Snuneymuxw elder Gary Manson, left, shows images of marine life to a National Energy Board panel on Wednesday at oral traditional evidence proceedings at Nanaimo’s Vancouver Island Conference Centre. The Snuneymuxw had a dozen members as part of their delegation including Chief Mike Wyse, middle, and Coun. Paul Wyse-Seward. (GREG SAKAKI/The News Bulletin)

Vancouver Island elders ‘scared’ of potential impacts of pipeline expansion

Snuneymuxw First Nation presents traditional evidence at National Energy Board hearing in Nanaimo

Snuneymuxw elders, speaking at a National Energy Board hearing held on their traditional territory, expressed fear and sadness about risks of pipeline expansion on the West Coast.

The NEB is holding oral traditional evidence proceedings, hearing from about 30 indigenous intervenors. There were sessions in Calgary and Victoria the last two weeks of November and this week the hearings are taking place at Nanaimo’s Vancouver Island Conference Centre.

Speaking on behalf of the Nanaimo-area Snuneymuxw First Nation on Wednesday were elders Geraldine Manson (C’tasi:a) and Gary Manson (Xulsimalt). Chief Mike Wyse was among 10 other members of the Snuneymuxw First Nation there as part of the delegation. Wyse presented a gift to the panel and said the Snuneymuxw were there to participate in the process in a good way.

SFN members performed some examples of ceremonies that demonstrated the First Nation’s connection with the environment, especially the ocean. Gary Manson said the Snuneymuxw have not forgotten that connection and he wants it to remain for his grandchildren, so that they will be able to see, in the future, the same sea they see now. He said he’s scared and made a plea in Hul’qumi’num that he said translates to “have pity.”

“I know that there’s this effort to send some tankers full of oil through our territory and I’m afraid of that and so are the people,” he said.

Geraldine Manson said an oil spill in the area would be devastating.

“Even though they have set a plan for oil spills, it’s not going to help in our community. It is saddening. It is like taking something away from us once again. [The ocean] is something spiritual. It is something our whole community relies on.”

She mentioned “the coast, all the sea life, medicinal plants that are found in the waters, all the shellfish, the salmon” and wondered, “where will they be if we don’t be the voice of protecting the waters?”

The elders were asked what it would mean if there were no more killer whales in the Strait of Georgia.

“To remove something that is so sacred to our communities, the killer whale and all the [other marine life], to remove them would be so devastating,” Geraldine Manson said. “It’s like losing language, it’s like losing culture. It’s removing something [that’s] a part of us.”

Gary Manson said he would grieve the loss of the killer whale for a long time if it were to happen. He said the impact of a potential oil spill would be unimaginable.

“I would blame myself somewhat. It’s another layer of anger that would come to the surface of my spirit…” he said. “I would carry the sadness to my grave. It’s something that I would not be able to justify fixing my spirit.”

Trans Mountain representatives and NEB panellists did not ask any questions of the Snuneymuxw delegation.

“We will consider all that we’ve heard as we decide on a recommendation,” said Lyne Mercier, NEB panel chairwoman.

The final day of hearings is tomorrow, Dec. 6. The oral traditional evidence proceedings are part of the federal government’s Trans Mountain expansion project reconsideration hearings.

RELATED: Energy board to hear traditional indigenous evidence in Trans Mountain review



editor@nanaimobulletin.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Crews respond to near drowning at Thetis Lake

Man taken to hospital after calls come in of drowning in progress

PHOTOS: Thousands raised for cancer at second annual Gala for Hope

Victoria Fire Department’s fundraiser a success ahead of Ride to Conquer Cancer

Vet services for Victoria’s pets of the homeless cancelled for first time in a decade

Vets for Pets faces a volunteer shortage that’s forced the group to cancel its recent service

Wooldog among mysteries uncovered with powerful UVic microscope

Finding ‘Mutton,’ a dog lost in a Smithsonian drawer for 150 years

Optometrist pedals through depression, leads others for the cause

Ride Don’t Hide bike rides start, end at Windsor Park

Victoria Weekender: What’s happening this weekend, June 15-16

Car Free YYJ, a barber battle and an Outdoor Discovery Day

B.C. VIEWS: When farmland protection doesn’t protect farmers

Secondary residences aren’t mansions, families tell Lana Popham

Bombers down B.C. Lions 33-23 in season opener

Former Lion Andrew Harris leads Winnipeg with 148 rushing yards

Homalco tour gives glimpse into area’s ‘People, Land, Water’

First Nation business mixes cultural components with wildlife excursions

Northern B.C. family remembers murdered Indigenous woman with memorial walk

Still no closure for Ramona Wilson’s family 25 years later

Monkey spotted on late-night jaunt in Campbell River

Conservation officers also apparently looking for cougar in the area

B.C. university to offer mentorship program for former youth in care

Students using the provincial tuition waiver program will soon be able to form a community at KPU

Cyclists competing in one of the toughest bike races on the planet pass through Fernie

Divide riders looking strong as they finish first leg of 4160 km race

You might not know these B.C. records are public

Hired a lawyer to file a civil claim? Those are published online

Most Read