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Islands of the People


One hundred kilometers off of the coast of British Columbia, on the edge of the Pacific continental shelf, is a group of 200 islands. The people of the Haida nation, who have lived there for a long time, call their land Haida Gwaii or "Islands of the People."

There are only 4000 Haida people living there. Most live on Graham Island that has two big towns called Skidegate and Old Massett.  Only 600 people live in Sandspit on Moresby Island, the only people who don’t live on Graham Island.

You can only get to Haida Gwaii on a boat, ferry or airplane. The people are able to live off of the land. Most of them work by cutting trees or fishing. Now there is less value in fish, and forests need to stay, put so the Haida are changing the way they work.

In 1993, the Government and the Haida Gwaii decided they needed to protect all of the sea lions and seabirds that live around the islands. Gwaii Haanas National Park covers the southern part of the group of islands and is a protected heritage site. It includes the remains of Skung Gwaii, a world heritage site.

The islands get more and more visitors each year, which helps their cities make money. To help support tourism and local education in Haida culture, the Haida plan to build a new $10 million cultural centre near Skidegate.

This article was written based on information at the following websites:

Canadian Heritage Information Network (a site featured at Expo '98 in Spain)

and a site by Haida Gwaii resident Clemens Rettich

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