By Heidi Bevington and Mariah McCooey-About 40 people are blockading the road to Juskatla and say they will stay there until the provincial government consults with the Haida Nation about the sale of Weyerhaeuser Co. Ltd to Brascan Corp.
“We’re here as long as it takes,” said Jaalen Edenshaw Tuesday morning (March 22). “We won the court ruling that says the government has to consult. Since then the government has gotten rid of their duty.”
The blockade is located at the 6K intersection, about 10 minutes out of Port Clements. The protesters have a fire burning and a car blocking the road, and there is a camp nearby. Volunteers are using the Port community hall to prepare food for the blockaders.
The mood on the line was cheerful, although protesters said it had been a cold night.
A second blockade was set up Tuesday morning at the Queen Charlotte dryland sort, and Juskatla protester Robin Brown said there is a flotilla of boats in Masset Inlet to blockade any log barges.
“This blockade is about respect,” Mr. Brown said. “It’s been a long time. We’re standing up for our rights.”
Mr. Brown recalled the Lyell Island protest of 1985 which led to the creation of Gwaii Haanas national park, and said this time around they are not trying to create a park.
He said the protesters are not trying to stop logging on the islands, but to make the provincial government consult with the Haida Nation.
Haida Nation vice-president Arnie Bellis said consultation is a step towards title and rights, and he said the issues that led to this protest affect all of us.
“It’s a BC thing. It’s not a Haida thing,” he said. “At what point does the general population of the province stand up and say, ‘enough is enough. If you’re treating the Haidas like this what are you doing to us?’ If people stay on the fence they’ll get what’s coming to them from the government.”
The Council of the Haida Nation has also appealed to the governor-general of Canada, Adrienne Clarkson, to intervene in this matter. (See letter from Guujaaw on page x)
Meanwhile more than 30 people blockaded the Queen Charlotte dryland sort Tuesday morning (March 22), starting at sunrise.
Despite the early morning chill, people were in a good mood, laughing and talking.
“Enough is enough” read one of the handpainted signs. Large, red Haida Nation flags, along with the cars’ four-way flashers and safety vests made for a striking scene, as the early morning sunshine streamed through smoke from a campfire.
Although regular vehicles were let through, two logging company pickups were turned around and at least one did a U-turn before even approaching the line of people.
At a meeting Monday night in Skidegate, Haida Nation president Guujaaw told a large crowd of supporters that the action marks “a new way of doing thingsÂ… an awesome step forward.”
The Haida Nation is not officially sanctioning any of the protests.
“However,” Guujaaw said, “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 “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 covers a quarter of Graham Island), which is in the process of being sold without any consultation with the Haida Nation, despite the Supreme Court of Canada’s decision that consultation is required.
“We still have an opportunity to create a sustainable economy,” Guujaaw said, “but that opportunity is fading away. If we let this transfer go through, it will fade away completely.”
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