Enbridge Scheme Rejected
Heiltsuk First Nation demonstrating against Enbridge at Bella Bella on
2 April 2012.
When the National Energy Board's Joint Review
Panel Process came to Bella Bella, it was greeted by Heiltsuk protesters
who wanted to make their position on the Enbridge scheme clear. "We will
stand together," says Nuxalk Hereditary Chief Snuxyaltwa,
"We are family and neighbours and we are united against Enbridge."
Right: "Oolichan Oil Not Alberta Oil," by Heiltsuk artist Henry Roy Vickers.
5 April 2012. Nuxalk Press Release.
A number of Hereditary Chiefs and Elders of the Nuxalk First
Nation of Bella Coola have counseled their elected Chief and Council
to withdraw as intervenors from the National Energy Board's Joint Review
Panel Process for the Enbridge Gateway oil tanker and pipeline project.
They say the federal government has already predetermined its approval
of the project.
no honour in the federal Crown's approach to consulting with First Nations
on the Enbridge project," says Andrew Andy, the elected
Chief of the Nuxalk Nation.
"Recent statements make it clear that the Prime Minister has already decided
to approve the super tanker project that would violate First Nations' Title and
Rights and put our coastal waters at risk of a major oil spill."
"How can we participate in a process driven by a government that has labelled
us 'socially dysfunctional'?" says Charlie Nelson, a Hereditary Chief of
the Nuxalk Nation, referring to recent controversial statements by Natural Resources
Minister Joe Oliver.
"Where is the honour in the Crown stating that it's
prepared to violate our constitutionally-protected Title and Rights before the
work of gathering information on the scope of infringement is even done?"
(3 April 2012): Today we are facing a battle to save our coast not from
a hurricane, an earthquake or a tsunami but from Enbridge. Even two World
Wars could not kill the Northwest Coast. Our mountains have stopped and
slowed corporate greed for generations. The government has built roads,
cleared most of the forest and exploited the natural environment without
settling Nuxalk land claims. Instead of negotiating treaties with the First
Peoples, the government continues its greed in exploiting our resources.
The Enbridge pipeline will bring tarsands oil to Kitimaat from where
it will be shipped at great risk in huge tankers along the coast. Our
survival as an Indigenous People and our spiritual connection to the
Creator depends on the health of our land and waters. Many of our native
leaders are telling us that we must put our lives on the line to fight
for Mother Earth and the lives of our grandchildren.
I heard the gifted ten year old girl, Ta'Kaiya Blaney of
Sliammon First Nation, singing from
her heart for the Animal Kingdom and against the dirty oil Enbridge scheme.
In contrast, the highest educated and most powerful leaders of today
don't seem to care at all for the welfare of the wild animals and the
need to protect their habitat. Some will try to negotiate with these
leaders. My answer is 'No' – the 'No' of Ta'Kaiya's song.
Right: Ta'Kaiya Blaney performing at the Heiltsuk led protest against Enbridge
in Vancouver, 26 March 2012.
Alanna Andy Gasio (5 April 2012): We
the Nuxalk People, in association with other Coast Salish Nations, have
been struggling for decades to negotiate with the Canadian government
over the control of our hereditary territory rights. Our People are desperately
trying to maintain what remains of our natural resources. Now oil pipelines
and tankers threaten the pristine forest watersheds of our West Coast.
More than can possibly be fathomed, the effect on our resources will
Our lands have already been damaged and left vulnerable by logging companies
while they have grown rich. Large areas of the Bella Coola Valley will never
again be replenished. Landslides in logged areas destroy our salmon spawning
river and stream beds. Other natural disasters include the flooding of our homes,
businesses and farm lands. The force of water coming down unstable mountain slopes
wipes out bridges, erodes roads and forces new river channels. Numerous non populated
places in our lands have also been impacted by logging. What about the destruction
of salmon spawning beds and wildlife habitat in these areas, where there is no
one to witness the damage?
and right: Nuxalk Eulachon Project, 2005. Nuxalk heritage sites have
been destroyed and with them disappears the history of our lineage and
our families. I learned first hand about the impact of logging to our
land from my training in archaeology, when I took part in the Nuxalk
Heritage Project. We surveyed land in our outer coastal territory before
it was clearcut logged, locating culturally modified trees and village
sites. At the same time, we witnessed the longterm negative effects of
logging such as slope erosion, destruction of natural water ways, the
impact on plant species and wildlife etc.
Nuxalkmc have lost many of our natural resources including the eulachon runs
that were once so abundant every year. Eulachon grease was not only a main food
staple of our People, it was a great part of our culture. As a child, I remember
my Gran sending me down to the Bella Coola River to catch enough eulachon for
dinner, using only my hands. Eulachon runs no longer exist in our river as before.
Every spring we wait in anticipation hoping this year will be different and the
eulachon will return. Now we are forced to buy and trade for eulachon. Our voices
have been silenced far too long. Time is of the essence. We must act now to stop
the further destruction of the watersheds that remain on our coast.
NUXALK STRONG – NUXALK FOREVER