About HGHES


Shaping the Future by Sharing Haida Gwaii with the World

HGHES is an enterprising non-profit organization that develops and delivers transformative education inspired by Haida Gwaii. In partnership with leading universities, we offer students immersive, experiential learning opportunities in rural, resource-dependent communities in transition. Here the Haida Nation, island communities, and provincial and federal governments are working through complex joint management models towards reconciliation and sustainability.

Drawing on Haida Gwaii’s legacy of innovation and leadership, HGHES offers a range of programming including undergraduate semesters, executive education and professional development courses, research opportunities, public lectures and workshops, and more.

HGHES embraces a place-based approach; we see the social and ecological systems of Haida Gwaii as vibrant natural classrooms for our students to engage with, grounding course content in living, local case studies. We believe in working together and facilitating a rich collaboration between academics and local knowledge holders, supporting a meaningful learning exchange and the development of a broad perspective.

As issues around the globe become increasingly complex, our programs help position students at the leading edge, preparing them to be future leaders and decision-makers.

Community Economic Development & Diversification

Our organization fosters community economic development and diversification by providing opportunities for local businesses and organizations to benefit from our programs, (particularly during the off-season months when tourism is not at its peak) as well as creating employment opportunities.

Our students and faculty engage in the local economy through rental accommodations, recreational activities, shopping, etc. They often encourage their family and friends to visit the islands, who come from all corners of the world to experience Haida Gwaii.

We anticipate that our economic impact will grow as we expand our programming into other island communities.

“The Haida Gwaii Higher Education Society has created world-class programming and learning opportunities for university students, which has also diversified the local economy on Haida Gwaii and supported businesses.”
Evan Saugstad, Chair, Northern Development Initiative Trust, 2013

“The existing Haida Gwaii Higher Education Society semesters program is a key economic driver for the Village of Queen Charlotte and Haida Gwaii.”
Carol Kulesha, Mayor of Queen Charlotte, 2013


As an enterprising non-profit organization with charitable status, we depend on grants and other forms of fundraising for financial support. We invite you to consider making a donation! Please contact us for more information, or donate here.

Our Story


In 2008, a group of keen and engaged individuals from Haida Gwaii, BC and across the country, met in Haida Gwaii to brainstorm ideas around natural resource management, sustainable economies, and university education. Through their conversations they came to the realization that the global paradigm around natural resources is shifting, and that new and innovative approaches are needed.

As an island community where the social, cultural, environmental, political, and economic issues facing natural resource managers around the globe converge at a local scale, Haida Gwaii is a microcosm of the rest of the world. As such, it was decided that Haida Gwaii would be the ideal place to create immersive educational programming to equip future leaders to guide their communities towards a sustainable future. This small group of dedicated individuals formed a board of directors, incorporated a society, and launched Haida Gwaii Higher Education Society (HGHES) by offering the first semester in Natural Resource Studies in 2010, with a total class size of 9 students. In the years since, HGHES has grown to offer diverse world class educational programming for students from across the world and right here on Haida Gwaii.