Haida Gwaii, is an archipelago approximately 45-60 km (30-40 mi) off the northern Pacific coast of Canada. Part of the Canadian province of British Columbia, the islands were formerly and are still commonly known as the Queen Charlotte Islands. They are separated from the mainland to the east by the Hecate Strait. Queen Charlotte Sound lies to the south, with Vancouver Island beyond. To the north, the disputed Dixon Entrance separates Haida Gwaii from the Alexander Archipelago in the U.S. state of Alaska.
The islands are the heartland of the Haida Nation. Haida people have lived on the islands for 13,000 years, and currently make up approximately half of the population. The Haida exercise their sovereignty over the islands through their acting government, the X̱aaydaG̱a Waadlux̱an Naay, and have as recently as 2015 hosted First Nations delegations such as the Potlatch and subsequent treaty signing between the Haida and Heiltsuk.
The renaming of the archipelago occurred on June 3, 2010, when the Haida Gwaii Reconciliation Act officially renamed the islands Haida Gwaii as part of the Kunst’aa guu – Kunst’aayah Reconciliation Protocol between British Columbia and the Haida people. Some Kaigani Haida also live on the traditionally Lingít Prince of Wales Island in Alaska.
Haida Gwaii consists of two main islands: Graham or North Island (Haida kíl: Kiis Gwaay) in the north and Moresby Island (T’aawxii X̱aaydaɢ̠a Gwaay.yaay linaɢ̠waay, literally: south people island half, or Gwaay Haanas “Islands of Beauty”) in the south, along with approximately 150 smaller islands with a total landmass of 10,180 km2 (3,931 sq mi). Other major islands include Anthony Island (Ḵ’waagaaw / Sɢ̠ang Gwaay), Burnaby Island (Sɢ̠aay Kun Gwaay.yaay), Alder Island (Ḵ’uuna Gwaay / Gwaay.yaay), and Kunghit Island.
Some of the islands are protected under federal legislation as Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve and Haida Heritage Site, which is includes the southernmost part of Moresby Island and several adjoining islands and islets. Also protected, but under provincial jurisdiction, are several provincial parks, the largest of which is Naikoon Provincial Park on northeastern Graham Island. The islands are home to an abundance of wildlife, including the largest subspecies of black bear (Ursus americanus carlottae) and also the smallest subspecies of stoat (Mustela erminea haidarum). Black-tailed deer and raccoon are introduced species that have become abundant.
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