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Panel cancels Enbridge hearings in Bella Bella
Joint Review Panel cites security concerns
Renee Bernard Apr 01, 2012 23:12:07 PM

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BELLA BELLA (NEWS1130) – TheEnbridge pipeline hearings scheduled for the coastal town of Bella Bella have been cancelled.

It appears the Joint Review Panel, tasked with listening to oral submissions in BC and Alberta, has concerns over security.

“They feel they are not in a safe environment. That was based on the reception at the airport,” announced Heiltsuk First Nation Chief Marilynn Slett to a community gathering on Sunday. “We have received a notice from the Joint Review Panel that they will not be proceeding with the planned sessions.”

Earlier in the day, the review panel flew into Bella Bella, in advance of four days of hearings in that coastal community.

A large crowd greeted the panel on the tarmac, and protesters also lined the road into town.

“What we did at the airport was very respectful, strong. It was emotional and powerful but it was respectful and peaceful,” says Slett.

NDP MLA Gary Coons says he flew in with the panel, and thought protesters who greeted them were respectful. “I am a bit shocked and surprised that the panel might pull out of the community because they felt threatened somewhere along the line. I couldn’t see where.”

“There are some meetings scheduled for the morning and I hope calmer heads prevail and we can continue the process,” he adds.

“We want to let them know that they are completely safe in our community. It is really offensive to have to go over to convey this to the Joint Review Panel. We are a peaceful people,” insists Slett.

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The above story comes from NEWS1130 a well known and respected news broadcaster in B.C. Canada. The following eye witness account of what happened comes from Ingmar Lee.

“this is an absolutely shocking example of the cowardice and corruption of the process. A boisterous but friendly crowd of about 200 people met them at the airport, including all the Chiefs in full regalia, and from there the panelists were escorted to town in an RCMP convoy. Harper’s shameless rubberstamp “Joint Revue Panel” has made a totally lame, insulting excuse to ignore unanimous Heiltsuk opposition to the “Stephen Harper Pipeline/Tanker Scheme” from the very people who stand to lose the most when the inevitable catastrophe occurs. I was there at the airport with my wife and baby and this was a totally peaceful, cheerful crowd with lots of banners, colour and kids running all around. The JRP also insultingly refused an invite to the huge community feast that had been prepared for the event.”

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I am at a loss to understand what has happened in Bella Bella. However the next 24 hours are going to be crucial for the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipelines and the Supertankers needed to transport the Bitumen on the coast.
First Nation village life on Canada’s west coast revolves around the Feast. The Feast Hall was and is a place of respect, honour and peace. I can think of no greater insult  that could be given the people of Bella Bella by the JRP panel than the insult of refusing to attend the Feast that was put up for them.   
The panel apparently has stayed overnight. It is to be hoped that come morning the JRP will find a way to erase their shame and for the hearings to go on. If they cannot erase their shame or they refuse to continue with the hearings…..
As more is known I will continue this story of shame.

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