Tina HouseAPTN NewsThree years after a tugboat owned by a company based in Houston, Tx., sank off the B.C. coast, the Heiltsuk Nation says it is still unable to fish the waters.“Different things that we harvested there include black cod, clams, cockels, crab, halibut, herring and kelp, ling cod, rock cod, and various species of salmon,” said Chief Marilyn Slett.“We have one grocery store in our community and we are accessible by boat and by plane so for us having a healthy ocean a healthy eco system is really important.”In October 2016, the Nathan E. Stewart spilled 110,000 litres of diesel and heavy oils.Transportation Safety Board ruled last year a crew member missed a planned course change because he fell asleep while alone on watch.The company was fined this week $2.9 million for the damage.The money will go into Canada’s environmental defence fund.It’s not clear if the community will see any of that money.The spill has devastated one of the Heiltsuk Nation’s traditional harvesting sites.Lawyer Brock Martland represented the Heiltsuk Nation at the company’s sentencing hearing.“The court heard from a number of members from the Heiltsuk community about the gravity of the impact of this oil spill on them and their community and on the environment,” says Martland.The Heiltsuk Nation still can’t eat any of the food near the spill site.Slett says no amount of money can replace what’s been lost.“The effects it’s had our people I suspect will continue to feel that going forward you know we felt hurt, a deep sense of loss,” said Slett. “We felt helpless to what was happening and you with the company the polluter not conducting any environmental impact assessment we also feel a lot of uncertainty around the health of the spill area.”According to Martland, the amount awarded in this case is the highest fine ever given to a company that had this type of an environmental disaster.Meanwhile the Heiltsuk Nation is currently launching its own lawsuit against Kirby Off Shore.Martland is not representing the Heiltsuk on that case but says through discussions with the community about the impacts of the spill.“The Heiltsuk Nation is looking for re-dress from the company because of what happened more broadly they want even more effective spill response measures put in place in particular from the federal government,” he said.“The response time and the level of response was woefully lacking from the Heiltsuk point of view and they want to see the system improved in the future”, said Martland.Kirby Corp. had pleaded guilty to three of nine counts while a civil case for damages filed by the Heiltsuk Nation is ongoing.The guilty pleas are related to separate counts under the Fisheries Act, the Migratory Birds Convention Act and the Pilotage Act for the fuel spill that damaged both fish and birds, and for failing to have a pilot aboard the vessel.Read More:Report on grounded tug, oil spill in B.C. released Beaches were contaminated just when the community was preparing for a commercial clam fishery that would have supported 50 families and no traditional marine harvesting has since been done in the area, Slett said.Kirby has yet to do an environmental impact assessment to determine the state of the spill site as the Heiltsuk continue to use their own resources to conduct research, she said, adding the village site used by five tribes that are part of the nation was previously “pristine.”Slett said she’s concerned about the lack of an adequate oil spill response system nearly three years after the spill despite an Oceans Protection Plan announced by the federal government in 2016 in connection with the planned Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.“The state of marine response today is still the same. Until we are able to come to agreements and partnerships around including Indigenous communities in marine response in the central coast the Heiltsuk community is still very much in a vulnerable position,” she said.The Heiltsuk Nation has been in discussions with Transport Canada and the coast guard to provide resources to First Nations first responders in case of another spill due to concerns that a contractor did not arrive on site until the evening, hours after the early-morning incident in 2016, Slett [email protected]@inthehouse7With files from the Canadian Press
Grand Lodge of Ancient, Free and Accepted Masons of India – the parent body of over 28000 Freemasons in India – Grand Lodge of India has decided to take up an ambitious charitable project of setting up over 100 dialysis centres all over the India to provide dialysis at a subsidised price of around Rs 350 per patient, which is nearly one-third of the market price. These centres will be set up in the Masonic premises in various cities. Another unique project being taken up by the Grand Lodge of India is to provide pure drinking water generated out of air to people living in remote areas. The drinking water machine can run on both electricity and solar power. Each machine will cost around Rs 30,000 and over Rs 1 lakh with solar panels. The project, known as MARG (Masonic Amrut Ras Generator), would be of immense use for people living in drought prone areas where ladies have to walk several kilometers to fetch drinking water. The water machine generates water from the humidity in air and can generate about 15 liters of drinking water in a day. The first project is being set up in Pench forest reserve area near Nagpur, Maharashtra for the officers on duty in the forest. Also Read – Add new books to your shelfGrand Lodge of India had also recently felicitated Gallantry Award Winners and war widows of Uri and Baramulah terrorist attack. Along with this Grand Lodge of India had given five residential apartments free of cost to the war widows of these soldiers and they spend over Rs 1.50 crore for purchase of land and construction of these apartments. According to MW Bro Ranauta (Grand Master of Grand Lodge of India), the apartments for the widows of Uri martyrs will be constructed in association with President’s Gallantry Awardees Association of India. All these projects will be funded by donations raised from Freemasons all over the country.According to MW Bro Harcharan Singh Ranauta (OSM Grand Master of Grand Lodge of India), Freemasons believe in the Fatherhood of God and Brotherhood of Mankind. Charity is the distinguishing characteristic of Freemasons. The money we spend on such large scale charitable projects is contributed by our members out of their savings from their hard earned money.