(Lheidli T’enneh Territory, Prince George, BC – May 27, 2019) BC Assembly of First Nations Regional Chief Terry Teegee is urging the Senate to support and vote in favour of the Oil Tanker Moratorium Act.

“I urge Senators to carry this important piece of proposed legislation forward with consideration for the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples,” said Chief Teegee. “First Nations must continue to make decisions as stewards of the land and waters, and be able to protect the ecological integrity of this region for future generations. Oil spills in this region have a devastating impact on coastal First Nations and have inhibited traditional and economic use. This Bill will strengthen the protection of coastal waters and ecosystems and is an important step that the Senate and federal government must take in our journey toward reconciliation.”

This commitment was part of the Prime Minister’s mandate letter to the Minister of Transport at the start of the 42nd Parliament, and is a component of the broader Oceans Protection Plan. The Bill was first tabled in the House of Commons on May 12, 2017, and was voted down by the Senate Standing Committee. It is time for the Senate to vote on Bill C-48, and now is the time to ensure that it is enacted into law.

In October 2016, the BCAFN Chiefs-in-Assembly endorsed Resolution 26/2016 Support for Heiltsuk Nation Response to Environmental Impacts Resulting from the Crash and Sinking of the Nathan E. Stewart tugboat. In October 2016, the Nathan E. Stewart tugboat hit Edge Reef in Seaforth Channel, near Athlone Island, while pushing a massive fuel barge north of Bella Bella, BC. The barge was empty but the tug was carrying about 100,000 litres of diesel and nearly 2,000 litres of gear oil, hydraulic oil and dirty bilge. Despite the deployment of containment booms, fuel slicks reached the shore, leading to the closure of clam beds relied on by the Heiltsuk First Nation.

This resolution called upon the Government of Canada to take actions to ensure that such an accident would not happen again, and to strengthen the existing voluntary Tanker Exclusion Zone that has been active since 1985.

Bill C-48 is a crucial component of responding to these calls. The Act would prohibit oil tankers carrying more than 12,500 metric tons of crude oil or persistent oil as cargo from stopping, unloading, or loading along BC’s north coast from the northern tip of Vancouver Island to the Alaska border. The Act would also establish an administration and enforcement regime that provides for penalties of up to five million dollars. It would protect the coastline around Dixon Entrance, Hecate Strait and Queen Charlotte Sound, and would strengthen the voluntary Tanker Exclusion Zone.

For further information, contact:

Annette Schroeter, Communication Officer
BC Assembly of First Nations
C: (778)281-1655 E: annette.schroeter@bcafn.ca W: bcafn.ca