Old Massett resident Raven Ann Potschka says some tourists do not seem to be heeding a Council of the Haida Nation travel advisory released on Wed, March 18, 2020 asking non-residents to stay away from Haida Gwaii amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (Raven Ann Potschka/Facebook photo)

‘Lots of new faces’: Tourists still visiting Haida Gwaii despite Haida Nation COVID-19 advisory

Haida Nation’s council has urged all leisure travellers to limit spread of virus by staying home

The Council of the Haida Nation is asking non-residents of Haida Gwaii to avoid travel to the islands amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a release last Wednesday, the CHN said it was discouraging all non-resident travel to the islands “for the time being.”

“This decision was made after careful consideration and discussion with village councils and municipalities, and will not impact essential services to island citizens or those returning home,” the release said.

“Given our culture, remote geography and limited health-care resources, we have made this critical decision to protect island citizens, and especially our cherished elders, language speakers and knowledge holders.”

ALSO READ: Haida Gwaii doctors issue urgent appeal for precaution amid COVID-19 pandemic

The CHN travel advisory was announced the same day Haida Gwaii physicians released a joint statement, urging islanders to take precautions against the spread of COVID-19.

“If we let the virus spread the way it has in other places, we would expect well over 400 people here to be sick enough to need to be in hospital,” the physicians said.

To help prevent the disease from overwhelming the islands’ medical resources, the physicians said “the most important thing you can do is stay at home and limit visitors.”

ALSO READ: Air Canada to suspend flights to all Northwest airports except Terrace

ALSO READ: Pacific Coastal Airlines temporarily suspending operations due to COVID-19 outbreak

However, Old Massett resident Raven Ann Potschka said some tourists have not been heeding the advisory.

Potschka operates the Ladybird Boutique and said she was surprised to see people from Vancouver browsing last week.

“That was my first, initial shock,” she said, adding that she later ran into people from Prince Rupert at a local food truck. “It’s not really appropriate for people to be doing pleasure-travelling when there’s an international pandemic. It’s really disrespectful and selfish.”

ALSO READ: BC Ferries shuts down food service on northern routes

Air Canada flights from Vancouver to Skidegate will temporarily cease on March 23 and Pacific Coastal Airlines flights from Vancouver to Masset will do the same March 24, however, BC Ferries service is operating as scheduled.

BC Ferries spokesperson Deborah Marshall said staff announced the CHN travel advisory on the ferry arriving in Skidegate on March 19 and posted it at the terminal, as well as at the terminal in Prince Rupert.

While Marshall said one passenger aboard the March 19 sailing decided to deboard and reboard the ferry to travel back to Prince Rupert, BC Ferries hasn’t been asked to restrict travel to the islands.

“At this point we’re contracted to provide ferry service by the provincial government and we are following their recommendation,” she said on Friday.

ALSO READ: B.C. declares state of emergency, recalling legislature for COVID-19

Potschka said there needs to be more pressure on people to take the pandemic and the CHN travel advisory seriously.

“Jennifer Rice has to say that there is a travel ban,” she said, speaking of the North Coast MLA. “People just need to go home.”

ALSO READ: B.C. reports 3 new COVID-19 deaths but 100 people have recovered, Henry says

When contacted by the Observer about the possibility of a travel ban, Rice said the CHN advisory to non-residents to avoid travel to Haida Gwaii should be taken “very seriously.”

“All levels of government have been clear that staying home, practicing physical distancing and self-isolating if required are important parts of what will keep our communities safe through this situation, and that is exactly what we should all be doing,” Rice said. “Indigenous communities, particularly in remote areas, face unique circumstances with regard to the spread of COVID-19.”

Rice added that her team is working with the Ministry of Health, the First Nations Health Authority, Emergency Management BC and Indigenous Services Canada to identify needs and gaps, to ensure Indigenous communities are supported in managing any outbreaks that may occur.


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter


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


Photo provided by Pacific Coastal Airlines Pacific Coastal Airlines is temporarily suspending operations, including its flight into Masset,, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Comments are closed

Just Posted

Haida Gwaii residents to be allowed conditional entry to Gwaii Haanas next month

Gwaii Haanas will reopen Aug. 1 to people who ‘attest to a set of specific conditions’ set out by CHN

Following incident at sea, fishing lodge says it will reopen despite Haida travel ban

QCL reopens July 10, says president; Haida chief councillor describes ‘dangerous’ boating encounter

More than $1.2 million announced for Masset water treatment plant upgrades

Residents of Masset, Old Massett to benefit from $1,241,500 in joint provincial-federal funding

From the archives of the Haida Gwaii Observer

50 YEARS AGO (1970): Highways Minister Wesley Black visited the islands and… Continue reading

On the Wing: Interpretation of the natural world

By Margo Hearne It’s summer on Haida Gwaii. A quieter time for… Continue reading

B.C. records 31 new cases, six deaths over three days due to COVID-19

There are 166 active cases in B.C., 16 people in hospital

Canadians with disabilities disproportionately hit by COVID-19 pandemic

More than four out of 10 British Columbians aged 70 and up have various disabilities

Camping offers a great pandemic escape, for less money than you might think

But for many first-timers, knowing what to bring can be a challenge

Turbulence in Canadian opinion on airlines COVID-19 response: poll

Thousands of people have beseeched Transport Minister Marc Garneau to compel airlines to issue refunds,

Police issue warning after baby comes across suspected drugs in Kamloops park

The 11-month-old girl’s mother posted photos on social media showing a small plastic bag containing a purple substance

Collision results in train derailment just east of Golden

The derailment occurred Sunday night, according to a statement from CP

Lower Mainland woman says llama farming neighbour shot her 11-month-old pup

Young dog was on owner’s Maple Ridge property when it was killed on June 21

Most Read