When Canada won’t step up, Heiltsuk moves across the pond to the UN.

On Mar 20, 2024 Heiltsuk leadership were in London, England speaking to the International Maritime  Organization (IMO). The IMO is the United Nations agency responsible for international laws about shipping  and the prevention of pollution from ships. IMO Conventions are incorporated into  Canadian law through the federal Marine Liability Act. Heiltsuk and the Inuit Circumpolar  Council jointly presented to IMO delegates in London, England today about the marine  spill liability regime’s failure to address Indigenous cultural losses.  

Photo: Elissama Menezes. Submitted to The Narwhal

As RAVEN supporters know, in 2016, Heiltsuk experienced the disastrous grounding of the Nathan E. Stewart (NES)  in its territories, releasing 110,000 litres of oil into the waters surrounding Gale Creek. Any compensation for harms to Heiltsuk and the completion of important restoration measures are still unresolved over seven years later. Rather than do this, Canada and the responsible company remain embroiled in litigation with  Heiltsuk.

Heiltsuk is attending the IMO on a delegation with the Inuit Circumpolar Council (ICC),  which is the only Indigenous non-governmental organization with provisional consultative  status at the IMO, allowing it to send delegates to IMO proceedings.

As Chief Marilyn Slett said

“We have traveled to London for two reasons” said Chief Slett. “First, we  are calling on the Canadian government to fully participate in negotiations to  resolve the NES litigation with Heiltsuk. If Canada is serious about its commitment to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Canada must show  leadership by sitting down with us to recognize Heiltsuk’s cultural losses from the NES spill, rather than continuing court battles.” 

“Second, we are calling on all IMO states to begin a process to ensure international laws  provide redress for cultural impacts to Indigenous peoples from marine spills and  shipping activities” added Chief Slett. “We know we are not alone”. 

Donate now to support Heiltsuk Nation’s legal challenge. 

Read the full piece here: https://thenarwhal.ca/heiltsuk-nation-international-marine-organization/

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