#HeiltsukStrong against Enbridge

 

As the media speculates about Enbridge Northern Gateway “rising from the dead,” we want to set the record straight.
For our ancestors

 

Regardless of the positions taken by government, industry, or the media, Heiltsuk Nation remains firm in its opposition to this project and its resolve to fight Enbridge by any means necessary.

As the community knows, we fully engaged as intervenors in the Joint Review process to put our position forward in a clear and strong way. When the Harper government approved the project anyway, we joined with our Kitasoo-Xaixais neighbours in a court challenge pressing for a judicial review of the federal approval.

We are still awaiting the court’s decision, but we are hopeful that the court will affirm that the federal government – which now has Justin Trudeau at the helm – should reconsider and revoke Enbridge’s federal approval.

As a member of Coastal First Nations, we also supported a separate legal challenge in the BC Court of Appeal. This was aimed at the Province of British Columbia, taking them to task for waiving their right to a provincial environmental review of Enbridge Northern Gateway. The courts agreed that the Province, in skipping a provincial review, failed in its duty to consult First Nations. As a result, there is an additional layer of reviews that Enbridge Northern Gateway must now go through to get the necessary provincial permits.

We recognize that challenging these issues in court can be costly. So we engaged with RAVEN Trust and the Pull Together fundraiser, which gathered over $600,000 for First Nations legal fees to reduce the financial burden of court challenges. As a result, we are able to maximize Heiltsuk’s contribution to the legal challenges while minimizing the cost to our Nation.

We know we can’t just leave this up to the courts, and we are pushing the issue politically as well. In the federal mandate letters, ministers were tasked with crafting and implementing a North Coast crude oil moratorium that would prevent projects like Enbridge from shipping their product from ports like Kitimat. Heiltsuk is keeping up political pressure to ensure that moratorium is implemented.

Under the terms of its approval from the Harper government, Enbridge has a certain period of time to fulfill 209 conditions imposed on it by Cabinet. That period of time essentially elapses at the end of 2016, and we are closely monitoring Enbridge’s (lack of) progress in fulfilling their conditions. In the end, their federal approval may become null through Enbridge’s own inability to complete basic tasks like confirming shipping contracts.

Rachel Notley and the Alberta NDP may think Enbridge Northern Gateway deserves to be resurrected. Heiltsuk are here to remind her, and to remind the proponent, that we won’t stop fighting this project until it’s dead.

We have heard loud and clear the community’s position that the risk of this project is too great, and that it must not come to pass. As a Nation, we have committed to fighting Enbridge in the boardroom, in the courtroom, in the streets, and if necessary, on the land. Only Enbridge knows how far they will push us, but one thing is certain in our minds:

No matter how far they push us, we’ll be there until we win.

A Dark Day in History

Today marks a dark anniversary in the history of the Pacific coast:

On March 24, 1989, the oil tanker Exxon Valdez ran aground at Bligh Reef in Alaska’s Prince William Sound. The ship was carrying 55 million US gallons of oil, and the remoteness of the spill site meant that spill response was slow and difficult.

The oil polluted 2,100 km of coastline, and 28,000 km2 of ocean. Immediate impacts included the death of hundreds of thousands of seabirds; thousands of otters; hundreds of seals and eagles; and more than 20 whales. The immediate mortality rates for salmon and herring are unknown, but locals attest that stocks never fully recovered.

The cause was human error, and the area – decades later – still has not recovered.

 

* * *

some things are worth more than oil.jpg

We don’t need heartbreaking examples like this to know our lands and waters need us to stand up and protect them. But we should always be humble enough to remember the lessons of Exxon Valdez, and to be grateful for the abundance we still have in our homelands.

 

* * *
The Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline, and the crude oil tankers that would carry its oil to overseas markets, present one of the greatest threats to our region in our lifetime. The supertankers associated with this project would be many times larger than the Exxon Valdez, and the risks would be many times greater.

The Heiltsuk community’s stance on this project has always been clear: Enbridge must not be allowed to proceed.

our homeland our identity

As a Nation, we have worked hard to ensure your voices are heard:
-We participated in the Joint Review Process, where community knowledge holders laid out their wisdom to support the position that this project cannot go forward.
-We have rallied, marched, and feasted alongside our brothers and sisters from other Nations to raise awareness about this project.
-We worked with RAVEN Trust’s Pull Together initiative to raise funds and support for legal challenges to Enbridge Northern Gateway.
-In partnership with our Kitasoo-Xaixais relatives, we launched a legal challenge of the federal government’s approval of the project under Stephen Harper, and we expect a decision later this spring.
-We have written to newly appointed federal ministers under Justin Trudeau to support the implementation of a North Coast tanker ban.

Your passion, strength, and love for our lands and waters have driven Heiltsuk leadership to carry your position forward in this fight.

***

For our ancestors

We want to take a moment today, on the anniversary of a great loss, to be thankful for the gifts we have. Our lands and waters are abundant and our cultural values are strong. We have so much to lose, but that also means we have so much to fight for – and we will continue to fight until we know this project is dead.

Please take a moment today to send your love and healing thoughts to the people, wildlife, lands, and waters affected by the Exxon Valdez disaster – and know that Heiltsuk leadership is grateful for your strength as we fight Big Oil in our own waters.

#HeiltsukStrong

 

Heiltsuk Tribal Council – Great Bear Rainforest Land Use Order video

The land order is considered an historical piece of work between Heiltsuk, Province and other groups. For us it has not been 10 years of work it’s the continuation of thousands of years of being stewards of our land.  HTC Councillor Pam Wilson

On January 29th the Heiltsuk Tribal Council signed a land use order with the Province in Bella Bella. The video features interviews with community leaders  – Chief Marilyn Slett, Hemas Gary Housty Sr., and Councillors Pam Wilson and Jessie Housty.

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B7T1nlOUznkIOVdfVWhGRmJFRUE/view?pref=2&pli=1

 

Great Bear Rainforest Act introduced in legislature

The Great Bear Rainforest Act was introduced at the BC Legislature today.

Chief Marilyn Slett, president, Coastal First Nations –

“The Great Bear Rainforest (Forest Management) Act brings increased environmental sustainability to all our traditional territories. It also provides greater access to forestry opportunities; as well as ownership to more carbon tonnes than we currently have and includes special protection areas.”

IMG_3675

 

Great Bear Rainforest Land Use Order video – from Bella Bella ceremony on January 29th

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B7T1nlOUznkIOVdfVWhGRmJFRUE/view?pref=2&pli=1

 

Heiltsuk Nation signs Great Bear Rainforest Land Use Order

 

 

(Vancouver, February 1, 2016) – The Great Bear Rainforest Land Use Order brings life to the Heiltsuk’s vision of land.

The land use order will help us move towards a healthy and sustainable environment and economy, said Chief Marilyn Slett. “It will also protect our way of life and ensure our cultural values are respected.”

It is just one component of the Heiltsuk’s strategy to build a healthy coastal economy, said hereditary chief Harvey Humchitt. “We will ensure Heiltsuk people and our values are fully and meaningfully represented throughout the implementation and evaluation of the Land Use Order.”

The process to get to this point involved a great deal of work and involved many people. We are grateful to all the individuals and groups involved in the land use process. It took much commitment to reach this day, Humchitt said.

We are pleased with many aspects of the Order, and we uplift our representatives from HIRMD who have undertaken critical work to ensure our voices are represented in the negotiations, Slett said.

Highlights include:

  • $150,000 in Targeted Training Funds (Forestry) over the next 3 years
  • Re-charting Process to ensure Heiltsuk Coastal Forest Products (HCFP) gains access to operating areas with viable wood fiber
  • New Forest Tenure to increase HCFP’s operations by an additional 235,000 m3
  • Tenure Restructure to enable better forest management for HCFP
  • 50,000 m3 Forest License to help complete the Bighouse
  • Carbon Credits – increase in ownership of production and sales, and for a longer time period (2035)

While agreeing on a process and a framework is important to celebrate there are many challenges we will face as we move forward, said Slett. “It is important to recognize that the burden of implementation and monitoring for the Order will fall disproportionately on the Indigenous peoples – like Heiltsuk – who live on the front lines, and whose lives and livelihoods depend on the integrity of our lands and waters.”

It also means the Heiltsuk, the Province, ENGOs, industry and other stakeholders must continue to work towards a new level of partnership and shared responsibilities. “The agreement on the land use order is an important milestone in self-determination. We are looking forward to a very productive relationship with the Province.”

                                                            -30-

For more information:

Chief Marilyn Slett

250-957-7721

Upholding our way of life. #HeiltsukStrong

On Friday, January 29, Heiltsuk Hemas (hereditary chiefs) and elected tribal council welcome a delegation from the Province including Premier Christy Clark.

This visit marks the signing of the Great Bear Rainforest (GBR) Land Use Order, which will also be formally announced in Vancouver next Monday with other First Nations and stakeholder representatives in attendance.

In 2009, Heiltsuk signed the Reconciliation Protocol Agreement (RPA) with the Province of BC. This RPA outlined a joint commitment to collaboration and coordination around land use decision-making and revenue sharing.

The GBR Land Use Order being signed now is intended to build on the original RPA. Specifically, the Order maps a path for implementing ecosystem-based management and ensuring protection for human wellbeing, and cultural and natural values.

Heiltsuk are pleased with many aspects of the Order, and we uplift our representatives from HIRMD who have undertaken critical work to ensure our voices are represented in the negotiations.

Highlights include:

  • $150,000 in Targeted Training Funds (Forestry) over the next 3 years
    •Re-charting Process to ensure Heiltsuk Coastal Forest Products (HCFP) gains access to operating areas with viable wood fiber
    •New Forest Tenure to increase HCFP’s operations by an additional 235,000 m3
    •Tenure Restructure to enable better forest management for HCFP
    •50,000 m3 Forest License to help complete the Bighouse
    •Carbon Credits – increase in ownership of production and sales, and for a longer time period (2035)

However, Heiltsuk are aware that this announcement does not signal the end of our work. Our people have been here for tens of thousands of years, practising our laws and customs that outline our relationship to our territory and our responsibility to steward it. We will be here for tens of thousands of years to come.

Agreeing on a process and a framework is important. Going forward, it is important to recognize that the burden of implementation and monitoring for the Order will fall disproportionately on the Indigenous peoples – like Heiltsuk – who live on the front lines, and whose lives and livelihoods depend on the integrity of our lands and waters.

There is still significant work to be done to build capacity in our communities; explore sustainable development that addresses poverty issues while protecting our natural assets; enforce protections for cultural values; and ensure that Heiltsuk people and Heiltsuk values are fully and meaningfully represented throughout the implementation and evaluation of the work we celebrate today.

We are grateful for a step down the right path. It is the first of many miles yet to walk.

To our Heiltsuk community, our leadership lifts you up as our source of strength and guidance in this work. You are at the heart of all the progress we make.

For more information on the GBR Land Use Orders, please see the fact sheet distributed to each household or take advantage of HIRMD’s open door policy.

EXCITING NEWS FOR HEILTSUK HERRING!

The Heiltsuk Nation and Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) have reached an agreement for a 2016 Central Coast Herring Management Plan. The 2016 Herring Management Plan supports a 7% harvest rate, which will provide for a Heiltsuk FSC and SOK fishery (1725 tons)! This 7% harvest rate will also allow for a small commercial sac roe fishery for industry (215 tons). DFO has also agreed Spiller Channel will be a nogo zone for all sac roe fisheries in 2016! There will be a Heiltsuk observer on the DFO platform vessel. This management approach, based in part on science from Heiltsuk hired scientists, is significantly more cautious than past DFO management approaches. Since March 2015, a Herring Working Group and Technical Team comprised of DFO and Heiltsuk representatives have had several collaborative meetings to discuss the details of the 2016 Herring Management Plan. These meetings represent a significant shift in the relationship between Heiltsuk and DFO regarding herring management, especially toward DFO’s compliance with the Supreme Court of Canada’s decision in R v Gladstone. DFO has signalled to Heiltsuk that it is prepared to recognize our constitutionally protected role as manager, user, and steward of this important fishery. Moving forward, Heiltsuk and DFO have agreed to working collaboratively on a long-term, sustainable management strategy for Central Coast herring. HTC and HIRMD are committed to ensuring that all management plans will adequately sustain both the ecosystem and Heiltsuk fisheries for future generations. A more detailed newsletter will be available on the HIRMD website (www.hirmd.ca) and Bella Bella Facebook page by Wednesday, January 20th. Hard copies will also be available at the HIRMD Office.

For question, feel free to contact HIRMD: 250-957-2303 Ǧiáxsix̌ a