QUEEN CHARLOTTE, B.C. -- A group of Haida matriarchs say they plan to occupy two ancient villages on Haida Gwaii after a fishing lodge decided to reopen on the remote archipelago despite objections from the First Nation.

In a statement, the matriarchs known as “daughters of the rivers” say the Queen Charlotte Lodge is reopening as a local state of emergency remains in effect over the COVID-19 pandemic.

They say they're concerned that non-residents will expose local people to the novel coronavirus and with only two ventilators on Haida Gwaii, an outbreak would be devastating.

The matriarchs say they made the decision to peacefully occupy the lands with children, elders and other island residents following several community meetings.

Brian Clive, vice-president of sales and corporate development for the lodge, says it is fully complying with the orders and guidelines issued by the B.C. government, health authorities and WorkSafeBC.

Earlier this week, Clive said the lodge plans to use a helicopter to bring guests directly to the lodge from the mainland.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 10, 2020.