REPORTING · 19th May 2011
The protest began and the elders from First Nation’s communities, Mayor of Prince Rupert, Jack Mussallem, Member of Parliament Nathan Cullen and Members of the Legislative Assembly: Gary Coons and Doug Donaldson were all called forward to join them.
Jennifer Rice, Chair of the Friends of Wild Salmon introduced their organization and welcomed the Hereditary Chiefs to speak. They stood and delivered words on the Enbridge project, their experiences with the leaders of Enbridge and the future.
“I have always said for a long time, that as nations of people, we can live together, we can coexist together, no matter what country we are from. When we decide to live in harmony and in peace, to take that conflict and come together as nations to stop the threat of an oil spill that will take away the fish from our waters and anything else that plies the waters. What is going to be left for our grandchildren, what is going to be left for them? What is going to be left for their children? That’s why we’re standing here for. We’re standing so they will have a choice later on and fight these people who will want to ply our coast,” said Chief Murray.
He spoke about a recent engagement when they invited Enbridge to a feast, the representatives left early, an insult to their nation.
“Today we are gathered like a Sacred Circle, giving our voices to the same cause, in the spirit, of peace and love,” said another elder. “We are all bonded together in that Sacred Circle.”
Another explained they invited Enbridge to meet with the Elders, council and youth. They came to the village, there were four of them. They could not wait to leave. The message given was clear, they do not want tankers.
The gathered protesters were encouraged to come together as one voice to collectively tell Enbridge no in a peaceful manner and a question was asked ‘were the companies consulting with all the First Nations or if they were consulting with one or two people.
“We are here to protect what the creator has placed in our hands so seven generations down the line can enjoy what we have today,”
Gerald Amos is the current president of the Coastal First Nations Organization, which announced a ban on large crude carriers in their waters. He swore: “I am going to put into action my own convictions. If it comes down to it, and they send in bulldozers to start levelling the site that they plan to put the tank farm on in my territory
John Ridsdale from the Wet’suweten let the people know the Wet’suweten territories have never been ceded, surrendered nor have they signed a treaty. “Yet here they come to try and lay a pipeline across our 22,000 square kilometres of territory. Without a pipeline, there could be no tankers. They know this. Each time we talk to them, we tell them no. From day one and yet they don’t know that simple word. Many of our elders, English is a second language and yet they know what no means. I have a three year old grand daughter, she knows what no means. We have this here corporation come in, I was honoured to be invited to Kitkatla to watch the presentation to this entity that showed up, this cold heartless soulless corporation who insulted these high chiefs, and the young ones spoke, there was not a dry eye in the house except these robots they sent to insult the high Chiefs,” said Ridsdale.
“There have been some strong words said and the strongest I can come up with for Enbridge is when you talk to the first nations people and you treat them with such low respect and then you come into our territories and you are about to perform cultural genocide on our culture, on our people, on our way of life, we stand together and know, these people have money but we have hearts, we have souls,” concluded Ridsdale.
Cullen stated people have a power which cannot be denied, by putting aside their differences and coming together for a common cause, the oceans. He said when he met with Enbridge they told him they had $100,000,000 raised to promote the project. Cullen told them they could buy all the lunches for Mayors and Councillors but it will not buy the hearts and minds of the people of the Northwest.
Coons said they have been doing this for a long time, against open net fish farms and now against pipelines, Enbridge and tankers. The opposition is committed to representing resources, people and the fight against Enbridge and tankers. He pointed out the government wants Enbridge and tankers for the big oil money. However, the First Nations want Enbridge shut down.
Mayor Mussellum thanked the people for coming out and supporting a cause they believe in. He reminded them the North Central Local Government Association was meeting in Prince Rupert at the same time where local government hear from companies about projects and encourage support. The politicians have concerns and they are seeking the knowledge. He reminded people the process will be 2-3 years long.
Joy Thorkelson, a Councillor from Prince Rupert and the Northern Representative for the Fishermen and Allied Workers Union, said everyone there was united in the fight for fish, for a clean ocean and a sustaining an industry dear to their hearts. She pointed out the Kitimat oil port inquiry of 1977 had been shut down with no tankers.
Referring to this 1977 event, another speaker spoke about how they flooded the Douglas Channel with boats trying to stop the Cruise liner Princess Patricia. He said Green Peace brought the story all over the world when the cruise ship loaded with the Kitimat Pipeline representatives and municipal leaders, sunk a boat under the Patricia.
Jasmine Thomas from the frog clan came back from Calgary where they were at the Enbridge meeting. She said Enbridge and government could put down this resistance but they were also the ones to unite the First Nations and the people of Northern BC. She read a declaration to Enbridge which was read the previous day at their meeting.
“The Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline and tankers project will expose the indigenous and non indigenous communities from the pacific to the risk of pipeline and super tanker oil spills,” and after listing the recent spills added. “Tar sands bitchumen has been proven to corrode pipelines more rapidly then conventional oil increasing the likelihood of catastrophic spills. Due to the seismic volatility of the region, the recent earthquake in Japan also underlines our grave concerns about the risk of oil spills.”
She stated Enbridge intends to go ahead, with or without consent from the First Nations. “A decision by Canada to approve this project without the approved prior and informed consent of the contested nations will be a violation of our treaties, our rights, our laws and will be a breach of the United Nations declaration of the rights of indigenous peoples and other international accords. Therefore, we stand in solidarity of the Coastal First Nations,” she said.
The final speaker explained what happened inside the meeting in Calgary. He explained the strength of the youth was a ten year old girl named Katia who came into the AGM to speak to the board of directors. The message they delivered there will be no tankers passing through the Haida territories.
“NO means no and that no will never be turned into a yes,” he said. “The board and chair came back with one message. We can turn that no into a yes and that’s what we’re working for.”
They asked how far are they willing to go? He replied, in the answer of Amos who spoke earlier: “Just watch us.”
Youth were also called up to speak. The first group of youth encouraged the youth of all nations to stand and say no to Enbridge. “If we don’t, there is going to be nothing. There is going to be nothing in the kitchen for us. So I ask all of you, that we march as one; that we put aside our differences and walk as one. We can’t let Enbridge come into our territory and destroy what we got. They will try to give us money, but nothing; money can’t buy what we got. We are richer than them with what we got here in the ocean,” said the youth speaker.
The youth of Bella Bella brought a declaration which was made when Enbridge visited their village. The declaration included statements to protect their homes, prevent their children from becoming a people with out a place in the world and to not become wandering ghosts for Enbridge profit.
No means no to Embridge
Comment by vanne hanisch-godoy on 26th May 2011
Just stick to your guns, and chant "No Means No" and tell Embridge to leave the area. If you have any petitions for signing, send them my way!!