Heiltsuk call on Trudeau: Come to Bella Bella, announce Tanker Ban
by Damien Gillis - Common Sense Canadian
October 30, 2016
In the wake of diesel spill that continues to damage important clam and fishing grounds for the Heiltsuk Nation, Chief Marilyn Slett has issued a video call-out to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau:
Stand with us while we’re in a great time of difficulty. Stand with us as you said you would during our reconciliation discussions. Make good on your word. We implore you to come. We will embrace your visit here in Bella Bella.
When Minister LeBlanc was here last weekend he alluded on video that a moratorium on tanker traffic for the Northwest coast of British Columbia would be immediately forthcoming. Minister Garneau will be here on Sunday, November 6 to bear witness to the spill, meet with community leaders, and make announcements about ways forward. We invite Prime Minister Trudeau to join him in Bella Bella and make good on his campaign promise to instate a moratorium on oil tanker traffic on the northwest coast.
For the Heiltsuk, the running aground of the Nathan E. Stewart tug boat, which was carrying the 10,000 tonne fuel barge DBL 55 south to refill, should serve as a wake-up call to the federal government as to the woefully inadequate state of our spill response systems. While the cause of the accident is still shrouded in , it is clear that a long list of human mistakes led to the disaster, which has closed local fisheries indefinitely.
The aftermath of the spill, during which the Heiltsuk have played a leading role in cleanup efforts, has shown how poorly booms, salvage equipment and clean-up vessels respond to the challenging weather conditions of the BC Coast.
“A moratorium on oil tanker traffic in this region was the cornerstone of Prime Minister Trudeau’s environmental platform during the 2015 election,” said a Heiltsuk media advisory.
“Representatives from the government have repeatedly assured the public that an announcement would be likely before the end of the year. Persons familiar with the Prime Minister’s schedule have revealed that he will be in British Columbia early next week, and that news of a tanker ban could be expected as early as Monday.”
“While the moratorium is not expected to include articulated tug barges like the one that spilled fuel in Heiltsuk waters, having the Prime Minister in Bella Bella for this important announcement would be a huge boost to community morale.”
Community members were disappointed when the prime minster cancelled plans at the last minute to join the Royal Visit to Bella Bella. “We felt that would have been a real signal of nation-to-nation reconciliation,” said Slett.