‘Haida Gwaii is closed’: the matriarchs occupy the territory while the fishing flags reopen in the middle of COVID-19


HAIDA GWAII (NEWS 1130) – Members of the Haida nation assert their right to occupy their land and harvest food, while “affirming the message that Haida Gwaii is closed”.Gaandlee Guu Jaalang, or “daughters of the rivers,” released a statement on Friday asking the fishing lodges to “reconsider the opening during our local state of emergency, as with our limited medical resources, a case would devastate our community.”

Spokesperson Adeana Young says visitors to fishing lodges move around the community, leaving a “trail of risk” in their wake.

“I really want the message to be known that we have coexisted all these years, since their opening,” she said. “We can continue to coexist once it is safe – once we think it is safe – so that visitors can enjoy the beauty that we have here. “


Posted by G̲aandlee Guu Jaalang on Saturday July 11, 2020

The popularity of lodges with American tourists in light of the recent spike in cases in the United States is cause for concern, according to Young.

“We really think this is not the time because by looking at COVID statistics in other areas, and looking forward at the opening of the borders, looking at how the curve is flattening – we don’t don’t feel like it’s flat enough. I don’t feel like it’s flat enough to open. The risks are really high, especially in the United States, ”she says.

The “occupation” led by the matriarchs is focused on food security and involves Haida men and women who fish and harvest.

“We harvest our food in Haida Gwaii and this food security supports us. We assert our rights by occupying our territory. Today, we have invited our boat operators to provide food fish for our community and they are there now. A fishing camp has been set up in Sk’awats, and another will be set up in Kung, ”said the press release by Gaandlee Guu Jaalan.

Young says efforts to keep lodges closed will continue as long as the community believes his safety is at risk

“There is no strong intention to evict them or remove them forever, the intention is to keep us safe and to guarantee the food security of the members of our community.”

RELATED: Haida Gwaii Fishing Lodge Plans to Reopen as Tensions Rise with Nation

Haida Gwaii declared a state of emergency on March 23, and the Council of the Haida Nation declared it to remain in effect with a ban on travel for recreational purposes.

“By respecting Haida authority and jurisdiction, many local and off-island businesses and operations respect the Haida Gwaii SOE. With the global COVID-19 pandemic emerging, several sport fishing lodges have chosen to cease operations this year. The Council of the Haida Nation commends this respectful act of Langara Island Lodge, Peregrine Lodge, Naden Lodge, Escott Sportfishing Lodge and Queen Charlotte Safaris, “said a statement.

“However, a few selected sport fishing lodges plan to resume their activities this year. The current state of emergency of the Haida Nation does not allow non-essential travel to Haida Gwaii, including the operation of fishing lodges, at this time. ”

The press release notes that Dr. Bonnie Henry supports the right of indigenous communities to limit movement within their territory, even during the reopening of the province.

“A number of First Nations communities have expressed that they are not ready to do so and that their primary objective at this time is to protect their communities and in particular their elders in their communities and we are very much in favor of it” said Henry in June. 25, the day after the start of phase 3 and the resumption of pleasure trips to British Columbia.

“I understand that many First Nations communities are not ready for visitors and I absolutely support them in these decisions.”

The Queen Charlotte Lodge and the West Coast Fishing Club are the two reports that have reopened.

On its website, the Queen Charlotte Lodge reports that they have made changes to keep visitors and residents of Haida Gwaii safe.

“All of our transportation this summer will be through direct combat between Prince Rupert and Naden Harbor. We have taken this extreme step to ensure the safety and security of all citizens of Haida Gwaii. In accordance with provincial regulations, we have implemented protocols throughout the property to ensure everyone’s health and safety this summer, ”said the press release.

The West Coast Fishing Club does not appear to have updated its website since the start of the pandemic.

With files from Paul James


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