Common Sense Canadian

Heiltsuk call on Trudeau: Come to Bella Bella, announce Tanker Ban

PostedNovember 2, 2016 by in Canada

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:

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.
Booms intended to corral a fuel spill near Bella Bella are blown apart by stormy weather (Photo: Tavish Campbell)

Booms intended to corral a fuel spill near Bella Bella are blown apart by stormy weather (Photo: Tavish Campbell)

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.

Fisheries Minister Dominic LeBlanc or recent visit to Bella Bella (Photo: April Bencze)

Fisheries Minister Dominic LeBlanc or recent visit to Bella Bella (Photo: April Bencze)

“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.

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.

About the Author

Damien Gillis

Damien Gillis is a Vancouver-based documentary filmmaker with a focus on environmental and social justice issues - especially relating to water, energy, and saving Canada's wild salmon - working with many environmental organizations in BC and around the world. He is the co-founder, along with Rafe Mair, of The Common Sense Canadian, and a board member of both the BC Environmental Network and the Haig-Brown Institute.



    I hope everyone realises that is a world class oil spill response..they hope to recover 10 to 15% spray dispersants on the rest and let it sink to the bottom where no one can see it,hope mother nature can deal with it…that’s as good as it gets period


    He won’t not with the LNG that is signed! First Nations always have to approve especially when it involves the invironment. Because the GOVERNMENT knows about the lands and treaty rights! We are not ignorent people’s!

    Don F.

    The Prime Minister of this country is too busy plotting a National Infrastructure Bank at the moment. This will insure that our grandchildren’s children are in debt for life to the private lenders it will herd.
    He can’t and won’t be distracted by environmental issues nor the issues of the Heiltsuk first nations. He has moved on to his real calling.


    Where was our Prime Minister when the diesel spilled? This Government is supposed to take care of our environment. Good thing they aren’t the babysitters, but in a way they are supposed to be taking care of the Heiltsuk children’s food. Shameful. Cancel the permits for these American tankers, ban tankers altogether from areas where children get their food.

    Dan Ferguson

    Sorry forgot to leave my last name on the above


    I personally think that being held financially responsible is not enough.I think the culpable parties should be criminally tried and convicted for crimes against the environment. Culpability should include the politicians that enable such catastrophes.
    Imagine how much better our environment would be treated if there was full accountability!

    anne cameron

    The company should be required to pay for the ruination of the clam beds, they should pay the Heiltsuk as much per year as they made from the commercial sale of clams, and pay, pay, pay until the clam beds are in full production again…about ten to fifteen years…they should pay, too, for the loss of the roe-on-kelp income. And some wages for the Heiltsuk who are out in miserable weather trying to clean up the company mess! If Companies are held fully financially responsible for the damage they might start seriously addressing the issues which lead to the damage!
    I don’t understand why the governments of the province and the federal level allow transport of such materials on the inside passage anyway. There’s a reason this is called “The Graveyard Of The Pacific”.
    I don’t have a lot of faith in Trudeau and his many promises and I think it is very telling that the MSM aren’t giving more coverage to this issue. The TV is full of feel-good coverage of houses decorated for Hallowe’en, and the doings of the football team but seem to have forgotten this tragedy.
    I know we think human life is the most important but life is life is life and there is value beyond dollars and sense in the lives of clams, crabs, seals, otters, and humpback whales. What we allow to be done to them we allow to be done to ourselves.
    Is there a site where we could send donations to the Heiltsuk to help with their cost of clean-up and remediation?


      Total agreemnt with the company being forced to pay the Heiltsuk for their losses.
      But companies now a days dont pay.
      Their insurance companies pay. Their insurance premiums may rise but…..most polluting companies expect to eventually be fined or their insurance premiuns to rise.
      The cost of doing business.
      So they factor in these extra “costs”(fines) for polluting the environment and carry on their merry way earning more profits for the shareholders…..

      Perhaps a new strategy might make the big pollutors sit up and take notice.
      No more “punitive” fines. ( Make them pay for damages incurred of course)

      Banish them from shipping their product through these waters for 5 years , 10 years, whatever…..
      If they are forced to spend more money than their competition to ship a load of oil……they wont be in business very long or (horrors) it wont be very profitable.
      Plus, their competitors will see their financial pain and take notice of the new rules.

      “Your incompetance and negligence has forced us to banish you from shipping your product through Canadian waters for 10 years…..good luck with your business endeavors”
      I kinda like the sound of that.

      And even if company “A” shuts down and starts up tomorrow as Company “B” the banishment should be allowed to be enforced. Same Captain, same crew. Nope. Uh uh. Yer done. Marine ticket revoked. Go work elsewhere.
      Unfortunately, if the Queen of the North trial was any indication of the speed of Canadian “justice” our entire coast will be covered in oily goo long before the first trial is in Court
      Enough of the Limited Company Shell Game


    Maybe we should ask the LGBT 🏳️‍🌈 community to support us in asking Trudeau for help, no offence to LGBT 🏳️‍🌈 community it just seems that’s his main priority right now. Maybe he’ll listen and raise a flag ⛳️ in Bella Bella. Maybe we should go to Parliment Hill and raise a Diesel soaked Heiltsuk Flag . Or maybe he should do what he’s supposed to do and be a leader. Heiltsuk Strong.

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