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Haida Gwaii fishing lodge plans reopening as tensions boil over with Nation

FILE -- A photo of Queen Charlotte Lodge (Courtesy Facebook/Queen Charlotte Lodge)

Luxury fishing lodge set to open July 10, despite wishes of council nation

Both lodge staff and Haida members say they were harassed by the other

Haida members say their patience is wearing thin with tourism operator

HAIDA GWAII (NEWS 1130) — Haida Gwaii is asking luxury fishing lodges to respect the wishes of the Nation and stay closed as it remains under a state of emergency due to COVID-19.

Members of the Haida Nation hand-delivered letters to lodges by boat on Saturday, including to Queen Charlotte Lodge (QCL), which says it plans to reopen on July 10.

That turned ugly as the 12 boats, including one marked as a Haida Nation Council vessel, left Queen Charlotte Lodge, according to an account by one Haida member and a statement from the company.

“We went out to serve papers to the lodges today. To say we are still in a state of emergency and they shouldn’t open. With very much respect. I have never felt so disrespected in my entire life,” says a Facebook post by Duffy Edgars.

“We were making our way out of naden QCI lodge. 40 boats driving at us full speed. No thoughts about out (sic) safety. We had chiefs, nonnies and children in our boats. One was my grandson. I absolutely hate the fact that this is our land as Haidas and people still think it belongs to them. We need to make a stand or it’s going to continue to happen.”

Queen Charlotte Lodge says staff harassed

In turn, the fishing lodge issued a statement, Sunday, accusing the fleet of about 12 Haida member boats of harassment, saying, “there were a number of close calls as our staff skillfully avoided being rammed by the CHN and other boats — fortunately there were no collisions or injuries,” adding the RCMP had been contacted and given video of the incident.

The lodge says 40 boats were being retrieved from winter storage and it will go forward with a planned reopening of July 10.

The lodge adds it is 45 kilometres from the nearest community and is in compliance with all provincial health measures.

The company plans to fly clients in directly from the Mainland, avoiding contact with Haida members.

Edgars had rallied community boats days before to show a “presence” on the water.

“How many boats can we rally up for the morning to show our presence out on the water? Just food fishing. Naden and Langara. We can pay for the fuel,” he posted.

Members are responding to the lodge’s statement, saying it amounts to racial gaslighting and that businesses should do more to consult with First Nations and respect their wishes.

QCL says it has tried “for many weeks” to discuss concerns over fishing lodges reopening with the Council of the Haida Nation.

Meanwhile, the Langara Fishing Lodge says it is not planning to reopen until it is given the blessing by the Haida Nation.

Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix have said communities can set their own pace for welcoming visitors back under Phase 3 relaxations.

First Nations have been able to effectively slow pandemic spread because of travel restrictions and strict protocols, according to information provided by Dr. Shannon McDonald, acting chief medical officer for the First Nations Health Authority, in June.

Provincial health data up to date for June shows 87 cases detected with 5,500 tests.