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Feds give Old Massett Village Council $500K to create a space for healing

The focus is on supporting Indigenous girls, women and 2SLGBTQQIA+ people
The Village of Old Massett received $500,000 from the federal government to build a new plaza that will support Haida heritage and culture, the Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations announced Sept. 4, 2022. (Photo: Kaitlyn Bailey/Haida Gwaii Observer)

A new memorial plaza celebrating the Haida people and history will be built with a $500,000 federal government contribution to Old Massett Village Council, Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations Marc Miller, announced on Sept. 4.

The iit’l gudaad – We Remember Haida Heritage Plaza will commemorate the Haida people and their history, highlighting Haida art and language, plus serve as a gathering place for generations to come. It will be a place people can visit to heal and honour those who have died, Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada stated in a media release.

Old Massett Council plans to offer workshops and gatherings at the site once it is finished, that will focus on supporting the inclusion and revitalization of traditional Haida ways of being.

“One of the main laws of the Haida Nation is Yahguudang, meaning respect for all things: land, water and air; the supernatural; our ancestors; and each other. It is only when we show such respect that we can be worthy of respect ourselves,” Donald Edgars, chief councillor of Old Massett Village Council stated.

Edgars explained that LGBTQQIA2S+ citizens historically held respected positions in Haida communities and have always valued these citizens for their ability to see different perspectives.

“By creating more space for public displays of Haida values, we will see Yahguudang extended and through that the creation of increased respect for our highly esteemed members, women and LGBTQQIA2S+ community,” Edgars stated.

Haida principles such as respect for all people will be used to guide the design and usage of the future site.

The overall goals of this national initiative are to create cultural spaces where Indigenous women, girls and LGBTQQIA2S+ individuals can access culture, language and strengthen their identities. Investing in cultural spaces is crucial to addressing the root causes of violence against Indigenous women, girls, and LGBTQQIA2S+ individuals, and to responding to Call for Justice 2.3.

The National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls Call to Justice 2.3 specifically called on governments to ensure that all Indigenous women, girls and LGBTQQIA2S+ people are provided safe, no-barrier, permanent and meaningful access to their cultures and languages in order to restore, reclaim and revitalize their cultures and identities.

“With the construction of the iit’l gudaad – We Remember Haida Heritage Plaza, Haida citizens will tell their stories in their own language using symbols and monuments that are meaningful to them,” Miller stated.

To date, 33 projects have been selected to benefit from the CSICP funding stream, out of more than 340 applications submitted in 2021.

READ MORE: Old Massett’s pride celebration brought people together

READ MORE: Two Haida Gwaii communities receive more than $950K for 3 projects

 Kaitlyn Bailey | Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
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