Pipeline a risk too great

They will lose even more: their ability to live from the land and the sea and with that, their culture and their identity as a people.

Dear Sir:

Don Roberts, chief counsellor of Kitsumkalum, made an eloquent presentation

in front of the Enbridge hearings Jan. 12 on behalf of his people and us all.

Chief Roberts talked with simple and powerful eloquence of the rich

diversity of wildlife along the Skeena Valley and out into the adjoining

sea.  He not only described the commercial wealth of the salmon, halibut and

herring harvests but also of their intricate interdependence with the bears,

birds, seals, whales and the whole vast chain of sea life.

Then he connected that to the life of his people, a people who have a

similar interdependence that has grown over thousands of years.  The

Ts’msyen have a huge economic stake in a healthy environment because their

culture and way of life is based on the annual cycle of life around them.

They still harvest their food from their territories throughout the year.

They don’t take the occasional salmon for Sunday dinner.  They harvest clams

and cockles, herring and herring roe, sea cucumbers and seaweed.  It is an

incredibly diverse and healthy diet and it is utterly dependent on the

health of the land and sea.

A seasoned fisherman, Don Roberts knows the currents and tides of the river

and the coast. He knows how quickly oil could come down river and how

impossible it would be to stop it, especially if the river was iced over.

He knows that it would take the tides a single day to move an oil spill off

Hartley Bay to the mouth of the Skeena.  He knows both how quickly disaster

can come and how total it would be.

The Kitsumkalum people would lose their economy.  It takes half a million

dollars to buy a fishing boat, outfit it and license it. No fisherman can

afford the loss of his fishery but the Ts’msyen least of all.  If a healthy

part of their economy is removed, they are destitute.

But if their food source is removed they will lose even more: their ability to live from the

land and the sea and with that, their culture and their identity as a

people.

Their well-being is tied to the well-being of their territory.  So is ours.

“There is no compensation that will ever cover that,” he said.  He’s right.

Robert Hart,

Terrace, BC

 

 

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