Historic agreement signed between Province, Haida

  • Dec. 11, 2009 4:00 p.m.

by Alex Rinfret–Haida Nation president Guujaaw and BC Premier Gordon Campbell signed an agreement Friday morning in Vancouver described as historic, remarkable and unique. The reconciliation protocol, known as Kunst’aa guu – Kunst’aayah, meaning “the beginning”, gives the Haida Nation shared decision-making over resources on the islands, $10-million for buying forest tenures here, its own forest tenure of 120,000 cubic metres, and $3.2-million for implementing the agreement. The province also agreed to rename the islands “Haida Gwaii”. “This protocol is unique to the Haida, unlike any we have ever negotiated before,” Mr. Campbell told a large group assembled at the Fairmont Waterfront Hotel for the signing ceremony. “This is a road map to lasting reconciliation between the province of BC and the Haida Nation… It is a beginning, the beginning of a journey that will last for centuries.” Guujaaw said the agreement was years in the making, but has ended up protecting everything the Haida Nation has been fighting for: the land, the cedar, the creeks, the wildlife and the birds, among other values. “There will be logging and it will be done in a different way,” Guujaaw said. “It will be more respectful of the wildlife and culture.” He also said it seems the Haida Nation is running out of things to fight about, but then recalled Enbridge and its plan to build a pipeline to Kitimat which will result in hundreds of huge oil tankers cruising north coast waters. Chief Iljuwaas, who witnessed the signing, thanked Mr. Campbell for what he has done for the Haida people and for all aboriginal people in BC, and gave the Premier a Haida name, meaning “the person who leads the people of BC”. “I never thought I would be here long enough to witness what is happening here today,” Chief Iljuwaas said. Through the protocol, the province and the Haida also agreed to pursue other revenue-sharing opportunities, to share carbon offsets, and to work towards strengthening the relationship between the environment, social well-bring and economic development.