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February 17, 2012 18:31 ET

Pipeline Tensions: Frustration Mounts at Review Hearings as Enbridge Lawyers Try to Limit Testimony of Elected Representatives

First Nations Drummer Temporarily Barred From Hearings by National Energy Board Security Staff and the RCMP

PRINCE RUPERT, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwire - Feb. 17, 2012) - The Metlakatla First Nation has registered its objections over Enbridge's attempts to limit the testimony of MP Nathan Cullen and MLA Gary Coons, as well as the National Energy Board's own attempt to bar a First Nations drummer in regalia from attending the hearing proceedings.

Frustrations boiled over this morning after National Energy Board security staff and the RCMP temporarily threatened to bar a First Nations woman who had expressed frustration at Enbridge's lawyers' attempt to limit the testimony of MP Nathan Cullen. The incident occurred during Mr. Cullen's testimony.

Clarence Nelson, a Metlakatla hereditary chief called the woman's ejection from the hearings a deeply disrespectful act, especially since she was wearing traditional regalia at the time: "When we're with regalia, it represents who we are," said Nelson. "'Respect' is a powerful word in our language."

Lara Peterson, the Metlakatla drummer, who was dressed in traditional regalia and part of the audience at the time, objected to continued interjections by Enbridge's lawyers seeking to limit the testimony of MP Nathan Cullen. When Enbridge lawyers said Mr. Cullen should not be speaking on behalf of First Nations, Ms. Peterson shouted, "He's one of us. He can speak," at which point she left the room out of frustration.

When she tried to re-enter the room, National Energy Board security told Ms. Peterson she was not allowed back in, and directed the RCMP to bar her. Ms. Peterson explained she had a right to go in. She was warned by the RCMP that she would be arrested and charged with trespassing if she attempted to re-enter the proceedings. Motioning for handcuffs, she put out her hands and said, "go ahead." North Coast MLA, Gary Coons, and two other gentlemen stood up for the woman and convinced the police officer to let her back in.

"They can arrest me if they want. I'm not going to shut up," said Ms. Peterson. "I have a 10 year old and a 14 month old and they love their fish. I want them to continue to eat fish. They eat fish three or four times a week. We don't feed our babies pablum. They eat fish. As soon as they start showing teeth the first thing they taste is herring eggs - roe on kelp."

Interviews with Ms. Peterson can be arranged by contacting Andrew Frank.

Contact Information

  • Andrew Frank
    Media Relations
    604-215-7875 or 604-367-2112