Rhonda Lee McIsaac
Editor Jisgang Nika Collison described “a book full of dignity” as she presented the long-awaited “Athlii Gwaii – Upholding Haida Law at Lyell Island” to the House of Assembly, October 15. The newly-released book includes many first-person accounts from those who stood at Tllga Kun Gwaay.yaay Athlii Gwaii or Lyell Island in 1985, where Haida leaders and matriarchs drew a line with their families and supporters to stop logging in Gwaii Haanas.
Just as the book recounts the historical events, Jisgang recounted the names of Elders, matriarchs, citizens and friends, some who have passed on. Some names echoed twice throughout the hall as she acknowledged those who police both arrested and charged.
The hot commodity flew off the table as citizens lined up to purchase books during lunch hour. Smiles came easy as readers perused the glossy pages. One-thousand copies were printed of the hard cover edition with funds from sales going to support on-Islands language programs. Books are still available for sale at CHN offices in Gaw and HlGaagilda.
Gwaii Trust Chief Operations Officer Carla Lutner congratulated the production team for their years of hard work and acknowledged the effort it took to bring together voices of the past into present day.
Jisgang also read a letter from Gwaii Haanas Superintendent Nang Kaa Klaagangs Ernie Gladstone who was not able to attend. Gladstone described the event’s profound legacy and its effect on the nation since 1985. The book’s stories have further informed his continued work on Haida land, he said.
The 2018 HoA acknowledged all those who stood on the line and those who stood behind them with a standing ovation. This year marks the initiative’s 33rd anniversary, and since then generations have benefited from the resolve of those who stood up for Haida law.
Following the HoA, citizens shared a dinner and ceremony again at Naagudgiikyaagangs Skidegate Community Hall Saturday, October 27. At the dinner the community presented each arrestee with gifts, speeches, and recognition before a hall full of witnesses.
A soft cover edition of the book will be in local stores on Haida Gwaii before Christmas.