Gwaii Haanas. (Photo credit: Dale Simonson on VisualHunt.com / CC BY-SA)

You can see some incredible things on Haida Gwaii. It has some of the oldest and biggest spruce trees in the entire world.

It also has an amazing variety of wildlife. You might see porpoise, whales and dolphins in the sea. Bears and deer are just a few of the things you’ll encounter on land.

What can you do here?

You can visit ancient Haida villages and wander through a rainforestThere are a lot of festivals throughout the year, including the Trout Derby in May, Aboriginal Day Celebrations in June and The Edge of the World Music Festival in August.

In the summer, you can hike and fish. If you like to bird watch, you can visit year-round to see around 140 different species of birds at the Delkatla Wildlife Sanctuary!

Haida Gwaii is also home to the largest collection of Haida totem poles that still sit in the place they were created.

Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve, National Marine Conservation Area Reserve and Haida Heritage Site

Several very old totem poles standing tall in the grass and moss

Totem poles at the remains of a Haida village in SG̱ang Gwaay Llanagaay on the southwestern edge of Gwaii Haanas. (Photo credit: Dale Simonson on Visualhunt / CC BY-SA)

This is the place to go if you want to visit a park rich with wildlife, visit historic Haida villages with standing totem poles plus the remains of longhouses and search for sea stars, urchins and octopus in the sea. The park is also the home of the Gwaii Haanas Legacy Pole: a 13-metre tall pole carved by Jaalen Edenshaw and his two assistants (his brother Gwaii and Tyler York) that represents the relationship between people, sea and land.

Naikoon Provincial Park

all that remains of a barge is just a pile of rotting wood on the shore

Remains of The Pesuta on the shores of Haida Gwaii's Graham Island. (Photo credit: Jason Drury on Visualhunt.com / CC BY-NC-SA)

You can see an actual shipwreck in Naikoon Provincial Park! The Pesuta ran aground here in 1928. But that’s not all. There are blowholes that shoot saltwater up to seven metres into the air. This park is huge so you’ll see the ocean, beach, rainforest and wilderness here.

Haida Heritage Centre

The front of the heritage centre with its tall totem pole

The Haida Heritage Centre. (Photo by Olivier Bruchez licensed CC BY-SA)

If you’re visiting Haida Gwaii, you’ll definitely want to learn more about Haida culture and there’s nowhere better than the Haida Heritage Centre. Visit the Canoe House or see the massive, hand-carved totem poles in the Carving House. Walk through the Haida Gwaii Museum and don’t leave without visiting the gift shop for original artwork.