More than 20 demonstrators gathered on the road outside the BC Ferries terminal in Prince Rupert on Thursday at noon, stopping vehicles that were boarding the vessel destined for Haida Gwaii to tell them the islands are closed to visitors.
Pansy Collison, Prince Rupert regional representative for the Council of the Haida Nation (CHN), told Black Press Media the purpose of the gathering was to “send a message to everyone that Haida Gwaii is closed” and take “preventative measures to keep the residents of Haida Gwaii safe from COVID-19.”
“The risk is more acute to our elders and our seniors,” Collison said. “They are our cultural knowledge holders. They carry our language and our culture and our history, so we need to ensure their safety.”
She had put a call out on Facebook the day before to Haida people in Prince Rupert, inviting them to join the gathering.
“If you can, please make your own signs, wear your regalia, and pass this to other Haida people and friends to come join us to send a loud message that Haida Gwaii is closed,” the post said.
The CHN, along with the Old Massett Village Council and Skidegate Band Council, had organized a similar demonstration on Monday on Haida Gwaii, at checkpoints outside the BC Ferries terminal in Skidegate as well as the Haida Heritage Centre.
More than 60 people lined the highway in Skidegate around 2 p.m. that afternoon to ask any visitors arriving via BC Ferries to return to the terminal and leave Haida Gwaii.
Collison told Black Press Media another rally in Prince Rupert was necessary because there are “still some people, non-residents, who are travelling via BC Ferries to Haida Gwaii.”
“Some people have got the message, but we still have to put the message out there to everyone to restrict the influx of non-essential travellers,” she said.
More to come.
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