This story presents the unfiltered voices of Haisla chiefs when they testified at the Northern Gateway Pipeline Joint Review hearings on January 10, 2011, at Kitamaat Village, based on the official transcript. There have been minor edits for clarity.
Thank you. Before I speak, I make reference to my brothers and sisters seated behind me. I know in your spirit that you stand beside me, speaking in opposition of the proposed pipeline. I thank you for your strength. My back is not turned toward you deliberately. I know you stand with me.
I acknowledge the Heiltsuk Nation and the Kitasoo/Xaixais for their strength. I would miss their arrival yesterday into our territory and I remember my grandmother speaking: when we have visitors, the power of their arrival …
I interpret that for those that don’t understand our language: “We heard their voices, their drum voices and their voices. I take that upon myself has given me strength.
Thank you to the Heiltsuk Nation….
And I know that that strength also comes with the other neighbouring nations of our territory. Thank you for that strength and I will indeed attend your hearings to return that strength that you so generously gave me; I return it to you by attending your hearings.
Thank you for standing beside me. Thank you.
I also make reference to our youth who brought our chief to see in the power of their voice and the strength of their drums. Let’s take that strength and stand together and say “No” to Enbridge.
My given name is Gaioustis which once belonged to my late Uncle Charlie Wilson. I received that name, Gaioustis, on my grandmother’s tombstone face and I have honoured that name since I received it.
I need to mention my grandmother, Annie Paw who is the head of our family and the family owns and presently owns an eulachon camp up in Kemano, Gardner Canal. I need to mention that, the importance of the eulachon to us as the Haisla. My grandmother has since passed on and the head of our camp became my late father Edmund Smith and my mum.
It’s just a little over a year ago, my mother passed away and, at that time, my brother Crosbie was the head of our camp. It’s this past September we buried our eldest of family, Crosbie, in September.
I along with my brother, Glen, have now become the head of the camp. I need to make mention of that camp. The importance of our resources that our Mother Earth has so generously given and I make mention of the neig
hbouring nations, how we link together as family; not only in a Nation’s sense but by blood.
I have family in River’s Inlet. I have family in Heiltsuk. I have family in Kitasoo/Xaixais; I have family in (inaudible). I have family in Gitga’at, I have family in Metlakatla, the upper reaches of the Coast, Port Simpson, Kinkola, Grainwall, Canyon City Ians, Hazelton Kitfunga, all the neighbouring nations.
I need to mention those nations because we are linked together — the resources from our sea, our land and sea — through the barter system. I make reference to them as my brothers and sisters for they are indeed brothers and sisters. We enjoy the resources from our sea. Until today, we enjoyed the resources of the sea.
If there’s any oil spill, whether it be from the pipeline or the ship that will transport the crude oil, if there’s any form of spill, all that we enjoy from land and sea will be destroyed.
Let us put our strength together and stand as one and say “No” to Enbridge.
The salmon from our oceans is vitally important to our diet. I’ve been travelling our waters for six and a half decades from the time I was able to travel. Our source of travel was the canoe.
I make reference to my life because it is a statement that needs to be mentioned for that’s when our teachings begin. As a small child, the teachings begin. The knowledge that I have today has been compiled all those years, six and a half decades.
I still travel these waters. I’m a retired commercial fisherman; I still travel these waters. I very much enjoy harvesting and providing for my family, my immediate family, my extended family, my friends. They all benefit from the harvest that I do.
The clams, the cockles, the mussels, the crab, the urchins and cucumber, halibut, cod, all I enjoy, that — all that I enjoy will be wiped away if there ever is an oil spill. It’s a scary fact if the pipeline is to be built. All that I and my people enjoy will be gone. Let us stand together and say no to Enbridge.
I still hunt today and most the deer, the beaver, the fowl — the water fowl — all this I enjoy on our doorstep.
I make reference to what I — a statement that I heard the other day, that we as Haisla people stand in front of a double-barrelled shotgun, indeed we are standing in front of a double-barrelled shotgun. The pipeline — the proposed pipeline will come up through our back door and its ships will come in and transport the crude oil; we are indeed facing a double-barrelled shotgun. The impact — if there’s an impact of any spoil we’ll be in disaster.
The Exxon Valdez, which took place years ago, the damage is still visible today. Last year we witnessed through the news media Gulf of Mexico, they are still suffering today.
I have three children, three grandchildren and one more grandchildren on the way; it is them that will suffer without the resources that we so much enjoy today if there ever is an oil spill. Therefore, I say no to the reality of Enbridge, no, please no.
I thank you for the opportunity to speak. I thank you for listening.