Anti-Enbridge group forms on-island

  • Jun. 13, 2011 12:00 p.m.

By Adrienne Fitzpatrick–Almost forty years later, CoASt is back. CoAst (Coalition against super tankers) was started in the 70s to fight supertankers going to Kitimat, and Friday night in Tlell, it was born again. Thirty-one people turned out to an Enbridge awareness group meeting, passing several motions to strengthen its presence on the Islands, make connections with other anti-Enbridge groups, and encouraging people to participate in an upcoming review panel process with intervenor status. Enbridge is proposing a pipeline from the Alberta tar sands, a large tanker facility in Kitimat with north and south tanker routes, both of which will affect Haida Gwaii, said Queen Charlotte councillor Kris Olsen. “It’s a gamble and the risk isn’t worth it,” he said. Breaks in Enbridge pipelines are becoming newsworthy, with the most recent in April in Alberta, where from four to fifteen hundred barrels were lost. Enbridge is “bringing something very ugly to our doorstep,” Mr. Olsen said.First Nations groups have gone to Calgary and Vancouver to protest at Enbridge headquarters, and have also approached the media and financial media, said Jennifer Rice of Friends of Wild Salmon from Prince Rupert, who earlier in the week, toured the islands with MLA Gary Coons to talk about the Enbridge project (see separate story).The next step is to target investors, she added, with a focus on major banks, as Enbridge will build pipelines on borrowed money. “Ask them to pull out, not invest. First Nations protests scare bankers and investors, and banks don’t want to fund projects against aboriginal rights,” she said, adding that the Gwaii Trust recently pulled out of investments that supported the Enbridge project.Applying for intervenor status with the federal government’s joint review panel is one of the most effective ways to fight the project, said Ms Rice. The application is available on the web. “There is an extensive list of issues and the only way you can’t get the status is if you don’t fill out the form correctly or if you choose issues outside of this list. You can participate as much or as little as you want,” she said.Area ‘D’ regional district director Evan Putterill asked volunteers to sign up people online or go door to door, helping those without internet access. He also proposed an intervenor guidebook be published as an insert in the Observer and a collection was taken. “People have concerns and they want them to be met with in a respectful manner,” said Mr. Putterill.If there are hearings on the Islands, “that would be the time for a protest,” he said. John Disney, who organized an anti-Enbridge protest in Masset a few weeks ago, added that “we’ll treat them with respect, show them what we are passionate about”.A communication plan was proposed and Mr. Putterill suggested sending a press release to the CBC. Representatives of the Skidegate Band and the Queen Charlotte village councils volunteered to make copies.Mr. Putterill asked Ms Rice for ways to connect with other groups. She suggested signing up with Friends of Wild Salmon and said CoAST should sign up with related Google groups and start its own Google group. Mr. Putterill said there are five or six societies on the Islands that should be contacted and a sub-committee should be formed to contact them.He suggested the group become a society, and Mr. Disney added fund-raising would be important to send representatives to meetings.”This whole island saying ‘no’ is powerful, indigenous and non-indigenous people working together,” he added. Mr. Olsen, Mr. Putterill and Mr. Disney agreed to form a sub-committee to discuss and bring forward what kind of group CoAST should be. “Stay as you are, stays as concerned citizens as it gives you legitimacy, not a well-funded society,” said Ms Rice. “Informal groups allow people to express. It benefits people in bringing their voices forward,” said Ruth Gladstone-Davies. Mr. Disney said “I like this looseness, facing a common set of enemies”. “We should stay in between, find a balance and avoid bureaucracy,” says Mr. Putterill. The group, now calling itself CoAST, planned to attend the joint review panel process meeting in Queen Charlotte on Tuesday.