We haven't seen hardly any indication of it being the [United Nations] Indigenous Peoples' Year. Like for instance, I went to Vancouver City Hall and asked to do the banners and they didn't even know it was Indigenous Peoples' Year. So of course there's no indigenous banners. I think that we have a long way to go yet. I don't see anything changing.
They [B.C. Treaty Commission] talk about the treatying, but in my mind, it's to legitimize the theft of our land and I'm not about to help them legitimize that. I think that they only treaty because they want to continue the colonization of the people that were here originally. I think that we have to begin to organize in a different way, because they haven't honoured the treaty.
The reason they're treatying with us, or want to treaty with us, is because we are sovereign people in our own homelands --but they don't want anybody to mention that. They don't want our leaders to mention it, otherwise they won't treaty with us.
I believe that Haida-Gwaii belongs to the Haida people and will always belong to the Haida people, and we can't compromise even an inch of it. We can talk about how we can live together from there.
I notice there's a land question but the [logging company] barges--about three loads of several millions dollars worth of timber [on them]--are still going out past our reserves. And yet we have to live like there's no jobs for anybody. Ninety-three per cent unemployed, or 97 per cent on some reserves. And we've been that way a long time. There's going to be no future left for our children if they continue to pack out the resources.
Well, I've been back in Masset for a very short time, but I see nothing has changed. The kind of things that were going on for the last hundred years still continue. The future of our children is non-existent. We're going to be welfare cases forever if the practice of this kind of [clearcut] logging continues; there'll be nothing left.
The reason we have been able to survive as a people, in spite of everything that has happened to us, is because of the salmon. Now in this day and age we are still being harassed by governments and now by the fishermen, by the non-Native fishermen, in regards to salmon. And even the black cod -- they say we never used black cod, well our history tells us different. We've always used all of the sea resources.
I was really happy to be involved in the child care changes last year. And I asked for separate way of dealing with the Native area of it because I knew we'd get lost within the larger community. They left us alone, I'll say that much for [B.C. social services minister] Joan Smallwood. Like she said she would, I really appreciate that.
But things haven't changed much. The fact that they're still apprehending our children and still wanting to give them away to other people. There are a couple of cases at home -- they want to give them away to our neighbours, our non-Native neighbours. And I think that should come to an end. Now that we've done that [child care] study and made those recommendations, they talk about legislation -- that it should take place, it was supposed to be [last] spring. But now it has to be put off until next spring, which means more delays and we lose more children.
I think our constitutional rights in this country are in place, they just choose to ignore their own laws. I think that is an issue we should bring forward through the courts, since the existing governments ignore it. But then again, the courts haven't been very just to us. I don't know what the process one uses. If there is no honour who is the one we deal with? That's always been one of the problems.
The justice system, I think everyone knows that if you are wealthy enough, you can buy your way out of anything. It's the poor people that pay. As we are the poorest of the country, our people don't get much justice from the system. We really need a lot of people to speak out. Nobody ever speaks out on the situation of the Native people. Every Canadian has the right to services, and I don't see why we aren't seen in the same light as the rest of the country. We get less than the welfare most people get. We have no economic base in the villages and I hate that [colonial] word reserve, I wish they would get rid of it. We call them villages, and that's what Canada means in the Mohawk language is villages.
We share our land with the complete understanding that we're not giving away an inch, because we don't have a right to. It belongs to the future generations as well as the present. It belongs to the past generations who still remain. Our ancestry is very important to us, even now.
So it's not like they're gone and forgotten. They're still with us and they have a right. It's a different way of thinking than what has been imposed on us. Sharing doesn't mean that it's theirs, as it has in the past. But there's nothing to fear from us -- in spite of everything that's happened to us, we're still a sharing people.
In January 1993, the Haida and Salish nations filed a court order demanding Canada and the U.S. to respect aboriginal jurisdiction over their territory. Not surprisingly, the courts have not issued a verdict to date.