Sandspit signs Protocol Agreement, billed as “an important day for Haida Gwaii”

  • Apr. 18, 2008 10:00 a.m.

by Jeff King–IIt took five years, meeting after meeting after meeting, the activism of one resident who circulated a petition, then the firm will of the regional district director, but Sandspit has now signed the Protocol Agreement, finally bringing it in line with all the other islands’ communities. It happened Thursday evening (April 17) in the Sandspit community hall, packed with Sandspit residents and islanders from all other communities.”Today is an important day on Haida Gwaii. All the communities are united with one voice,” Sandspit’s Regional district director Travis Glasman said. “(We can now) tell the government of Canada they are dealing with the people of Haida Gwaii, that we will not entertain an attempt to divide us.””What is done here today is only a beginning,” he said, “It is with great pride that I thank the people of Sandspit who took this agreement very seriouslyMr. Glasman then praised Nance Robins for having the courage and conviction to follow through on her beliefs by circulating a petition in favour of looking at the agreement again.”This is a proud day. This is a good day,” he said.Council of the Haida Nation president Guujaaw then spoke.”I’d like to thank Nancy for doing all the work Travis should have done,” he said, alluding to Ms Robbins’ petition.We are glad that-I’m not going to say that Sandspit finally capitulated, I’m not going to say anything crazy like that,” he said, then adding that the agreement is not like any other.”It doesn’t rely on anybody but ourselves to make this work. But we know we can do it,” he said.”Where we do have a common objective, it is going to be a whole lot easier with everybody working together.”Masset Mayor Barry Pagescongratulated Sandspit, and said when the protocol agreement first came out, Sandspit set up a committee to look at it.”We incorporated a lot of that discussion. It was a big help for us in coming up with what we came up with,” Mr. Pages said. He also called Travis Glasman “a true leader” and said the agreement “is not a big scary thing that some people like to present it (as).”Queen Charlotte Mayor Carol Kulesha was next. She called Mr. Glasman “a man of vision” and said the agreement is about working together and finding the future together.Skidegate Band Councillor James Cowpar congratulated one and all on behalf of the band council.”Now that you have signed, you can look across the water with an open mind and an open heart. We can all work together,” he said.CHN Vice-President Arnie Bellis said the agreement was negotiated in the Observer as much as anywhere, alluding to lively letters we’ve had recently, along with a number of articles.He also said islanders have to learn to understand each other, and that he has learned to appreciate people with different opinions. “Differences of opinion are (going to occur). It’s how we use (the difference)” Mr. Bellis said.He then acknowledged “the delegation from Canada”, which included Prince Rupert Mayor Herb Pond. “It’s good to see foreigners on Haida Gwaii, Mr. Bellis said, “I am looking forward to a fruitful discussion.” Warren Foster, Sandspit’s rep on the Gwaii Trust said “Signing the protocol agreement is a step beyond (past difficulties). On both sides we’ve had to learn respect,” he said.”The protocol committees have every opportunity to do on a broader scale what we have been doing successfully on the Gwaii Trust,” he said, “Tonight, Sandspit has joined in this process and collectively we will move again. We need a united voice. That will happen through this signing.”Prince Rupert Mayor Herb Pond called it an exciting day and likened the agreement to a marriage licence.”It’s all about the relationship. It’s all about how to work together to some common purposes,” he said, “We are just happy to be here at this marriage feast, Travis and Guujaaw.” That brought a few chuckles. The evening continued with a reading of the agreement by the Junior Rangers, dinner, then the usual exit for the ferry for those not living in Sandspit. The Protocol Agreement, a blue print for islanders to work together, was first proposed by the CHN in the winter of 2002. Port Clements and Masset signed in March 2004, with Area ‘D’ signing in February 2006 followed by Queen Charlotte in November 2006. As of April 17, 2008, all communities are in accord and have signed. “What are we going to find to disagree about now” one wag said just as the ink was drying.

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