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)

Haida matriarchs occupy ancient villages as fishing lodges reopen to visitors

‘Daughters of the rivers’ say occupation follows two fishing lodges reopening without Haida consent

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.

ALSO READ: Haida Nation reminds ‘select few’ fishing lodges that Haida Gwaii is closed to non-essential travel

“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 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 and G̲aandlee Guu Jaalang media liaison Adeana Young told the Haida Gwaii Observer that Sk’aawats is in the same area.

ALSO READ: Following incident at sea, fishing lodge says it will reopen despite Haida travel ban

Young said about 12 or 14 boats with Haida matriarchs and others left Old Massett to go fishing in the area this morning. She said some people are camping out there and others plan to return to Old Massett toward the end of the day.

“We’ve had our inherent right to harvest traditional foods since time immemorial,” she said. “The lodges have impacted our ability to do so.”

In addition to impacting food security prior to COVID-19, she said the two lodges reopening without Haida consent is causing safety concerns.

“When the people are coming up to the lodges, they’re leaving a trail of risk,” she said, adding that even if the lodges fly guests direct from the mainland, they typically get their groceries from island communities, which may entail some form of contact.

“The message that we’re looking to send to lodges that want to open is to be respectful of our wishes.”

Do you have something to add to this story or something else we should report on? Email:
karissa.gall@blackpress.ca.


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