A signed letter by a number of Haida hereditary chiefs in support of Enbridge has caused an online stir.
The letter was sent to the National Energy Board in support of Enbridge’s application to extend the sunset clause for its Northern Gateway project.
It’s signed by four hereditary Haida chiefs, and four former community leaders.
The letter states that the group incorporated themselves as the Hereditary Chiefs of North Haida Gwaii LLP.
It states they believe that the Northern Gateway project is in the best interest of Canada, BC and Alberta, and that the extension allows for more engagement.
It also says by not granting an extension, it risks the extensive consultation that has already taken place.
The reaction online has been universally negative; with people on Facebook questioning the legitimacy of the group, and whether the group has the backing of their respective clans.
One senior clan leader has called for a clan meeting to discuss the letter.
The letter was also taken down by Facebook on several accounts after being flagged as “inappropriate,” with one Facebook user allegedly having her account suspended for posting the letter.
When CFNR asked Carmen Goertzen, one of the signers and a hereditary chief for the Yahgu 7laanas – Dadens clan for a comment, he refused to respond and hung up the phone.
Wilson Brown is another signatory, he’s not a hereditary chief, but is a former chief councillor of Old Massett.
He posted an online statement defending the letter, saying the Council of Haida Nation’s opposition to the project has “no supporting information” other than the Exxon Valdez spill, and since then regulations have changed.
Brown also points to the project having enough Aboriginal Equity Partners as required by the NEB, and for the Haida Nation to sign on as one, means they will have a say in the project.
He ends the letter by saying the Council of Haida Nation under President Peter Lantin does not represent him.
Peter Lantin says he represent the Haida people, and Brown and the signatories of the letter don’t.
He accuses Enbridge of employing divide and conquer tactics on the Haida Nation, but adds, “they won’t be successful.”
It’s unclear how the recent overturning of federal approval for the project by the Federal Appeals Court will impact Northern Gateway’s extension application.
The letter sent to the NEB can be found here.