Lummi Nation’s response to the National Energy Board’s recommendation to approve the Trans-Mountain Pipeline
Lummi Nation stands with other Coast Salish First and Tribal Nations in expressing disappointment and anger over the National Energy Board’s recommended approval of the Trans Mountain Pipeline. As an official participant in the National Energy Board (NEB) hearings last November, Lummi testified that increased tanker traffic resulting from the pipeline would have devastating impacts on the Southern Resident Killer Whale population, as well as on salmon runs, Treaty rights, sacred sites, and traditional lifeways.
The killer whales of the Salish Sea and the Indigenous Coast Salish cultures have a common bond. “Our connection to the killer whale is personal, is relational, and goes back countless generations,” according to Lummi Chairman Jay Julius. “Our name for them, qwe ‘lhol mechen means our relations below the waves.”
“Our people and the killer whales, we all depend on salmon. We need to protect the salmon’s homeland as our own homeland,” said Raynell Morris of Lummi Nation’s Sovereignty and Treaty Protection Office.
The Trans Mountain Pipeline would increase the number of tankers carrying highly toxic tar sands oil by nearly sevenfold, from about 60 ships to over 400 per year. Marine vessel traffic is known to disrupt communication, hunting, and foraging patterns for killer whales. The effects of heavy industrial shipping on Salish Sea salmon runs have yet to be quantified.
Lummi Nation is calling for a moratorium on any and all new or increased shipping activity on the Salish Sea until a transboundary, interjurisdictional cumulative impact assessment of shipping traffic and associated development has been conducted.
“We need to stop the bleeding right now,” Raynell Morris said. “We can’t be adding a pipeline and increasing tanker traffic at a time when we need to be assessing and repairing the damage that has already been done.”
Lummi Nation hereditary Chief Bill James (“Tsilixw”) said, “We all saw the grieving killer whale mother carrying her dead calf. These are messages from our relatives below the waves. It is our Xa Xalh Xechnging (sacred obligation) to listen and learn from them, and honor them.”