Sunday, September 21, 2014
Text Size

First Nations leaders vow to stand with families


Citizen staff

Prince George Citizen

Reaction continues to pour in over last week's announcement by provincial Crown prosecutors not to pursue charges against Babine Forest Products owners.

The opposition NDP called the decision, and the investigation of the 2012 sawmill blast in Burns Lake, "bungled" and insisted on an independent second opinion.

Because Babine is a partnership between corporate owners Hampton Affiliates of Oregon and the Burns Lake Native Development Corporation representing the aboriginal land owners, and because a sizable portion of the mill's workforce (including the two fatalities of the blast) are aboriginal, the case had special meaning for First Nations leaders in B.C.

“The families need answers on what happened in the mill explosion. They need to be provided with all of the pertinent documents”, said Grand Chief Edward John of the First Nations Summit political executive and a lawyer from the Fort St. James area. “Crown counsel indicated that proceeding with charges would not have been sustainable due to flaws in the investigation. Given the extraordinary circumstances of this tragedy and the gravity of the impacts, we would like to know why didn’t the Crown or WorkSafeBC consider these procedural issues before or at the inception of the investigation?”

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, president of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs, added “we are in complete support of the Luggi and Charlie families as they continue to pursue all of the facts regarding the circumstances that lead to this tragic and horrific accident. We will continue to stand with the families as they seek closure.”

“While we are pleased no criminal or regulatory charges will be approved by Crown Counsel, we never will forget the terrible tragedy and the resulting effects on our employees, their families and the community of Burns Lake," said Steve Zika, CEO of Hampton Affiliates. "We have done our best in the aftermath to care for our affected employees and their families and mitigate the impact on the community."

Zika said he thought the WorkSafeBC investigation was "extensive" and accepted the conclusion that there was no way to verify what spark actually touched off the explosive chain of events. He did say, however, that he and the overall milling industry believed the explosion following the initial fire was the product of wood dust. Since the Babine blast, and the similar Lakeland Mills blast three months later in Prince George, the entire provincial industry has changed its ways.

When the new Babine mill is finished in 2014, it will be designed with dust mitigation in mind, said Zika. Lakeland boss Greg Stewart said the same when the rebuild of that mill was announced this past summer.

"None of our efforts can make up for the tragedy that occurred in Burns Lake that night and the devastating effect it had on our employees, their families, and the community," said Zika. "We shall always share their sorrow and have heavy hearts when we think about Carl Charlie and Robert Luggi, who tragically perished in the accident. However, we and the industry have learned from this tragedy and we are more committed than ever to make thenew Babine sawmill a safe place to work for many years to come."

Stewart declined to comment further on the Babine decision or what might be inferred for the decision still pending on his company.

Provincial Crown declined to comment on when they might produce a decision on Lakeland. Spokesman Neil MacKenzie said final documentation from WorkSafeBC had still not been received by the Criminal Justice Branch.

Whatever Trevor

Dis is Trevor.

Education & Training

Blast from the past: FP archive

When is Consultation, Consultation?

Ovide Mercredi

National Chief – AFN

During a Treaty Roundtable meeting of the Alberta Chiefs, I took note of a federal government document outlining their strategy to define and ultimately impose their own form of self-government. Read more...

Letting go of residential schools

by Gilbert Oskaboose, Nov 1993 First Perspective

There is a lot of "unfinished business" in Indian Country. Garbage that we as a people have never really dealt with. Chief among them is the whole issue of those infamous residential schools and their impact on people. Read more...


obidiah picture

ANALYSIS - Bill Gallagher

gallagher picture

Under the Northern Sky by Xavier Kataquapit

Under the Northern Sky by Xavier Kataquapit


Regional Media Officer– Temp (Until Nov 2015) –F/T Position

Office of the Leader of the Official Opposition / NDP Research Office

Location:131 Queen Street, Suite 10-02, Ottawa, ON


Communicate regularly with regional media outlets (community newspapers, radio stations, student media, ethnic media, etc.) to propose ideas for interviews and opinion content Read more...

Canadian Chamber of Commerce Aboriginal Workforce Report

The Canadian Chamber of Commerce released a report that highlights initiatives to improve the workforce participation of Aboriginal peoples. 

Opportunity Found: Improving the Participation of Aboriginal Peoples in Canada’s Workforce (December 2013)  

click image to download report

Tue Sep 23 @ 3:00PM - 04:15PM
FNHMA National Conference 2014
Sun Oct 05 @ 9:00AM - 05:00PM
INIHKD & Manitoba NEAHR Conference 2014


September 2014
31 1 2 3 4 5 6
7 8 9 10 11 12 13
14 15 16 17 18 19 20
21 22 23 24 25 26 27
28 29 30 1 2 3 4

Current Video

RIP Percy Tuesday


Thanks to Althea Guiboche for allowing The First Perspective to share her video taken at the Manitowapow book launch at McNally Robinson. 

Percey sings Freddy Fender's "Wasted Days and Wasted Nights" and people join in to harmonize. 

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO): The Washington Redskins