Heiltsuk Tribal Council

iBELLA BELLA, HAÍⱢZAQV TERRITORY (August 10, 2018) – Heiltsuk Nation is disappointed in the federal government’s decision to award Atlantic Towing Limited a three year contract for two emergency towing vessels.

In April, Heiltsuk Horizon Maritime Services Limited, a partnership between Heiltsuk Nation and Horizon Maritime Services Limited, submitted a bid to the federal government to supply the two vessels requested under the Oceans Protection Plan.

“Of course no matter the circumstances, we would be disappointed not to receive the contract; however, we could understand if the contract was going to another state of the art proposal offering enhanced marine protection capabilities comparable to our own bid – one that also meaningfully involved the participation of other Indigenous peoples,” said chief councilor Marilyn Slett. “Unfortunately, that is not the case here. Canada has decided to maintain the status quo and spend over $65 million on aging vessels from an east coast company with minimal experience in Pacific waters.”

“We were shocked to learn that the aboriginal participation component of the bid accounted for less than 1% of the decision,” said hereditary chief Harvey Humchitt. “In an age of supposed reconciliation, the federal government should be embarrassed that they would give such little weight to the involvement of Indigenous peoples.”

Shortcomings in the bid solicitation process go beyond the final outcome; there was a lack of Indigenous consultation and collaboration throughout the process, from design to granting the award.

“Even after signing reconciliation framework agreements, Canada has still chosen not to involve First Nations in the planning of initiatives concerning marine protection of our territories. I’m sure that involving First Nations in the decision-making would have resulted in a stronger emergency towing program,” stated Humchitt.

“We, as a coastal First Nation, bear the risks from shipping traffic in the Pacific, and it’s time that the federal government does more than pay lip service to the importance of its relationship with Indigenous peoples,” said Slett. “As far as we’re concerned, Canada’s reconciliation process with Heiltsuk is on thin ice. We need to start seeing tangible results for ocean protection and respect for Heiltsuk’s leadership role in protecting and managing our waters.”

For more information, please contact:
Marilyn Slett – 250-957-7721