Our Process
The Journey
Our Learning
Cultural Treasures
Respecting Our Ancestors
End of Mourning Ceremony
Contact and Contributions

The idea of the butterfly was brought to our attention by the
Late Margaret Hewer. The butterfly represents the messenger
of the departed souls. It is also said to be a symbol of the traveling
Spirits, those departed and misplaced that are wandering about.
The design was created by the Late Brad Collinson and adopted
by our committee as our logo.

Photo: James McGuire
As of June 5, 2005, all known Haida ancestors (originating from Haida Gwaii)
held in museums and institutions across North America have been repatriated
and reburied, representing over ten years of work by the Haida community
and the Repatriation Committees of Skidegate and Old Massett.

The return of our ancestors’ remains from private citizens and European institutions is on-going.

Once a deceased loved one is laid to rest, an "End of Mourning" ceremony is held at a later date to officially end the grieving of the loved one, thereby allowing them to continue on their journey to Gaahlandaay Tllgaay (Spirit Land).

In June 2005, an End of Mourning Ceremony was held in the village of Skidegate for our ancestors, whose remains have been repatriated from museums and private homes across North America since the early 1990’s. It was a wonderful event, with Haida coming from all villages, including the Kaigani of Alaska, people from all communities on Haida Gwaii and other guests attending
from around the world. The ceremonies began on June 20th, with elders
blessing the memorial plaques which were made to mark
the final resting
place of our ancestors.

The next day, June 21st, began with a food burning for our ancestors, followed by the arrival of Haida canoes and a mid-day feast. At this time, the people who lost their lives to smallpox and other epidemics were remembered and honoured. In the afternoon, the memorial plaques were unveiled and washed by ladies from each clan. In the evening, guests enjoyed a large feast, which was followed by a Spirit dance and ceremony, marking the official “end of mourning”, and the release of our ancestors’ spirits to Gaahlandaay Tllgaay (Spirit Land).Then the celebratory part of the evening began, with many speeches, presentations, singing and dancing, and gift giving, which kept us all going past midnight. The following morning,on June 22nd, the Spirit dance masks were burned, marking the final step of the End of Mourning ceremony.

These three days honoured our ancestors in a very beautiful way, and would never have been possible without the Haida clans who took on the responsibility of this event, as well as the countless other individuals and organizations from every community on Haida Gwaii, and people from off-island, who came together to help however they could with this occasion.


End of Mourning Ceremony, 2005

End of Mourning Ceremony, 2005

End of Mourning Ceremony, 2005 – recorded interview

End of Mourning Ceremony, 2005