Friday agreement signing in Port will be an historic event

  • Thu Mar 18th, 2004 3:00pm
  • News

The Council of the Haida Nation is hosting a huge potluck feast in Port Clements Friday night to thank the village for its support in the TFL 39 case, and to sign a protocol agreement with Port and Masset.
CHN Vice-president Arnie Bellis said it’s the first time the CHN has ever hosted a feast in one of the non-native communities on the islands.
“It’s an historic event,” he said. “To have a Haida feast in Port Clements for the first time… To me, it’s a very special occasion.”
The How’aa feast will celebrate Port’s role decision to intervene in the TFL 39 case, which means the village has been recognized as having an interest in the outcome, and will be appearing in Ottawa next week to offer arguments in support of the CHN to the Supreme Court of Canada.
“It means a lot to us as Haidas that they would put themselves on the line like that,” Mr. Bellis said.
The feast will also celebrate the signing of a protocol agreement between the CHN, Port and Masset. The four-page agreement sees the two villages formally recognizing the relationship of the Haida people to the islands, and recognizing the co-existence of crown and Haida title. The parties agree to work together to benefit the islands and to create a healthy environment and sustainable economy. Full text of the protocol agreement is on this website, just after this story.
Port mayor Dale Lore said the agreement is extremely important for the future of the islands, and points the way to an entirely new relationship between the Haida Nation and the non-native communities here.
“It means we are all going to sit down, set aside the baggage, and decide how we are all going to live and work here in the future,” he said. “We have two opportunities here. We have the opportunity for a wonderful future if we do everything right, or we have the opportunity for a total disaster if we continue the status quo.”
Masset mayor Barry Pages said his village has been working with the neighbouring Haida community of Old Massett for several years on projects like joint water treatment, sewage treatment, the recreation centre and the proposed new hospital. The protocol agreement is a natural extension of this kind of cooperation, he said.
Mr. Bellis agreed.
“The protocol agreement is simply a forum where we can discuss issues among ourselves,” he said. “It just makes common sense to have a table to talk to your neighbours at.”
The feast will also feature speeches, singing and dancing. It’s being held at the Port Clements school gym, and Mr. Bellis said his only concerned was that people would have to be turned away because there was not enough room. However, Mr. Lore there is room for at least 400 people. Doors open at 5:30, and the feast starts at 6 pm.
“We’re excited and we’re working hard to make it the best feast we can,” Mr. Bellis said.