Cullen delivers passionate defense of land at Enbridge JRP

PRINCE RUPERTSkeena-Bulkley Valley Member of Parliament Nathan Cullen delivered a passionate defense of the Northwest and its land and people in a 40-minute address to the Enbridge Northern Gateway Joint Review Panel here today.

“We have a saying in the Northwest: “The land makes the people, the people don’t make the land,” Cullen said to sustained applause from the packed hearing room.

Cullen said he quickly learned powerful and lasting lessons of the “absolute interconnectivity” of land and people in his 300,000-square kilometre riding from the moment he drove off the Prince Rupert ferry in a battered 1986 Toyota Tercel almost 15 years ago.

“My most clear thought that day was that if we mess up the land and ocean in this place, there is no hope,” an emotional Cullen told the panel. “I’ve lived around the world and nowhere have I seen the interconnectivity of land and people like I have here in the Northwest.

“I’ve learned one consistent factor in feast halls across the north: the land supports us and we must support the land. It is the cultural fabric that holds us together and any threat to the land affects people at their core,” Cullen said.

Implicit threats that Enbridge’s proposed dual pipeline project pose to land and sea have already profoundly affected communities, especially First Nations, across the north, he said.

“Our very way of life, our many established salmon-based economies – all are being put at risk.”

Cullen said the risk that supertankers pose to the ocean environment is “second to none.” He told of a trip two years ago with elected officials that traced a portion of Enbridge’s proposed coastal route.

“We were in a 35-foot boat, making those tight turns out of Douglas Channel and into the open ocean, and I remember thinking, ‘Can 15,000 supertankers, some larger than the Empire State Building, sail this channel safely without making a mistake?’

“Because we can’t make a mistake, not even one, when it comes to our ocean environment.

“We have another saying, ‘When the tide goes out, the table is set.’ The ocean, and the land, are not just jobs or a meal for us, they are our life.” Cullen said. “The threat that the Enbridge pipeline poses to our lives and livelihoods is absolutely unacceptable.”

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