Members of the Gitga'at Nation of Hartley Bay say they kicked representatives of Enbridge out of their territory on Wednesday after failing to properly consult with the community of Hartley Bay, though Enbridge denies that is what happens.
According to the Gitga'at, company representatives and a team of oil spill response surveyors showed up uninvited. Councillors say Enbridge announced their intentions to arrive via an after-hours fax a week before they stepped foot in the territory, without any other communication or consultation with the Band. Gitga'at Chief Councillor Arnold Clifton said that is simply not acceptable.
"Despite an ongoing review process, Enbridge has entered our territory and begun project work before their proposed oil tanker and pipeline project has even been approved," said Arnold Clifton, Chief Councillor of the Gitga'at First Nation.
"This is disrespectful to the Gitga'at First Nation, the review process, and thea people of British Columbia, who oppose oil tankers in our coastal waters."
Councillor Marven Robinson, one of those at the meeting, said the company was politely told to take their boat and leave regardless of what work was being undertaken and that they could stay the night if the weather was unsafe to travel.
However, Northern Gateway communications manager Ivan Giesbrecht said the company was not kicked out and "respectfully left the area" after a meeting with the Band and the conclusion of their work.
"This was a surprise. We had to contact the members who were on the site and they were very surprised in the way the visit was characterized," he said.
"We let them know when we arrived on Tuesday, we identified ourselves and let them know which was our boat and to ask if they had any questions... At their request we met with them for half an hour and it was, according to those in Hartley Bay, a very cordial meeting."
Another point of contention for the Gitga'at was that the fax announcing their arrival was accompanied with a letter addressed to Gitxaala Chief Councillor Conrad Lewis. The letter was summarily sent back to Enbridge.
"It's hard to imagine a company screwing-up its relationships with First Nations more than Enbridge has," said Robinson, who called the whole ordeal "very disrespectful".
"This incident shows not only the failure of Enbridge to meaningfully consult, but also indicates an insensitive, scatter-shot approach to dealing with First Nations. We remain resolved to protect our territory and people from this project."
Giesbrecht acknowledges that the company did send a letter, albeit mistakenly.
"That was a clerical error on our part," he said.
"The send button was pushed with the extra letter attached."