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Prof. Anders Sandberg teaches resource management course in ancestral territory of the Haida Nation

Prof. Anders Sandberg teaches resource management course in ancestral territory of the Haida Nation

Kay Lnagaay Centre. Haida Heritage Centre and Haida Gwaii Museum
Kay Llnagaay Centre. Haida Heritage Centre and Haida Gwaii Museum

Anders Sandberg has just returned from his ninth year of teaching a three-week intensive course on the history and politics of resource management in the Haida Gwaii Semester in Natural Resource Studies program on Haida Gwaii, British Columbia.

The course is taught within the unceded ancestral territory of the Haida Nation at the Kay Llnagaay Centre that celebrates the living culture of the Haida people.

The Haida Gwaii Institute, which develops and delivers the Haida Gwaii Semesters, works closely with the Council of the Haida Nation, and the two reserves on the Islands, the Skidegate Band Council and the Old Massett Village Council.

“Every year I go there, I learn something new about Haida Gwaii, myself, and the teacher-student relationship”, states Sandberg. “It is precious to be in a landscape that is so thoroughly enveloped and immersed in Haida culture and aspirations. It is also exciting to welcome Haida elders, young Haida leaders and game changers to the course who speak about the past, present, and future hopes for Haida Gwaii.”

One of the highlights of this year’s course was a visit to the Skidegate Haida Immersion Program (SHIP), a program that seeks to retain the Haida language for future generations. Nine of the elders who

Skidegate Haida Immersion Program.
Skidegate Haida Immersion Program.

volunteer in the program were recently awarded honorary doctorates for their efforts from Vancouver Island University in Nanaimo on Coast Salish territory. The elders in the program continuously record and construct new Haida words for the community. They recently petitioned the Village of Queen Charlotte to officially adopt the Haida word Daajing Giids, a word that is already in common use.

SHIP elders also deliver monthly expressions that are posted at the Kay Centre. The expression for January was “Gina ‘waadluxan gud ad kwaagi” or “everything depends on everything else,” a phrase that carries important lessons, Sandberg says, in a world that is increasingly integrated and where not only goods and services but also pandemics like the current Coronovirus travel with breakneck speed and unpredictability.

There is no need for formal land acknowledgements on Haida Gwaii, the Haida presence is everywhere, a very different situation from where I work and live here in Toronto, says Sandberg. The Haida Gwaii Semester in Natural Resource Studies is open to any undergraduate students. https://hginstitute.ca/haida-gwaii-semesters/