Support journalism that lights the way through the climate crisis by June 3

Goal: $100k
$43,026

Over the last few weeks, Canada’s National Observer published reporting from a remote archipelago just off the coast of British Columbia called Haida Gwaii. These islands are home to dramatic landscapes, abundant wildlife and one of the world’s richest heritages.

Freelance journalist Brandi Morin and CNO’s John Woodside visited the rocky terrain to bring light to the story of a First Nation that continues the fight for its rights over the land and sea, despite having inhabited the territory for over 13,000 years.

In our newest podcast, Protecting Haida Gwaii, Morin takes listeners on a journey through the rapid waters of Haida Gwaii’s coast to meet its protectors, who are known as Haida guardians.

Haida guardians are “the eyes and ears” of their territory, says Morin.

The guardians take the same training as Canada’s Department of Fisheries officers so they can “monitor and keep track of the health of coasts here and keep poachers away,” she adds.

Locals and community leaders tell Morin about their quest to defend their land and sea from the growing threats of climate change, overfishing and liquefied natural gas (LNG) tankers.

Haida harvester and youth program co-ordinator Aadiitsii Jaad (Marni York). Photo by John Woodside/Canada's National Observer.

“We have the most vested interest of anyone in our territory,” says Marni York, a harvester of traditional food and medicine who has looked after Haida Gwaii since she was a young girl.

“The defending of our resources as First Nations people is never-ending… defending the salmon, defending the forest, defending the mining, defending, it's never-ending,” she tells Morin.

Our new podcast, Protecting Haida Gwaii, transports listeners to the coastal rainforests and cliff edges of Haida Gwaii. It delves into the strength and perseverance that the Haida inject into the lifeblood of their territory.

This is a story about modern colonialism, says Woodside, who has reported extensively about the increasing perils of resource extraction, LNG tankers and overfishing in Haida Gwaii.

“Commercial overfishing has led to harvesting bans imposed on Haida citizens, cruise and cargo ships create immense pollution and bring invasive species, and an LNG boom in British Columbia means hundreds more ships will cross this region annually, leading to mounting pressure on the ocean ecosystem that’s sustained Haida society and culture for thousands of years,” he writes.

“We're in this moment where lots of people are trying to put reconciliation into practice, but we haven't really reckoned with our colonial past. Canadians should understand this as the modern colonialism that it is,” Woodside said.

Listen to Protecting Haida Gwaii wherever you get your podcasts.

Protecting Haida Gwaii transports listeners to the coastal rainforests and cliff edges of Haida Gwaii. It delves into the strength and perseverance that the Haida inject into the lifeblood of their territory. Listen to Protecting Haida Gwaii by subscribing to Canada’s National Observer wherever you get your podcasts.

The Protecting Haida Gwaii podcast was made possible by the support of the Institute for Journalism and Natural Resources, the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, Real Estate Foundation of BC and the McConnell Foundation.

Got questions or comments? Email us at [email protected]. You can also follow us on Twitter @NatObserver.