Much of what Haida Gwaii needs to power a fair

Charlotte Views: Growing a fair economy for Haida Gwaii

Haida Gwaii’s resource challenges are about governance, not simply international commodity markets or a lack of capital.

Local economic issues were front and centre in last week’s Observer.

Stories on the challenges faced by Haida Gwaii’s resource sector, high levels of unemployment in many parts of the islands, lack of services (such as medical transportation for Sandspit residents in the evening and at night) serve as stark reminders that too many communities and residents are struggling.

Politicians know that talking about the economy, especially in tough times, is one way to get elected. That’s why “economic growth” is the ultimate buzz phrase for anyone who wants to get your vote. But look at the three leading stories last week: resource challenges, high levels of unemployment in some communities, and a lack of services suited to our needs. These are all economic issues, but growth is only part of the solution. Yes, Haida Gwaii’s economy needs strengthening and we need more, not less, economic security. But do we need to “grow” the economy to achieve both strength and security? Not necessarily.

Haida Gwaii’s resource challenges are about governance, not simply international commodity markets or a lack of capital. Locally-based decisions that respect Haida title; build on existing relationships of mutual respect at the local level; focus on serving island communities; and value the land in holistic, sustainable, and spiritual terms promise to open up all the missed opportunities when the island’s resources are simply taken for production elsewhere. It is possible, especially when social-benefit capital is available, for Haida Gwaii to build an enriching and sustainable economy that fully develops the economic potential of the islands’ resources. But for this to happen, the islands must be self-governed, so the place itself and people here are valued first and foremost.

Local control over local resources is not enough to address these economic challenges. A really big (“hugely grown”) economy that’s unfair might as well be really small for those left out. Unfair distribution of opportunity and security, evidenced by pockets of underemployment and high levels of poverty, can’t be fixed simply by expanding things.

Haida Gwaii is already rich. What’s needed are government policies aimed at further enriching Haida Gwaii, not to take from the islands but to respect what’s already here and has been here since time immemorial. This requires building a strong and productive economy, leadership from the ground up, putting the values of fairness and honour first and foremost, and ensuring equal government services throughout all of B.C. and Canada.

 

Just Posted

Province announces $100-million grant funding for Northwest communities

The Northern Capital and Planning Grant will go to four regional districts and 22 municipalities

Prince Rupert Gas Transmission project searches for partners

TransCanada is renewing permits for its natural gas pipeline project to North Coast.

Coastal GasLink stops work to investigate archaeological find

OGC archaeologists are en route to the Houston-area site where Unist’ot’en report finding stone tools

Millennium Memorial Park a birders’ paradise

Findings by the Delkatla Sanctuary Society has given birdwatchers more reason to… Continue reading

Major upgrades needed for Port sewage lagoon

Engineering firm itemizes shortcomings for provincial and federal standards

B.C. students win Great Waters Challenge video contest

Video, mural and song about saving the salmon claims the top prize

Ammonia leak shuts down curling club in Nelson

It’s not yet clear when the leak was detected

Pavelski’s 31st goal helps Sharks top Canucks 3-2

Vancouver one point out of second NHL wild-card spot

Eight cases of measles confirmed in Vancouver outbreak

Coastal Health official say the cases stem from the French-language Ecole Jules Verne Secondary

Ontario police field complaints over Amber Alert for missing girl, 11, found dead

Some said the Amber Alert issued late Thursday for Riya Rajkumar disrupted their sleep

Former B.C. premier Gordon Campbell accused of sexual touching

Accuser went to police, interviewed by Britian’s Daily Telegraph

B.C. couple attacked with acid, slashed with knife in Vietnam

Warning, graphic images: Man has burns on 80 per cent of his body, slashed with knife

Northern B.C. First Nation clan says ancient tools found at pipeline work site

Archeologists from the Smithsonian Institute estimate one of the stones found dates back up to 3500 years

Names keep adding to vaccine petition started by B.C. mom

Maple Ridge mom started campaign to make vaccination a condition of attending school

Most Read