June 7, 2018: The noise level reflected the numbers in the hall with well over 100 adults, youth and children contributing to a loud buzz around the topic of the draft Gwaii Haanas Gina ‘Waadluxan KilGuhlGa (Talking About Everything) Land-Sea-People Management Plan at HlGaagilda. The dinner preceded the launch of a public review period (ending July 15, 2108) to gather feedback on the draft plan. A dinner in Gaw has now been re-scheduled for June 26.
The draft is based on six guiding principles:
- 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
- Isda ad dii gii isda Giving and Receiving
These principles are the foundation of a plan that is designed to address the many diverse needs and activities occurring in Gwaii Haanas. The draft plan seeks to protect Gwaii Haanas’ ecological and cultural values while also ensuring that livelihoods are protected.
At the dinner, Archipelago Management Board (AMB) members for the Council of the Haida Nation, Cindy Boyko and Gaagwiis Jason Alsop, spoke of their experience on the AMB and in Gwaii Haanas. Haida AMB member Kaad Giidee Robert Bennett was also in attendance.
“We worked with our Haida fishermen to get this plan right to ensure there are economic opportunities for the future while protecting things today,” said Gaagwiis.
In the draft, the land and sea are zoned to manage a variety of activities – everything from kayaking to camping to fishing. Among other things, the zones protect bird nesting areas and village sites, with a focus on ensuring that Haida food security is maintained in areas with higher levels of traditional use.
AMB member Cindy Boyko said that she really believes in the plan. “It maintains our Haida right to use Gwaii Haanas like we always have and, in addition, protects over 40% of the ocean which the area hasn’t had until now,” she said. “This is our homeland, it’s our responsibility to take care of it.”
In 2010, the AMB expanded to include a new member from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO). Colin Masson has been the DFO representative on the AMB for the past three and a half years.
“The Land-Sea-People plan sets the stage for moving forward. The plan positions the Haida Nation and Canada in making change together, now, and in the future,” he said. “This approach is a new direction for the department and I am glad to be a part of it.”
The draft plan has been reviewed by the Hereditary Chiefs Council, CHN Executive and full Council, and Band Councils, and incorporates advice from the Gwaii Haanas Advisory Committee, and groups including Haida fisherman, tour operators, commercial fishermen, and environmental organizations. The AMB has developed the draft plan with the support of a team of technical planners from the Council of the Haida Nation, Parks Canada, and Fisheries and Oceans Canada.
Both the land and sea are zoned in the draft plan. In the ocean, the zones range from “strict protection” where activities such as commercial and recreational fishing would not occur, to “multiple use” where a variety of activities can take place as long as they follow an ecosystem-based management approach. Citizens of the Haida Nation can practice traditional use in any of the zones.
The Superintendent of Gwaii Haanas, Ernie Gladstone, was the last to speak at the dinner. Mr. Gladstone has been working in Gwaii Haanas for the past 25 years. “It hasn’t always been easy,” he said, speaking about the co-management of the area, “there have been a lot of high-level conversations and arguments along the way but this is how you get to an agreement.” He also pointed out the fact that the Haida and Canadian governments wouldn’t be where they are today without the Haida stand to protect the area as a Haida Heritage Site in 1985. The outcome of that action is manifested today in a draft management plan that recognizes the interconnectedness of everything.
The dinner was a unique combination of bingo, information booths and dialogue. MC Taaiixou Robert Russ ran the event which wrapped with the drawing of the grand prize – a trip for two to Gwaii Haanas. The lucky winner was Yaahldaajii Gary Russ!
The next Land-Sea-People Dinner & Dialogue is scheduled in Gaw on June 26 at Tluu Xaada Naay, doors open for bingo at 4:45 with dinner to follow at 5:30. Check the posters for more details.