by Alyssa King and Heidi Bevington
Christmas Eve 2002 left Port Clements and Tlell in the dark. A power outage due to southeast winds gusting up to 100 km an hour swept over the islands during Christmas 2002. BC Hydro said some residents lost power for close to 30 hours.
Teachers withdrew their extra-curricular activities or activities did not fall within their “normal instruction day” on January 7 as part of a province wide teacher job action plan.
QCSS students Tayu Peerless, Jeff Coles, Roi Yalte, Jenn Danyk and Kristin Bylholt were unhappy with the results and said the biggest problem was that their school sport teams would be negatively impacted.
Weyerhaeuser proposed logging part of the Tlell watershed. The Ministry of Forests would decide within the week whether to allow the watershed to be logged. Guujaaw, President of the Council of the Haida Nation, said “Weyerhaeuser made a commitment to get away from clear-cutting by 2002 we can probably support some degree of eco-forestry, but this is old style M&B clear-cutting that even the industry can’t defend.”
The Takakia Lake power plan was given a final no by the province. The plan to divert water from Takakia Lake to neighbouring Moresby Lake was denied by The Ministry of Sustainable Resource two and a half years after a public hearing and nine years after the license was applied for. The public hearings indicated Takakia is significant in Haida history and culture and is home to several rare lichens dependant on the lake for survival.
The islands first New Years Baby was born January 22 to parents Jason Fox and Alison Waldie. The eight pound newborn, a baby boy (unnamed at press time) was born in the QCI General Hospital.
On January 30, Old Massett council met with community members and spoke of building a huge cultural complex between Masset and Old Massett on a piece of land known as “parcel C”. The proposed development consists of three longhouses, a museum, cultural center, a community feast house and 5 to10 offices for council and small businesses. Hereditary Chief Reynold Russ said the area needs a project to keep youth working in the area once they have been educated and “this is a wonderful project.”
The Valentines Day paper boasted a close win for islands basketball teams at the All Native Tournament in Prince Rupert the week before. The Massett Senior Guardians and the Skidegate Intermediates both took second place in their respective games. Coaches Arnie Bellis and Buck Yeomans both stated that their teams had the handsomest teams there!
Energy companies Uniterre and ABB signed a joint agreement (Feb.19) to propose Canada’s largest wind farm – right here, on the islands by 2004. The huge wind farm – 350 windmills in the ocean off the east coast of Rose Spit – will need government approval.
Government cutbacks came as a “devastating blow” to the Haida Gwaii Legal Society says lawyer Susie Gray. By August 31, the cuts will affect seven regional centers and will close all legal aid offices in BC.
Haida win court ruling. On February 27 the BC Court of Appeal unanimously ruled that the province and Weyerhaeueser had a duty to consult and negotiate with the Haida people before Tree Farm Licence 39 was transferred in 1999 from MacMillan-Bloedel.
The Liberal government won’t pay for the Balance Rock Hospital, says regional district director Bruce Ives.
The Haida lawsuit over title to the islands was launched in BC Supreme Court March 6. CHN President Guujaaw, Vice-President Gilbert Parnell and hereditary chiefs including Reynold Russ attended. “The Haida Nation is not taking anything away from anyoneÂ…The Indian people were the first to be in Canada. This is our land, our land to keep,” Mr. Russ said.
Islands population drops, says the latest census. Less than 5,000 of us left. The biggest drop was in Masset which went from 1,293 in 1996 to 926 in 2002. However, the Skidegate population has grown significantly and there are slight increases in the number of people living in Old Massett and rural Graham Island.
Island Tourism Strategy was discussed at a public meeting held in Port Clements on March 23. 19 volunteers from every community met and continued working on a “heritage tourism strategy. Robert Dudoward applauded their work and Strategist Bob Sandford said a “tourism tsunami is coming.”
The school board was facing tough decisions when public meetings on budget choices were to run all week. The annual public budget meetings started on April 8 and budget cutbacks of $1.5-million over the next three years were on the agenda.
School District #50 presented four options and asked for community input. The options as stated by the Secretary Treasurer Len Ibbs were as follows: 1. Do Nothing. Maintain the status quo and staffing, which would cause a deficit. 2. Make cuts each year. Make gradual cuts to match the decline in funding. 3. Make all the cuts now. And option 4. Close facilities and move students.
The School Board decided to make budget cuts gradually, opting for number 2 above.
30 islanders turned out on Saturday April 13 in Port Clements Ferguson Bay log sort to protest Weyerhaeuser’s plans to export logs to the United States.
A man in his 50’s was stabbed outside of the Queen Charlotte post office on Saturday April 20.
The Queen Charlotte Islands Hospital was told it would lose half of its acute care beds – from eight down to four. The Northern Health Authority announced April 24 that it would reduce health spending in the region by a sweeping $40-million.
70 people attended Gwaii Haanas Earth Day celebration at the QC Visitor Info Center.
The School Board passed a budget and three to four full-time teaching jobs and three to four full-time teaching assistant jobs will be lost when the school resumes in September.
Eight Haida objects, including a carved walking cane with an ivory and silver handle made over a century ago by artist Charles Edenshaw, were donated to the Haida Gwaii Museum.
A 15 year old male from Masset appeared in court in Prince Rupert following allegations that he threatened to shoot people at GM Dawson high school.
The pavers finished the highway reconstruction from Queen Charlotte and out to Miller Creek. The pavers are done, let the good times roll! said the caption for the photo of the new highway.
A cast-away and his dog were rescued by Masset teachers from Lepas Bay, Friday May 17. The seventeen teachers were on a professional development day and intended to spend the day studying sea life but instead found themselves coming to the rescue of a shipwrecked man.
Mosquito Lake Trout Derby was a success. Held on Sunday May 19, by the Sandspit Rod and Gun Club, James Bellefleur walked away with a trophy for the largest fish of the day which weighed 1.89 pounds.
A rally was held in Skidegate on June 3 attended by about 400 people representing the interests of both the Haida Nation and Weyerhaeuser loggers. Dale Lore who spoke for Weyerhaeuser said “If we have to take sides we are weighing in on the side of the Haida Nation.”
The chinook fishery closed leaving some fishermen “furious”. The Department of Fisheries and Oceans shut down the best commercial Chinook season in recent memory because some trollers were catching too many vulnerable salmon.
Port Clements council was angered by BC Ferries plan to cut the Thursday night ferry sailing to Prince Rupert. Port mayor Joan Allen spoke out at a BC Ferries meet earlier in the month because the Thursday night sailing seems to be the one most popular with islanders.
Two parades were held the week of the 27. Aboriginal Day was celebrated in Old Massett with a parade and a pole raising. And Queen Charlotte celebrated Hospital Day with a parade and festivities.
The BC Ferry and Marine Workers Union called much of the ferry fleet old, rusty and potentially dangerous. This included the Queen of the North and the Queen of Prince Rupert, but David Marshall BC Ferries vice-president said he has “no concerns” about either one.
The Edge of the World Music Festival had an exciting line up including Ember Swift, Sandy Scofield, as well as Jack Connoly and the Grocers. Held in Tlell, it started Friday July 12 and carried through the weekend.
Port Clements decided to temporarily chlorinate the village water supply after a boil water advisory test (July 5) uncovered unacceptably high levels of bacteria.
100 people showed up just outside of Masset to witness a sod turning or naming of “Blue Jacket” now to be called Tluu’gaaaawt’laas. The new town will see 294 homes built starting in November.
A weekend of vandalism was reported.
Five cases of arson occurred in Queen Charlotte. Masset’s high-school had a serious arson attempt, along with vehicle theft and torching.
Logger Sports Day volunteers were getting ready to host their annual event held August 10. This year volunteers planned a parade and a slo-pitch event along with the logger competitions.
The fifth all-islands youth conference was upcoming. Conference co-ordinator Dana Bellis said she hoped this years conference will help youth “develop greater awareness of issues important to them, as well as leadership skills, and to learn to have fun without drugs and alcohol”.
CHN wins another round at the BC Court of Appeal ran our headline. Weyerheaser must consult and accommodate the Haida Nation when operating on Haida Gwaii, according to the court.
Islanders prepared for Governor-General of Canada the Right Honourable Adrienee Clarkson’s visit. Lisa Roufosse of Sandpit’s Junior Ranger Program said “We’ve been doing drill, drill, drill and more drill, to practise keeping a straight line and a straight face while we march. Our kids have a tendency to giggle!”
Governor General Adrienne Clarkson and her husband John Ralston Saul received a warm welcome from islanders when they arrived Sunday, Sept 1. Included in her busy visit were several feasts, the opening of the new Queen Charlotte Secondary School, and a visit to the Rediscovery Camp at Lepas Bay. “”We are happy to be here. These islands are part of our celebration in the Governor General’s office of fifty years of Canadian Governors General,” said Ms Clarkson.
Mrs. Clarkson continued to be front page news as her trip drew to a close. The highlight of her time at the north end of the island was a walk through Old Massett and Masset. “We thought it would be really interesting to walk with people, to just invite them,” she said. “It would be something that doesn’t cost any money, and that everybody can doÂ….It’s a really nice thing to do with people.”
Twenty-five Haida delegates traveled to New York City and Oakland, California to recover the skeletal remains of 48 Haida ancestors – the first ever repatriated from the US.
In Queen Charlotte, five test wells costing $85,000 to drill, proved to be dry or producing too little water to be worth developing. “We found water, but not a sustainable source that recharges itself during the summer months,” said Management Committee chair Carol Kulesha.
In Masset, the Delkatla Sanctuary Interpretive Centre opened before a big crowd.
Controversy erupted in Masset over Denny Remick’s proposal to shut down a trail between Hemlock and Fir Crescent, which students use to get to Tahayghen elementary school. Mr. Remick said he was sick of the vandalism, parties and garbage along the trail. Marian Haywood wanted to see the trail stay open, saying it gave students a safe route to school.
In Sandspit, about 50 islanders gathered to dedicate the new 30 ft. leaping Coho salmon sculpture carved in cedar by Lon Sharp.
Islands students did poorly on the provincial foundation skills tests given to students province wide in grades 4, 7 and 10. Results varied from school to school. The elementary schools in Port Clements and Sandspit showed students achieving above the provincial average, but overall district students are below average.
Municipal election campaigns began with big fields of candidates for islanders to chose from in most races. Also in the newsÂ…Canadian Western Airlines announced its new service would fly to Sandspit as well as Masset.
Masset volunteer firefighters doused a blaze at an Alder Crescent home in the early morning of Oct. 19. “The fire trucks were johnnies on the spot,” said Bret Johnston, “these guys are volunteers and they did a really good job.”
Masset also learned it had won the right to host Northern BC Tourism Association’s annual general meeting in October 2003.
Masset, where a married couple heads 73% of all families, is the marriage capital of the islands, according to the 2001 census. Common-law families are most common in Sandspit where they make up 32% of all families.
The municipal campaign heated up with all-candidates meetings in Masset and Port Clements.
The Ministry of Forests cut six positions from its Queen Charlotte district office, bringing the total number of jobs cut in the Queen Charlotte office to thirteen.
Sandspit, Old Masset and Queen Charlotte held their all candidates meetings. In Masset, 60 people turned up to hear five candidates for council speak on a variety of issues. They expressed concerns about oil/gas development and support for wind power development. Police costs and crime were other big issues candidates addressed.
In Port Clements, candidates held similar views on most issues, and the lively show expected by many never materialized. One issue that split candidates into two camps concerned cooperation with the Haida Nation.
Four islanders, Eric Ross of Queen Charlotte, Doug Leach of Tlell, and Port Clements residents Ben Matheson and Jonna Mattiesing received Queen’s Jubilee Medals for community service.
More than 1,200 islanders voted in civic elections Saturday Nov. 16. Port Clements elected new mayor Dale Lore, Old Massett and Sandspit elected new school trustees Margaret Edgars and Gail Henry, and the islands had three new regional district directors: Ian Lordon, Carol Kulesha and Duane Gould.
Masset mayor Barry Pages insulted village workers and pushed contract negotiations closer to a strike footing, according to union negotiator Tom McKenna.
On a more positive note in Masset about 60 people attended a meeting, and expressed interest in green energy alternatives to replace diesel generated electricity.
People who want to take resources like timber, fish and oil from the islands should first talk to the Council of the Haida Nation, said CHN lawyer Terri-Lynn Williams Davidson to a room full of tenure holders. The BC Court of Appeal decision in the summer means all third parties have a duty to consult with the Haida and accommodate Haida interests.
Real Estate values have dropped by 25% to 50% in the last five years, and ferry fares will be rising 25% over the next 6 years. However, islanders still found the money to donate over $18,000 to Masset’s Timmy Telethon.
People reported quite a few Santa sightings around the islands.
Governor General Adrienne Clarkson used two photos from her trip to the islands for her annual Christmas card, and winter storms messed up the ferry schedule and milk became a hot commodity on the islands.
The school board is considering changing its name to Haida Gwaii/Queen Charlotte Islands, adding the word islands. It’s also considering hiring a replacement for a departing administration member, but hasn’t yet decided.
The paper was full of ‘the year in review’, the last few words of which you are just finishing. Happy holidays!