Panel members arrived in the remote coastal community on Sunday to find the main street lined with protesters. That evening, officials sent notice to community leaders that the hearings, which were set to run for four days in Bella Bella, would not take place.
An official with the panel blamed “logistical problems” related to how the panel will hear oral traditional knowledge of the Heiltsuk Nation.
But community leaders say the panel was spooked by a peaceful protest featuring schoolchildren, and they are angry that the community hearings have now been trimmed down to just 2 1/2 days.
“The reason we were provided last night, they felt due to the rally that it was not a safe or secure environment,” said the Heiltsuk’s chief councillor, Marilyn Slett.
“We have major concerns about this pipeline project, not having that time is a black mark on them. The children of the Bella Bella have taken an incredible stand, reaching out to the population at large to show their concerns about the supertankers that could be going through our territory.”