Living Legends: Respect, Responsibility, Balance

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Indigenous stewardship practices are informed by the collective observations and interactions of countless generations living in balance and reciprocity with nature.

Haida Gwaii, a biodiverse archipelago off the northern Pacific coast and Gwaii Haanas, a 5000 km2 protected area in its south, are included in the Traditional Territory of the Haida People. Stewardship is at the heart of Haida values.

The health of the land, animals, and people are connected: “We were raised as stewards. We were raised under the principle of Yahguudang, which translates to ‘respect for all living things,'” says James Cowpar of Haida Style Expeditions.

Sharing Haida culture and stewardship practices with visitors and researchers is an opportunity to educate others on the methods by which the Haida land, sea, and people have sustained each other for countless generations.

Stewardship of Haida Gwaii is supported by immersive culture camps and youth stewardship programs and the Haida Gwaii Watchmen, who monitor places of cultural significance. At Gwaii Haanas, Haida principles guide and align with ecosystem-based planning in a cooperative management model supported by Haida and Canadian law.

Haida knowledge is invaluable to all concerned with the present-day health of Haida Gwaii’s diverse ecosystem. By sharing his culture on land and sea, Cowpar honours a responsibility to act as steward and the Haida principle of Yahguudang.

Haida Gwaii is sacred to the Haida and a treasure for all: “It’s wild. It’s untamed. It’s the last escape, so to speak,” says Cowpar.

 

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