CHN issues sharp response to “Chiefs on the take”

  • Jul. 17, 2015 7:00 a.m.

By Stacey MarpleHaida Gwaii ObserverThe Council of the Haida Nation has released two pointed letters in response to Enbridge’s recent attempt to secure support of the Northern Gateway Pipeline from Haida Hereditary Chiefs. In a letter addressed to Enbridge on June 28, CHN writes the company’s offer of monetary rewards in exchange for written support of the project is contrary to previous communications with the entirety of the Haida Nation – the CHN, both band councils, Hereditary Chiefs and individual Haida citizens. A document with the signatures of the majority of Haida Chiefs then follows, reminding Enbridge only the CHN will entertain discussions about the project.”The undersigned confirm that we continue to oppose the project. The undersigned provide notice to Enbridge that under Canadian and Haida law, Enbridnge cannot meet any project approval conditions through engagement with any Haida governing body other than the CHN…. [We] hereby provide notice that, after consultation with our professional advisors and clan members, we hereby cease any and all discussions or negotiations of any further agreements with Enbridge.”Out of the 25 Hereditary and House Chiefs and Haida Leaders named in the document, five did not sign. The Observer cannot confirm at this time if this was indicative of potential agreements with Enbridge.In an open letter issued the previous day, June 27, addressed to “those who are reliant on salmon,” the CHN offered harsh words for those chiefs accepting Enbridge’s offer. “Over the past week’s talk of chiefs ‘on the take’ has distressed our nation, the thought of it a great discredit to our ancient institution, which is based on respect. “However, regardless of the number on the take or even aboriginal ownership of a project, which would also transport oil, it will not lessen the risks or be reason for our involvement is such ideas.”The timing of the letters appears directed at Chief Roy Jones Jr. of Skidegate, who recently signed on with Enbridge as a community consultation representative.On June 26 Mr. Jones told the Observer his actions were motivated by what he heard at the Lessons of the Simushir conference last month, during which community stakeholders and all levels of government met to discuss the powerless Russian Cargo vessel that nearly ran aground on Haida Gwaii last year. The conference revealed a high lack of knowledge of current 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.”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.

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