Haida MATRIARCHS Oppose Reopening Luxury Sport Fishing Resorts

By Karissa Gall, Haida Gwaii Observer, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Haida matriarchs have announced they will uphold Haida law by occupying two ancient villages on the islands. G̲aandlee Guu Jaalang, the “daughters of the rivers,” announced on July 9 that two luxury sport fishing resorts have disrespected Haida law and jurisdiction, and are putting island residents at risk by reopening despite the ongoing Council of the Haida Nation (CHN) state of emergency measures, which do not permit non-essential travel at this time. After several community meetings, the release said, the matriarchs are upholding Haida law through the occupation of two ancient villages, Kung and Sk’aawats.

Two Luxury Sport Fishing Villages

Queen Charlotte Lodge (QCL) and West Coast Fishing Club have reopened without Haida consent,” the release said. “This means plane loads of non-residents are coming to our islands and potentially exposing island residents to COVID-19.

“Previously, QCL has catered to predominantly wealthy American clientele. Haida Gwaii is a remote community with limited health care services and only two ventilators on all of Haida Gwaii. One case would devastate our communities.”

The release from the matriarchs follows another one from QCL president Paul Clough over the weekend, which said the Naden Harbour fishing resort would be reopening today (July 10) despite the ongoing CHN state of emergency.

Google Maps shows Kung in relatively close proximity to QCL.

A Google Maps view of Kung, B.C., in close proximity to the Queen Charlotte Lodge. As of Friday, July 10, 2020, the ancient Haida village of Kung is one of two villages being occupied by a group of Haida matriarchs who say local fishing lodges should not be reopening without Haida consent.Google Maps screengrab

Peacefully Occupying Their Homeland

It was not clear if the matriarchs planned to have any interaction with the lodges. According to the release, while at the villages they planned to “peacefully occupy [their] homelands with children, elders and island residents.”

“As people of Haida Gwaii, we uphold our responsibility as stewards of the air, land and sea,” the release said. “The Haida assert our inherent right to safety and food security in our unceded lands and waters.”

The Observer reached G̲aandlee Guu Jaalang media liaison Adeana Young just as she was departing around 9 a.m. this morning.

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Top photo credit: Haida Gwaii (Queen Charlotte Islands)…Graham Island…scenes around the Haida Heritage centre…replica Haida war canoe… by Murray Foubister via Flickr (CC By SA, 2.0 License)

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