Haida matriarchs occupy ancient villages to protect against COVID-19
Gaandlee Guu Jaalang - Daughters of the River
As people of Haida Gwaii, we uphold our responsibility as stewards of the air, land and sea. The Haida assert our inherent right to safety and food security in our unceded lands and waters.
As a matrilineal society, the Gaandlee Guu Jaalang, “daughters of the rivers”, are the Haida women who have the responsibility to protect Haida Gwaii.
After several community meetings, as of July 9th, 2020 Gaandlee Guu Jaalang are upholding Haida law through the occupation of two ancient villages, Kung and Sk’aawats. The Haida people are asserting our inherent rights, according to our traditional ways, and ensuring food security during this global pandemic.
Following Haida leadership and the local state of emergency (SOE) the Gaandlee Guu Jaalang must protect the health and safety of our people. Most island businesses have adhered to the state of emergency and have remained closed to non-residents during the COVID-19 pandemic. We have asserted that Haida consent must be provided before opening the island.
Two luxury sport fishing resorts have disrespected Haida law and jurisdiction putting island residents at risk. Queen Charlotte Lodge (QCL) and West Coast Fishing Club have reopened without Haida consent. This means plane loads of non-residents are coming to our islands and potentially exposing island residents to COVID-19. Previously, Queen Charlotte Lodge 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 daughters of the rivers will peacefully occupy our homelands with children, Elders and island residents. Our people will exercise our rights to food sovereignty and continue occupation. Our Haida leadership have been consistent in keeping our communities safe and have processes in place to assess reopening the islands. All businesses must respect these processes. These luxury fishing resorts must respect Haida law and receive consent before reopening.
Eighty to 95 percent of the Haida people were wiped out by the smallpox epidemic purposely introduced to Haida Gwaii to destroy our people. We plan to survive this pandemic at all cost.
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