FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 9, 2020
UPHOLDING HAIDA LAW AMID COVID-19
Under the authority of the Constitution of the Haida Nation, Haida Gwaii remains in a state of emergency (SOE) due to the COVID-19 virus. SOE emergency measures do not permit non-resident travel to the Islands at this time, and that applies to all non-essential work. Haida Gwaii communities are developing safety plans, gathering required personal protective equipment, and ensuring our food sovereignty as an Island nation.
Respecting Haida authority and jurisdiction, many local and off-Island businesses and operations are abiding by the Haida Gwaii SOE. As the COVID-19 global pandemic emerged, several sport fishing lodges made the choice to cease operations this year. The Council of the Haida Nation commends this respectful act made by Langara Island Lodge, Peregrine Lodge, Naden Lodge, Escott Sportfishing Lodge and Queen Charlotte Safaris.
There are, though, a select few sport fishing lodges planning to resume service this year. The Haida Nation’s current state of emergency does not permit any non-essential travel to Haida Gwaii, including the operation of fishing lodges, at this time.
Although BC has initiated Phase 3 of its Restart Plan that allows travel throughout the province, Dr. Bonnie Henry has acknowledged Indigenous authority to self-govern. She continues to caution that travel in communities should only proceed with the consent of local communities, “There are a number of First Nations communities who have expressed that they are not ready to and that their paramount focus right now is on protecting their communities and particularly their Elders in their communities and we are very supportive of that […] I do understand that many First Nations communities are not ready to have visitors and I absolutely support them in those decisions” (Joint statement on BC’s COVID-19 response, June 25, 2020).
“As the government, it is our responsibility to safeguard our rights and ensure the well-being of Haida citizens. CHN’s COVID-19 emergency measures apply to all, equally, and business operators will be notified as we decide to ease restrictions. Until then, we will be upholding the emergency measures in place to protect our communities.”
— Gaagwiis Jason Alsop, President of the Haida Nation
“This is Haida land. These are our lands and waters. It’s our right and obligation to look after this place. We will decide when it’s time to open back up to visitors, and until that invitation is open, Haida Gwaii is closed to all non-essential travel and non-residents.”
— Donald “Duffy” Edgars, Chief Councillor of the Old Massett Village Council
“By keeping Haida Gwaii closed until we are ready, we are protecting our people, as well as our visitors. We expect non-residents to respect our decision and come for a visit when we are ready. That will ensure the best experience Haida Gwaii has to offer and keep everyone safe.”
— William “Billy” Yovanovich, Chief Councillor of the Skidegate Band Council
Resources and related documents
- Haida Gwaii declared a state of emergency on March 23, 2020
- In full compliance with CHN’s state of emergency measures, the Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve, Haida Heritage Site and National Marine Conservation Area is due to open August 1, 2020
- BC entered Phase 3 of its Restart Plan on June 24, 2020, permitting leisure travel within province
- All-Island leaders on Haida Gwaii have been coordinating the COVID-19 response and are committed to working together on Island-wide recovery planning
- The Haida Nation, in collaboration with Islands’ communities, has initiated a three-week assessment and consultation period each time the province moves to a new phase of its plan – an update will be provided on Haida Gwaii’s state of emergency on or before July 15, 2020
- Haida Gwaii is remote with limited health care resources – there are only two ventilators on the Island
- Sport fishing lodges operate in traditional and valuable harvesting areas
Council of the Haida Nation