Gitga'at First Nation Reacts to Minister of Natural Resources' Insulting Remarks

VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA - (March 21, 2012) - Arnold Clifton, Chief Councillor of the Gitga'at First Nation, issued the following statement in response to media reports that Joe Oliver, Minister of Natural Resources, called First Nations communities "socially dysfunctional" during a speech this morning to the Vancouver Board of Trade, extolling the virtues of "responsible resource development."

"This language is insulting to First Nations and the Minister should apologize," says Chief Clifton of the Gitga'at First Nation. "This slip of the tongue shows that stereotypes about First Nations people are alive and well in the federal government, and it helps explain why this government has such a mistrustful and dysfunctional relationship with Aboriginal communities."

Speaking specifically about his own nation's dealings with the federal government and its controversial support of the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline, Chief Clifton continued:

"If you want to talk about 'social dysfunction' let's talk about the impacts that an oil spill from the Enbridge oil tanker and pipeline project would have on our community. We are already struggling with the effects of an oil spill from the Queen of the North ferry, which sank in 2006, and the Brigadier General M.G. Zalinski (a munitions ship that sank in 1946) is leaking more oil everyday. The federal government has yet to clean up or contain these spills, and several of our traditional harvesting areas are now closed. 40% of our food supply comes from the ocean. One oil spill from a supertanker in BC's coastal waters would wipeout our livelihoods forever - now that's dysfunctional."

Contact Information: Andrew Frank Media Relations 604-367-2112