Port wants assurance from CHN to help villagers resume work

  • May. 4, 2005 6:00 p.m.

By Alex Rinfret–Port Clements is asking the Council of the Haida Nation to make a written commitment to Weyerhaeuser that its barges will not be blockaded, so that village residents can get back to work.
Right now, Weyerhaeuser doesn’t want to move wood because it’s concerned its barges won’t be able to get in or out, and that means there’s no work for contractor Edwards and Associates, councillor Paul Waring said at Monday night’s council meeting (May 2).
“Weyerhaeuser is a little leery about bringing up a barge to get our people back to work,” Mr. Waring said. “I believe the Haida were asked for a letter that they wouldn’t stop the barge.”
Mayor Dale Lore said his understanding was that Weyerhaeuser had been told it could barge, but Larry Brealey, one of five members of the public who attended the meeting, said he’d been told the company has sent three communiques and one letter to the CHN on the issue, with no response.
Mr. Waring said it was vital for Port to do anything it can to help Edwards get back to work, raising the possibility that the contractor may be in financial difficulty due to the protest action which began in mid-March.
“We could be in danger of losing our major employer and if he goes under where does that leave the people who work for him?” he asked. “If there’s anything we could do, like chatting to the CHN…”
After some discussion, councillor Lisa Gyorgy made a motion that council write a letter to the CHN asking it to give Weyerhaeuser a written assurance that barges can resume. The motion was approved.
Meanwhile, it looks like the village’s annual two-day Canada Days celebration may be in jeopardy.
Ms Gyorgy said she has been trying as hard as she can to get volunteers interested, but it’s proving more difficult this year.
“I’ve talked to a number of people who don’t want to be involved this year who have been major contributors,” she said. “It’s not just burnout… it’s all about a divided community.”
Ms Gyorgy said some people have told her they are “boycotting” the event, which has always been held on the weekend closest to the July 1 holiday. Only a handful of people with children are at all interested, she said.
“The fishing derby – it’s a no-go unless I do it,” she said. “The parade – nobody’s interested, nobody wants to put floats in the village of Port Clements parade.”
Councillor Gerry Johnson, a long-time Canada Days volunteer, said the situation will only get worse as long as Port keeps losing jobs and people.
The next Canada Days organizing meeting will be held Wednesday, May 11 at 7 pm at the village office. Ms Gyorgy appealed to anyone who is interested in helping to please show up.