Islanders Meet to Discuss BCTS Issues

Photo: Flickr/Dru!

Graham Richard —

Over 70 citizens of Haida Gwaii discussed the future of Haida Gwaii’s forests at Tluu Xaada Naay, Thursday, November 23, 2017. They paid specific attention to cut blocks proposed in the Nadu Road and Lawn Hill areas.

The Solutions Table, which is made up of Haida and Provincial members, reviews all logging development plans on Haida Gwaii. The Table’s Haida members could not agree to cut the forests in question and the ‘non-consensus’ blocks were passed on to provincial and Haida decision-makers. When they could not resolve the issue at that level the Province of BC offered those blocks for logging, essentially overriding the Haida Nation’s decision.

While CHN and BC designed the Kunst’aa  Guu – Kunst’aayah Protocol to avoid direct action on the ground, the situation reveals the lack of a formal process to resolve ‘non-consensus’ decisions. The Province is now in the position of upholding their decision to log in spite of public outcry on a number of fronts.

At the meeting a seven-person panel consisting of Haida, Municipal representatives, and technical staff heard from the public and answered their questions.

“This is about Haida Gwaii and everybody that calls Haida Gwaii home,” President of the Haida Nation, kil tlaats ‘gaa Peter Lantin started out. “The history of these islands has been built on people making decisions for us, but we are here to tonight to make sure decisions are made here in Haida Gwaii. We are working with Islands communities to get aligned, to make these tough decisions together and to continue on the path toward local control and local authority over what goes on here. We are here today because we have common ground.”

Haida Solutions Table members disagreed with the logging of Nadu forests, in particular, for several reasons:

  • BCTS is logging areas that were designated as community forest over ten years ago. The Province is liquidating forest promised to communities and all profits from these activities are going to the Province.
  • BCTS is cutting ts’uu red cedar at an unsustainable rate.
  • Islanders are concerned about the visual quality of the corridor along Highway 16. Logging may work against an economic transition that includes tourism.
  • The decision to log places Port Clements in a difficult situation.

“To my mind BCTS is playing games,” said Village of Port Clements councilor, Brigid Cummings. “The direction our people gave us is that we can’t support turning the cut blocks down, because BCTS hasn’t issued anything in nine months. These are the first sales. We are going to be sending our own letter to the minster and BCTS saying we don’t appreciate this. We don’t like being turned into a political football. We need BCTS to at the very least respect decisions when a cut block is not approved at the Solutions Table. They need go back and come up with something that works.”

Thirty residents spoke about the issues and offered solutions at the meeting which concluded at 10 pm. Islanders endorsed more sustainable practices, supported an Islands-wide approach to managing lands, and envisioned how to restore logged lands.

“Haida control over the land is inevitable. We are fine with that and we want to be a part of that,” said Village of Port Clements Councilor Charlene O’Brien Anderson. “We hope to employ people. We love where we live and we love the families that we support.”

The seven-member panel included President of the Haida Nation, kil tlaats ‘gaa Peter Lantin; Vice-president of the Haida Nation, Ginn waadluu un uula isdaa ayagang Trevor Russ; Misty Islands Economic Development Society Executive Diretor, Janine North; Village of Massett, Mayor Andrew Merilees; and CHN elected representatives Kung Xyaalas Tyler Bellis, Stephen (Buck) Grosse, and Gaagwiis Jason Alsop.

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