FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 10, 2019
BC Timber Sales Issues Permit to Log Contested Archaeological Site
Haida Gwaii’s lands and waters feature many sacred places, Tlaga Gaawtlaas Bluejacket is one of the most significant and valued areas for many reasons. It is teeming with historical and spiritual significance, including test holes, bark-stripped trees and canoe-building sites. These cultural features are protected under Haida law, the Haida Gwaii Land Use Objectives Order (HGLUOO) and British Columbia’s laws through the Heritage Conservation Act.
The Haida Nation has notified the BC Archaeology Branch of a registered archaeological site within the proposed cut-block yet a Stop Work Order that would help protect this sensitive area was denied. BCTS licensee O’Brien and Fuerst Logging have responded to community opposition of logging in the area by pursuing litigation and today have been granted an injunction against the concerned Haida citizens. The blockade and injunction are the result of four years of non-consensus at the Solutions Table. The Haida Nation and province have agreed to a respectful approach to co-existence on Haida Gwaii by way of land and natural resource management through shared decision-making. Although the Haida Nation did not approve the proposed logging at Tlaga Gaawtlaas in 2016, the province later approved the Timber Sale.
The CHN is responsible for the long-term protection and sustainable use of cedar and does so by establishing protected areas, provisions under the HGLUOO, and the Haida Stewardship Law. CHN is also mandated to safeguard cultural features and ancient remains of our ancestors. For these reasons, the Haida Nation maintains its position that Tlaga Gaawtlaas be preserved for the benefit of the community of Gaw Tlagee Old Massett and future generations.
The logging of the Bluejacket area would be a blatant act of disrespect and disregard of Haida title, sovereignty and jurisdiction, as well as a violation of provincial legislation. The proposed cut blocks threaten to destroy a sacred and historical site to the Haida Nation that contains CMTs, monumental cedars, yew trees and one of the oldest archaeological sites on Haida Gwaii. There is valuable archaeological history within this cut block that was ignored by BCTS. This, along with other oversights that we have discovered really call into question the competency and necessity of BCTS operating on Haida Gwaii.
— Gaagwiis Jason Alsop, President of the Council of the Haida Nation
This is completely disrespectful of our decision made in 2016. But now we’re in equal disbelief that they’ll support the logging of a rich archaeological site in the middle of this block, neglecting their own rules despite their data we’ve brought forward. We will continue to work to ensure that Haida law is upheld and work within their legal system to ensure the laws of Canada are upheld and this heritage site is protected.
— Ginn wadluu un uula isdaa ayaagang Trevor Russ, Vice-President of the Council of the Haida Nation
Since December 2017, our people have made it very clear: they do not want logging activity this close to our community. This logging will have so many impacts and risks for community members and the CHN has not approved of logging activity in this area. The cut block O’Brien is ready to log is near our watershed and we have tried to find a compromise. I offered to help find a different place to cut and we have not found a resolution. Now we are taking responsibility and I stand with my people who are looking out for the best interest of our community.
— Donald “Duffy” Edgars, Old Massett Village Chief Councillor
Resources and related documents
- Established in 2011, the Solutions Table provides a process for licensees, tenure holders and other industries to propose development on Haida Gwaii. It uses a shared decision-making model between the Haida Nation and the province as set-out in the Kunst’aa guu – Kunst’aayah Reconcilation Protocol (2009).
- The Solutions Table reviewed details on the proposed cut block at Tlaga Gaawtlaas in 2015. At that time, Haida representatives expressed concern about the proximity to the New Town reserve, overharvesting of cedar in the Timber Supply Area and concluded that the cut blocks would not have social license. In early 2016, the Solutions Table issued a non-consensus statement.
- On September 24, Haida and Island citizens were served an injunction after preventing O’Brien & Fuerst Logging’s access to Tlaga Gaawtlaas October 4, some of those named on the injunction appeared in court. The judge deferred his ruling until October 10.
- The CHN has identified an imminent threat to the destruction of Heritage sites within the vicinity of Timber Sale A93121 and, on October 3, 2019, notified the Archaeology Branch of BC that this requires an immediate Stop Work Order that has been denied.
- There are numerous registered archaeological sites – an ancient trail and an oral history site documenting the first totem pole raised on Haida Gwaii – within the immediate vicinity of this block.
- CHN technical crews have been working in the Tlaga Gaawtlaas area to further document and monitor the priceless cultural features within the proposed cut block.
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Council of the Haida Nation