Haisla people

The Haisla (also Xa’islak’ala, X̄a’islakʼala, X̌àʼislakʼala, X̣aʼislak’ala, Xai:sla) are an indigenous people living at Kitamaat in the North Coast region of the Canadian province of British Columbia. Their indigenous language is named after them in most English usage, though its actual name is X̄a’islak̓ala. The name Haisla is derived from the Haisla word x̣àʼisla or x̣àʼisəla '(those) living at the rivermouth, living downriver'. Along with the neighbouring Wuikinuxv and Heiltsuk people, they were incorrectly known in the past as the Northern Kwakiutl.

Kitimaat Village, the Haisla reserve, is a short 20 minute drive south of the town of Kitimat at the head of the Douglas Channel, a 90-km (56-mi) fjord that serves as saltwater corridor that connects the community and the town and port of Kitimat, which is the site of the aluminum smelter of Alcan Incorporated, to the Pacific Ocean. Kitamaat is a Tsimshian name, applied by European explorers who asked their Tsimshian guides for the name of the place; it means "people of the snows" or "place of the snows". The Haisla name for Kitimaat is C'imo'ca (pronounced tsee-MOTE-sah) which means "snag beach."

Xa’islak’ala, X̄a’islakʼala, X̌àʼislakʼala, X̣aʼislak’ala, Xai:sla
Haisla whistle (UBC-2010)
A Haisla whistle
Total population
1,500 [1]
Regions with significant populations
 Canada ( British Columbia)
English, Haisla
Christianity, native
Related ethnic groups
Heiltsuk, Wuikinuxv, Kwakiutl


The government of the Haisla people is the Haisla Nation. Its offices are located in Kitimaat Village, British Columbia.

Haisla canoe (UBC-2009)
Canoe made by the Haisla members of the Kitimat Athlete club. It was donated as a gift to the UBC Museum of Anthropology in 1948 where it is displayed today.

Ellis Ross was a prominent elected Chief Councilor of the Haisla Nation, and one of the first First Nation leaders in Canada to team up with big oil companies like "LNG", and he was full-time councillor from 2003-2016. Ellis was followed by[2] Crystal Smith, the current Acting Chief.

Cultural repatriation

In 2006, the Haisla First Nation repatriated a sacred mortuary totem pole from Sweden's Museum of Ethnography, after a lengthy international campaign.[3] Their successful efforts were documented in a film by Aboriginal filmmaker Gil Cardinal, entitled Totem: The Return of the G'psgolox Pole. In 2007, the second part entitled Totem: Return and Renewal was released.[4]


Haisla is a North Wakashan language spoken by several hundred people. Haisla is geographically the northernmost Wakashan language. Its nearest Wakashan neighbor is Oowekyala. Haisla is related to the other North Wakashan languages, Wuikyala, Heiltsuk, and Kwak'wala. The Haisla language consists of two dialects, sometimes defined as sublanguages – Kitamaat and Kitlope (also known as X̣enaksialak’ala).

In popular culture

  • The book Monkey Beach, by Canadian author Eden Robinson, follows the lives of a Haisla teenager and her family.[5]
  • Son of a Trickster by Eden Robinson was released in 2017. This novel follows Jared through his grade 10 year in Kitimat and his first encounters with magic.


  1. ^ http://haisla.ca/
  2. ^ http://haisla.ca/news/latest-news-2/#iLightbox[gallery]/0
  3. ^ Na na kila Institute website Archived 2007-07-23 at the Wayback Machine.
  4. ^ Cardinal, Gil (2003). "Totem: The Return of the G'psgolox Pole". National Film Board of Canada. Retrieved 2009-06-12.
  5. ^ "Monkey Beach". CBC Books. CBC. Retrieved 2 February 2016.

External links

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