The following letter is from environmental activist and Central Coast resident Ingmar Lee to Enbridge’s manager of “aboriginal consultation & regulatory compliance, BC Region,” Jody Whitney – following a recent public meeting in Bella Bella regarding the company’s proposed Northern Gateway pipeline. As it encapsulates many local residents’ concerns about the project and the public and aboriginal consultation process, we thought we would share it with our readers.
Re: Enbridge Pipelines Inc “Community Consultation” – Oct 2010 Heiltsuk First Nation community of Bella Bella, BC
Dear Jody Whitney,
I haven’t heard back from you since we met at your Enbridge Gateway Pipelines presentation to the Heiltsuk community of Bella Bella BC in October, during which you saw an overwhelming demonstration of emphatic and unanimous opposition to your corporation’s appalling scheme to pipe tar sands oil products out to BC’s pristine coastal waters.
The meeting was inaugurated with a powerful demonstration by the Heiltsuk Singers, singing songs from their ancient (more than 10,000 years) and thriving culture. That was followed by a presentation by the children of the Bella Bella community clearly expressing their opposition to your project. After the second slide of your Enbridge Power Point discussing technical trivia, which was clearly designed to eat up most of the time allotted, the moderator shut your presentation down and opened the floor to the full-house turn-out, who let you all know, for about 2 hours, unequivocally, in no uncertain terms, that your Pipeline/Supertanker project, which hopes to deliver massive quantities of Alberta Dirty-Oil Tar-Sands product across our province, to be loaded onto hundreds of giant supertankers annually for global distribution, was absolutely unwelcome in Heiltsuk territory. It was also made clear that BC Coastal First Nations are unanimously, and adamantly opposed to your project.
During the meeting, you and your four Enbridge colleagues promised the people of Bella Bella and environs, that you were truly interested in their views, were open and accountable to the community, and that you wished to return on numerous occasions to communicate with people about your Enbridge project. After the meeting you reaffirmed to me that you were open to communicate with everyone, and you gave me your business card. You asked me to help you to understand why people were so passionate about protecting the region from the inevitable oil catastrophe that will result if your project manages to proceed. I agreed to this and sent you a few examples (see below) of what is so very special about the area. I then asked you to send me whatever feedback about the meeting you and your colleagues reported back to your Enbridge superiors. Since then I have not heard back from you.
You acknowledged receipt of that information, but when I asked you to send whatever report you submitted to your Enbridge superiors regarding the meeting, I have not heard from you. So why did you give me your card after the meeting if you had no intention of communicating?? You and your colleagues promised the Bella Bella community that Enbridge wanted an open process, that you intended to return on numerous occasions to discuss your plans and that you were open and willing to communicate.
It is of great importance, not only to the Bella Bella community, all of the First Nations of BC, and all of the people of BC, that we hear back on what you, the face of Enbridge Pipelines Inc., are reporting back to your superiors after you go about “consulting” with people along your proposed pipeline and supertanker route across this province. Your title states that you are in charge of “Aboriginal Consultation.” Consultation is where you ask people about their concerns. Why would your feedback to your boss after he meeting, in which a unanimous aboriginal concern was expressed, be a secret that cannot be freely divulged?
At the meeting, you were personally asked to divulge the 10 corporate sources of Enbridge Pipelines Inc.’s $100 million Public Relations fund, from which I assume you draw your salary. You stood up in front of the Bella Bella community and said that you were not permitted to divulge that crucial information. The people of this province are demanding to know the source of Enbridge’s massive propaganda fund. Why are you keeping such critical information a secret??
Your refusal to communicate puts the lie to Enbridge’s claim, one that you yourself promised to the community at Bella Bella, that Enbridge was genuinely interested in communicating with the community, regardless of what people’s opinion of your project. Therefore you are lying, something which must be made clear to every community you reach as you travel along your proposed pipeline corridor across our province, “consulting” with First Nations and other communities along the way.
Denny Island, BC