M. of Aboriginal Relations
Minister of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation George Abbott welcomed Hereditary Chiefs and dignitaries of the Haida Nation to the legislature today to celebrate the introduction of historic decision-making legislation.
"The Haida Gwaii Reconciliation Act represents a new beginning for the Haida Nation, the people of Haida Gwaii, and the Province by implementing joint decision-making provisions of a remarkable protocol and officially restoring the name Haida Gwaii to the Queen Charlotte Islands," said Abbott. "This legislation acknowledges the uniqueness of Haida Gwaii and the Haida Nation and confirms government's continued commitment to build a New Relationship with Aboriginal people based on mutual respect, recognition and reconciliation."
"Conflict is borne out of difference - getting along might be even more complicated, but we can make this work," said Guujaaw, President of the Haida Nation. "Ultimately through co operation there will be more respect given to the lands and the culture and better returns from resources, which overall will provide better social conditions for our people."
The proposed Haida Gwaii Reconciliation Act implements commitments set out in the Kunst'aa Guu - Kunst'aayah Reconciliation Protocol between the Province and the Haida Nation, which was signed Dec. 11, 2009.
The decision-making framework provides for the establishment of a management council made up of two appointees by each of the Haida Nation and the Province under their respective authorities, as well as a jointly appointed chair. This management council will be responsible for making land and natural resource decisions over most of Haida Gwaii, including:
* Implementation and amendment of the Haida Gwaii Strategic Land Use Agreement.
* Establishing land use objectives for forest and range practices.
* Determining the overall Allowable Annual Cut.
* Approving protected areas management plans.
* Developing policies and standards for the identification and conservation of heritage sites.
The legislation also provides for the official renaming of the Queen Charlotte Islands to Haida Gwaii, which means "Islands of the People." The restoration of the name Haida Gwaii will be recognized by the Haida community at a ceremony in June when the Haida Nation will officially return the name "Queen Charlotte Islands" to the Crown.
"Kunst'aa Guu - Kunst'aayah are the Massett and Skidegate words for "The Beginning" and this is indeed a new beginning for the people of the Haida Nation, Haida Gwaii industry and government," said Pat Bell, Minister of Forests and Range.
"Certainty and stability are crucial for the economy of Haida Gwaii and all Islanders," said Evan Putterill, director, Electoral Area E - Sandspit, Skeena-Queen Charlotte Regional District. "By weighing everyone's interests over land and resource decisions, this agreement strikes an important balance, and we look forward to seeing shared decision-making in practice."
The Council of the Haida Nation represents about 4,000 people, primarily in the two villages of Old Massett and Skidegate on Haida Gwaii.
The Province continues to build a New Relationship with Aboriginal people based on respect, recognition and reconciliation. For more information about the New Relationship and the Kunst'aa Guu - Kunst'aayah Reconciliation Protocol, please CLICK HERE