The Haisla Nation Dances, Kitimat Votes No to Enbridge's Northern Gateway, Joy in Mudville

The Haisla Nation celebrated after they learned that the people of Kitimat, B.C. had voted no in Northern Gateway oil pipeline plebiscite. The Haisla Spirit of Kitlope Dancers led the celebration with drumming, singing and dancing. Many non-aboriginal Kitimat residents joined the party. Gerald Amos, an environmentalist and former member of the Haisla Nation Council, said, "The town of Kitimat has rejected a project that is not good for our economy. It endangers everything we worked for as a people here in Kitimat for the last ten thousand years."

Most Haisla Nation members weren't included in the vote because their territory lies outside the municipal boundaries. The margin victory in this environmental David vs. corporate Goliath vote 58.4 per cent to 41.6 per cent despite the company of taking advantage of the lack of any rules on spending limits for municipal plebiscites and referendums. Enbridge posted pro-pipeline signs around the community, waged an aggressive media advertising campaign including multi page ads in every newspaper edition, and had a dozen employees in the community making presentations and going door-to-door.

The company’s main opponent was Douglas Channel Watch, a tiny group headed by postal worker Murray Minchin that began its campaign with $200 and relied on handmade and recycled posters. The local environmental group maintains the risk from either a tanker accident or a pipeline breach is too high. The people of Kitimat understand that pipeline jobs are temporary, but oil spills are forever.

The Haisla Nation has taken a firm stand against the Enbridge project. The Haisla are members of the The Coastal First Nations organization - an alliance of aboriginal communities on British Columbia’s North and Central Coast and Haida Gwaii — is promising legal action, as well as protests to “stop the bull dozers” if the pipeline is approved by the Harper government. As Haisla Nation Chief Ellis Ross wrote in an open letter recently: “Deciding to hold a referendum at this late date is a slap in the face to all the work done by the Haisla Nation on this project."

The Coastal First Nations stand side by side with The Yinka Dene Alliance who presented their official rejection of the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline to federal officials in B.C. Friday [April 11th, 2014]. The Yinka Dene Alliance is a coalition of First Nations opposed to the Enbridge pipeline whose ancestral territories comprise approximately 25% of the proposed pipeline route. The Yinka Dene territories are found in the headwaters of the Fraser, Skeena and Mackenzie/Arctic watersheds. Their people have relied on salmon for countless generations, and the Enbridge project poses a direct threat to their already threatened salmon populations and habitat, with approximately 500 salmon bearing rivers and streams potentially impacted by the dual oil and condensate pipelines.

Today there's joy in Mudville, for a moment at least the flora, fauna, microbes, minerals, forces and faeries can celebrate. We all owe the First Nations our thanks for standing up to the corporate Goliath and the corrupt Harper regime that serves them.