British Columbia

Tension escalates in Haida Gwaii forestry dispute

The Council of the Haida Nation is telling forestry companies they don't have permission to log certain areas.

Haida Nation says province doesn't have permission to grant logging contracts

The Council of the Haida Nation says the province is selling logging rights to land that should be part of a community forest jointly managed by the Haida and other communities on the northwest B.C. archipelago. (Council of the Haida Nation)

Tensions between the Council of the Haida Nation and the province of British Columbia have escalated, with the Haida telling forestry companies they will not be allowed to log timber sold to them by the province.

Letters have been sent to two companies who recently purchased logging rights on Haida Gwaii, saying that because the Haida Nation did not approve the purchases, they will not be recognized.

The letters are the latest in a series of actions the nation has taken to express its displeasure with the province's management of forestry assets on the archipelago off B.C.'s West Coast.

Haida Nation president kil tlaats 'gaa (known in English as Peter Lantin) has warned frustration among the Haida "has built up to a place where it's going to build up."

Haida Gwaii, an archipelago off B.C.'s West Coast, receives tourists from around the world, drawn to its old-growth forests, wildlife and Haida culture. (Mark Forsythe/CBC)

Under a 2009 protocol, resource decisions on Haida Gwaii are to be reached through consensus with representatives from the B.C. government and the Haida Nation.

But in the case of two blocks of land known as Lawn Hill and Nadu River, consensus was not reached. The Haida Nation didn't want to sell logging rights, the province did, and so the rights were auctioned off through B.C. Timber Sales.

One of the winning bidders says he feels "caught" by the dispute.

"We're kind of stuck in the middle trying to make a living," said David Froese, who co-owns Infinity West Enterprises Inc, a company on Haida Gwaii involved in the winning bid for the Nadu River block of land.

When asked whether he planned to log Nadu River without permission from the Haida Nation, Froese said he would be reaching out directly to the Council of the Haida Nation first.

"I think it's important to get together and talk things out," he said.

"It's a small community ... we all have to agree to disagree and help each other out and work together."

Representatives from the Council of the Haida Nation were not available for an interview about the letters.

CBC reached out to B.C. Timber Sales and the Ministry of Forests about the letters, but has not received a response.

Click on the letters to read the original posts from the Council of the Haida Nation.