During the Council of the Haida Nation Haida Gwaii Talks Coronavirus webinar on Monday, April 27, 2020, Old Massett Adult Day Program coordinator Christopher Horner said they were sending almost 90 seed packages out local families. (Chris Horner/Submitted photo)

Haida Nation webinar highlights importance of harvesting, growing local food

Guests discussed food security of local grocery stores, sustainability initiatives, gardening tips

The Council of the Haida Nation (CHN) hosted a fourth Haida Gwaii Talks Coronavirus webinar on April 27, with Nika Collison moderating discussion about what food sovereignty means on the islands.

The guests who participated in the webinar were Dr. Gordon Horner, chief of staff at the Haida Gwaii Hospital in Queen Charlotte, CHN vice president Trevor Russ, Christopher Horner, coordinator of the Adult Day Program in Old Massett, and Kevin Brown, climate action coordinator for the Old Massett Village Council (OMVC).

Gordon kicked off the discussion portion of the webinar with a brief medical update.

ALSO READ: ‘Focus on prevention’: Haida Nation webinar emphasizes avoidance of a COVID-19 outbreak

“Locally, fortunately we’re not inundated,” he said of COVID-19 cases, adding “there’s a bit of a false sense of security around that.”

Preventative practices such as social and physical distancing still need to be followed, he said, because “any one of us at any time could be carrying the virus” even without symptoms, including residents returning from medical appointments off-island.

Collison then asked Russ why local food is important.

Russ said the discussion was interesting following the action in Skidegate earlier that day, when people rallied at a checkpoint set up at the Haida Heritage Centre to send any visitors arriving on the ferry from Prince Rupert back to the terminal.

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

“The talk of [the ferry] possibly not coming ashore if we didn’t move the line back a little bit, I think that really highlights … if we ever lose that service it’s going to be difficult for many people locally to get their essentials,” he said, since the ferry was also carrying containers of food to stock island grocery stores.

Russ also said he had previously discussed the possibility of food insecurity at local grocery stores during the COVID-19 pandemic with CHN president Gaagwiis Jason Alsop.

“We got together a bit of a working group,” he said, adding that they had some Gwaii Trust money set aside to help with community gardens and plant more community fruit trees like the Skidegate Band Council did last year.

ALSO READ: B.C. First Nations’ intake of essential nutrients to drop by 31 per cent: study

Christopher then gave a presentation that included images from the greenhouse he built in Old Massett, which has been supplying the Local Food to School living pantry program he coordinates out of the Adult Day Program building.

He said the OMVC recently invested in four community gardens, including the expansion of the Adult Day Program garden and greenhouse, expanding a potato bed at the Gudangaay Tlaats’gaa Naay Secondary school, and creating two new gardens, at St. John’s Anglican Church and the apartment building in New Town.

He also said they were sending almost 90 seed packages out to families through local maternal and child health programming.

“It’s starting a little movement and sharing resources with each other,” he said.

ALSO READ: Lower speed limit south of Masset advocated

Brown updated viewers on the community energy emissions plan he is working on for the OMVC and noted that Old Massett has a biomass heating system — a type of system that relies on plant or animal material for energy production — “that is running at 50 per cent capacity.”

He said he has been researching greenhouse hydroponics as a method to utilize hot water from the biomass heating system, which in turn has introduced him more to the “green thumb community.”

He also said he is drawn to the issue of food security because the number of people accessing the food bank in Old Massett is high and “nears unemployment.”

ALSO READ: Water ways: Looking at renewable energy on Haida Gwaii

The webinar discussion ended with Christopher giving advice about starting, planting and caring for produce, and Collison said more webinars will focus on food sustainability in the future.

ALSO READ: ‘How will Haida Gwaii adapt?’: Third Haida Nation webinar focuses on local economy

ALSO READ: Second Haida Nation webinar centres on mental health, well-being amid COVID-19

Do you have something to add to this story or something else we should report on? Email:

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Coronavirusfood securitySkidegate

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


Just Posted

Cullen confirmed as B.C. NDP candidate for Stikine despite party’s equity policy

Former Tahltan Central Government President Annita McPhee said the process made her feel “abused”

Citing stability, B.C. Premier calls snap election for Oct. 24

John Horgan meets with Lieutenant Governor to request vote

BC Timber Sales’ operations on the North Island and Central Coast to be audited

The Forest Practices Board randomly chose the region to check for compliance to legislation

BC Ferries Sailing Cancellations

Prince Rupert - Haida Gwaii - Northern Adventure

Single-engine aircraft crashes near Telkwa

Two occupants of the plane sustained minor injuries and were transported to hospital

B.C. reports 91 new cases as officials remain worried over ‘clusters of COVID-19

There have now been a total of 8,395 cases in B.C. since the pandemic began

Canada’s active COVID-19 cases top 10,000 as daily new cases triple over the past month

Dr. Tam repeated her warning to young people, who have made up the majority of recent cases

First 8 months of fatal overdoses in B.C. have now exceeded 2019 death toll

Nine people died every two days in August, BC Coroners Service data shows

Liberal effort to reset policy agenda panned by rivals as too much talk, not action

Trudeau said it’s ‘all too likely’ families won’t be able to gather for Thanksgiving next month

‘Show us the money’ for cannabis, local governments tell B.C.

Municipal tax, transit revenues falling as costs rise

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

‘It’s a boy’: Southern Resident killer whale calf born to J Pod is healthy, researchers say

J35 had previously done a ‘Tour of Grief,’ carrying her dead calf for 17 days

People ‘disgusted’ by COVID-19 election call, B.C. Liberal leader says

Andrew Wilkinson speaks to municipal leaders from Victoria

Horgan blasts B.C. Greens for refusing youth overdose detention

Lack of support key to B.C. election call, NDP leader says

Most Read