Regardless of sentencing outcome, Heiltsuk community still awaits true justice and compensation for environmental assessment, remediation and communal harvest and cultural damages
BELLA BELLA, BC, July 15, 2019 /CNW/ - Marilyn Slett, Chief Councillor of the Heiltsuk Nation, will be available for media interviews on Tuesday, July 16th following the BC Provincial Court sentencing hearing for Kirby Corporation in relation to the sinking of the Nathan E. Stewart tugboat and barge, and subsequent diesel and heavy oil spill in Heiltsuk territory.
Almost three years after the sinking, the company will be sentenced in the Heiltsuk community of Bella Bella, where the nation will give victim impact statements and react to the sentencing.
Who: Marilyn Slett, Chief Councillor, Heiltsuk Nation
What: Media commentary on BC Provincial Court sentencing hearing; video, images and victim impact statement available via dropbox: https://bit.ly/30AJmun
When: Tuesday afternoon, July 16
Background & Significance:
On October 13, 2016, the Nathan E. Stewart, an articulated tug barge operated by Houston-based Kirby Corporation, sank off of Gale Pass on the west coast of British Columbia, a cultural and resource rich traditional village site of the Heiltsuk Nation. The boat spilled more than 110,000 litres of diesel, effluent and lubricant oils into coastal waters, devastating the local community and raising important questions about Canada's oil spill response, pollution laws and compensation regime, particularly in the context of new pipeline and oil tanker projects.
Following the spill, Kirby entered into a plea agreement with the Crown, pleading guilty to three criminal counts under the Fisheries Act and Migratory Birds Convention Act (for depositing a harmful substance to fish and migratory birds) and the Pilotage Act (for proceeding in a compulsory pilotage area not under the conduct of a licensed pilot).
The Heiltsuk have launched a separate civil suit against Kirby Corporation to cover the costs of environmental impact assessment, remediation and compensation for communal harvest and cultural damages (things not covered by a criminal sentence), and they have pledged to fight for justice on behalf of all Canadian communities that might face the consequences of an oil spill.
Heiltsuk Territory encompasses 16,658 square kilometres of land as well as extensive nearshore and offshore waters on the Central Coast of BC. Our territorial boundaries are defined by six Heiltsuk tribal groups and extend out into national waters. According to our nuyem or oral tradition, we have had a relationship with these rich and productive lands and waters for countless generations.
SOURCE Heiltsuk Nation
For further information: or to arrange an interview: Chief Marilyn Slett, Heiltsuk Nation, (250) 957-7721; Andrew Frank, Media Relations, 604-367-2112