A Council of the Haida Nation (CHN) release is reminding “a select few” fishing lodges that the islands remain closed to non-essential visitors, one day before the Queen Charlotte Lodge (QCL) has announced it will reopen despite the ongoing state of emergency.
The release on July 9 commended the Langara Island Lodge, Peregrine Lodge, Naden Lodge and Queen Charlotte Safaris for choosing to cease their operations for the year amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Respecting Haida authority and jurisdiction, many local and off-island businesses and operations are abiding by the Haida Gwaii [state of emergency],” the release said.
However, the release also acknowledged that there are “a select few sport fishing lodges planning to resume service this year.”
“The Haida Nation’s current state of emergency does not permit any non-essential travel to Haida Gwaii, including the operation of fishing lodges, at this time,” the release said.
The release did not name any of the “select few” lodges, however, it closely followed an incident at sea over the weekend involving the chief councillor for the Old Massett Village Council (OMVC), QCL boats and others, as well as a release from QCL president, Paul Clough.
OMVC Chief Councillor Duffy Edgars told the Observer that community members in roughly 10 boats peacefully delivered a letter about the state of emergency to QCL on Saturday (July 4). Shortly after, Edgars said an estimated 40 QCL boats operated unsafely in their vicinity.
Clough’s release the next day, on Sunday (July 5), said the QCL boats were harassed by a clearly marked CHN boat and others, and that the incident had been reported to the RCMP. He also announced that the lodge would be reopening on July 10 despite the CHN emergency measures.
In the July 9 release, Haida Nation President Gaagwiis Jason Alsop said the CHN would be “upholding the emergency measures in place to protect our communities,” though he did not go into detail about their plans to do so.
In a video update on July 8, however, Alsop did ask for support from friends, neighbours and allies in upholding Haida Nation jurisdiction.
“To those businesses that are concerned and pushing to open before the Haida Nation and Haida Gwaii is ready, we once again ask you to abide by our current state of emergency measures, and to respect the authority and jurisdiction of Haida Nation and the wishes of the people of Haida Gwaii,” Alsop said.
“For those who are pushing against our jurisdiction, we are asing for the support of our friends, our neighbours and allies, in upholding the Haida Nation jurisdiction.”
While donning a “good vibes” T-shirt, he said the CHN is asking for time to go through processes and prepare to emerge from the state of lockdown, “to welcome visitors and people back to Haida Gwaii in a good way with good vibes and good times.”
“We are not there yet, so all we’re asking for is your respect of that and that you can understand where we are coming from, that this is connected to our history and the historical traumas of colonization of past epidemics and pandemics, and we are working through this, but we need your support,” he said.
The Observer has reached out to the CHN for comment.
On June 26, the CHN confirmed it had commenced a three-week “risk assessment and consultation period” together with all island communities, following the announcement on June 24 by Premier John Horgan and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry that phase three of the provincial restart plan was ready.
Phase three of the plan allows for the opening of resorts and hotels as well as in-province travel, and the CHN said the local buffer of three weeks will allow for the review of similar changes for Haida Gwaii.
The CHN state of emergency was enacted on March 23.
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