Wet’suwet’en First Nation calls on Premier Clark to establish independent inquiry into Babine Forest Products mill explosion

BURNS LAKE, BC, Jan. 30, 2014 /CNW/ -

Via Electronic Mail to premier@gov.bc.ca

The Honourable Christy Clark, MLA
Premier of British Columbia
Box 9041
Station PROV GOVT
Victoria, BC
V8W 9E1

Dear Premier Clark:

RE:  CALL FOR INDEPENDENT INQUIRY - BABINE FOREST PRODUCTS INVESTIGATION

The Wet'suwet'en First Nation is deeply disappointed with the recent decision of the Ministry of Justice, Criminal Justice Branch of British Columbia not to pursue charges against Babine Forest Products (BFP) for the sawmill explosion which took the lives of Carl Rodney Charlie and Robert F.Luggi Jr. of Burns Lake, BC as well as injuring 20 other workers on January 20, 2012.

The Wet'suwet'en First Nation supports the call for a Public Independent Inquiry into the failed management of the WorksafeBC investigation into the BFP mill explosion. 

An explosion and fire took place on January 20, 2012 at BFP and two men were killed and 20 were injured, and some very seriously.  The sawmill was destroyed and the impact on the communities of Lake Babine Nation, Wet'suwet'en First Nation, Stellat'en First Nation, Nadleh Whut'en Indian Band, as well as the community of Burns Lake has been substantial and far-reaching.

On January 10, 2014, representatives of the Ministry of Justice, Criminal Justice Branch of British Columbia met with the families of the Late Carl Charlie of the Lake Babine Nation and the families of the Late Robert F. Luggi Jr. of Stellat'en First Nation and the 20 injured workers of BFP in Burns Lake, BC.  They have informed the families that upon review of the Worksafe BC Report to Crown Counsel, that the Criminal Justice Branch has determined that no charges will be approved against BFP.

The decision of the Ministry of Justice has created a greater desire for the families of the BFP mill explosion to seek closure, justice and restitution.  This recent decision has caused a lack of faith, trust and confidence in Worksafe BC as a Crown Corporation and the safety of workers in British Columbia is now in question.  To add further distress and outrage, the Worksafe BC report released on January 16, 2014 has confirmed that sawmill explosion at BFP, was a 'preventable' incident.

Many lives have been shattered resulting from the mill explosion on January 20, 2012 and the families have not received closure, justice or accountability on behalf of their deceased loved ones.  We recommend to you as the Premier of the Province of British Columbia to launch a Public Independent Inquiry into this matter as soon as possible.

The nature of this tragedy has significant consequences on the hearts and minds of the Charlie and Luggi families who are still grieving their losses, as well as the 20 injured workers and their families who have suffered immensely in the past two years.

We strongly urge you to act accordingly in this matter on behalf of these families.  We look forward to the Government of British Columbia's positive response.

Respectfully,

WET'SUWET'EN FIRST NATION

KAREN OGEN                JANICE NOOSKI            SHARON TURNER
Chief              Councillor             Councillor

CC:

National Chief Shawn A-in-Chut Atleo, Assembly of First Nations
Jody Wilson Raybould,Regional Chief, BC Assembly of First Nations
Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs
Grand Chief Edward John, Task Group Member, First Nations Summit
Cheryl Casimir, Task Group Member, First Nations Summit
Robert Phillips, Task Group Member, First Nations Summit
Terry Teegee, Tribal Chief, Carrier Sekani Tribal Council
Chief Wilf Adam, Lake Babine Nation
Chief Archie Patrick, Stellat'en First Nation
Chief Martin Louie, Nadleh Whut'en Indian Band

SOURCE Wet'suwet'en First Nation

For further information:

Wet'suwet'en First Nation
P.O. Box 760
Burns Lake, BC
V0J 1E0
Email: wfnchief@lakescom.net