Hold Enbridge review session here, Haida Nation says

  • Sep. 1, 2010 1:00 p.m.

The Haida Nation would like sessions of the upcoming Enbridge Northern Gateway Joint Review Panel to be held on the islands. Council of the Haida Nation president Guujaaw said he was not able to participate in the Aug. 31 hearing in Kitimat – part of the upcoming review process – but the CHN sent a letter outlining their position instead. The meeting, along with another scheduled for Prince George on Sept. 8, was held to give interested parties a say in what issues should be looked at by the Joint Review Panel and where the hearings should be held. “We said we will participate in hearings, but they should also take place here,” said Guujaaw. Art Sterritt of Coastal First Nations, an alliance of Wuikinuxv Nation, Heiltsuk, Kitasoo/Xaixais, Nuxalk, Gitga’at, Haisla, Metlakatla, Old Massett, Skidegate, and the Haida Nation, was present at the Tuesday hearing. He told the panel it was inevitable that an oil spill would occur if the pipeline goes ahead. “The consequences of an oil spill on the coast would not only be catastrophic to the pristine waters within our traditional territories but also to our people and our culture,” he said. It is for those reasons that the ban on oil tankers on the BC coast remains, Mr. Sterritt said. “We have commissioned scientific reports and consulted with our communities over the past five years. The message we have received is clear – the ban on oil tankers must stay in place.” An oil spill would cause irreparable damage to the marine ecosystem and resources, he said. “Marine resources, whether for food, social or commercial use, are culturally and economically important to First Nations. We’ve spent the last decade creating a conservation-based economy that includes a very promising shellfish aquaculture industry. An oil spill would destroy that sustainable industry.” The recent BP oil spill in Louisiana and the Enbridge spill in Michigan occurred in relatively friendly marine environments, Mr. Sterritt said. “Yet they proved to be difficult to contain and clean up. The conditions on our coast are much harsher and that coupled with the existing archaic cleanup technology means an oil spill would destroy the marine ecosystem and the resources we depend so heavily on.” Mr. Sterritt said the alliance is not opposed to all resource developments on the coast. “But they must be properly planned and safe. They must contribute to sustainable economic development while protecting the environment and supporting coastal communities. The proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline does not meet those criteria.” A rally was held in Kitmat at the same time as the hearing with anti-Enbridge participants from across the north attending. At a recent meeting in Smithers, Wet’suwet’en chiefs expressed their displeasure about the project to two Enbridge Northern Gateway presenters. The meeting was held in Smithers Council Chambers and two chiefs, Toghestiy and Hagwilakw both from the Likhts’amisyu clan, told the presenters they were trespassing on Wet’suwet’en territory. The presenters were given eagle feathers and told not to trespass on the territory again. The Office of the Wet’suwet’en has also raised concern about the regulatory process for the proposed project as it acknowledges aboriginal rights but ignores Wet’suwet’en Title.