Lest we forget: Why we are in court

Published by info@haidanation.com on


The road has been long, since early 2006, when the proposed Enbridge pipeline project entered the public conversation. Following that announcement the Haida nation has been vocal and engaged in stopping the project, the latest engagement being the hearing at the Federal Court of Appeal, October 1.

At the Joint Review Panel hearings in 2012 – part of the environmental assessment of the project – over 200 citizens presented their opinions. It was an emotional affair, which ran the gambit from hilarious to tears – everyone was moved, including the panel members.

To reflect what was said at the JRP the nation published A Resounding Voice – Haida Gwaii speaks to the Enbridge Joint Review Panel (2013). The journal collected together facts and figures about the project, and quotes from those who stood up for Haida Gwaii. Following is the introduction and a few pages from the journal.

Copies of A Resounding Voice can be downloaded here.


The Enbridge proposal has had the full attention of the Haida nation since 2006 when the first murmurings of this project surfaced. Since then we have put many resources into stopping the pipeline. Our engagement in the Joint Review Panel process was but one path in this process. The Haida nation will do everything it can to protect these Islands – it is our responsibility and we have been doing it for millennia.

What is heartening about this latest stance is that like Islands Spirit Rising (2004-05), we are not alone. We are joined again by our neighbours living here and by those living away. Throughout the Joint Review Panel hearings we heard over and over about the relationships our neighbours have with this place and the purpose and intent by which they go about their lives here.

The hearings are over – our nation has made its position clear, as have the Islands people. The next step is for the Joint Review Panel to make a recommendation and the federal government to make a decision. We don’t expect the outcome of that process to be a surprise – the federal government has been pushing hard for this project from day one. What has come as a surprise is the recent arrests of the Elsipogtog people and their neighbours in New Brunswick. It is clear from the way their situation is being handled that the full force of the state may also come down on all those who oppose the ENG pipeline. We must be prepared for any eventuality, and we will be. There is comfort in the knowledge that we are not alone and that we have many friends across Canada and around the world standing with us.

kil tlaats’gaa Peter Lantin

President of the Haida Nation

– – –



When I was sworn in I brought a prop, and my prop was a globe, and that’s what I swore my oath on. I wasn’t allowed to bring it, but it is back there. I chose a globe because this is what it’s really all about. This is what is most precious and this is what it is that we are fighting over.

– – –

This present growth rate, this world growth rate, is unsustainable for the earth and we know that, and all of us are demanding more resources than the earth can supply. Therefore, more and more of our human activities are becoming unsustainable. We are unleashing new forces that are changing the earth and its ecosystems in ways too many of us refuse to understand.

The price we pay for this rapidly expanding petroleum sands project in Alberta is very high. If we proceed with full throttles open we will pay a higher price, a price that the planners and promoters never seem to fully calculate and report


I work at a local cannery where we process razor clams, crab, halibut and salmon. We work seasonally, and I think if we had an oil spill, where would that leave us? We’d have nothing to process and we’d have no jobs.

My mother and grandmother, Emily Abraham, taught us to gather food, berry picking, clam digging for butter clams and getting chitons. The sea and the beach is our livelihood. I go fishing for halibut, salmon and lingcod. I love going fishing. We go out for seaweed.

Where will we get all this if there’s an oil spill? Will the company help us? No. Also, mankind reaping everything they can from Mother Earth, Mother Earth is suffering. The Natives respect Mother Earth. We only take what we need, but I see mankind taking and taking and taking. I love living on Haida Gwaii.

Number one, where will we get our food? Where will we live when we can’t get our food? Will the company pay the people of Haida Gwaii for damages? One thing I’ll tell you is all the money in the world couldn’t help us. We love living off the land and the sea, so I pray that things stay that way.


I have been tear-gassed by riot police in two countries and arrested for environmental activism seven times in four countries, and I’ve witnessed the effects of industrial mayhem on five continents. And I have lived and fought for years with grief from the feeling of helplessness and hopelessness trying to stem the drive of industry. […]So I settled down and found a home, but now this danger is threatening my home and I won’t sit this one out. I will fight.

My son, Fisher, is here today because I want him to know that I tried. When he helps me raise wind turbines and hook up solar panels for our neighbours, he’ll know that we tried. And when he watches me get dragged off to jail for protesting the Northern Gateway Pipeline Project, he’ll remember that I tried. And if that day does come when we have to put on hazmat suits to try and clean up the beaches, we will at least be able to say, “We tried”.

With respect to the panel members as individuals, I find it difficult to believe in the relevance of this review process and nearly withdrew my registration to speak. The message I have for you to add to your review is one more resounding no […].


We want to be respected and our opinions to be heard. We are a fighting nation, we will never give up. Our Elders, we will never give up, they have never given up. The generation that I am right now will never give up. We are the future leaders of the Haida Nation. Hlaauu Tlan Kaadlljawasaang. I am going to be the leader.

– – –

We’ve been talking about a major spill and how that would devastate this island but even if there is a little spill, a little oil in the bilge water, something happened and one of the containers of the ship opens up but even a little tiny spill would affect these areas.

– – –

If we cannot eat from the sea it would be a huge economic blow to my family. More than that, it would sever a connection that we’ve had, that goes back to the first Haida’s. Our culture is passed on from generation to generation. If my kids don’t get out there to learn how to do it they won’t be able to teach it to their kids.

1 Comment

beverly boynton, a visitor to haida gwaii 2013. · September 25, 2015 at 8:32 pm

haida gwaii is a globally significant place, both because of the enormous productivity of the intertidal areas and rain forest, and because of the long history of haida people in this place. the haida are the model for the future. please never give up.

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