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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Battling bullying covers a lot of ground, says Safe Schools manager for Sooke School District

Jamie Adair’s background is tailor-made for the work he does with the… Continue reading

‘Not the monster everyone thinks’: Sister of human-trafficking suspect speaks out

Trish Kelly’s brother was one of four Vancouver Island residents arrested last month in Saskatchewan

UPDATED: Indigenous youth occupy B.C. Legislature steps amidst court injunction

Police negotiating with people gathered in support of some of the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs

Upgrades for Colwood’s Brook Creek Dam pouring in

Improvements to mitigate risks for residents

Oak Bay ups deer management budget to $96,100 for 2020

Provincial grant approved for deer contraception program

VIDEO: B.C.’s seventh coronavirus patient at home in Fraser Health region

Canada in ‘containment’ as COVID-19 spreads in other countries

B.C. takes over another Retirement Concepts senior care home

Summerland facility latest to have administrator appointed

RCMP pull office from Wet’suwet’en territory, but hereditary chiefs still want patrols to end

Chief says temporary closure of field office not enough as Coastal GasLink pipeline dispute drags on

Prescription opioids getting B.C. addicts off ‘poisoned’ street drugs

Minister Judy Darcy says Abbotsford pilot project working

Teck CEO says Frontier withdrawal a result of tensions over climate, reconciliation

Don Lindsay speaks at mining conference, a day after announcing suspension of oilsands project

Okanagan man swims across Columbia River to evade Trail police

RCMP Cpl. Devon Reid says the incident began the evening of Thursday, Feb. 20

‘Hilariously bad’: RCMP looking for couple with forged, paper Alberta licence plate

Mounties said the car crashed when it lost a wheel but the duo ran away as police arrived

Harvey Weinstein found guilty of sex crimes in landmark #MeToo trial

The cases against the Hollywood mogul started the #MeToo movement

Most Read