Enbridge Hearings: First Nation Who Saved Passengers of Sinking Ferry Invites Public Into Their Homes

Gitga’at Nation to host three-day public open house during National Energy Board hearings as they defend the Northern way of life against the certain threat of an oil spill. HARTLEY BAY, BRITISH COLUMBIA (Feb. 29, 2012) – The Gitga’at Nation, who received a Governor General’s award for saving passengers of the Queen of the North ferry, is hosting a three-day open house and inviting the general public to join the nation in its opposition to the Enbridge oil tankers and pipeline project.

The Gitga’at have bought a half-page ad in a Prince Rupert newspaper, inviting the public to “feast and bear witness” March 1st, 2nd and 3rd, during National Energy Board hearings in the community.

To provide sleeping spaces and food, the Gitga’at are opening their homes and public buildings, and hosting several feasts and communal meals, free of charge.

“We invite you to experience traditional foods from the ocean and Gitga’at culture,” reads the ad. “The ocean is the tie that binds us, and an oil spill, when it comes, would undo that tie, and change coastal life as we know it, forever. It’s not a question of if there will be an oil spill, but when.”

40% or more of Gitga’at meals are sourced from the ocean, with foods like halibut, crab, salmon, prawns, mussels, clams, seaweed, oysters and herring. Feasts and potlaches are age-old traditions that reinforce the community’s sense of sharing and identity. An oil spill could wipe them out for good.

When the Queen of the North sank in 2006, the Gitga’at received the Governor General’s Commendation for Outstanding Service for “initiative, selflessness and an extraordinary commitment to the well-being of others.” Like the diesel fuel that still bubbles up from the ferry wreckage and pollutes their clam beds, it’s a memory that’s hard to forget.

It’s one that Canadians shouldn’t forget either.

To view Gitga’at submissions to the National Energy Board and written evidence about their traditional way of life, with an emphasis on food and social culture, visit: www.tinyurl.com/gitgaat

Contact Information: Gitga’at Nation 250-841-2500 hbvc@gitgaat.net