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REPORTING · 21st February 2012
Merv Ritchie
It was another two days of solid opposition dished out at the Enbridge Joint Review Panel (JRP). From the opening days of January 10th and 11th in Kitamaat Village, through Terrace, Smithers, Burns Lake and Ft St James, last Friday and Saturday in Prince Rupert saw the temperature rise as the participants began to ignore the directions of the JRP.

It began with Enbridge interrupting the evidence being delivered by Nathan Cullen. Cullen requested clarity of the directions. Procedural Direction #4, issued by the JRP, detailed specifics;

What is Oral Evidence

- oral traditional knowledge, such as that given by Aboriginal peoples, and

- personal knowledge and experiences about the potential effects of the Project on you or your community.

Cullen argued he was speaking directly to the second line against the Enbridge lawyer’s, Laura Estep, opposition. The hearing room became suddenly hostile. The Chairperson Sheila Leggett demanded the respect the room required; ie no cheering or clapping and this was all but ignored.

Leggett allowed the statements made against Cullen by Enbridge to stand on the record and denied Cullen the opportunity to respond. This was a defining moment. The gloves came off. Read the initial report on this exchange here.

Cullen had already clarified how his role as the MP for the region and his personal interactions with Enbridge provided him with personal knowledge and experiences about the potential effects of the Project on you or your community; as was set out in the directives. He argued this was now a discussion on the interpretation of that sentence.

The boo’s, cheers and applause became louder, more frequent and more sustained. Leggett had almost lost control of the room. Watch the entire presentation here.

From then on all the presenters took all the liberties they wanted. MLA Gary Coons took the opportunity much as did Cullen but watched the red light on Leggetts microphone to see when he was pushing the boundaries just a bit too far and quickly backed away and then pushed until he saw her red light go on again. It was akin to watching a foosball or ping pong match. Coons won the award for providing the most humour of the two day affair. Watch the entire presentation here.

Des Nobels from the T Buck Suzuki Environmental Foundation provided the most clear insight into the Ocean environment. He spoke about his personal experiences of the ocean life in and around Prince Rupert and Haida Gwaii (the Queens Charlotte Islands). Watch the entire presentation here.

Lee Brain was the clear overall favorite of the JRP visit to Prince Rupert. He is a 26 year old man born in Ft MacMurray. He is the son of a senior oil executive who sent him off to northern India on the border of Pakistan to become engaged in one of the world’s largest oil refineries. He described his experiences in clear detail.

He had community members in tears at the end of his well prepared presentation.

Speaking about the oil industry both he and his father worked in around the globe, Brain reduced the entire subject to an easily understood expose’. From the beginning to the end he had the room captivated.

When he was finished the room erupted in cheers and a standing ovation. Some were seen with tears streaming down their faces. Watch the entire presentation here.

Glenn Naylor was the final presenter of the first day and concluded his presentation in tears. He spoke about his experiences on the Queen Charlottes and specifically about South Moresby and his part in the creation of Gwaii Haanas National Park. It was all about the environment, the beauty and the brutality, the unforgiving weather and the bountiful harvest everywhere one travels.

He referred to the impossibility of cleaning up a spill by referring to other spills and the political will to follow through. He made suggestions on keeping all the pipelines together, double up if the must, and then spend lots on cleanup supplies and keep it all together. But as he was finishing his emotions caught up with him as he imagined what was going to be lost, what the North Coast environment looks like today. He had more to say but as he uttered this last sentence the lump in his throat was obvious and he couldn’t speak another word, “It’s so clean here,” he had proclaimed. Watch the entire presentation here.

Marty Bowles was the first presenter on the second day, the morning of Saturday February 18. Part way through, after describing the catches available from the surrounding ocean environment, Bowles had associates walk through the room delivering seafood harvest to all the participants and observers. He stated he had been an English Teacher for 33 years and he did not have the words to describe the experiences he had with a bull and calf Killer whales. Watch the entire presentation here.

The United Fisherman and Allied Workers Union was the final presentation. A full dozen men and women, native and non-native sat at the head table and gave evidence to the JRP. Joy Thorkelson, the Union President, opened the presentation by declaring they received no money from any outside groups and stated they were amused by Enbridge attempting to limit their presentation to ten minutes.

Each of the 12 presented evidence and then Thorkelson delivered a closing statement. This was a very comprehensive and thorough delivery of information on the BC northwest coast. Each had a distinctly different perspective on the environment and each delivered a unique presentation. Watch the entire presentation here.

The most important presentation was the Metlakatla people of the Tsimshian Nation. They drummed in their people at the start of the session and delivered numerous clear historical descriptions of their culture and life, which depends on the health of the marine environment. They expressed their clear opposition to tankers and the pipeline; both elected Chiefs and Hereditary Chiefs.

At the very beginning they chastised the JRP and the NEB for expelling one of their drummers. They spoke about how they respected them and they did not return the respect.

In two parts, Watch part one here of the introduction and the elected Chief. The Metlakatla continued with a Hereditary Chief Watch part two here.
resident of Laxgaltsap, Nass Valley
Comment by charles leeson, on 4th March 2012
It feels like we are under a cummunist regime, where the peoples intrests are of no significance, and beaurocratic decisions are persuaded by the the almighty dollar
Resident fo laxgaltsap, Nass valley
Comment by charles leeson, on 4th March 2012
This a another case of the Kitsault mine in the 1980's at Alice Arm, which was shut down by the people due to bad planning on the governments part in regards to the negative environmental impact on the marine life
Comment by John DeMedeiros Cabral on 22nd February 2012
I write this letter today with great pride.Its nice to see the passion and well representation by all involved in the Prince Rupert JRP proceedings. This great land and water that we are so lucky to have is worth more than anything.The Native Ancestory and stewards of this great land ,this is your time,time to show the world what great people you are.Like the old saying ''Money cant buy you happiness'' is so right.But this beautiful land and water we live in can bring us happiness as long as it stays clean.What i have seen over the course of the last few weeks is exactly what i expected.The majority of the people in this region do not want this Project to go ahead.We cherish this beautiful land and do not want to lose its beauty at any cost. Sincerely John DeMedeiros Cabral