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First B.C. municipality starts to “decolonize”, changes name to ancestral First Nation name

A municipality in British Columbia is moving backwards in time in a bid to “decolonize”.

The Village of Queen Charlotte on Haida Gwaii officially changed its name to Village of Daajing Giids, pronounced daw-jean geeds, which is its ancestral Haida name.

The name change idea started back in 2019 after the Skidegate Haida Immersion Program sent a letter to the municipality requesting the name to be changed to its ancestral Haida name.

The choice was made in response to a survey conducted earlier this month that found 48.8% of people strongly supported the name change, 11.8% slightly supported it, 36.3% opposed it, and 2.9% had no opinion. According to PostMedia

On Wednesday, the B.C. government said in a news release the name change had become official.

“The names of places hold significance, which is why I commend city council for working in partnership with the Haida Nation to bring this important act of reconciliation forward,” said Nathan Cullen, B.C. Minister of Municipal Affairs, in a statement.

According to the province, restoring the historic name of the community is a step toward “reconciliation” under the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People.

In a statement Wednesday, the municipality’s mayor, Kris Olsen, said the move was “an opportunity to make things right and show respect to the Haida Nation” .

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