There was an important step forward towards more islands’ unity and cooperation in Skidegate Monday evening, as another community signed the Protocol Agreement with the Council of the Haida Nation, Jeff King writes.
The Regional District’s Area D, (unincorporated areas on Graham Island, including Tlell and Tow Hill Road) is the third community to sign, after Port and Masset signed just shy of two years ago, on March 19, 2004.
The signing ceremony took place in the Skidegate community hall, witnessed by hereditary chiefs, elected officials and about 80 islanders from all communities.
CHN President Guujaaw called the ceremony more important “than some of the court wins. This is being here with the people we live with.”
He also said “this protocol is about looking after each other and looking after this landÂ…That really is the essence of this protocol. Let’s work together. Let’s respect each other. It is a real important day for our people and yours.”
“It is a happy day for me,” said Ian Hetman, who represents Area D on the regional district. “The islands speak with a very powerful voice when we send a message together,” he said. He also thanked the residents of Area D and the regional district for the support he’s received since he’s been working up to the signing over the last couple of years.
Masset Mayor Barry Pages
congratulated Mr. Hetman and said “I know he has put a lot of time and effort into this,” and Queen Charlotte Mayor Carol Kulesha offered her congratulations as well and said “it is a good thing that we are doing. Queen Charlotte will start to have our meetings (on considering signing). You just have to give us time.”
Travis Glasman, Director for Area E (Moresby Island) for the regional district told the audience that “I am strongly in favour of this type of work. I look forward to the day when my community will sign on.”
“It really is excitingÂ… We are starting to look for solutions. We are not dwelling on problems. There are so many things coming and real fast,” Chief Sgaan 7wi7wanns Alan Wilson said.
Earlier in the evening, Chief Skidegate Dempsey Collison said working together was always something he liked to see and Chief Iljuuwaas Reynold Russ called the evening “history in the making”. “This is a start,” he said, “and I hope we will all benefit from what is happening here tonight.”
Other speakers included Elizabeth Moore of the Old Massett Village Council, Robert Mills of the Skidegate Band Council and Arnie Bellis, vice-president of the CHN.
The signing ceremony was preceded by a day-long meeting of elected officials from throughout the islands, who discussed oil and gas issues, and land use and environmental issues, among others.
On a lighter note during the ceremonies, Happy Birthday was sung to Janet Beil, the regional district administrator. She received a carved pendant from Guujaaw. No one asked her how old she was.
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