Steelworkers share concerns about provincial forest policies

  • Apr. 8, 2005 6:00 p.m.

By Alex Rinfret-The Steelworkers are appealing to Council of the Haida Nation president Guujaaw to remove the blockades which have prevented more than 100 union members from working since March 22.
Local 2171 president Darrel Wong said he sent a letter to Guujaaw shortly after the checkpoints went up, and had a brief meeting with him on the islands earlier this month.
The Steelworkers do share many concerns with the Haida Nation about provincial government policies and Weyerhaeuser itself, Mr. Wong told the Observer Friday, but stopping people from working is not the way to solve the issue.
“This is a difficult thing for families and at the end of the day, I don’t think it’s fair,” Mr. Wong said, adding that Guujaaw “understands our concerns. His comment back is a fair number of people on the islands don’t have work.”
Mr. Wong said the Steelworkers, like the CHN, are opposed to most of the provincial government’s changes to forest policy, like the removal of cut control and the privatization of private lands within Tree Farm Licences.
He said the union also agrees that the provincial government clearly has a responsibility to meet with First Nations and to the proper process of consultation, as outlined in court decisions.
On the Weyerhaeuser front, the huge American-based corporation is “a lousy corporate citizen” which has caused never-ending problems for the Steelworkers since it bought MacMillan Bloedel in 1999, Mr. Wong said.
The Steelworkers share many islanders’ concerns about increasing mechanization in the forest industry and helicopter logging methods being used when not necessary, he said.
“On all of those issues we’ve got similar positions,” he said.
Mr. Wong met with many of the workers affected by the blockade in Port Clements March 31. He said reactions to the work stoppage ranged, but there was a general consensus that the Haida Nation has a legitimate claim to title.
“There were people that were furious, there were people onside and supporting the Haida, and there were people who were afraid,” he said.
Many of the union members have had little work recently and were looking forward to going back when the checkpoints went up, he said. Workers are eligible to receive employment insurance, he said, but there’s a dramatic difference between EI and a regular paycheque.
“There’s a huge amount of frustration,” he said. “There’s a lot of issues here that all need to be addressed.”

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

Just Posted

VIDEO: Masset Dance Troupe presents beachfront ‘promenade performance’

Troupe performed ‘A Mid Summer Day’s Dream’ for family, friends on July 4 and 5

UPDATE: Masset anti-racism rally postponed

The Yahk’ii event, which means ‘truth’ in Haida, will be rescheduled at a later date

Haida matriarchs occupy ancient villages as fishing lodges reopen to visitors

‘Daughters of the rivers’ say occupation follows two fishing lodges reopening without Haida consent

Registration open for first-annual ‘NextIslandpreneur’ student business competition

Competition offers mentors, iPads, seed money, cash prizes to young entrepreneurs on Haida Gwaii

Haida Nation reminds ‘select few’ fishing lodges that Haida Gwaii is closed to non-essential travel

‘Upholding Haida law amid COVID-19’ release comes one day before Queen Charlotte Lodge plans to reopen

B.C. sees 25 new COVID-19 cases, community exposure tracked

One death, outbreaks remain in two long-term care facilities

BREAKING: Amber Alert for two Quebec girls cancelled after bodies found

Romy Carpentier, 6, Norah Carpentier, 11, and their father, Martin Carpentier, missing since Wednesday

Bringing support to Indigenous students and communities, while fulfilling a dream

Mitacs is a nonprofit organization that operates research and training programs

B.C. man prepares to be first to receive double-hand transplant in Canada

After the surgery, transplant patients face a long recovery

Grocers appear before MPs to explain decision to cut pandemic pay

Executives from three of Canada’s largest grocery chains have defended their decision to end temporary wage increases

Northern B.C. First Nations call for reversal of grizzly bear hunting ban

Growing grizzly populations have led to fewer ungulates and increased fear of attacks says Chad Day

RCMP ‘disappointed’ by talk that race a factor in quiet Rideau Hall arrest

Corey Hurren, who is from Manitoba, is facing 22 charges

NHL’s Canadian hubs offer little economic benefit, but morale boost is valuable: experts

Games are slated to start Aug. 1 with six Canadian teams qualifying for the 24-team resumption of play

‘Made in the Cowichan Valley’ coming to a wine bottle near you

Cowichan Valley has the honour of being the first sub-GI outside of the Okanagan

Most Read