In the fall of 2016, the tug Nathan E. Stewart spilled over 110,000 litres of diesel fuel straight into the Heiltsuk’s main marine harvesting area – their breadbasket. After spending weeks fighting to contain the oil spill, the Heiltsuk are now preparing a civil case against Kirby Corporation, and the government of Canada, to recover damages for loss of Aboriginal rights to food, social and ceremonial harvesting, and the loss of their commercial harvesting of marine resources.
“For thousands of years we have created clam gardens, and seeded them, to ensure we would always have access to that resource. Our harvesters come down with a punt full of clams and call it out on the radio: come get clams! And everyone comes down, old people who can’t go out themselves, single moms, people who need that food, they come down to the dock and help themselves. And now it’s gone.” – Ayla Brown
You can help the Heiltsuk hold the oil polluters accountable.
The Heiltsuk case will expose the actual state of British Columbia and Canada’s “world class” oil-spill response system. Proof of the poor spill response in this case may support increased environmental awareness, better safety measures and/or restrictions on oil shipping, and real improvements to spill response.
Food security is now a crucial issue.
Your donation to the Heiltsuk legal case will support the community on the legal front while they simultaneously work towards the foundational restorative work that the community’s future needs right now. With great courage and resilience, the Heiltsuk Economic Development Corporation and Qqs (Eyes) Projects Society (a Heiltsuk non-profit) have teamed up to install a community garden and gathering space in Bella Bella. Planters are being built from local lumber milled right in town by Heiltsuk people, and filled with soil from the local compost program.
This is only one of the ways that the Heiltsuk are re-building their community in the wake of this tragedy. From soup kitchen and compost projects to new homes being built, from restorative justice circles to energy efficiency upgrades, the work the Heiltsuk are doing would be the pride of any community. The Heiltsuk truly are heroes!
Will you stand with the Heiltsuk Heroes?
An anonymous foundation has generously given $75,000 to kick-start the Heiltsuk campaign. With the online donations already received from donors like you, we are just over halfway to the goal of $150,000 for the legal work that needs to happen right now to bring Kirby Corporation and the government of Canada to account.