2003 year in review

  • Dec. 25, 2003 6:00 p.m.

January 2

DFO announced no roe herring fishery because of low returns, Kathy Pick of Sandspit won a Queen’s Golden Jubilee medal and Queen Charlotte’s drains ran freely after a $10,000 sewer cleanup.

January 9

The total value of all islands properties declined 4-percent from the previous year, from $291-million to $280-million according to BC Assessment Authority.

January 16

Two people received minor injuries after a floatplane sank on Eden Lake. The plane crashed while attempting to land under glassy water conditions that made it hard for the pilot see the lake surface. The $1.5-million single-engine turbine Otter sank in 23 meters of water, and was a write-off.

January 23

Port Clements’ council called the Ministry of Forests drastic changes to the small business program a disaster. Among other things, administration of the program would move from the islands to Chilliwack.
Crab fishermen worried that the proposed Nai Kun wind farm could damage one of Masset’s healthiest industries.

January 30

Dr. Vanita Lokanathan warned that Masset hospital’s staff shortages could lead to its closure. The hospital had no pharmacist, no second lab technician and all three doctors resigned in frustration at the difficult working conditions.

February 6

A new year’s baby!-Tlell29F Garfy 1N-a 94 lb Hereford calf born at the Richardson ranch.
Meanwhile, MLA Bill Belsey and two Northern Health Authority reps flew to Masset to investigate the hospital situation, and Masset citizens organized a petition protesting the erosion of health services in their town.

February 13

Garner Moody and Marvin Pearson, both of the Skidegate Masters team, were inducted into the All Native tournament Hall of Fame.
The Northern Health Authority found funds to pay for an extra nurse at the Masset hospital the day after north end residents submitted a petition demanding better medical care.

February 20

The Skidegate Intermediate Saints brought home the All Native tournament banner for the third time in a row.

February 27

The regional district announced plans to keep taxes low for the next five years by paring down the budget.
The province announced it wanted to close all liquor outlets and replace them with private stores, but also said it had no plan how to do this-leaving potential retailers like Steve Marshall of Daddy Cool’s wondering what to do next.

March 6

School board trustees breathed a sigh of relief when secretary treasurer Len Ibbs announced they would have to cut only $185,000 from the budget instead of $500,000 as expected.
Port Clements, Masset and Old Massett decided to investigate developing a privately owned hospital for the north end.

March 13

About 300 islanders braved cold, snowy weather to attend the three-day islands wide symposium held in Port Clements and Queen Charlotte.
GMD and QCSS scored amongst the lowest high schools in the province in the 2003 Fraser Institute report card.

March 20

The islands’ two teen centres would stay open six more months despite government funding cuts, after Gwaii Trust gave them $35,000.
The CHN and the province began work on a new Land Use Plan to guide land use decisions until the Haida land question is settled.

March 27

Imperial Esso announced plans to close the Skidegate Landing marine fuel dock.

April 3

Mechanical problems and a falling tide left the Kwuna stranded on its dock for five hours.
Matt Ravlic of Fast Fuels guaranteed marine fuel service for south Graham Island if the Skidegate Landing after the fuel dock closure scheduled for May 15.

April 10

School board trustees met behind closed doors to wrestle with the school budget. They guaranteed not to close any schools, but they still had to cut $218,000 from their budget.

April 17

BC Ferry Services announced a year-long review of northern services to figure out what to do about the routes two aging ferries and financial losses of $11-million a year. Public consultation with islanders was planned to begin in May.

April 24

Haidabucks of Masset made international headlines after coffee giant Starbucks threatened legal action if the islands’ café didn’t change its name.

May 1

Port Clements five-year financial plan included a 53 percent property tax hike.
The school board released a budget that included cuts to teaching, support and maintenance staff, but increased funding for literacy, school sports and outdoor ed.

May 8

Unhappy Port Clements residents protested the proposed tax increases.
A fire destroyed a cedar house on Richardson Road that once served as the Tlell post office.

May 15

Sk’aadgaa Naay school won a Lieutenant-Governor’s Certificate of Merit for its architectural design, and Jim Hart received the Order of British Columbia.

May 22

Masset’s Harbour Days celebrations went off without a hitch-the event highlight was a three-day chainsaw-carving contest.

May 29

The school district promised to address concerns raised in an external review report, with special attention to closing the achievement gap between First Nations and other students, and increasing parental involvement in the schools.

June 5

Howard Phillips of Masset won the Ruby Nobbs Outstanding Volunteer Achievement Award from the Heritage Society of BC for his work creating the Dixon Entrance Museum.

June 12

Congratulations to Leigh-Anna Jones, winner of the Miss Haida Gwaii pageant in Masset.
Good news for Skidegate’s Sk’aadgaa Naay school, where students scored in the top half of the province’s elementary school report.

June 19

The North Beach crab fishery faced closure to prevent over harvesting of Dungeness crabs and damage to the environment.

June 26

The Pender Lady, a floating fishing lodge in Naden Harbour, sank. Coast Guard and RCMP vessels took part in the rescue of 28 guests.

July 3

A judge awarded $77,000 in damages to Tassilo Goetz Hanisch of Rose Harbour in a civil suit against Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve/Haida Heritage Site and one of its wardens for false arrest and defamation.

July 10

Timber companies on the islands had to lay off workers because of poor markets and trouble getting cutting permits.

July 17

Plans to widen Beitush Rd. caused a ripple of protest, and a 6.1 magnitude earthquake centered off the northwest coast of the islands shook people from Masset to Sandspit.

July 24

Masset crab fishers were enjoying a great year, and support for Haidabucks legal battle with Starbucks was building. From as far away as England and Texas, people were ordering t-shirts to support the legal defence fund.

July 31

About 700 attended the Qay’llnagaay Heritage Centre ground breaking and feast in Skidegate. “Today was the start of a dream. A place for our Haida voice to be heard. A place to teach and learn what Haida Gwaii means to us,” said Chief Skidegate, Dempsey Collinson.

August 7

The province changed hunting regulations to let hunters kill more deer-lengthening the season and increasing the bag limit from 10 to 15.

August 14

A fishing charter ended early last Tuesday after a close encounter with a humpback whale. The whale surfaced and dove five feet from the boat, hitting the motor hard and driving the back of the boat three feet in the air.

August 21

Port Council decided to spearhead an effort to get non-Haida communities together to discuss the proposed agreement with the CHN.

August 28

Four soupfin sharks washed up on the beaches of Tlell-why, no one could say. Recreational and commercial fishers were catching lots of crab, salmon and halibut.
Islanders rallied to help fire victims in the interior of BC.

September 4

Kids headed back to school, and construction got underway on the Qay’llaganay project at Second Beach.

September 11

The province offered the Haida a 20-percent of the islands’ land, which the CHN quickly refused.
Repatriation committees in Skidegate and Old Massett geared up for their last month of preparations and fund raising before heading to Chicago to recover ancestral remains.

September 18

The Land Use Planning Forum met for the first time in Queen Charlotte-the beginning of a 15-month process to create a ten year plan for the islands.

September 25

Masset welcomed more than 50 delegates who arrived for the Northern BC Tourism Association AGM.

October 9

Islands students in grades 4 and 7 improved significantly in math skills on the latest province-wide tests.
Thieves took the St. Mary statue. Searchers recovered her from the beach across the road from the spring, and returned her to her place.

October 16

Repatriation committees from Skidegate and Old Massett left for Chicago on Oct. 10.
Islands forest workers waited to see if they would strike, while the IWA, FIR and Labour Relations Board struggled on with negotiations.

October 23

Masset, Old Massett and Port Clements signed a letter proposing to cooperate with the Northern Health Authority to build and operate a new health care facility.

October 30

Old Massett and Skidegate honoured their ancestors with reburial ceremonies at both ends of the islands.
The South Moresby Forest Replacement Account renewed operations with half a million to spend before April 1, 2004.

November 6

Weyerhaeuser laid-off nine engineers and two contractors in the planning department with more layoffs anticipated.
The school board struck a committee to consider how to spend about a quarter of a million dollars left over from construction of the QC high school. Some possibilities included new books, new band and science equipment, and enlarging the soccer field.

November 13, 2003

Islanders were left with only one airline as CWA went bankrupt and Hawkair decided to postpone service until the spring.

November 20

Port mayor Dale Lore described provincial forest policies as ‘stupid’, saying they encouraged companies to leave salvageable timber rotting on the ground.
BC Ferry Services promised to (finally) visit the islands in the New Year for consultations with islanders about the future of ferry service in the north.

November 27

Pickets went up as the IWA went on strike, Guujaaw won the CHN presidency by a landslide, and islanders celebrated a Gwaii Haanas anniversary with a day-long open house in Masset.

December 4

Masset held its 24th telethon, raising just under $17,000, and Old Massett elected Wilson Brown its new chief councilor.

December 11

Volunteers raised a 40-foot Christmas tree in Masset.
BC Ferries’ workers went out on strike. The province legislated them back, so workers refused to operate the ferries at all. The Kwuna didn’t sail for two and a half days. BC Ferries set up a water taxi service to get passengers back and forth from Sandspit.

December 18

Port Clements was seeking intervenor status in the Council of the Haida Nation’s TFL 39 lawsuit. Port mayor Dale Lore said his village has an interest in the outcome, and is not being adequately protected by the province. He said accommodation and good faith negotiation between the Haida, Weyerhaeuser and the province is needed.