Canada's Tentative List

Gwaii Haanas, British Columbia

Proposed Justification of "Outstanding Universal Value"

Criterion (iii): The homeland of the Haida is represented by the whole Gwaii Haanas area – not just the island of SGang Gwaay with its house vestiges and carved mortuary and memorial poles. This homeland is documented in oral tradition and archaeological resources and it is rich in associated cultural values;

Criterion (v): It is an outstanding example of land and sea use which is representative of a culture and of human interaction with the environment;

Criterion (vi): It is evocative of the Haida cosmological relationship with this place;

Criterion (vii): It possesses exceptional natural scenic beauty and superlative natural phenomena focused on the mountains-to-the-sea landscape, with old-growth forested islands, coastal zone and undersea life;

Criterion (ix): A superb display of ecological processes occurring in the old-growth temperate rainforests and the role of the islands in wildlife evolution can be observed;

Criterion (x): The diversity of species and the presence of endemics are exceptional.

These criteria were identified during the Tentative List process. The criteria used might change as the nomination is developed.


The Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve and Haida Heritage Site covers about 15 percent of the Queen Charlotte Islands, an archipelago 80 km off the northwest coast of mainland British Columbia that separates Hecate Strait from the Pacific Ocean. The size of the terrestrial area, which consists of 138 islands, is 1,495 km², with a surrounding marine conservation area (proposed) of 3,400 km². The park reserve includes SGang Gwaay World Heritage Site, a 3 km² island inscribed in 1981 under cultural criterion (iii). Two other remarkable former Haida villages, Tanu and Skedans, are located within the park reserve. As well, more than 600 archaeological features in the park reserve give.evidence of Haida occupation and activities in the region. Traditional narratives, songs, places names and language relate the park reserve area intimately to Haida history and way of life. The rich and living culture of the Haida people permeates the area. The natural resources of the area, with their abundance of essential ingredients for sustenance and growth, are an integral part of Haida traditional culture, and life with the land and sea. Natural features of Gwaii Haanas range from the highly dissected San Christoval Mountains, which form the backbone of the area, to fiords, 40 freshwater lakes, old-growth temperate rainforests and a rich diversity and abundance of wildlife. The proposed marine conservation area lies along one section of the Queen Charlotte tectonic plate, and includes highly diverse living intertidal and sub-tidal marine communities. It is also strategically located along the Pacific flyway, hosting huge seabird breeding colonies as well as being an important migrant stopover. Marine mammals are also abundant, including sea lions, porpoises, killer whales and migrating grey whales.

More Information

Parks Canada

Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve, National Marine Conservation Area Reserve, and Haida Heritage Site

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