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FW: Haida seize timber

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    Haida protest logging; close down operations Posted: April 01, 2005 by: Stephanie Woodard Click to Enlarge Photos courtesy of Byrd s Eye View/Haida Gwaii --
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 1, 2005
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      Haida protest logging; close down operations

      Posted: April 01, 2005

      by: Stephanie Woodard

      Click to Enlarge

      Photos courtesy of Byrd's Eye View/Haida Gwaii -- (First photo) Chief Gath
      Laay (left) and Chief Niis Wes (right) join demonstrators. Both are veterans
      of the Haidas' famed 1985 Lyell Island logging protest. (Second photo) Young
      Haida mans the blockade of the Weyerhaeuser log-sorting facility near Queen
      Charlotte City. (Third photo) Chief Niis Wes speaks to a crowd protesting
      actions by timber-products giant Weyerhaeuser and the province of British
      Columbia. To his right is Chief Skidegate. Photo courtesy Graham
      Evenson/Haida Gwaii -- (Fourth photo) Residents of Haida Gwaii block roads
      to a log-sorting facility and the local office of the Canadian Ministry of
      Forests in protest of the transfer of a logging lease and permits that allow
      logging in protected areas of the once-pristine island.

      Roads blockaded

      HAIDA GWAII, British Columbia - Since March 21, residents of Haida Gwaii,
      also known as the Queen Charlotte Islands off the west coast of Canada, have
      blockaded roads to a log-sorting facility used by Weyerhaeuser, the giant
      American timber-products company. Members of the Haida Nation and their
      non-Native neighbors have also closed down the local office of the Canadian
      Ministry of Forests.

      The day before the checkpoints were set up, Haida Nation President Guujaaw
      appealed to Adrienne Clarkson, the governor general of Canada, for help in
      resolving the situation. Clarkson's office announced that she will
      personally deal with the request, though at press time she had not yet done

      The protesters object to Weyerhaeuser's recent $1.2 billion deal
      transferring a logging lease to Brascan Corp. Cutting permits issued by the
      province of British Columbia that allow logging in protected areas are
      another flashpoint. Signs reading ''Enough is Enough'' can be seen on roads
      to the corporation's log-processing area, located west of the town of Queen
      Charlotte City.

      The province and the islanders had just completed a land-use planning
      process when the cutting permits were approved, according to Haida tribal
      spokesman Gilbert Parnell. ''The province had worked very hard with us -
      Haida and non-Haida alike - to come up with an island-wide plan based on
      sustainability and respect for the land,'' he said.

      The Haidas maintain, as they have for decades, that they are not
      anti-logging. ''We're looking for economic and environmental sustainability,
      with jobs for all islanders,'' explained Barbara Wilson, Haida, cultural
      liaison specialist at Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve and Haida Heritage

      The province's actions run counter to a unanimous November 2004 decision by
      the Supreme Court of Canada, which required it to consult with and
      accommodate indigenous people in matters that impact land claims. Since the
      Haidas claim ownership of the archipelago and are engaged in treaty
      negotiations, they argue that the court's decision applies in the current

      The court also warned British Columbia not to hide behind legislation that
      attempts to absolve it of responsibilities to Native people. However, the
      province appears to be doing just that with the recent passage of
      legislation called the Significant Projects Streamlining Act. The sweeping
      law allows British Columbia to remove ''constraints'' to projects that it
      considers ''provincially significant'' - essentially clearing the way for
      unfettered development.

      ''The province is here to help industry get as much as it can as fast as it
      can,'' said Parnell. ''The people making decisions don't live here on Haida
      Gwaii. They don't wake up in the morning and see what their decisions have

      Weyerhaeuser feels its business practices have been appropriate, even though
      they impact resources that are the subject of current treaty negotiations,
      according to Sarah Goodman, Weyerhaeuser's public relations manager.
      ''Unfortunate'' was how Goodman described the protest: ''It has affected the
      jobs of local people.''

      Until the Haidas' concerns are dealt with, the community and its local
      allies will turn back all loggers. They'll barricade the roads ''for as long
      as it takes,'' said Parnell.

      The islands, where the Haidas have lived for millennia, have been called a
      ''northern Galapagos'' because of their biodiversity and because many plant
      and animal species there have evolved independent of mainland relatives.
      Covered with old-growth forests, they form what is widely described as one
      of North America's most spectacular landscapes.

      ''I've traveled all over the world, and I can tell you this is the most
      beautiful place I've ever seen,'' said Nika Collison, Haida, a volunteer
      coordinator of the protest. Her work involves making sure the checkpoints
      are manned 24 hours a day.

      ''I was born into this,'' Collison said. ''My generation inherited these
      issues, but also the ability to resolve them for the generations to come. My
      daughter, who is one month old, has already been on the line with me

      Elders are also actively involved. ''My dad, who's 92, is there all day,
      every day,'' said Wilson. Some of the older folks are veterans of the 1985
      Lyell Island demonstrations against irresponsible logging and the
      destruction of the Haida Gwaii forest ecosystem. Extensive resource
      extraction, including both logging and mining, came to the island chain
      during the 1950s. Prior to that, just a relatively small amount of spruce
      had been harvested to make warplanes during World War II. Haida people were
      soon dismayed by the devastation industry caused to their traditional
      landscape and its bounty.

      There has been no violence in the Haida Nation's current action, nor has it
      been met with violence. ''One law takes precedence over everything, and that
      is respect - for this place and each other,'' said Parnell. ''We have an
      excellent relationship with the local Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
      Moreover, people who work for Weyerhaeuser and live here on island know what
      we're about, and they respect what we're doing.''

      On the community's Web site, one participant in the action described
      watching as a copper-tongued wooden dog mask - a gift from another First
      Nations community signifying guardianship and loyalty - was placed on a fire
      along with offerings of food. People watched quietly as the flames rose and
      the smoke carried the gifts on their journey to the spirit world.

      As the action got underway last week, Ethel Jones, one of the last remaining
      veterans of the Lyell Island protests, fell ill and was taken to the
      hospital. ''She's a matriarch and very important to our people,'' said
      Parnell. ''From her hospital bed, she tells us we must continue to fight for
      the integrity of our culture and our land. Nonii (Grandmother) reminds us
      that we're doing what's right.''

      Latest News - March 31-2005 the PROVINCE

      Haida seize timber from forestry firm The Haida Nation says it has seized a
      large quantity of cut timber from Weyerhaeuser. The Haida claim that
      Weyerhaeuser has violated provisions of a 2002 accord between the Haida,
      forestry workers and Weyerhaeuser. The Haida have seized several barges and
      other timber still awaiting sorting, said Guujaaw, president of the Council
      of the Haida Nation.

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