The Scia’new First Nation, centred at the Beecher Bay area on the southern tip of Vancouver Island, has released a statement indicating support for the Trans Mountain Expansion Project.

The June 6, 2018 statement says the First Nation ‘does not take lightly any proposal that might threaten our relationship with these sacred waters.” They describe marine spill response enhancements — which be implemented by Western Canada Marine Response Corporation (WCMRC) using $150 million in financing from TMEP — as an “ambulance of the sea.” WCMRC is a federally certified spill response organization. It has been delivering safe and effective oil spill response services along the BC coast for more than 40 years.

Enhancements related to TMEP  include establishment by WCMRC of a spill response base at Beecher Bay.

Here is the Scia’new statement:

Scia’new First Nation: Engaging in Modern Megaprojects

June 6, 2018 — For thousands of years, the Scia’new people, part of the Coast Salish peoples, have used and occupied the lands and waters on the south coast of Vancouver Island. Like all First Nations in Canada, the Scia’new have struggled for over 150 years to adjust to the effects of European colonization of our traditional territory and waters. Although the Scia’new inhabit the lands in the Beecher Bay area of Vancouver Island, we are, and always have been, the salmon people. The waters of the Salish Sea have sustained us through its resources and been our trade routes, our highways and the connecting lines to our relatives in Washington State.

Thus, we do not take lightly any proposal that might threaten our relationship with these sacred waters. When we were first informed of the proposed Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain Expansion Project our response was a mixture of fear, anger and caution. However, over the period of several years in open and frank negotiations with representatives of Kinder Morgan we came to the conclusion that the best way for our Nation to assert and advance our constitutionally protected rights and to protect and enhance the environment of our sacred waters was to engage with Kinder Morgan regarding the Trans Mountain Expansion Pipeline.

This engagement led to an agreement with Kinder Morgan that acknowledges our constitutional rights, provides an economic foundation for our community and empowers us to be stewards and protectors of our own waters. This engagement was not an easy decision nor one that we took lightly. We coupled this process with a presentation that we made to the National Energy Board charged with certifying this project. In that presentation, we made 26 separate recommendations to the NEB regarding the types of regulatory measures that we felt enhanced our protections and minimized the risks of a marine accident.

We have done our due diligence. We are satisfied that the conditions put on the project and the management of the project will be of world-class standards. We are comfortable that the risks entailed in this type of project have been minimized and the response capacity has been enhanced. We will now have an “ambulance for the sea” through this enhanced capacity. We have come to this conclusion while, at the same time, advancing the constitutionally protected rights of our community and gaining a significant community capacity to respond, not only to oil spills but to any other marine disasters. From our perspective, this is what practicing aboriginal rights looks like, this is what reconciliation looks like.

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