Coastal First Nations say Canada’s federal investments an important first step. The proof will be in the delivery


Coastal First Nations say Canada’s federal investments an important first step. The proof will be in the delivery.

November 7, 2016 (Vancouver) – Coastal First Nations, CFN, say Prime Minister Trudeau’s announcement today of new federal investments to improve marine safety and shipping management are an important first step. The proof of their success will be in the delivery.

“This is an important step but our Nations need to be involved at the nation to nation level in the design and delivery of marine safety and shipping management in our Territories,” says CFN President and Heiltsuk Chief Councillor Marilyn Slett. “We want a joint management plan in which our Nations are fully resourced and making decisions about vessel traffic in our waters.”

“For too long, Canada has failed to uphold its responsibility to protect coastal communities and ecosystems,” says Chief Slett. “Last night’s sinking of the Columbia Layne barge near Klemtu and the spill of the Nathan E. Stewart in Heiltsuk territory underscores how our communities pay the price for an inadequate system. The Queen of the North is still sitting on the bottom of the ocean discharging oil in Gitga’at territory. We can’t afford to keep having these disasters.”

Chief Slett says she’s pleased to see the government building on more than two years of talks to identify shipping concerns coordinated by CFN with other First Nations, Canada and the Province of BC. She says a failure to fully involve First Nations in a joint management plan would raise serious concerns about whether the new safety measures could work.

She says CFN is calling for full involvement in:

  • Decision-making in the management of vessel traffic in their territories.
  • Designing a major upgrade to the entire west coast marine safety and emergency response system.
  • Designing improved protection for coastal ecosystems, wildlife, and communities.
  • Implementing better integration of shipping activity with other marine activities, including fishing, ecotourism, and cultural activities.

“Our full participation going forward is critical,” says CFN Board Chair Kelly Russ. “CFN is working hard with other First Nations, Canada and the Province to design new marine plans, set out principles for ecosystem-based management, and find collaborative ways to designate new marine protected areas.”

Russ says the federal investments are not seen as a means to make way for new development. “CFN remains firmly opposed to the Northern Gateway pipeline and to any crude oil tanker traffic through our member First Nations’ territories,” he says.


The Coastal First Nations are an alliance of First Nations that includes the Wuikinuxv Nation, Heiltsuk, Kitasoo/XaiXais, Nuxalk, Gitga’at, Metlakatla, Old Massett, Skidegate, and Council of the Haida Nation who work together to create a sustainable economy on British Columbia’s North and Central Coast and Haida Gwaii. ​

For more information, contact:

Chief Marilyn Slett
President, Coastal First Nations
(250) 957-7721

Kelly Russ
Board Chair, Coastal First Nations
Cell: (604) 828-4621

Jo Anne Walton
Cell: (778) 953-3103