The sky was clear blue and there were fish in the water, dubbed shiners by the local fishermen, when Norm Hann set off on his expedition to raise awareness to Enbridge’s proposed Tanker Traffic coming to the BC Coastline.
“Our goal is to bring awareness to the oil tankers that will be plying the waters, the proposed Enbridge Oil Tankers. The trip is going to go from Kitimat to Bella Bella, about 385 Kilometres and it will follow the proposed oil tanker route and I’m doing it on a stand up paddleboard. It hasn’t been done before and is unique in itself,” said Hann.
Hann originates from Squamish British Columbia and has been a guide in the Sacred Circle for the last ten years. The planning for the trip began a couple of months ago when Helan Cliffton, an elder from Hartley Bay had inspired the local youth to get involved.
Ali Howard, who swam the entire Skeena River from the Sacred Headwaters to Port Edward bringing awareness to the potential coal bed methane drilling also inspired Hann to take up this challenge. Brian Huntington, from Skeena Watershed Conservation Coalition, who accompanied Ali Howard on her trip, is also accompanying Hann via Kayak.
“Norm has been living and working with the people at Hartley Bay for the last few years and has been inspired by the landscape and the communities up here and felt compelled to contribute to protecting the coast by contributing to raising awareness about the oil tankers coming to these waters,” said Huntington.
Huntington stated the concerns were not if a spill would happen, but when the spill will happen.
“I’m really looking forward to partnering with the First Nations along the route. They will be supporting me and I think it’s going to be a great trip. I’m hoping people will be out there and be online following,” said Hann. “For the First Nations who have lived on the Coast for 100’s of years, it’s their life and we’re going to try and bring awareness to some of these traditional food harvesting areas and showcase what an incredible area this is.”
There are a number of traditional food harvesting locations along the route. Hann expressed they are plentiful. He stated First Nations have been living harmoniously with the land for generations and if the food harvesting areas were destroyed by oil or any other disaster, the local First Nations would lose their heritage.
Dolores Pollard, Chief Councillor for Kitamaat Village attended with her mother, Melva Hall. Hall offered a blessing in the Haisla Language. Pollard did several dances, beating her drum as she sang. The last dance carried the message: “We do not need Enbridge on the Douglas” although she clarified there is a difference between not needing something and not wanting something. She added a spill would do irreparable damage.
“On behalf of our elected chief and council, I would like to send our warmest regards for the journey your about to take. It’s not an easy journey but we hope and pray, and we know that our ancestors will be with you and guide you, because you have a powerful message to send to the whole world. It’s a tiny little board and one man could make such a difference in bringing awareness to the importance of our territory” said Pollard.
Hann responded with: “I’m honoured to be here, just honoured and I will do my best.”
Hann thanked everyone who supported the trip, which he expects to finish between the 18th and 20th.
On May 29th there is an opportunity for the communities to get together and discuss the implications of the Tankers. The day has been dubbed 'Gateway Gathering of Nations'.
“Between the Gitgan of Hartley Bay and the Haisla here in Kitiamt, we’re inviting everyone from the First Nations Communities, and from the non First Nations Communities, to come to Kitimat and join us. The day will consist of a number of presentations with folks from Alaska who went through the Exxon Valdez [oil tanker spill] and we’re hoping that people from the Tar sands communities will come down and join us. We’ll have a day to reflect on the tanker ban the coastal first nations announced in March and we’ll end the day with a feast with all of the fresh food that Hartley Bay and Kitamaat can produce.” said Kitamaat Councillor Gerald Amos.
You can follow Norm Hann on his adventures with a spot tracker at: http://mountainsurfadventures.blogspot.com/
Norm Hann stands with his paddle board before entering Douglas Channel at Kitimat
Kitamaat Chief Councillor Pollard drums for Norm Hann. Melva hall standing next to Hann offered a Haisla blessing.