Graham Richard —
A parade of colourful signs bustled through Daajing Giids on a rainy day this past December. The signs were emblazoned with messages: People of a living culture need living land; Community Forests, Community Consent; and Forests for Future Generations.
Throughout 2017, logging close to communities has come to the forefront of discussions. This year British Columbia Timber Sales posted proposed logging blocks close to Daal Kaahlii Delkatla, Needuu Nadu Road, Ts’uu Ts’idga Lawn Hill, and K’aasda Siiwaay Skidegate Lake prompting protests in December at Daal Kaahlii Delkatla. British Columbia Timber Sales, a provincial agency within the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations & Rural Development, posted and awarded the licenses.
Three of the awarded licenses were ‘non-consensus’ at the Solutions Table, where CHN said the forests should not be logged. CHN’s stance is based on community consultations, where Islands residents have expressed concern for logging forests close to communities. Islands residents are also uneasy about cedar over-harvesting. While Haida Gwaii communities want to see long-term consideration for community stability, BCTS continues to log within view of the highway corridor and within the boundaries of proposed community forests.
In response to BCTS awarding the licenses, up to 80 marchers from all communities of Haida Gwaii came together at Spirit Square in Daajing Giids this Saturday, December 16. The crowd endured horrible weather as they shared speeches, sang, and marched three kilometres to the offices of the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations & Rural Development (FLNRORD).
Event organizer, Kuuyang Lisa White, provided a phrase in Gaaw Xaad kil that summarized the spirit of the event: “Sins sGagnuwee iitl’ gahl tlayd. Tlagee ga tla gud giidaa. Siigee ga tla gud giidan. Ging gang ga tl’a gud giidaa. Power of the Shining Heavens, protect us. Respect the land. Respect the sea. Respect yourself.”
Everyone came together to pray, sing and dance in the winter rain and the square became a space for people to share their voice. Despite their diverse backgrounds, all
Sphenia Jones led the way, inviting the crowd to imagine what it would be like to pass unhealthy forests on to future generations. Elected CHN Representative, Gaagwiis Jason Alsop, then welcomed the crowd on behalf of the Haida Nation. He was followed by CEO of the Misty Isles Economic Development Society Janine North, Thasi Ken Edgars, Kihlguulans Christian White, Kii’iljuus Barbara Wilson, Randi Friesen, Kungjadee, Nang Sdins Jeff Green, and Gatgus Erica Stocker. SGaalanglaay Vernon Williams closed speeches with his song We Are All Connected.
“The highest laws are respect and consent.” Event organizer Kuuyang Lisa White
Naniis in vehicles led the march to the FLNRORD offices splashing through rain to the far end of town. The large crowd carried an array of signs calling on forestry authorities to work with respect and to harvest sustainably.
Islands communities have fought for local forest management for many years now, and the march was an intermediate step connecting the stand at Athlii Gwaii, Islands Spirit Rising (Enough is Enough), and the future of forestry on Haida Gwaii.
On December 20, 2017, Haida citizens closed the gate at the head of Delkatla Creek Road to protect forests behind Tlaga Gawtlaas New Town. A colourful row of signs greeted drivers along Tow Hill Road at the turn-off to the Massett Airport. Haida and friends encamped at the head of the road, staying overnight and monitoring access to the road. Laurence Knowles set a trap line along the logging road as a reminder of Haida Title and Rights. A plethora of contributors stopped in to offer support and plentiful food.
Conversation over the controversial logging blocks had started over a year earlier in 2016 when Old Massett Village Council discussed the issue with Bruce Strongitharm, the Chief of Staff for BC’s Ministry of Forests, Lands, and Natural Resource Operations. The village council followed up with a letter to BCTS on August 15, 2017 expressing concerns for the potential flooding, drainage, and erosion logging would cause in and around Tlaga Gawtlaas New Town, a Haida community whose southern edge is 400 metres northeast of forests slated for logging.
Old Massett Village Council reached an agreement with loggers on December 22, which halted logging until January 8, 2018 . As of yet logging has yet to proceed.
Following are descriptions of the forest blocks in question. The eight blocks are split between four licenses.
BCTS posted two blocks south east of Daal Kaahlii Delkatla under license ‘A93121’ for 15,427 cubic metres on February 18, 2016. The license was non-consensus at the Solutions Table, however BCTS awarded the license to Dennis John Reindl on March 17, 2016. This license includes blocks Nai001 and Del007. Together these comprise a total area of 105.9 hectares, with 61.2 of those hectares slated for logging. Both blocks are within the community forest. Both blocks border a Cedar Stewardship Area to the immediate south. Del007 borders an archaeological area to the immediate south.
Undulating hills of sandy soils roll gently between steep slopes. Between the hills, saturated soils and marshes drain through numerous creeks into Gaaw Kaahlii Massett Inlet. These hills contain at least ten culturally modified trees that predate 1846 and one monumental tree. Ts’uu Western Red cedar dominates the forest, accounting for 73% of its composition. The remainder is 17% k’aang hemlock, 7% kayd spruce, 3% ts’ahl lodgepole pine, and 1% kal alder. Several Haida Traditional Forest Features grow in the area including k’ay Pacific Crab apple, xu t’aangal Snake liverwort, Oregon beaked moss, One-sided wintergreen, and dlaaying’waal Licorice fern. The area’s thick undergrowth is composed of young trees and berry bushes with a ground cover of organic litter and mosses.
BCTS posted two blocks north and south of Needuu Gandlaay Nadu River under license ‘A93738’ for 29,901 cubic metres on November 1, 2017. The license was non-consensus at the Solutions Table, however BCTS awarded the license to Alfred Loewen on December 1, 2017. This license includes blocks Nad001 and Wat001. Together these comprise a total area of 83.7 hectares, with 64.2 of those hectares slated for logging. Both Blocks are within the community forest. Wat001 borders the Kamdis Protected Area to the immediate west and overlaps with two small archaeological areas.
Wat001 contains two culturally modified trees and five monumental ts’uu Western Red cedar. Haida Traditional Forest Features grow in the area including Old Man’s Beard, Labrador tea, Running club moss, Oregon beaked moss, Running club moss, and Licorice fern. A salmon stream, Needuu Gandlaay, runs along Nad001’s southern edge. Another, K’alaasduu Gandlee, runs through Wat001.
BCTS posted two blocks 3.5 kilometres northwest of the community at Ts’uu Ts’idga Lawn Hill under license ‘A85374’ for 25,301 cubic metres on November 1, 2017. The license was non-consensus at the Solutions Table, however BCTS awarded the license to Travis Carson O’Brien on November 29, 2017. This license includes blocks Law719 and Law721. Together these comprise a total area of 61.6 hectares, with 49.4 of those hectares slated for logging. Both Blocks are within the community forest.
Law721 borders the Tll.aal Protected Area to its immediate north and east. Salmon-bearing streams run to the immediate west and north of the blocks and later join with Tll.aal Gandlaay Tlell River.
BCTS posted six blocks 10.5 kilometres north of K’aasda Siiwaay Skidegate Lake under license ‘A93566’ for 49,584 cubic metres on December 01, 2016. BCTS awarded the license to Travis Carson O’Brien on January 10, 2017. The license includes blocks Ski537, Ski510, Ski535, Ski506, Ski536, and Ski521. Together these comprise a total area of 117.1 hectares, with 77.9 hectares slated for logging. All six of these blocks are within the community forest.
Kayd spruce predominate the license area, composing an estimated 57% of the forest, with 42% k’aang hemlock and 2% ts’uu Western Red cedar composing the remainder.