Thursday, May 23, 2024

‘No small feat’: BC recognizes Haida Gwaii’s ownership and jurisdiction of their lands


The BC government and Council of the Haida Nation (CHN) came to an agreement over land disputes that have lasted decades this weekend as the Province has officially shifted the ownership and jurisdiction of Haida Gwaii to the Haida Nation.

The Province says this is a historic agreement as it is the first of its kind which will provide a staged implementation of the land transfer to ensure stability and certainty for all those living on Haida Gwaii. 

This agreement has been in the works since 2021. 

An important aspect of this agreement is that it explicitly protects and maintains private property rights and existing government services and infrastructure operating in Haida Gwaii.

This includes private properties, local governments, public infrastructure, programs and services, highways, airports, ferry terminals, health care and schools.

Additionally, Haida Gwaii residents will continue receiving municipal services and paying property taxes in the same way they do prior to this agreement.

Lastly, the agreement stipulates that Provincially issued leases, permits and other approvals to use Crown lands and recreational access will remain in effect over a several-year transition period. 

The Province says that future management of these permits, leases and approvals will be negotiated down the road with input from communities, businesses and residents of Haida Gwaii. 

“Reaching this agreement has been no small feat,”​ said Gaagwiis Jason Alsop, President of the Haida Nation. 

“It’s really a monumental stride, building on the work of past leaders of the Haida Nation and BC. We have always asserted our sovereignty to Haida Gwaii and the surrounding waters.”

Alsop says that with this agreement in place, the Nation is able to work toward implementing our title without conflict, based on respect.

Now that this agreement has been made, the BC government will be introducing legislation to uphold the deal later this month.

Curtis Blandy

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