Submitted by Gwaliga Hart
“Giving Back The Name With Respect” is a 23 minute documentary that tells the historic story of the colonial name, Queen Charlotte Islands, being respectfully given back to the Crown by the Haida Nation at a ceremony held in Gaw Old Massett, Haida Gwaii on June 17, 2010.
At the ceremony the Islands’ proper name, Haida Gwaii, was formally recognized by British Columbia – a symbolic event illuminating new beginnings and the spirit of reconciliation. The short documentary tells the story of this monumental event in Haida Gwaii, British Columbia, and Canadian history.
The documentary was first previewed on April 2, 2017 in Vancouver at the Bill Reid Gallery of Northwest Coast Art, the day after the Reconciliation Pole Raising at the University of British Columbia. The timing of the first screening was set to coordinate with the pole raising because of the important topic of reconciliation expressed within the documentary.
The next weekend, the film went home to Haida Gwaii. It first screened in Gina Guu Aahljuu Naay at Kay Llnagaay, then traveled north to Gaw, screening at Tluu Xaada Naay. The timing of these two screenings was important because the following weekend was Guujaaw’s – now Gidansda – ’Waahlahl or Hereditary Chieftainship Potlatch. This screening created further awareness, paying respect to the former President of the Haida Nation who, on behalf of our Nation, led us to the occasion of returning the name.
After the film’s preview and premieres, more work was done to get the documentary into the film festival circulation.
I was keen on having the short documentary play at a film festival in England and the London International Filmmakers Festival of World Cinema 2018 accepted it. It was exciting news as this was the first film festival the documentary would screen at and news soon came in that the film was nominated for two awards: Best Editing of a Short Documentary and Best Short Documentary, an accomplished status simply at that.
For myself the significance and symbolism of having the film screen in London, England was already an achievement. I was able to attend the film festival and took part in professional development opportunities and fostered new relationships. The film screened at 7:15 pm on Thursday, February 15, 2018. The Filmmaker Awards Ceremony began that Saturday evening and Michael Bourquin, the film’s editor, was awarded his prize, a proud and deserving achievement. Unfortunately, Mr. Bourquin was unable to attend the ceremony as he was deep into another film project and facing -70 degree weather at Kangiqtiniq Rankin Inlet, Nunavut. On behalf of Michael, I accepted the award and shared Michael’s words.
During the preview and premiere screenings on Haida Gwaii, guest speakers Kilslaay Kaajii Sting Miles Richardson Jr., Gidansda, Taaw.ga Halaa’ Leeyga May Russ and kil tlaats ‘gaa Peter Lantin shared their reflections about the historic event.
At each screening Kil tlaats ‘gaa, President of the Haida Nation, shared the story about the incredible ending to the journey of the bentwood box that contained the colonial name Queen Charlotte Islands. At the Giving Back The Name With Respect ceremony the bentwood box holding the colonial name was received by Gordon Campbell, then Premier of British Columbia, who took it to Mak’toli Victoria, British Columbia, where it resided at the Parliament Buildings until the Fall of 2016.
It has been told, that following the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s visit to Haida Gwaii, the couple took the bentwood box back to England and it now resides at Kensington Palace – a fitting ending to what might have seemed an impossible reality. Having the documentary, “Giving Back The Name With Respect”, screen in London punctuated this monumental history.