FILE - Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve, National Marine Conservation Area Reserve, and Haida Heritage Site. (Parks Canada/file)

Reopening of Gwaii Haanas delayed until 2021

Archipelago Management Board says ‘Haida traditional use of the area may continue’

The reopening of Gwaii Haanas has been delayed until next year, according to an Aug. 14 update shared by the Village of Port Clements.

The update from Archipelago Management Board (AMB) co-chairs Cindy Boyko and Ernie Gladstone said the board had made the decision to close the National Park Reserve, National Marine Conservation Area Reserve and Haida Heritage Site for the remainder of 2020 “with yahguudang respect for the direction from the Haida Nation and local authorities.”

“The health and safety of the Haida Gwaii Watchmen, our visitors, and Gwaii Haanas employees are of the utmost importance to the AMB,” the update said.

The Haida Gwaii Watchmen will continue work for the remainder of the summer and “Haida traditional use of the area may continue.”

“Haida citizens are encouraged to consult the Council of the Haida Nation state of emergency measures before travelling to Gwaii Haanas,” it said.

Gwaii Haanas previously shared a letter on July 6 that said it would reopen on Aug. 1 to people who met certain conditions set out by the Council of the Haida Nation, including signing attestation forms. However, that was before the first case of COVID-19 was reported on the islands on July 17.

Alyssa Salloway, visitor experience manager for Gwaii Haanas, told the Observer the decision to keep Gwaii Haanas closed for the remainder of 2020 “was not made lightly.”

“The AMB will continue to work collaboratively with local partners and follow the advice of public health experts, and take steps to support the Government of Canada and Council of the Haida Nation’s efforts to limit the spread of COVID-19,” Salloway said in an email.

The AMB governs the planning, operations and management of Gwaii Haanas and is made up of an equal number of members representing the Government of Canada and the Haida Nation. Parks Canada represented Canada prior to the signing of the Gwaii Haanas Marine Agreement in 2010, and in 2011 Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) joined this cooperative management board.

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