Part of the Northern Gateway pipeline hearings scheduled in the B.C. coastal town of Bella Bella have been cancelled after some 200 people greeted the travelling environmental review panel with protests at the local airport.
Hearings slated for Monday and Tuesday morning were put off to ensure that they could be held in a safe and secure environment. That reasoning upset Chief Marilyn Stett of the local Heitsuk First Nation. “Our people are peaceful and respectful. It’s really disheartening to the community and very disrespectful to our people,” she told Postmedia News.
When the panel arrived on Sunday, they were greeted at the airport by 200 singing and dancing protesters unhappy with the prospect of having a pipeline carry oil sands bitumen to load up tankers in the pristine channels of the Pacific Northwest. Local high school students also started a 48-hour hunger strike to mark the start of four days of scheduled hearings in the community this week.
As the CBC reports, people attending Sunday’s protest said the RCMP was there and had deemed it to be peaceful.
Hearings will reportedly start in the community on Tuesday afternoon.