WWF-Canada Blog:
Oceans


Haida Ethics at the Heart of New MaPP Marine Plan

A visionary draft marine plan to guide ocean uses surrounding the islands at the outer edge of Canada’s Pacific is rooted in Haida ethics and values.

Inside Haida Heritage Centre ©Linda Nowlan

Inside Haida Heritage Centre ©Linda Nowlan

A feast was held in the town of Skidegate, Haida Gwaii this week to celebrate the return of the k’aaw,  the Haida name for herring roe on kelp. The return of this delicacy was an auspicious sign for the other meeting in town, an Open House for the newly released Haida Gwaii DRAFT Marine Plan, where we sampled k’aaw, salmon and pickled sea asparagus as we talked about the plan.

Six Haida ethics are embedded in the marine use plan developed by the Marine Planning Partnership. (MaPP).

Totem Pole at Haida Heritage Centre ©Linda Nowlan

Totem Pole at Haida Heritage Centre ©Linda Nowlan

As Russ Jones, the Council of the Haida Nation MaPP co-lead explained, respect or ‘Yahguudang’ is central to the Haida world view:  “Respect, for each other and all living things, is rooted in our culture. We take only what we need, we give thanks, and we acknowledge those who behave accordingly.”

Masset Graveyard ©Harry Killas

Masset Graveyard ©Harry Killas

One Haida resident after another told stories which brought these ethics to life. They recalled a time when every village family had a fishing boat and hoped that stronger ocean protection would bring those days back. They praised the plan’s focus on community-based fisheries to build local jobs, and keep more sea-based economic benefits on island. And they spoke warmly of the Haida world view reflected in the new plan, noting that Giid tll’juus or ‘balance’ was key: “The world is as sharp as the edge of a knife. Balance is needed in our interactions with the natural world. If we aren’t careful in everything we do, we can easily reach a point of no return. Our practices and those of others must be sustainable.”