Read this report from CBC on the National Energy Board’s decision to cancel the first day of the Joint Panel Review hearings on Enbridge in Bella Bella after the panel was greeted by a demonstration at the local airport – featuring images and commentary by Damien Gillis. (April 2, 2012)
A public hearing for the Northern Gateway Project has been unexpectedly cancelled after panel members were met by protesters at the Bella Bella airport in B.C. on Sunday afternoon.
The review panel was scheduled to hold four days of hearing in the remote community to gather local concerns about the controversial proposal to build a crude oil pipeline from Alberta to the West Coast.
A large crowd greeted the panel members when they arrived in Bella Bella, but later on Sunday afternoon, Monday’s hearing was cancelled. Some high school students in the community reportedly began a 48-hour hunger strike after the panel arrived.
Heiltsuk First Nation Chief Marilynn Slett told a community meeting that the review panel had sent a notice that it would not be proceeding with the sessions because of security concerns.
“It was their perception that it wasn’t a very secure or safe environment,” Slett told CBC News on Monday morning.
But Slett says the protest and the community are peaceful…
…Documentary filmmaker and environmental activist Damien Gillis said the protesters were not threatening anyone.
“The RCMP was in attendance, I’ve spoken to the detachment commander. They are baffled at this reaction. They didn’t observe anything unlawful or remotely threatening.”
North Coast NDP MLA Gary Coons arrived on the plane with the panel members and said all he witnessed was a peaceful gathering.
“It is insulting to the Heiltsuk community and those that were there that they would feel that way. The members of the joint review panel have been welcomed in respectful ways to every First Nations community that they have gone to and this would be no different.” said Coons.
Both Coons and Slett are hopeful a meeting with panel members on Monday morning will help resolve panel’s concerns and get the public hearings back on track.
Read full article and listen to audio clip: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/story/2012/04/02/bc-bella-bella-gateway-hearing.html