History of the CHN
The Council of the Haida Nation was formed in 1974 by a handful of people with a vision to organize Haida people into one political entity. Part of the vision was a clear mandate to settle land claims.
BE IT RESOLVED THAT this Convention direct the Executives in the formulation of a proposal for negotiating a land settlement, the Executive seek the formalization and retention of aboriginal title rather than the surrender of their aboriginal rights forever. From the minutes of the Council of the Haida Nation, Executive Meeting Saturday, December 7, 1974.
Shortly after the inaugural meeting a delegation set out for Ottawa to secure funds for research and claims development.
From those beginnings, and over the past 40 years the CHN has been addressing the land question and has become a National government enacting legislation and policy affecting many aspects of life on Haida Gwaii. The consolidation of the CHN as a national government has worked hand-in-hand with collective action that Haida have taken to protect culture and ensure that our way of living continues.
Some of the more publicized campaigns were Athlii Gwaay (Lyell Island) which laid the ground work for the Gwaii Haanas Agreement; the Langara Island action was about protecting salmon stocks to ensure that salmon would continue to run from Alaska in the United States to the Fraser River in British Columbia.
In 2005, the CHN participated with most people living on Haida Gwaii in Islands Spirit Rising. This all-Island shared initiative raised awareness around the lack of respect being given the Supreme Court of Canada, TFL 39 Case decision. In part, the decision said that the government of British Columbia must consult and accommodate when making decisions that affect First Nations. In the face of this, the local Ministry of Forest office started approving cut blocks that started to reduce options for the Land Use Planning Table by logging areas under consideration. People said Enough is Enough and took a stand. From this joint, all-Island position some very positive negotiations with the Province of BC have taken place including the protection of significant cultural areas for future generations.
Throughout our history the CHN has negotiated and signed agreements with other Coastal First Nations, Non-Governmental Organizations and local communities and we continue to work on agreements with both the federal and provincial governments.
The Constitution of the Haida Nation was formally adopted in 2003. The constitution mandates the CHN to settle the issue of Title and Rights and ensure that the Haida relationship with land continues in perpetuity.