Senators on Parliament Hill were asked Tuesday to support legislation that would ban large oil tanker traffic off British Columbia’s north coast.
“We are a salmon people; we are an ocean people,” said Marilyn Slett, chief councillor of the Heiltsuk Nation.
“Our way of life depends on a healthy ecosystem.”
Slett was part of a delegation of 25 First Nation hereditary chiefs to address senators about Bill C-48.
Her community was affected by a diesel spill two years ago.
“We’ve had some, certainly some support,” she told reporters.
But, she said, some Senators believe a ban would hurt economic development.
So does Chief Dan George of Burns Lake First Nation.
He told a news conference a ban would kill a proposed Indigenous-owned pipeline called Eagle Spirit.
“There’s quite a bit of economic opportunities for all First Nations along the corridor,” he said.
“But in northern B.C., First Nations communities have a few and far between opportunities to get revenue. Because we don’t have prime real estate land, very few opportunities in the North.”
The chiefs were in Ottawa to attend a special meeting of the Assembly of First Nations.
Peter Lantin, president of the council of the Haida Nation, doesn’t want more tankers added to the traffic already travelling down the coast from Alaska.
“That’s what we’re up against,” he said.
“So there’s already risks today…We’re just trying to put a cap on opening it up to more.”
Garry Reece, hereditary chief of Lax Kw’alaams, said his community won’t support oil tankers or Eagle Spirit.
“They don’t have the support of my tribe or some of the other tribes in my community,” he said.