Alaska Haida Representatives Visit Haida Gwaii for a Community Exchange
July 08, 2015
Carrie Sykes of the Organized Village of Kasaan and Anthony Christiansen of the Hydaburg Cooperative Association participated in May's community exchange program as part of the Emerald Edge Indigenous Stewardship Initiative. The intent of the program is to bring together people and projects from the coasts of Southeast Alaska, British Columbia, and Washington to support the long-term health of the world’s largest coastal temperate forest.
The magnificent coastal temperate forest
While in Haida Gwaii, Sykes and Christianson participated in the Coastal Stewardship Network Annual Gathering. This annual event brings together stewardship representatives from the First Nations to share information and strategize about important issues related to governing traditional areas. This year, the conference was opened to additional nations including guests from northern Vancouver Island, the Northwest Territories and southern Alaska.
Through participation in the Coastal Stewardship Network Annual Gathering, exchange participants said it became apparent that the Alaskan Haida and Canadian Haida have much to learn from one another in areas, such as cultural tourism, resources management, co-management, and protection of culture.
According to the participants, developing this partnership presents opportunities for collaboration and sharing of information and research processes that could greatly improve local management of traditional resources. The Alaska Haida said they were grateful to participate in this unique opportunity to strengthen international collaborations, build unity and strategize about Indigenous stewardship across the entire Haida nation.
“It was very exciting to learn about what the First Nations are doing in British Columbia to assert their self-governance and sovereign authority. Although the management regimes are quite different between the two countries, there are similar concerns such as impacts from development, competing uses for the resources, challenges facing the eulachon and clams, and potential impacts from sea otter and invasive species,” Carrie Sykes says.
The transboundary relationship with First Nations in British Columbia and Alaska Native Tribes means strength through unity on issues that are important to both nation’s coastal communities.
One prime example given is promoting best management practices for mining operations on the Stikine, Taku and Unuk Rivers. These rivers are very important to Alaskan Natives for salmon, and are equally important to Canadian First Nations.
Other important collaboration opportunities identified during this exchange include:
The Sustainable Southeast Partnership said they are eager to turn this knowledge and strengthened international partnership into action for rural communities in Southeast Alaska.
“Although the Haidas have been separated through a migration to Alaska, we are the same nation and we need a unified voice to protect our customary and traditional resources on both sides of the border. This relationship must include other First Nations and Alaska Native Tribes. We are united by our Native culture, resources and water. When we stand united we have strength and can make a difference for future generations,” says Sykes.
Edited by Mary Kauffman, SitNews
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