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COMMENTARY · 6th April 2014
Walter McFarlane
Walking into the final game at the Cultural Warming Basketball Tournament, I noticed a sign in one of the upper windows of the rec centre in Kitamaat Village which opposed Enbridge. Walking into the Tournament, one thing which really stood out was an ocean of black shirts with the logo: ‘No Enbridge’ on them in white letters.

Last week, we received a letter to the editor from Chief Councillor of Kitamaat Village, Ellis Ross:

“Deciding to hold a referendum at this late date is a slap in the face to all the work done by the Haisla Nation on this project. The Haisla Nation dedicated time and money toward testing Northern Gateway’s evidence and claims about safety and environmental protection, while the District stood by and did nothing.”

Read the full letter by clicking on this sentence.

With the upcoming Plebiscite, there are a number of people in the community who are not pleased the people who live in the neighbouring community of Kitamaat are unable to vote. The First Nations were about to send a message to Kitimat Council.

The winner of the final game was the Haisla Girls’ Basketball team. Mayor Joanne Monaghan stepped out to present the award. A few people in the crowd booed her as she started to speak. She began her speech thanking the tournament organizers for inviting her to come into the territory to hand out the awards.

Someone shouted ‘read the shirts’ and it was followed by chants of ‘No Enbridge.’

Monaghan thanked them for the warm welcome and handed out the awards. However, during the distraction, both teams had slipped the same black T-Shirts over there team uniforms. The awards were followed by a chant of: ‘We don’t need Enbridge on the Douglas.’

Gerald Amos got up and thanked everyone for their passion and enthusiasm and acknowledged the efforts of Douglas Channel Watch. The organizers stated they had not planned this. According to Amos, this was organized by the Haisla people.

We asked Amos if this was a sign of a strained relationship between Kitimat and Kitamaat Village. “I don’t think there is any more of a strain then there was previously. Really, the strain is not between the people, it is between the elected officials,” said Amos. “There is always going to be disagreement on policy, on direction and what not and in this instance, I think the Mayor and Council have taken a position of sitting on the fence, and it’s very clear our community has not been on any fence at all in respect to Enbridge.”

Mayor Monaghan told us she expected this.

The Cultural Warming Tournament has always had a theme of bringing communities together. However, one thing I’ve noticed in the communities on the Douglas Channel over the past few years is that the Enbridge discussion has a way of driving people apart.

Once all is said and done, and all of this Enbridge nonsense is out of the way, it is pretty clear that a lot of fences will need to be mended in this valley.