Indigenous leaders applaud federal politicians for support of tanker ban on the north coast

For Immediate Release: Dec. 14, 2010

“Our nations have always protected these waters, and it’s time for Ottawa to join us.”
Nadleh Whut’en, Dakelh territories (BC) – First Nations are happy that Canada’s elected representatives are taking action to protect the Pacific North Coast from the threat of oil tankers. Today, Liberal MP Joyce Murray introduced legislation that would ban crude oil tankers from the coast. Last week, the House of Commons passed a motion calling for legislation to ban tankers, which was introduced by NDP MP Nathan Cullen and was supported by the NDP, Liberal Party and the Bloc Québécois.

The actions in Parliament follow the lead of First Nations who have already banned crude oil tankers on the north coast, using their ancestral laws. The Coastal First Nations, an alliance of nine Nations, declared a ban on tanker traffic through their waters in March 2010. Coastal First Nations led a delegation to Ottawa last month calling on Parliament for a legislated ban.

“Our nations have always protected these waters, and it’s time for Ottawa to join us,” said Art Sterritt, Executive Director of the Coastal First Nations. “Our laws do not permit crude oil tankers into our waters or oil pipelines through our lands – it’s that simple. An oil spill would destroy jobs, and destroy our Nations’ livelihoods and cultures. A legislated tanker ban from Parliament is the best way to support us in keeping our coast safe.”

The most pressing threat of oil spills comes from the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipelines that will transport crude oil and condensate nearly 1200 kilometres from Alberta to the coast, and require over 200 supertankers a year to transport oil through dangerous northern coastal waters. Any oil spill on the coast would harm salmon populations that eventually return to the interior where First Nations in the Fraser, Skeena and other watersheds rely on them. First Nations in the Fraser River watershed imposed a ban on the transportation of tar sands crude oil by tanker through the ocean migration routes of Fraser River salmon, and by pipeline through their watershed, earlier this month in the Save the Fraser Declaration <http://www.savethefraser.ca/> .

“An oil spill on the coast will put all of our communities at risk, no matter whether we live on the coast or in the Interior. We all rely on those fish,” said Chief Larry Nooski of Nadleh Whut’en, a member of the Yinka Dene Alliance of nations that led the creation of the Save the Fraser Declaration. “We’re glad that BC MPs – supported by a majority of MPs from across Canada – are showing leadership to stop oil spills before they happen. The legislated tanker ban proposed today needs to be passed into law as quickly as possible.”

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For more information:
Chief Larry Nooski, Nadleh Whut’en First Nation, 250-613-7102,
Art Sterritt, Coastal First Nations, 604-868-9110



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