British Columbia's premier travelled to London's Buckingham Palace this week for an event to promote the Great Bear Rainforest with the Queen. The expansive area on B.C.'s central coast was the focus of a decades-long battle to protect it from development that culminated in a historic agreement signed by the provincial government earlier this year. It was also added to the Queen's Commonwealth Canopy during a visit in September by Prince William and his wife, Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge.
But at the same time Premier Christy Clark was in the United Kingdom celebrating the province's role in protecting the area, crews continued to clean up a fuel spill caused when a tugboat ran aground and sank last month off the community of Bella Bella, leaking more than 107,000 litres of diesel and 2,240 litres of engine oils into the Seaforth Channel. It took 33 days to remove the stricken vessel from the reef and the nearby Heiltsuk First Nation has warned of lasting environmental damage.
The contrast between the two events was mirrored with conflicting reactions in First Nations communities involved in the Great Bear announcement – all of which played out on social media.
The Royal Family's official account marked the trip by congratulating the agreement to protect the Great Bear Rainforest:
The congratulatory tone was shared by Dallas Smith, who signed the agreement on behalf of the Nanwakolas Tribal Council and has since become a candidate for Ms. Clark's Liberals in next spring's provincial election, and Liberal strategist Michele Cadario.
But Jess Housty, who is the Heiltsuk First Nations' incident commander for the tug spill, pointed out her community is still dealing with the disaster. The tug has finally been raised out of the water —
a task that took more than a month — but the cleanup continues.
Others piled on along the same lines.
@christyclarkbc getting an award for protecting the GBR while part of it has been saturated with diesel? She is as slippery as the diesel— William Housty (@WilliamHousty) November 15, 2016