Jason Alsop, Gaagwiis, introduces the Land, Sea, People management plan for Gwaii Haanas at the Skidegate small hall. An all-islands meeting about the plan will be held June 29 at the Haida Heritage Centre. (Victoria Leslie/Gwaii Haanas)

Jason Alsop, Gaagwiis, introduces the Land, Sea, People management plan for Gwaii Haanas at the Skidegate small hall. An all-islands meeting about the plan will be held June 29 at the Haida Heritage Centre. (Victoria Leslie/Gwaii Haanas)

Gwaii Haanas Report: Talking About Everything plan

By Victoria Leslie

A dinner of crab legs and clam fritters, halibut and salmon (three ways), venison stew and buttered buns fed just over 100 people in the Skidegate small hall earlier this month. The reason for the feast? To chat with Skidegate community members about the draft Gwaii Haanas Gina ‘Waadluxan KilGuhlGa / Land-Sea-People management plan.

The Gwaii Haanas co-operative management partners — the Haida Nation and Canada — have planned a number of events from now until July 15 to hear back from Haida Gwaii residents about the draft Land-Sea-People plan.

First up: Haida community dinners on either end of Graham Island. On June 7, over 110 people attended a dinner and dialogue session in Skidegate. People mingled with Archipelago Management Board (AMB) members, learned about the plan at various booths and shared their knowledge of Gwaii Haanas. Another dinner will take place in Old Massett on June 26.

The Skidegate community dinner was a success with lots of people, food and great conversations. Info booths at the event focused on the different goals in the draft Land-Sea-People plan were set up in the small hall to encourage the community to choose their priorities and leave comments. People shared their valuable insights and local Haida perspectives.

Once the draft Land-Sea-People plan is finalized and in place, many places in Gwaii Haanas will truly be protected from mountaintop to sea floor. Gwaii Haanas will also be the first to integrate terrestrial and marine management plans. Another cool aspect of the 25-page document is that it incorporates traditional Haida values when considering how to protect lands and sea.

One of the things I learned at the dinner is that draft Land-Sea-People plan has several main topics, such as conservation and awareness-raising. These goals were based on six guiding principles. For thousands of years the Haida values reflected in these guiding principles have sustained and maintained the land, sea and people. The six guiding principles are yahguudang (respect), ‘laa guu ga kanhllns (responsibility), gina ‘waadluxan gud ad kwaagid (interconnectedness), giid tlljuus (balance), gina k’aadang.nga gii uu tll k’anguudang (seeking wise counsel), and isda ad dii gii isda (giving and receiving).

The Haida are experts on sustainable living because of these unwritten core values that kept our land and sea pristine. The AMB will use these goals and principles to guide the decisions they make for Gwaii Haanas for the next 10 years after the plan is signed off by the Haida Nation and the government of Canada.

I like to remind myself of these principles in my daily life because they are very important to consider. When I think of Gina ‘Waadluxan Gud Ad Kwaagiida, I think of Gwaii Haanas because everything is so clearly connected and dependent on everything else. The ocean and land work together to provide life to all of their inhabitants. When you’re in Gwaii Haanas you can feel this harmony, so it’s only natural this harmony is reflected in a document meant to guide us as we manage the land, sea and people of Gwaii Haanas for the next generations.

Do you want to have your say draft Gwaii Haanas Gina ‘Waadluxan KilGuhlGa / Land-Sea-People management plan? A Land-Sea-People coffee and dialogue meeting will take place in Masset on June 26, and Sandspit on June 28. On June 29, there will be an all-islands event at the Haida Heritage Centre. We’ll also be talking about the plan at Hospital Day in Queen Charlotte and Canada Day in Port Clements. More info? Go to: https://www.pc.gc.ca/gwaiihaanas.

Gwaii Haanas Report