photos were sent in to viral social media campaign aimed at showing
Kinder Morgan that its pipeline could threaten indigenous fishing
Hundreds of aboriginal people -- who apparently really love
fish -- took the bait of an impromptu viral social media campaign
to submit their favourite fishing pictures, following a Vancouver
Observer story last week that reported that pipeline-giant Kinder
Morgan had questioned how much a B.C. band still eats fish.
The fish tale began Friday when Kinder Morgan's lawyer had grilled
a Kwantlen First Nation band councillor at a National Energy Board
hearing in Chilliwack. The forum is gathering Aboriginal views on
the proposed $5.4-billion Trans Mountain expansion pipeline.
"Do you have an estimate in terms of what proportion of
Kwantlen members' diet comes from sources in the Fraser River?"
asked Kinder Morgan lawyer Terri-Lee Oleniuk.
Green Party of B.C.'s interim leader Adam Olsen thought
the question was fishy, so he took to social media for reaction.
He's also an Aboriginal man from Tsartlip First Nation.
"On Sunday morning, I tweeted out a photo of my smoke house
and said 'hey, share your fish photos with me. Let's
show them what our diet is. I got overwhelmed by the response,"
said Olsen on Tuesday.
Hundreds of Fishing Photos Sent
In just two days, he netted 750 photos from across B.C.
Olsen's new Facebook group page -- "Show
Kinder Morgan your Food Fish!" -- has also been viewed 28,848
times. The photographs show native families hooked on fishing
from harvesting -- to processing -- to ceremonial uses.
There's a picture of a child with her fish-cleaning gloves
on backwards; another of a girl kissing a salmon; and yet more of
pantries stacked with fish jars. Most are new snaps from the 2014
salmon run, Olsen blogged.
He said the photos will form a part of his official submission
to the NEB as an intervener in November.
A number of first nations leaders also said Kinder Morgan's
fish diet question was casting in the wrong direction.
"I found it pretty amusing," chuckled Ken Watts, Vice-President
of Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council.
Watts said "fishing is a way of life" for virtually
all B.C. first nations but especially in coastal areas, such
as the 14 Vancouver Island bands he represents.
"In some of our remote communities that are fly-in, or
gravel road only just to get to a grocery store, it's
quite an ordeal. So they rely on the ocean they call the
sea beds our garden," said Watts on Tuesday.
In response to the reactions that the company's question has
spawned, a Kinder Morgan spokesperson said:
"We understand the question posed by Trans Mountain's
legal counsel to the Kwantlen Nation may have interpreted by some
as implying that Salmon is not an important resource to the Nation."
"We understand salmon is very important to Kwantlen Nation
and many others for traditional, cultural, and commercial use."
"We value our relationships with all Aboriginal groups whose
territory we operate in," wrote Ali Hounsell with the Trans Mountain
Oil Spills and Increased Tanker
Traffic Worry First Nations
Several First Nations, including the Shxw'owhámel
and Tsleil-Waututh bands, have told the NEB that an oil spill from
the Kinder Morgan expansion pipeline would devastate their ability
The pipeline proposes to cross 474 waterways between Edmonton
and Burnaby, and run alongside several large rivers in B.C., according
to its application.
Kinder Morgan calculated hypothetical
oil spill scenarios on the Athabasca, North Thompson and Fraser
Rivers. The company concluded that oil spill effect durations were
typically less than five years and "all rated negative environmental
effects were considered to be reversible."
The project's five-fold increase in oil super tankers to 400
per year are also an Aboriginal concern.
PhD candidate Nick
Claxton is from Tsawout -- one of the Saanich First Nations
on the southern end of Vancouver Island.
He has made it his life's work to revitalize indigenous
reef net fishing, and says the proposed Kinder Morgan route for
increased tanker traffic cuts right through the middle of his people's
traditional fishing area.
"It's a stationary fishery we're anchored in canoes
so you can imagine with tankers going by, that would be very disruptive
to our efforts," said the researcher.
A recent University of Victoria seafoods survey found coastal
First Nations on Vancouver Island eat 15 times more seafood than
the Canadian average.
Traditional harvesting also represented 89 per cent of their
diets, with only 8 per cent of food coming from supermarkets, and
3 per cent from restaurants.
"My family my wife and 3 kids we eat 100s
of salmon each year in different ways: smoked, canned, barbecued,
baked, every different way," said Claxton.
The researcher is a presenter at an Indigenous
Foods Conference that starts Friday in Ucluelet.
Vancouver Island will also see a Nov. 1st aboriginal fisheries
celebration in Port Alberni, to mark a recent historic Supreme Court
decision affirming native peoples' right to fish and to sell
The NEB hearing on Aboriginal views on the Trans Mountain pipeline
continues in Chilliwack until Friday.