Lest we forget: Going full circle

Published by info@haidanation.com on

Well over 2000 people received and shared the journal A Resounding Voice – Haida Gwaii speaks to the Enbridge Joint Review Panel (2013). Last week we published four points of view, follow are four more of the up-standing folks who call Haida Gwaii home.

At the Joint Review Panel hearings in 2012 – part of the environmental assessment of the Enbridge pipeline project – over 200 citizens presented their opinions. It was an emotional affair, which ran the gambit from hilarious to tears – everyone was moved, including the panel members.

To reflect what was said at the JRP the nation published A Resounding Voice – Haida Gwaii speaks to the Enbridge Joint Review Panel (2013). The journal collected together facts and figures about the project, and quotes from those who stood up for Haida Gwaii. Following is the introduction and a few pages from the journal.

The road has been long, since early 2006, when the proposed Enbridge pipeline project entered the public conversation. Following that announcement the Haida nation has been vocal and engaged in stopping the project, the latest engagement being the hearing at the Federal Court of Appeal, October 1.

I, like many locals and most Haida, am supported by the environment. I am a very rich person. We are in a very rich community. That statement may not be verified by my bank account, but it is by my pantry. Sgyuu, Galgaahlyang, Nuu and K’aaw are all found in my pantry, all gathered by myself in our community and in our environment.
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There is a very clear linkage between our natural environment, our ecosystem and the Haida Nation, the Haida, particularly the oceans. My business, my livelihood, depends on the health of the Haida, depends on the health of these Islands, and those two things are linked. There’s no way to change that link.

You didn’t ask my specific advice on your mandate, but if you wanted to further this issue and further the dialogue in moving relations forward between the Haida Nation and Canada, you have to – you could do one simple thing to this Enbridge proposal: just say no. Our people, the Haida Nation and all of our neighbours on [these Islands] and most of our neighbours in this part of the world have said similarly. And if I leave you with one message today, I want it to be that. Plus, when my people, when the Haida people say no, we mean it. We mean it with everything that we are and everything that we’ll ever be. [ … ] I sit here and I am very confident that this project will not proceed, but let’s use it to advance our relationships as people. It’s a wonderful part of the world that we have inherited, Haida Gwaii and this whole BC coast, and we have a big responsibility as neighbours to be responsible stewards.

And the [Kay] centre in many ways is a training ground for new stewards, for managers, for guardians of our sacred places and to get trained in the western and Haida ways so we understand both sides and move forward together. And we tell our stories there, old stories, new stories. And everything that happens is a part of our history.

So we rely on the tourism for people to come. Our communities rely on it, accommodations, small businesses and the [Kay Llnagaay Heritage] Centre relies on it to sustain us and allow us to continue to hire people and to keep moving forward. An important program that’s happening right now is the Haida Gwaii semester. So right now there’s over 20 students from across Canada who are coming to learn natural resource management here on Haida Gwaii, to learn from the models and the progress of the Haida Nation working with the Crown. And we want that to continue. And they’re also going to expand now to a Fall semester, so they’ll have a full semester of learning here on Haida Gwaii.

And an oil spill, tanker traffic, introduced species, all these things put all this in jeopardy

Living from the ocean is who we are. For a number of years, my friends and I would go to Hot Spring Island, Gandll K’in, for a women’s retreat. The date would always be determined by the lowest tides. We would gather food every day and eat off the land. That is how our ancestors survived.

One day, our guudingaay spear, which is a long stick with large nails tied securely with string, was totally apart, unusable. That night, I awoke in the middle of the night and heard what sounded like a rock banging on something, and I went back to sleep. And the next morning, when we got up and went outside, our guudingaay spear was all fixed up, good as new.

We were the only ones on that island […] Our ancestor had come and fixed it for us. That is how right and true it is for us to gather seafood; even the spirit world and our ancestors are aligned with it.

I read in the Rupert paper yesterday that a lot of people aren’t showing up for the hearings because of the way the government is dealing with this situation. It seems that they have made up their mind that whatever is said won’t really make a difference.

I decided that I can’t sit back and not speak up. If not for us, who will? We are the caretakers of this land.

Copies of A Resounding Voice can be downloaded here.


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