By Mariah McCooey-“This is a new way of doing things,” Council of the Haida Nation president Guujaaw told a large crowd in Skidegate Monday night, “an awesome step forward.”
Guujaaw spoke about the “rumours” of actions on the islands, in the form of blockades, which began Monday. Although the CHN is not officially sanctioning any protests, there was undoubtedly a lot of organizing happening at the meeting.
There are a lot of “rumours” going around, said Guujaaw with a wink, many of which are not rumours at all. A log barge that was turned around. Blockades, both at the Queen Charlotte dryland sort and at the Yakoun Main on the way to Juskatla.
But he was careful to say that if anyone does anything that borders on breaking any laws, they have to do it on their own conscience.
“However,” he added, “it looks like things are coming to a grinding halt around here.”
Port Clements mayor Dale Lore also addressed the crowd, saying that any actions that happen “have to come from a moral high ground,” and decisions must be made on an individual basis.
“Now go out there and be individuals; together,” he said.
The main goal of the blockades is to stop the transfer of Weyerhaeuser’s Tree Farm Licence, which is in the process of being sold without any consultation with the Haida Nation, despite the Supreme Court of Canada’s decision last year that makes meaningful consultation obligatory.
“We still have an opportunity to create a sustainable economy,” said Guujaaw to the packed community hall, “but that opportunity is fading away. If we let this transfer go through, it will fade away completely.”
The sale has already been almost finalized, he added, but there is one thing that would render it invalid, and that is if the timber were no longer available. “If there was a fire, for example,” he said. Or a major blockade.
The province has given up their authority to manage the forests, he said, “they are without any teeth.” As far as the CHN is concerned, the forestry tenures are flawed anyway, given out by illegitimate governments.
At the end of the meeting, several people stood up to address the crowd. Chief Skidegate, Dempsey Collinson thanked Port Clements for its support, and said that he was “looking forward to the rumours we’ve been hearing about.”
Another speaker stood up and addressed the crowd, saying that despite all the differences of everyone in there, each one has something in common. “All these people love Haida Gwaii,” she said, “and they’ll do anything to keep it the way it is.”
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