Haida independence subject of recent assembly

  • Nov. 24, 2008 6:00 a.m.

The Haida House of Assembly November 18 was a turning point according to CHN vice-president Arnie Bellis, and a success, according to CHN president Guujaaw. The assembly was called to deal with one issue and one issue only, that of corporate structure, and Guujaaw said there was “very good dialogue and examination of what was put forward.” “We are proceeding on the right track,” he said, (although) “there are a lot of details, a lot of angles we have to look at.” The assembly was looking at its corporate model or structure with a view to playing a larger role in the islands economy by getting involved in major industries such as forestry, electricity generation and the fishery. It comes shortly after a proposal to use Gwaii Forest money to buy TFL 39 from Western Forest Products (see separate story) although Guujaaw says they “didn’t get into the specifics of any particular project” at the meeting.Arnie Bellis, vice president of the CHN, told the Observer Friday the assembly was about “Haida independence” and said the meeting represented a milestone and a turning point.”It was a very positive day. We had some very constructive questions,” he said, “We will continue the work.”Presented at the meeting was a Harvard study looking at the success and failures of businesses on reservations across North America. Guujaaw said there are mainly two factors involved, clearly separating politics and business and ensuring that the business is a good cultural match for the native group. “So the organization we are looking at now would be arms length from all the councils, this is the main Nation’s business,” he said, although he indicated there would be good economic opportunities for the band councils and individuals. Guujaaw also said the Haida could operate some projects on their own, or in joint ventures with other partners and/or investors. He says now the discussion will continue in smaller groups which will bring it back to the CHN’s quarterly meetings. “We won’t push it beyond the comfort level of the people,” he said.