Haisla voices at the Joint Review: Ken Hall

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.


Ken Hall

Thank you. My name is Ken Hall. I’m from Kemano, the Kitlope area. My father was there and my mother was from Kitamaat. And I was born in Kitamaat and raised partially in Kitamaat and Butedale where my father worked.

As I grew up in Butedale and coming in here in between seasons, as I
grew up with my brothers and sisters, I was taught many of the things that we need to do in order to be a good member of the Haisla Nation. And I was told never to look down on other people that are walking around, even if you’re a chief or not, and be nice to one another.

This has always been expressed to us as I was growing up. I was adopted by my late father as a young man into the Eagle Tribe. I grew up in this tribe and he adopted me, and that was unexpected from my side of the view, and I was wondering why that happened. But he never expressed anything to the people as to why he had done that until later on.

In our system, as you heard my Chief speak about it, that we were taught and had to be well-knowledged by our traditional system and be respectful and show good leadership. So with that, my name is Tequicah , a Chief for the Eagle Tribe in the Kitlope, Kemano area. And this name that I carry is the steward of the Saint Mathews Bay which is a big bass area up in Gardner Canal towards Kitlope.

And this has always been the system that each chief has a place where they can hunt or fish or trap. Not only my family can do that, but anybody can go in there in this community. And in doing so, they acknowledge us.

But nevertheless, I learned a lot through my relatives, cousins, uncles, grandpa, all the traditional things that they spoke of. And how to be able to survive in our territory was the main thing that they taught us, how to be a provider, how to have respect for animals and things like that.

We don’t just shoot them for spite. We take them for our needs of our family. In doing so, we acknowledge each animal as we kill it for what we learned is that they have a great spirit too. And we tell them and we say, “Nollo, nollo” to them. That’s a way of praising them and apologizing to them for what we’ve done to them. “We didn’t do any harm to you. We’ve done this because our families are in need.”

And the main thing that was taught to me was to be conservative in every way. As you’ve heard the others speak before me that you can’t take too much of what you gather, whether you’re hunting, fishing or picking berries; always get enough that you can preserve or conserve it or leave the rest for others that are in need.

My father’s name was Simon Hall. He was from Kemano, Kitlope area and my mother’s name was Amelia Duncan, then Hall, was born in Kitamaat Village. My father was a Chief of the Eagle Clan also and he taught me many things about hunting and shooting and fishing in my time as I was growing up.

And without anything said to me or warning of what’s going to happen, he adopted me to the Eagle Clan, but later on told me, as he went into another phase — he installed what is called in line of a chief, Henaaksiala. He gave it to me and he told the people then that I was, in his view, good enough to be one that can represent or talk to my family, brothers and sisters in my own family.

I was called one time as I worked for the council. I operated a passenger boat. I came in from Kitlope and while we were preparing camp, I was reading a story that we had. I got back from Kitlope about 10:30 in the morning. I got into the house and my wife told me “There’s a lady that wants to talk to talk to you from high school.”

So she showed me that number and I phoned her right away, and she asked me “Can you come over and make another presentation to the high school teachers? There’s about 40 here that’s anxious to hear you speak the stories of your life and legends and what have you been taught. They’d like to learn that.”

The main thing about that was respect. The very first thing that was taught to me was respect. My father and grandfather often told me, “If you don’t have any respect for yourself, nobody will respect you.”

Anyway, when I arrived in the high school, there was 40 kids — high school kids — in the room waiting for me and they welcomed me. And I told Sharon, the people who was organizing everything, that I wasn’t prepared for anything such as this today. So what I’m going to do, it might prompt me up with something that I know. I’ll have a question period there for a few minutes.

Right away, four hands went up. And I started going one at a time to them, asking them what they wanted to say. And the fourth one was a young girl. I asked her what she wanted to say, if she had any concern, and she said, “What I want to know is how long was Alcan here before you people moved in?”

I sort of chuckled and I told her we’ve been here for thousands of years before Alcan ever seen this place. And she couldn’t believe it. She figured that Alcan let us in here.

But we’ve got stories from way, way back as the area being burned, what you see up there in the valley, as you heard my chief speak, that the trees where small from way back.

But anyway, I spoke of many things of my past experience to them. And I grew up in a place called Butedale. It’s about 70 miles from here. There’s a cannery, reduction plant and a cold storage, where my father was employed as a captain on a boat, his boat.

He had his own sailboat, and I went on it with him as a young boy, just riding around with him and watching the people. He had seven people who was on with him, helping him retrieve the net when he sets it, working all day. Their day starts at 4 o’clock in the morning. Sometimes they go to bed at 12:00 at night. This is what I learned from my father.
He often told us many things about when you are hunting, fishing, or whatever you’re doing, you need to be really on the line of moving right now, not later. Otherwise, you’ll never get anything.

But anyway, after saying that I fished salmon with my father, and as a young man, I grew up with him on a fishing boat. For 18 years I was a crew member with him, both halibut, herring and salmon. And it’s a lot of work, but I enjoyed learning all of the — but when coming home, when we come home in between fishing season, we go to the river, either Kitimat River, Kemano or Kitasoo to fish eulachons.

These are the things that they taught me, how to gather all the food that we need to serve to my family for all year, to preserve it. My wife knows how to preserve just about anything that we get. Now the freezer has come; we freeze a lot of them.

When we fished eulachons, it was always “Be careful. Don’t be careless. Don’t dump anything in the water. You’ve got to make sure this river is pure at all times, never contaminated with garbage or anything. Always make sure that the eulachons will come back for the next generation to come, salmon, what have you, water hog.”

And they used to go gather the roots and everything along the flats, my mother, my grandmother. That was a real staple for everybody, all of the things that we gathered. It was so nice to see it on the table when it was fresh, when we’d first kill it and they’d praise us and thank — are very thankful to us.

When I came home from fishing, I was approached if I could run for a council member by four guys in the village. When I did get in, which I failed the first time — I did get in and I stayed in there for over 20 years and I was the Chief Councillor from 1999 to 2001 for Kitamaat Village. And that’s a lot of work. Most of the time is spent on trying to keep our territory as clean as possible, because we had everything coming from all directions, wanting to use it.

I used to hunt and fish around Kitlope and Kemano area, as well as Douglas Channel area, and getting to know some other people along the line from different villages and we worked together on it at all times.

I still fish for our own use right now, even though I’m retired. Just like Rod said, we need to go out and teach our younger people, which I do. I’m proud to say that my nephews and my granddaughter are there to help us when we do bring some things in. Some of it they have learned from their grandmother, all of the things that were handed down to us from our forefathers.

When possible, I fish for eulachons, but I haven’t done that for the last several years due to the fact that they don’t repair in our rivers anymore. And it’s sad to know a source gone from your table, but it’s happy to know that other First Nations are there to care for you, to work together to give us eulachons when they get their eulachons.

My wife has been buying eulachon grease from other places. And I don’t know what we’d do without it. We certainly can’t use crude oil anyway.

I’m totally dependent on seafood too. In my days of growing up, we had everything from clams, cockles, crabs, shrimps and mussels, as well as halibut, red cod and different types of cods that we’d catch out there, which is slowly diminishing again. As a matter of fact, it is — it will be gone in time if we don’t stop it.
This is where our frustration comes in, with supposedly our government looking after us, promising to look after us, but which never did happen.

I heard some stories from when I was young, and I was taught to follow our Nuyem, which is the law of the Haisla Nation as well as all the First Nations that are listening today. They gather this and they keep it and pass it on to one another, one of the younger ones and all that, the next-door Nations that comes from. They make sure they learn it.

They don’t just tell it once; they keep repeating it after another. And that’s what happened to me to make sure that I keep away from danger, causing any harm to anybody, not injuring anybody, in fact, learning how to get along together.

When I became a Chief, my father lectured me. “Now that you carry a big name, from Hamatichi-sa, I don’t know if the Haisla will recognize it, and I want to mention it to late Tommy Robinson in a meeting what my dad told me and right away he rejected that idea that — he said you guys are strong, we strongly recognize you as a chief of the Kitasoo people.
Kitasoo people, as a matter of fact, amalgamated with the Haisla back in — I think it was 1948 when they signed the agreement after years of — a few years of negotiations. Kitasoo was a big place at one time but due to influenza and — that was smallpox I think, done away with a lot of them, right down to about 68 by the time they were accepted there.

But we are the survivors, same thing with the Haisla’s; there’s a lot of them that went on that due to that sickness that was brought over. I don’t know where it came from but people were falling all over the place as they were talking. When a sickness got into them they just drop, that’s how fast they were dying.

One thing that I appreciate though is that we get medications for that now. They say that same sickness is the one that killed our people a long time ago, what
we’re putting up with today.

My nephews, who I work together and taught as a young man are the ones that are responsible for bringing us food now in my house, as I’m 74 now but I enjoy going out there yet. When the time is right I go out with them. And a lot of them in this community, young people are doing the same thing for their parents — being taught by their parents and grandparents how to fish, hunt and whatever their requirements are.

I heard many stories from a lady that died at a very old age, from Kemano, regarding how our people work together in the area. And I thought of — I talked to the person that came amongst us and became a new medium, he kept telling my people before my time — before our time that the animals and the fish and what have you, the birds looked like human beings when I talk to them.
She was the one that knew what happened with the eulachon in that river a long time ago. And she was the one that told the people to look for that eulachon that
was lost and they belonged to the leaders of the eulachon, the chief of the eulachons.

When they found it they made her told that the eulachon came up the river and they — next day that thing was just loaded with eulachons. This is why we make sure we learn and keep what they taught us, how to treat ourselves or treat the animals that we get; never say anything bad about the animals when you do shoot them, otherwise they’ll get you back. That’s what we were told.

Even the fish too. When we get an animal, when we get up to it we say “Nola, nola, nola”( ph). That’s thanking the spirit — his spirit for allowing us to take the animal to feed our family. We tell him we don’t — we’re not doing this for spite, we’re seriously taking it to feed our family so they can be healthy and we thank you for it.

These are the things we are told to follow at all times and I wish it could be told to everybody regarding our territory, what’s going on. As we mentioned earlier, and the other Chief mentioned, that everything is slowly going down, getting less and less every time we go out to try and gather. You have everything on the — out there that — gathering the things and they’re not commercially getting — they’re just playing around with them.

I know everyone tells me to be careful with the land and resources and make sure that it’s clean. I need to repeat that, that’s what’s aiming at the Haisla Nation regarding our territory, our land.

I spent eight years in the council, along with other councillors, fighting to save a territory that was aimed by a logger — a logging outfit. It took us eight years to fight for it. We made it but it was a long hard work. The part I couldn’t understand about it, when we did get it preserved we weren’t given any money to help patrol it, yet we’re part of that area, and that’s Kitlope.

It took us eight years to fight for it in a council and as well as a community, not just a council, everybody in the community supported the council and they stood side-by-side right through. And most of the time I was away from home joining meetings. I was happy when they signed the agreement but I was really tired. I’m glad that I was part of it to see that happen for the future of my grandchildren and great grandchildren is what I’m talking about.

Again, you mention grandchildren, I’m here to speak in my share of our territory which is pipeline coming down our territory and also big ships navigating Douglas Channel. I clearly state in my community that the Haisla’s are facing a double-barrel gun — shotgun — if you bring those oil in by land, as well as navigating Douglas Channel. One spill from both of them will wipe out everything that we have, what we mentioned here; you’ll have no more.

Why I mentioned all that stuff that we gather, as you all know, during the hungry ‘30’s they call it, I often heard my Elders — we didn’t even know that the world was hungry, we were so rich in resources in our territory, we were never hungry, we were always eating, yet, other parts of the world were hungry because of the depression.

Again it saddens me to know that we’ll be joining that if anything happens to our territory here regarding that oil and the pipeline.

It brings into mind of what we told if you’re careless, you’re not going to get anything anymore. It’s not going to be us that’s going to suffer; like what I said it’s going to be our grandchildren. And the people that done the damage will just put their hands in their pockets and walk away, like Eurocan done to us. They polluted our river and they said enough is enough and they just walked away, never looking back.

It just terrifies me to know that we’re even facing about destruction with what’s coming before us, the Haisla Nation.

It’s very important that — I’m glad some of the young people are showing up here and they’re listening, I believe, by internet, as to what’s going on here and I strongly urge that, that they listen and take notes of what’s going on here, it’s their future why we’re here, you see the panel here, it’s their future while we’re sitting in front of you here, to let you know our concern.

As I told you before, the Haislas were taught how to conserve and preserve everything they get. I operated a boat for a rediscovery camp, which was a very powerful thing to do in teaching our young people our traditional system, not only for Haislas, but other First Nations as well as other countries, Sweden, Norway and I can’t remember the others, anyway, but — from Thailand. They all came down the States. Young people came.

They spent a whole month in the catch hole with us, some of them half a month because we taught them everything about how to dry fish, how to can fish and things like that. Pick berries; how to preserve it, how to use it, and the things that we used to eat.

Grease wasn’t the only thing that we ate with fish, but it came — it was good with everything that we had on a table at that time because we never used to get butter or anything like that, lard. It was used for making bread. It was used for boiling fish, everything. It was a good flavour for anything that you wanted to put it in.

Now we’re pretty scarce on that part due to eulachons are not here. And why I mention that, it’s going to be terrible, terrifying if everything disappears on us in our territory.

My father had a sailboat, as I mentioned, as a young boy. I’d like to go back to that and be out there. He used — he got a contract when Alcan first came to tow barge loads of groceries from freights from Butedale to Kemano, which wasn’t accessed by those big freighters. There was no docks there, just the skull grid.

And one weekend — one Friday afternoon, I was in time for him to come out of school and I asked if I could go along with him. It was a real beautiful morning when we got into Kemano Bay with our barge. As soon as you got in, they started to unload it. And my father was standing there and he was scratching his head, took his cap off and started scratching his head. And he said in our language this is what he seen then, this is what he was talking about.
And I asked him, “What are you talking about, Dad?” He said, “Your grandfather,” he said, “he had a premonition after encountering a Sasqua.” He had a spirit that went into him and he was able to foresee the future. He said he told the people — he called the people in Kemano and told them there’s going to be a big monster coming up on Kemano Bay and it’s going to go right up along that river. It’s going to go — he named that mountain. It’s going to go there and it’s going to bore a hole through there.

That was about 50 years after he died, then, it happened; almost 50 years, anyway. And that’s what dad was talking about when he said — this is what he was talking about then.
And it’s so true that there’s a lot of difference from that day on.

Everything started going down, which we thought was a better thing for us. It actually goes against our ability to gather the things we needed for our house.

I operated a tugboat. I worked for Redtow for three and a half years. I got laid off due to the fact that there was a cutback, five years and under, and I was 15 months short of my five years, so I voluntarily — they wanted to get me on as a deckhand, but I just told them I’m going home. That was when everything started going down after Eurocan started. I was working there all the time; they were bringing the material for Eurocan.

And right away, I noticed when the pulp mill started that it had a detrimental effect on the river, for they never dumped their effluent until night, and it was a horrible sight. It was higher than the deck of a tugboat, if you know how a tugboat looks like. The foam that was there coming down the river was higher than the tugboat I was operating on the back deck, and it smelled awful. My crew couldn’t stay on deck very long due to the bad smell of that effluent.
And when we complained about it, Eurocan told us — the President came to a public meeting at the old hall and told us, “Don’t worry about it. It’s not going to harm you any. There’s no poison in it.”

It’s sad to say, but a lot of my people that continued — that listened to him kept on eating that fish and they — most of them died with stomach cancer and different types of sickness came around just because that guy said it was safe to drink it.

Our Chief Councillor at that time challenged him, “I’ll go upriver with you, bring a cup. You drink one cup; I’ll drink one cup, too.” He wouldn’t make a move. We tried to beg him to go up there.
And I told my mother, “I don’t think you should eat that. It smells awful.” And my father spoke up, “Didn’t you hear that man spoke in the hall? He said it’s safe.” But I — we wouldn’t touch it anyway.

It was terrible, and it’s a bad experience way to learn how bad that thing is.
And just imagine what my grandchildren will go through if this happens, what’s coming before us.

I was one that witnessed the — like what I said, the impact of Alcan and Eurocan to our territory. It’s been devastating, really, to the fact that when Alcan first came around I was just a young boy. I remember that public meeting that they went to up in the oval hall.

That public meeting, one of the councillors got up and asked the Indian agency, “What are you doing over there? You’re sitting with an Alcan representative. You’re supposed to be sitting with us.” The councillor could not care less. They weren’t allowed to have a lawyer to represent them. In fact, Alcan proposed that they have their smelter set right here, right where we’re sitting, but it was too small for their liking, so they moved, which was a good thing in a small part. They moved over there where they’re at right now, where Rod’s trap line is.

Again, the question is, why weren’t we allowed to have a lawyer represent us? Just because we weren’t educated enough or something? I don’t know.

But anyway, in doing so, I was really sad, like what I said, at what’s going on, so as the other communities that are with me here today, the Bella Bella people. They’re here today to be with us. Kitasoo/Xaixais are here. Kitkaa are here, along with other First Nations. They’re here to support the Haislas in standing with them side by side. They want to stand in solidarity to show their support towards the Haisla Nations.

Thank you.


Growing controversy as Northern Gateway Joint Review hearings begin at Kitamaat Village

Heiltsuk elders arrive
Elders from the Heiltsuk First Nation at Bella Bella arrive at Kitamaat Village on the evening of Jan. 9, 2011. (Robin Rowland/Northwest Coast Energy News)

The long awaited Joint Review Panel hearings into the controversial Northern Gateway pipeline begin Tuesday morning at 9 a.m. at the Haisla Recreation Centre in Kitamaat Village.

Elders from the Heiltsuk First Nation at Bella Bella and from the Kitasoo/Xaixais First Nation at Klemtu arrived at the Kitamaat Village dock shortly after 5 p.m. Monday evening.

The elders will take part in the opening ceremony at Kitamaat Village Tuesay morning, along with the leaders and elders of the Haisla First Nation.

Members of the Haisla and other First Nations will be first to testify, followed by other residents of Kitimat.  It is understood that Enbridge, which has proposed building the pipeline, will only have a token presence at the hearings. Enbridge officials will likely give most of their testimony when the hearings reach Edmonton.

The hearings, already controversial on a national level, became more heated Monday when Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver issued an open letter accusing radical environmentalists under foreign influence of blocking the project and also undermining the Canadian economy.

Controversy also grew late Monday when an article in the Terrace Daily by editor Merv Ritchie claimed that Tuesday’s hearings will be disrupted by agents provacateurs. Ritchie says the paper received calls concerning statements made by some of the passengers on inbound fights to Terrace Kitimat airport.

“We are paid protesters”, stated one among a group, as reported to us “We are coming to discover the emotional issues of the people at the protests.”

Members of the local groups are also saying that the Joint Review Panel has shortened their allotted presentation time from three hours to one half hour.

Elizabeth May issues open letter to counter Joe Oliver

Green Party leader Elizabeth May has issued her own open letter, countering one issued earlier by Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver, where Oliver claimed that “radicals” opposing the Northern Gateway pipeline were a threat to the Canadian economy. May calls Oliver’s letter a “hyperbolic rant” and says his office has been “hijacked” by the Prime Minister’s Office’s “spin machine.”

May writes (text from the Green Party website)

Dear Joe,

Your letter caught my attention. I respect you and like you a lot as a colleague in the House. Unfortunately, I think your role as Minister of Natural Resources has been hijacked by the PMO spin machine. The PMO is, in turn, hijacked by the foreign oil lobby. You are, as Minister of Natural Resources, in a decision-making, judge-like role. You should not have signed such a hyperbolic rant.

I have reproduced a short section of your letter. The idea that First Nations, conservation groups, and individuals opposed to the Northern Gateway pipeline are opposed to all forestry, mining, hydro-electric and gas is not supported by the facts. I am one of those opposed to the Northern Gateway pipeline. I do not oppose all development; neither does the Green Party; neither do environmental NGOS; neither do First Nations.

I oppose the Northern Gateway pipeline for a number of reasons, beginning with the fact that the project requires over-turning the current moratorium on oil tanker traffic on the British Columbia coastline. The federal-provincial oil tanker moratorium has been in place for decades. As former Industry Canada deputy minister Harry Swain pointed out in today’s Globe and Mail, moving oil tankers through 300 km of perilous navigation in highly energetic tidal conditions is a bad choice. In December 2010, the government’s own Commissioner for the Environment, within the Office of the Auditor General, reported that Canada lacked the tools to respond to an oil spill. These are legitimate concerns.

Furthermore, running a pipeline through British Columbia’s northern wilderness, particularly globally significant areas such as the Great Bear Rainforest, is a bad idea. Nearly 1,200 kilometers of pipeline through wilderness and First Nations territory is not something that can be fast-tracked.

Most fundamentally, shipping unprocessed bitumen crude out of Canada has been attacked by the biggest of Canada’s energy labour unions, the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada, as a bad idea. The CEP estimates it means exporting 40,000 jobs out of Canada (figure based on jobs lost through the Keystone Pipeline). They prefer refining the crude here in Canada. (The CEP is also not a group to which your allegation that opponents of Gateway also oppose all forestry, mining, oil, gas, etc is anything but absurd.)

The repeated attacks on environmental review by your government merit mention. The federal law for environmental review was first introduced under the Mulroney government. Your government has dealt repeated blows to the process, both through legislative changes, shoved through in the 2010 omnibus budget bill, and through budget cuts. In today’s letter, you essentially ridicule the process through a misleading example. Your citation of “a temporary ice arena on a frozen pond in Banff” requiring federal review was clearly intended to create the impression that the scope of federal review had reached absurd levels. You neglected to mention that the arena was within the National Park. That is the only reason the federal government was involved. It was required by the National Parks Act. The fact that the arena approval took only two months shows the system works quite well.

Perhaps most disturbing in the letter is the description of opposition to the Northern Gateway pipeline as coming from “environmental and other radical groups.” Nowhere in your letter do you mention First Nations. (I notice you mention “Aboriginal communities,” but First Nations require the appropriate respect that they represent a level of government, not merely individuals within communities.)

The federal government has a constitutional responsibility to respect First Nations sovereignty and protect their interests. It is a nation to nation relationship. To denigrate their opposition to the project by lumping it in with what you describe (twice) as “radical” groups is as unhelpful to those relationships as it is inaccurate.

“Radical” is defined as “relating to or affecting the fundamental nature of something; far-reaching or thorough.” (Merriam Webster).

By that definition, it is not First Nations, conservation groups or individual opponents that are radical. They seek to protect the fundamental nature of the wilderness of northern British Columbia, the ecological health of British Columbia coastal eco-systems, and the integrity of impartial environmental review. It is your government that is radical by proposing quite radical alteration of those values.

Your government has failed to present an energy strategy to Canada. We have no energy policy. We are still importing more than half of the oil we use. Further, we have no plan to reduce dependency on fossil fuels, even as we sign on to global statements about the need to keep greenhouse gases from rising above 450 ppm in the atmosphere to keep global average temperatures from exceeding a growth of 2 degrees C. The climate crisis imperils our future – including our economic future – in fundamental ways which your government ignores.

By characterizing this issue as environmental radicals versus Canada’s future prosperity you have done a grave disservice to the development of sensible public policy. There are other ways to diversify Canada’s energy markets. There are other routes, other projects, and most fundamentally other forms of energy.

I urge you to protect your good name and refuse to sign such unworthy and inaccurate missives in the future.



Elizabeth May, O.C.
Member of Parliament
Saanich-Gulf Islands




Environmental groups re-issue poll, showing BC worried about US, Chinese control of natural resources

A coalition of BC  environmental groups have re-released a poll from last spring showing that almost 75 per cent of British Columbians are worried about foreign investment in Canadian natural resources. The poll also shows that only a small minority of British Columbians (15%) are concerned about charitable funding provided by US philanthropic foundations to Canadian environmental groups.

The poll was conducted by Strategic Communications in April 2011 and commissioned by the following groups: BC Sustainable Energy Association; Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society – BC Chapter; Conservation Northwest; Dogwood Initiative; Ecojustice; ForestEthics; Georgia Strait Alliance; Greenpeace; Pembina Institute; Sierra Club BC; West Coast Environmental Law; Wildsight.

The re-release of this poll is aimed at countering a poll last week, commissioned by Enbridge showing wide spread support in BC for the pipeline and an attack ad campaign by the pro-bitumen sands group Ethical Oil, which has been saying that there is too much foreign interference in the Canadian energy regulatory process.

Based on a random online sample of 830 adult British Columbians, the results are considered accurate to within plus or minus 3.4 percent 19 times out of 20.

This poll shows that 47.1% of respondents were very worried and 32.1% somewhat worried about “Americans controlling our natural resources.” Asking if people were worried about China, 39.0 % were very worried and 33.8% were somewhat worried about “China investing in our natural resources.” It shows that 38.3% were “very worried” and 34.2% “somewhat worried” about “China taking or controlling our natural resources.”

The news release from the groups says

“These poll results suggest that the oil lobby’s attacks against environmental groups are out of touch with the true values of British Columbians. The real issue is the unacceptable risk of a foreign-funded pipeline-oil tanker project that would ram pipe through unceded First Nations lands to ship some of the world’s dirtiest oil across thousands of fragile salmon-bearing rivers and streams,” said Will Horter, Executive Director of the Dogwood Initiative. “225 Supertankers a year, many larger than the Exxon Valdez, would need to transit the treacherous fjords of the Great Bear Rainforest, on route to China. This pipeline is all risk and no reward for British Columbians.”

According to the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP), over the three-year period from 2007-2010 alone, foreign companies poured nearly $20 billion dollars into the tar sands. In contrast, according to blogger Vivian Krause, US charitable foundations have given Canadian environmental groups less than 1.5% of that amount over a ten year period, accounting for all charitable funding on Canadian environmental issues ranging from forest protection to fisheries conservation.

“Funding for environmental charities helps to right the imbalance between ordinary citizens and the financial and political influence of multinational companies in Canada,” said Jessica Clogg of West Coast Environmental Law. “Since 1974, our environmental legal aid services have enabled citizens and community groups throughout BC to participate in resource decisions – like the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline – that would profoundly affect their lives.”

“Canadians value the importance of environmental advocates speaking up for economic development that sustains our communities without destroying the ecology that supports us,” said Sierra Club BC Executive Director George Heyman. “We represent a legitimate Canadian viewpoint that is critical to sound policy-making, particularly when facing the influential, China-backed Enbridge pipeline lobby.”

As with many polls in a polarized situation, there are problems.  As Northwest Coast Energy News showed last week, the numbers in the Enbridge-sponsored poll are unreliable for northern British Columbia.  The environmental groups’ poll could also be considered suspect by the way the questions were phrased and the order in which they were asked.

Foreign Funding Poll Backgrounder  (Data figures from the groups who commissioned the poll)


West Coast Environmental Law responds to Ethical Oil’s attack ads

West Coast Enviromental Law, the first target of the attack ads by the Ethical Oil activist group has responded in a statement from Executive Director and Senior Counsel, Jessica Clogg who said: “Our campaigns are not dictated by the sources of our funding. Rather, we seek funding to support the environmental initiatives we decide on as a British Columbia organisation with deep roots in communities around the province.”

The Alberta based pro bitumen sands lobby group Ethical Oil, using figures from Vancouver blogger Vivian Krause are attacking any group opposing the bitumen sands and pipelines who may receive backing from foundations or other groups based outside of Canada.

“Our funding to support ordinary Canadians in keeping our magnificent north Pacific Coast free from the threat of oil tankers and oil spills is dwarfed by that of oil producers and refiners, which put up $100 million to promote the Northern Gateway project and push it through the regulatory review,” Clogg said.

A  statement on its website “Why West Coast is fighting Enbridge (it’s not the funding)” says in part:

Through our environmental legal aid services, citizens and community groups who could not otherwise afford it are able to participate meaningfully and democratically in decisions about resource development that have the potential to profoundly affect their lives.
Back in the ‘70s when a broad citizens’ coalition brought to a halt a proposed oil pipeline to an oil port at Kitimat, BC West Coast lawyers were there to support them. And we are there today for these northern communities as they once again face the threat of environmental devastation from oil pipelines and tankers….
Our belief remains strong today, as then, that our salmon-rich north Pacific coast and rivers should remain free from oil supertankers and the threat of oil spills….
This goal, like the other long-term strategic priorities of West Coast Environmental Law is set by our board and staff, informed by the deep connections we have forged over many decades with communities in every corner of the province. Without the generosity of our supporters, including dedicated individuals and foundations on both sides of the border, the work of our non-profit charity to protect the environment through law would not be possible. But we, not our funders, decide what issues we will focus on.


Great Bear photo exhibit opening reception in Kitimat


The opening reception for the Great Bear Rainforest photo exhibit was held at the City Centre venue on the evening of Saturday, Nov. 5, 2011.

The photos are by members of the International League of Conservation Photographers. The Kitimat exhibit was co-sponsored by Douglas Channel Watch and the Kitimat Valley Naturalists.

Above. Carl Whicher takes a close look at one of the photos. Left Walter Thorne, (left) and Dennis Horwood of the Kitimat Valley Naturalists discuss issues with Murray Michin of Douglas Channel Watch. (Robin Rowland/Northwest Coast Energy News)

Want to catch that fish? Check its personality profile

Environment Fishery

A study at Queen’s University in Kingston seems to indicate that fish not only have individual personalities, but that personality could determine where the fish may be caught.

According to a news release from Queen’s:

Anglers fishing near rocky outcrops or in areas of water with submerged vegetation may be more likely to catch timid fish, while those fishing in open water may be more likely to reel in bolder fish, according to new research conducted at Queen’s University Biological Station.

“Boldness–the tendency of an individual to take risks–is one personality trait of considerable interest to behavioural biologists,” explains lead author Alexander Wilson, a visiting biologist from Carleton University. “Ours is the first study to have characterized a relationship between capture technique and individual boldness in a wild population of fish.”

The researchers studied bluegill sunfish caught either by angling or beach seining (a long net that is dragged through water to encircle fish).

The fish caught angling were more timid than fish captured in the wild using a seine net. However, when a group of fish captured by seine net was then released in a large outdoor pool and angled for, it was the bold individuals who were most often caught in the open.

 Wilson says the researchers caught more fish in the areas with refuge–a habitat that appeals more to timid fish. On the other hand, beach seining or angling in open water are both capture techniques that are more likely to target bolder, risk-taking fish.

 This research was recently published in the Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Science.

US extends deadline for comments on Alaska halibut closure

521-areas2C_3A_sm.jpgThe United States National Marine Fisheries Service has extended the deadline for comments on its controversial Halibut Catch Sharing plan by 15 days until Sept. 21.

The NMFS made the announcement in a news release on Sept. 1.

There was increasing political pressure on the service to take another look at the proposal, which like parallel cutbacks along the British Columbia coast are raising fears of economic damage to the recreational halibut sector. In Canada, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans has closed the recreational halibut season as of midnight, Sept. 5.

The Seattle Times reported Sept. 1, “Rep. Craig Johnson, R-Anchorage, said the halibut-allocation plan proposed by the National Marine Fisheries Service, which could cut the bag limit for charter-boat anglers from two to one halibut, could have a tremendous impact on Alaska coastal communities that depend on tourism connected to sport fishing.”

In the news release, Natinal Atomspheric and Ocean Administration, the department that governs the NMFS, said.

The decision to extend the comment period comes following a visit to Alaska last month by NOAA Administrator Dr. Jane Lubchenco, who attended a luncheon in Homer with U.S. Senator Mark Begich to hear concerns and comments about the draft plan first hand from both charter and commercial halibut fishers.

 “Alaska fisheries have been among the healthiest and most sustainable in the world, and we are working to keep them that way for both recreational opportunities and the long-term economic benefit of Alaska fishermen and fishing communities,” said Dr. Lubchenco.

“During my recent trip to Alaska, I was honored to visit communities where the local economy is tied to the halibut fishery. I listened to the community’s concerns and I want to make sure that everyone has a chance to provide input in this public process of shaping the final halibut catch sharing plan.”

 “While we need a plan to keep all segments of the halibut fishery within catch limits to sustain and rebuild the stocks, charter fishermen raised several legitimate issues at the Homer meeting warranting further consideration,” Sen. Begich said. “While many fishermen have already submitted comments, this extension will allow additional time for fishermen still out on the water to make sure they are heard. I am pleased Dr. Lubchenco is taking action and responding to the comments we heard when we spoke to the Homer Chamber of Commerce.”


 NOAA says that the halibut stock in southeast Alaska and the central Gulf of Alaska has seen a steep decline in the past several years.

The agency claims the proposed catch sharing plan is designed to foster a sustainable fishery by preventing overharvesting of halibut and would introduce provisions that provide flexibility for charter and commercial fishermen. It adds that the catch sharing plan “was shaped through an open and public process through the North Pacific Fishery Management Council, which recommended the rule to establish a clear allocation between the commercial and charter sectors that fish in southeast Alaska and the central Gulf of Alaska.”

 However, in protest meetings and letters to local media, the charter and recreational fishers in the state are saying that the council is dominated by the commercial interests and has been unfair to the charter and recreational fishery.

KM LNG to buy Eurocan site

460-eurocanplant1w.jpgThe closed Eurocan plant in Kitimat, the day it was sold, July 14, 2011.  (Robin Rowland/Northwest Coast Energy News)

KM LNG Operating General Partnership
(Kitimat LNG) has announced that it has entered into an agreement to
purchase the former Eurocan linerboard mill site in Kitimat from West
Fraser Timber Co Ltd.

KM LNG said in a news release that the sale is subject to obtaining government approvals for the
transfer of related permits and licenses. Financial details of the
transaction have not been disclosed:

“The Kitimat LNG partners are very pleased we have reached this
agreement with West Fraser,” said KM LNG President Janine McArdle. “The
purchase of the site marks another significant local investment in
Kitimat and is a great step forward for the Kitimat LNG project.”

The site provides the Kitimat LNG project with a suitable area for a
work camp, lay-down and storage area as the project continues to move
forward with clearing and grading at the LNG export facility site.

The Kitimat LNG export facility is planned to be built on First Nations
land under a unique partnership with the Haisla First Nation.

Kitimat LNG partners Apache Canada Ltd., EOG Resources Canada Inc. and
Encana Corporation are currently in marketing discussions with
potential Asia-Pacific LNG customers.

The partners expect to have firm sales commitments in place by the time
a final investment decision is made.  Initial shipments of LNG are
expected to begin by the end of 2015.

West Fraser closed the Eurocan mill at the end of January 2010, throwing about 500 people in Kitimat out of work. Most of the machinery in the plant has been sold and dismantling of equipment and demolition of some parts of the mill are wrapping up.

KM LNG plans to use the site as a work camp and storage area for the construction of the LNG terminal at Bish Cove on Douglas Channel south of the shuttered mill.

TransCanada’s new pipeline project worries U.S. agency: Calgary Herald

Calgary Herald

 TransCanada’s new pipeline project worries U.S. agency

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has expressed new fears about the safety of Calgary-based TransCanada Corp.’s proposed Keystone XL oilsands pipeline, warning decision makers in the Obama administration to “carefully consider” whether the project’s proposed route through ecologically sensitive areas in the U.S. Great Plains is appropriate.

 In a letter to the State Department, the EPA said two recent leaks that shut down the existing Keystone pipeline highlight the need to require the Canadian company to take more rigorous steps to limit the threat of a major spill on the new line.