Enbridge signs Chief Jones Jr.

  • Wed Jul 8th, 2015 11:00am
  • News

By Stacey MarpleHaida Gwaii ObserverAt a time when islands’ opposition to pipeline development is near-absolute, Chief Roy Jones Jr. of Skidegate has signed on as a community consultation representative for Enbridge’s Northern Gateway project. While the Council of the Haida Nation has repeatedly stated opposition to any and all oil-development projects on the north coast, Mr. Jones told the Observer local representation with the industry is vital to keep a watch on potential tanker traffic in the future, as well the little-mentioned, high volumes already slipping past Haida Gwaii from Alaska. Mr. Jones said he was motivated to take this action after attending the Lessons of the Simushir last month in Skidegate, during which community stakeholders and all levels of government met to discuss the powerless Russian cargo vessel’s near disaster on Haida Gwaii in October last year. The conference revealed a high lack of knowledge of the shipping routes that are already going around or by Haida Gwaii, Mr. Jones said. “This is all in the wake of the lessons of the Simushir,” Mr. Jones said. “I didn’t wake up one day and do this; I put a lot of thought into this.”Mr. Jones has been a part of the Northern Gateway project for less than two months, but says he has already seen a lot of community backlash directed at him for his decision. “They have to be mindful that there are 6,800 ships that transit the great circle route, and they are anywhere from 25 nautical miles to 120 nautical miles off Haida Gwaii,” Mr. Jones said.”Simushir showed us that we are totally unprotected. Northern Gateway is offering solutions, everyone has to pay attention to what’s going on offshore,” Mr. Jones said. When asked if he supports pipelines Mr. Jones said, “Pipelines ends when the fuel goes into our boats, cars, trains and homes.”The Observer reached out to Northern Gateway to get a clearer understanding of what Mr. Jones’ position actually entails. In an email reply, Ivan Giesbrecht, communication manager for Northern Gateway, said simply that the relationship with Mr. Jones is part of the company’s continued effort to meet with First Nations and Metis communities.”Our first priority is to build trust, engage in respectful dialogue, and build meaningful partnerships with them,” he wrote. “We know that safe shipping and emergency response planning is of the utmost importance to our province’s coastal communities. For this reason we are committed to hearing directly from Haida Gwaii residents, along with other coastal communities, to listen and work together to address their concerns.”