HAIDA GWAII, British Columbia - Feasting, dancing, gift-giving and solemn
ceremonies marked the June 21 end of a mourning ceremony designed to bring
repose to the spirits of 466 repatriated and reburied Haida ancestors.
Among the approximately 650 attendees on Haida Gwaii - an archipelago off
the west coast of Canada also called the Queen Charlotte Islands - were
tribal members, their hereditary leaders, other island residents and the
consuls general of the United States and France. "It took a whole community
to do what we've done," said Nika Collison, Haida, curator of the Haida
Gwaii Museum at Qay'llnagaay.
Recently, Collison and her colleagues have fielded numerous requests for
advice on repatriation from other Canadian First Nations. "It's all about
building partnerships and trust. We don't want to use laws. Instead, we use
diplomacy, patience and persistence. We just want to bring our ancestors
home," she said.
For more on the Haida's 10-year repatriation effort, visit