More than 25 Haida Nation Prince Rupert residents and supporters assembled at the entrance to the BC Ferries terminal in Prince Rupert on Thursday, April 30, 2020, to tell ferry passengers that “Haida Gwaii is closed” to non-essential travellers until COVID-19 passes. (Photo: K-J Millar/The Northern View)

More than 25 Haida Nation Prince Rupert residents and supporters assembled at the entrance to the BC Ferries terminal in Prince Rupert on Thursday, April 30, 2020, to tell ferry passengers that “Haida Gwaii is closed” to non-essential travellers until COVID-19 passes. (Photo: K-J Millar/The Northern View)

UPDATE: Vehicle turned around after demonstrators gather near Prince Rupert ferry terminal

More than 25 people gathered at BC Ferries terminal Thursday to say ‘Haida Gwaii is closed’

More than 25 demonstrators gathered on the road outside the BC Ferries terminal in Prince Rupert on April 30 at noon, stopping vehicles that were boarding the vessel destined for Haida Gwaii to tell them the islands are closed to visitors.

“We inform [the vehicles and drivers] that if they are not a resident of Haida Gwaii, they will be met on the other side and turned around. So, it is probably best for them not to get on the ferry,” said Arny Nagy, a member of the Haida Nation living in Prince Rupert.

Nagy said everyone had been respectful and understanding of the message, with only one vehicle, with Alberta licence plates, frustrated at being told to turn around.

“Hopefully the word has gotten out,” he said. “We can’t just leave defending our nation to the sisters and brothers on Haida Gwaii. We have to let the residents know here, so as to avoid any conflict on the island.”

ALSO READ: ‘Drive right through’: Skidegate Emergency Operations Centre erects checkpoint for non-residents

Pansy Collison, Prince Rupert regional representative for the Council of the Haida Nation (CHN), told Black Press Media the vehicle with Alberta licence plates ultimately did not board the ferry and the rest of the vehicles that did board “were all locals.”

Collison also said the purpose of the gathering was to “send a message to everyone that Haida Gwaii is closed” and take “preventative measures to keep the residents of Haida Gwaii safe from COVID-19.”

“The risk is more acute to our elders and our seniors,” she said. “They are our cultural knowledge holders. They carry our language and our culture and our history, so we need to ensure their safety.”

Collison had put a call out on Facebook the day before to Haida people in Prince Rupert, inviting them to join the gathering.

“If you can, please make your own signs, wear your regalia, and pass this to other Haida people and friends to come join us to send a loud message that Haida Gwaii is closed,” the post said.

ALSO READ: ‘Enough is enough’: Haida Gwaii rallies to send visiting ferry traffic back to terminal

The CHN, along with the Old Massett Village Council and Skidegate Band Council, had organized a similar demonstration on April 27, on Haida Gwaii, at checkpoints outside the BC Ferries terminal in Skidegate as well as the Haida Heritage Centre.

More than 60 people lined the highway in Skidegate around 2 p.m. that afternoon to ask any visitors arriving via BC Ferries to return to the terminal and leave Haida Gwaii.

Collison told Black Press Media another gathering in Prince Rupert was necessary because there are “still some people, non-residents, who are travelling via BC Ferries to Haida Gwaii.”

“Some people have got the message, but we still have to put the message out there to everyone to restrict the influx of non-essential travellers,” she said.

More demonstrations were planned to stop vehicles entering the Prince Rupert ferry terminal in the future, she added, including one on the evening of May 3 as well as on the May long weekend.

ALSO READ: ‘This decision is critical’: Haida Gwaii declares state of emergency due to COVID-19

Also on April 30, First Nation and municipal leaders from the North and Central coasts put out a joint press release, including a quote from Haida Nation President Gaagwiis Jason Alsop that said the Haida Nation “will take every measure to prohibit non-essential travel to Haida Gwaii.”

“The federal and provincial governments have a moral obligation to be on the right side of history this time,” Alsop said. “The COVID-19 pandemic, and the extraordinary threats it poses to knowledge, languages, cultures and people is an opportunity towards real reconciliation.

“So far, the province is failing in that responsibility. The Haida Nation will continue to take the actions necessary to protect our Elders, fluent Haida speakers, and communities.”

Do you have something to add to this story or something else we should report on? Email:
karissa.gall@blackpress.ca.


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

bc ferryCoronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Algmxaa (Murray Smith), right, a spokesperson for Donny Wesley, the hereditary chief of Lax Kw’alaams, along with Nistoix (Clarence Nelson), hereditary chief of the Metlakatla Nation, supported the Haida Nation demonstration on Thursday, April 30, 2020 in Prince Rupert to prevent non-essential travel to Haida Gwaii in light of the ongoing pandemic. (Photo: K-J Millar, The Northern View)

Algmxaa (Murray Smith), right, a spokesperson for Donny Wesley, the hereditary chief of Lax Kw’alaams, along with Nistoix (Clarence Nelson), hereditary chief of the Metlakatla Nation, supported the Haida Nation demonstration on Thursday, April 30, 2020 in Prince Rupert to prevent non-essential travel to Haida Gwaii in light of the ongoing pandemic. (Photo: K-J Millar, The Northern View)

More than 25 Haida Nation Prince Rupert residents and supporters assembled at the entrance to the BC Ferries terminal in Prince Rupert on Thursday, April 30, 2020, to tell ferry passengers that “Haida Gwaii is closed” to non-essential travellers until COVID-19 passes. (Photo: K-J Millar/The Northern View)

More than 25 Haida Nation Prince Rupert residents and supporters assembled at the entrance to the BC Ferries terminal in Prince Rupert on Thursday, April 30, 2020, to tell ferry passengers that “Haida Gwaii is closed” to non-essential travellers until COVID-19 passes. (Photo: K-J Millar/The Northern View)

Arny Nagy, a member of the Haida Nation, informed vehicles approaching the BC Ferries terminal in Prince Rupert on Thursday, April 30, 2020 that any non-essential travellers would be turned around in Haida Gwaii as part of efforts to protect the island from COVID-19. (Photo: K-J Millar, The Northern View)

Arny Nagy, a member of the Haida Nation, informed vehicles approaching the BC Ferries terminal in Prince Rupert on Thursday, April 30, 2020 that any non-essential travellers would be turned around in Haida Gwaii as part of efforts to protect the island from COVID-19. (Photo: K-J Millar, The Northern View)

Just Posted

Toronto-based director Michelle Latimer was recently scrutinized after years of claiming she was of Algonquin and Metis descent. (CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young)
Haida activist calls for hefty fines, jail time against those who claim to be Indigenous

Filmmaker Tamara Bell proposing the Indigenous Identity Act – to dissuade ‘Indigenous identity theft’

(Pxhere)
B.C. nurse suspended after using Tensor bandage to trap long-term care patient in room

Susan Malloch voluntarily agreed to a three-day suspension of her certificate of registration

Brett Alexander Jones is wanted on several warrants province-wide, in connection with multiple charges. Jan. 21, 2021. Kitimat RCMP photo
Kitimat RCMP searching for man wanted on several warrants province-wide

Jones is described as a five-foot 10-inches Caucasian man, with blond hair and blue eyes.

Administering naloxone to a person experiencing a benzo-related overdose event won’t help. Naloxone is used to neutralize opioids. (Jenna Hauck/The Progress file photo)
Northern Health warning drug users of potential benzo contamination

The drug does not respond to naloxone, and is being included in street drugs

Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, vice-president of logistics and operations at the Public Health Agency of Canada, speaks at a news conference on the COVID-19 pandemic in Ottawa, on Friday, Jan. 15, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
B.C. records 500 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday, 14 deaths

Outbreak at Surrey Pretrial jail, two more in health care

(File)
Man allegedly bites Vancouver cop during arrest for outstanding warrant

The officer was treated in hospital for the bite wounds

(File Photo)
Interior Health says COVID positivity rates in Fernie area actually 10-12%

IH say the rates are not as high as previously claimed by the region’s top doctor

Black bear cubs Athena and Jordan look on from their enclosure at the North Island Wildlife Recovery Association in Errington, B.C., on July 8, 2015. Conservation Officer Bryce Casavant won the hearts of animal lovers when he opted not to shoot the baby bears in July after their mother was destroyed for repeatedly raiding homes near Port Hardy, B.C. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Supreme Court quashes review of B.C. conservation officer who refused to euthanize bears

Bryce Casavant was dismissed from his job for choosing not to shoot the cubs in 2015

Francina Mettes and Thomas Schouten with the 200-page document they submitted in December of 2018. (Travis Paterson/News Staff)
Dutch man, 94, facing unwanted trip home can stay in B.C. with wife of 45 years

Immigration offices cuts red tape so couple of 45 years can stay together in Victoria area

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Health Minister Adrian Dix looks on as Dr. Bonnie Henry pauses for a moment as she gives her daily media briefing regarding Covid-19 for the province of British Columbia in Victoria, B.C, Monday, December 7, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. Premier, health officials to discuss next steps in COVID immunization plan

Nearly 31,000 doses of vaccine the province expected by Jan. 29 could be curtailed due to production issues

Vancouver Canucks’ Travis Hamonic grabs Montreal Canadiens’ Josh Anderson by the face during first period NHL action in Vancouver, Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Horvat scores winner as Canucks dump Habs 6-5 in shootout thriller

Vancouver and Montreal clash again Thursday night

Most Read