I hope that each of you had a good summer and fall, spending time outdoors with family and engaging in subsistence activities in preparation for the coming winter season. During challenging times like these, it is important that we continue our cultural traditions and look out for each other. The year 2020 has taught us the significance of gathering together and innovative ways to accomplish that. Even when we are not able to meet in person, there are many examples of that spirit being represented during this pandemic – whether it be the innovative ways we have found to subsist and share our food safely, to congregate virtually, and by making sure our high-risk or quarantined friends and family members feel supported.
This December marks the 50th Anniversary of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act. Since 1971, Alaska Native Corporations (ANCs) have strived to build businesses with social missions built on the foundation of our cultural values. On the eve of the 50th Anniversary, I am proud to see BSNC making a positive difference in so many ways.
Many residents may have heard about IPOP, LLC’s (IPOP), proposed mining project in Safety Sound. This mining venture is planned to be executed in waters and lands immediately adjacent to Solomon Native Corporation lands, the subsurface estate of which is held by BSNC.
The impact of mining in these sensitive aforementioned areas would be devastating to the people and communities that continue to rely on their lands for survival, which is why BSNC’s Board of Directors announced their opposition to this project. Community trust, engagement and dialogue in operating locations is critical to the short and long-termsuccess of mining projects. IPOP’s past actions and lack of interest in building community trust is very concerning. Transparency is imperative, and IPOP has not worked with local residents to communicate or address their concerns. BSNC has requested that the State of Alaska revoke the mining permit it issued to IPOP.
BSNC held its 2020 Annual Meeting of Shareholders virtually on Oct. 3. On behalf of BSNC, I would like to thank retiring Director Homer Hoogendoorn for his 30 years of service to BSNC. Homer joined the Board in 1989 and also served as an employee for BSNC subsidiary Bering Straits Development Company. I thank Homer for his hard work and dedication to BSNC.
I am pleased to welcome Fred Sagoonick to the BSNC Board of Directors. Fred served as a Board Director from 2008-2017. Fred is a resident of Shaktoolik and a commercial fisherman. He is a retired General Manager of Shaktoolik Native Corporation, is currently a Director of the Alaska Village Electric Cooperative and a member of the Village of Shaktoolik Tribal Council.
I am proud and inspired by the way our company and shareholders have risen to the challenges faced during the COVID-19 pandemic – with courage, flexibility, resilience and heart. This pandemic has tested us, yet we remain steadfast in our mission to improve the quality of life of Our People through economic development while protecting our land and preserving our culture and heritage. BSNC is blessed to be able to continue to provide enhanced benefits to our shareholders and descendants. Let’s work together, across all parts of business, community and region to keep going.
Please continue to look after yourselves and your families. Quyaana, and be safe and healthy.
Gail R. Schubert
BSNC President & CEO