British Columbia

#ComeToBellaBella: Heiltsuk issue challenge to Justin Trudeau after diesel spill on B.C.'s North Coast

The Heiltsuk Nation is challenging Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to visit Bella Bella following a diesel spill on October 13.

Heiltsuk Nation wants Prime Minister to announce tanker ban in Bella Bella: 'we will embrace your visit'

Heiltsuk chief councillour Marilyn Slett says she wants Justin Trudeau to come to Bella Bella to see the aftermath of a diesel spill that occurred on October 13. (Heiltsuk Nation)

The Heiltsuk Nation is challenging Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to visit Bella Bella following a diesel spill on October 13.

"We believe that it's time for the Prime Minister to come out and visit," said Heiltsuk chief councillor Marilyn Slett in a video posted to Twitter.

"On behalf of the Heiltsuk people, on behalf of the Heiltsuk Nation, we invite Justin Trudeau, our prime minister, out here to Bella Bella."

Slett said she met with Trudeau in Ottawa prior to the spill to talk about reconciliation. She painted the spill as an opportunity for him to make good on his promises of a nation-to-nation relationship.

"Stand with us while we're in our greatest time of difficulties. Stand with us as you said you would during our reconciliation discussions. Come and visit our community."

Tanker ban coming: Garneau

Federal Transport Minister Marc Garneau will be in Bella Bella Sunday following a diesel spill in October. (CBC)

​Federal Transportation Minister Marc Garneau is scheduled to be in Bella Bella on Sunday. He has told CBC that a moratorium on crude oil tanker traffic on the North Coast is coming along with overall improvements to marine safety.

"We know we need to if we're going to continue having more shipping traffic," he said.

"On the West Coast, we want to involve Aboriginal coastal nations who want to be involved with the whole issue of marine safety. We also need to look at derelict vessels."

Ban would likely not include tugs

The Nathan E. Stewart, owned by Kirby Offshore Marine, sits in the waters off Bella Bella on Oct. 28, 2016. (Tavish Campbell)

The visit comes in the wake of the Nathan E. Stewart tugboat breach and diesel spill that occurred off the coast of Bella Bella on October 13.

The Heiltsuk have questioned response-time to the spill and warned that local wildlife and clam beds — which are economically and culturally important — are at risk.

Slett said while the ban would not likely include tugboats such as the one responsible for the diesel spill, having the prime minister visit would help boost the community's morale.

"Come and see what the impacts are to our people. Make good on your word. We implore you to come see us ... we will embrace your visit here in Bella Bella."

A shot from the video challenge issued by the Heiltsuk to Justin Trudeau. (Heiltsuk Nation)