An open letter to the provincial and federal governments: Barge runs aground in crucial Herring fishing area.
I am very disheartened that an oil barge has trespassed in Heiltsuk Nation waters without our free and prior informed consent.
This is a violation of our tribal laws, our gvilas and our stewardship and protection of this crucial herring area and our other fisheries which Heiltsuk people depend on for our survival and our way of life. It also gives rise to concerns under the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
We were never consulted on the use of barges to transport dangerous goods in our territory, and this incident is an unjustified infringement on our hard-won right to a commercial herring fishery. The Nathan Stewart ran aground in crucial habitat for herring, salmon, clam, kelp and other species vital to our Nation’s survival.
The provincial and federal governments have failed miserably in protecting the natural resources of British Columbia and respecting the rights of Aboriginal peoples to their waters and territories. There is no world class response system for spills in BC as has been promised, as clearly shown from this tragic incident.
This will not be tolerated by my people and we are ready to address any further trespasses in our territory in violation of our gvilas and our rights as Heiltsuk peoples.
For our future generations and in solidarity.
William Gladstone Sr.
Director of Herring Operations
Gladstone Reconciliation Society