CHN to intervene in Hooterville dispute

  • Nov. 26, 2008 9:00 a.m.

The Council of the Haida Nation will intervene in the dispute between the residents of Hooterville and the province, according to CHN president Guujaaw. Ten residents of Hooterville, in Queen Charlotte’s west end, have been ordered by the province to vacate the provincial crown land they currently occupy without provincial permission. They were told they could be forced off the land anytime after November 15, and while that hasn’t happened yet, the province says residents there “should be thinking about their next steps” and that failure to comply with the provincial order could cost $1,000 in fines and the requirement to pay to clean up the sites they have been occupying. On Friday, Guujaaw told the Observer that some Hooterville residents have recently approached the CHN to intervene. “We have been reluctant to do this,” Guujaaw said, (but) “our name does keep coming up in the public meetings. We think we probably have to intervene.” What form that will take is not clear. Guujaaw initially said “in the form of the voice of reason” when we asked him, then later he said the CHN wants to find all the facts. “I think first of all we want to get all of the facts, have all of the facts known and then examine and determine the best course of action,” he said. The CHN will talk to all the people involved in Hooterville, in Queen Charlotte and in the provincial government, according to the CHN president. Exactly when this is going to happen is not clear. While Guujaaw said it will be “fairly promptly”, he’s not sure exactly when, and that all CHN councillors are currently looking at the issue. He also voiced concern with the way a CHN letter on the issue was used recently. The letter, sent by the CHN to the Village of Queen Charlotte on Ocotber 18, 2006 says the area in question is part of a well-known Haida village, and that previously the Haidas compassionately took the side of the residents facing eviction by the province. It also says the area is to be returned to its natural state. During the municipal election campaign just over, the letter was referred to by candidate Greg Martin, who said he would respect the CHN preference for returning the area to its natural state. “Well, you know we were a little bit annoyed at the way that letter has been used,” Guujaaw said, “It is way out of context.’ He explained that the CHN wrote the letter when the Hooterville residents were going to be kicked out, and the land subdivided and sold. “We said no, if those people are going to be kicked out, it should be returned to its natural state,” Guujaaw said. He added that the area is an important archaeological site, and said “we are quite clear we do not want to be blamed for anybody getting kicked out of there.”