I grew up calling the archipelago north of Vancouver Island the Queen Charlotte Islands. In 2010 Haida Gwaii Reconciliation Act between the Haida and the BC government renamed the islands Haida Gwaii or “islands of the people.”
An earlier name is Xaadala Gwayee, translated as “islands at the boundary of the world.” Given the expanse of Pacific Ocean to the west, it’s easy to understand how they might have earned that name. Today, the islands host the Edge of the World Music Festival in August.
Haida Gwaii is notable for several reasons:
- As a potential site for the coastal migration of people to the Americas from the Bering Strait
- As a site of “more biomass per square yard of any place on the planet,” due (apparently) to the early recession of Pleistocene glaciation compared to the BC mainland
- As a wet, wet, wet place – it rains or snows about two out of every three days, and direct sunlight averages three to four hours/day
- As a site subject to major earthquakes from the Queen Charlotte Fault
- As a place with some incredible scenery