Thursday, October 23, 2003

Canadian West Coast Renaissance

The People of Haida Gwaii are reclaiming their past and fighting to control their future. Last year, the Haida filed writ in the B.C. Supreme Court, claiming that the province and Canada "unlawfully occupied and exploited the resources of Haida Gwaii" and "interfered with the culture and livelihood of the Haida Nation." They claim compensation, and Aboriginal title to the islands and the seabed. The case, bolstered by solid evidence of Haida occupation for millennia, unsettles some of the 3,500 non-Haida on the islands. It has profound implications for the province and for industry licensees, which have taken billions in timber, fish and mineral resources from the Charlottes. And it imperils the B.C. government's goal of having an offshore oil and gas industry in the region by 2010.