Wednesday, February 08, 2012

August 18 - A bridge too far

Published in the Kitimat Northern Sentinel, August 18, 2010.
Read the Related Links below for the complete story.

After weeks of negotiation between Kitimat Mayor Monaghan and Kitamaat Councillor Ellis Ross, a proposed apology from Kitimat council to the Haisla came to nought.

Conversations between Mayor Monaghan and Councillor Ross lead to Chief Councillor Dolores Pollard's presence at the Kitimat Council meeting August 16.

"We've been trying to build a relationship with Kitimat's mayor and council since I've been here," Chief Councillor Pollard said in a telephone interview the next day.

The invitation extended by Mayor Monaghan had to do with Randy Halyk's open letter to the premier, published in the Kitimat Northern Sentinel, Halyk's interview on CBC Radio's Daybreak North July 27, and a letter Halyk sent to Chief Councillor Pollard.

In the letter to the premier Hailsa had written letters to the provincial government urging them not to support the reopening of the Eurocan paper mill.

Responding to the letters, Councillor Halyk wrote an open letter to the premier questioning the provincial government's commitment to the Eurocan Viability Group and the reopening of the mill.

There was no commitment to take action made by the provincial government to the Haisla in any of the published letters.

Chief Councillor Pollard accuses Councillor Halyk of speaking on behalf of the Haisla without any authority to do so, or prior consultation during the Daybreak North interview.

In the interview, host Robert Doane asks Councillor Halyk to outline the Haisla environmental concerns about the possible Eurocan reopening.

"The Haisla are saying that the Eurocan site is the cause for the oolichan losses in the Kitimat River," Councillor Halyk answered.

Councillor Halyk went on to add, "they [Eurocan] went through this process where the Haisla said well, we want this [mill] shut down because of the [oolichan] taste."

The letter from Councillor Halyk to Chief Councillor Pollard has not been released.

Despite the agenda item in the August 16 Kitimat council meeting reading "Kitamaat Village Council - Request for Apology", Chief Councillor Pollard says she never asked for an apology.

"I think an apology was appropriate, but it's not our place to ask for one," she said.

"Chief Councillor Pollard was told she would be on the agenda at 7:30 p.m. to present the concerns of the Randy Halyk letter, we weren't looking for an apology," Councillor Ross said in a media conference call the day after the Kitimat council meeting.

Councillor Ross continued, "it's not about that letter anymore, given what happened last night.

"It's about how we treat and respect leaders, not only of our own organization, but other organizations."

Speaking on his own behalf, Councillor Ross felt the placement of the apology so low on the agenda was in itself an insult to the dignity of the office of Chief Councillor, the leader of a nation.

"We would never have done that to your leadership," Councillor Ross said, "if we had put you on the agenda."

Councillor Ross had hoped, through his negotiations, the leaders of Kitimat and Kitamaat would be able to meet, deal with the issues of Councillor Halyk's communications and forge a positive relationship from there.

"Right now, it's about the disrespect shown our chief councillor and I'm basically the one that set that up, so I'm not looking too good either," Councillor Ross said.

Councillor Halyk was surprised to find out Chief Councillor Pollard was in attendance at the council meeting.

He says the letter he wrote to the premier was written on his own behalf, and not Kitimat council, noting it is simply signed "Randy Halyk".

"The reason I wrote to the premier is to make sure that he had the knowledge" Councillor Halyk said.

"That's my whole goal: to make sure the premier has the same knowledge as we have."

In the radio interview Councillor Halyk was representing the Eurocan Viability group, of which he is a member, on behalf of council.

"I would like to throw out an olive branch, I think council would like to throw out an olive branch," Councillor Halyk said.

Councillor Halyk went to Kitamaat Village the day after the council meeting hoping to speak with Chief Councillor Pollard, but she refused to meet with him.

"I wouldn't talk to him," Chief Councillor Pollard explained later that same afternoon, "because I don't know if he's showing up here with direction from mayor and council or if he's showing up as an individual with no direction from mayor and council."

"It would be better if Mayor Monaghan called me herself, but she hasn't called," Chief Councillor Pollard added.

Monaghan made a statement on Wednesday, August 18, "Unfortunately, we did not see the chief in the audience, when she did come forth, we asked if she wanted to speak at that time and she actually told us no, that she did not.

"I certainly hope we can get over this little glitch in our relationship, I certainly have apologized, and I feel very badly that this happened, and I hope that the chief would accept my apology and that we could start working together."

Related Links
Randy Halyk's letter
District of Kitimat council meeting

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