It’s like Russian roulette. That’s what I see happening if you have an oil spill. Our culture and everything would die
Local newspaper coverage of the federal-provincial joint review panel hearing into the Enbridge project in the community hall in Old Massett, Haida Gwaii (Queen Charlotte Islands), 28 Feb:
The drums pounded rhythmically, the song filled the hall, the hereditary chiefs proceeded solemnly down the main aisle, as more than 250 people looKed on.
It was just after 9 am on day one-Tuesday- of the federal-provincial joint review panel hearing into the Enbridge project on the islands in the community hall in Old Massett.
“Haida Gwaii is our home. Just saying that sounds so powerful,” Alan Wilson-Chief XXX said, welcomed everyone. The Haida people and the Haida Nation have had battles in the past, he said, but “we’ve always come out the victor.
“We have the support of many,” he said, this is our home, Haida Gwaii, and we the people…will protect it at all costs.”
Haida Nation president Guujaaw was the first to formally testify to the panel. His presentation lasted the better part of an hour. He started by describing his early life in Masset, gathering cocKles, sea cucumbers and catching smelts.
It was ” typical how our people had developed a relationship with the land, from the early days,” Guujaaw said.
He also told the three member panel that today, he’s able to feed his family “probably five times a weeK” from the ocean around. “This is the way I Keep in touch with the land,” he said.
Guujaaw talKed about Haida stories that go bacK before the ice age, about 10,000 years ago. “We Know of the time when the whole Hecate Strait was dry land. People lived there and hunted caribou and elK there, and lived in an entirely different way than we do today.”
“We are here to try to maKe you understand how a culture is born and how it develops,” he said. “Our culture is about how close we can be to the earth. All the material culture is directly from the earth.”
Guujaaw also said it became clear many years ago that industrial exploitation of the islands could be the death Knell for Haida culture.