Monday, July 6, 2015

Gitga'at First Nation seeking judicial review of BC consultation on LNG

While the Legislature prepares to begin its debate into a recent agreement between the Province of British Columbia and Petronas/Pacific NorthWest LNG regarding the proposed LNG terminal at Lelu Island, a Northwest First Nation is taking legal steps of its own to enter the discussion.

The Gitga'at First Nation announced today that it is seeking a judicial review of the way the province has handled consultation regarding the proposed Pacific NorthWest LNG project.

The Gitga'at First Nation in
Hartley Bay is seeking a judicial
review on the province's handling of
consultation on LNG
At the heart of the concerns of the Gitgat court filing to the Supreme Court British Columbia is a recent decision of the British Columbia Environmental Assessment Office, that decision did not recognize the Gitga'at First Nation to be included among the Tsimshian First Nations that are entitled to consultation on the project.

As they prepare to take the issue to the courts, the First Nation has enlisted the services of a Victoria Law firm, Devlin Gailus Westaway Law Corporation to make its case to the judge, seeking to have the Gitga'at added to the list of Tsimshian First nations entitled to consultation on the LNG project.

A press release issued today provides background to the decision to move ahead to the courts for the Gitga'at.

"Anthropological evidence and our Adawx, which are the oral records of the Gitga'at, show that we have fished and hunted in Prince Rupert Harbour and the lower Skeena River since before the European settlers arrived ... Prince Rupert Harbour is a large part of our social, cultural and economic life and proposed LNG developments would impact the rights and livelihood of every Gitga'at member." --  Arnold Clifton, Chief Councillor of the Gitga'at First Nation.

Chief Clinton went further with his observations on the issue, outlining what the Gitga'at First Nation is seeking to achieve with their approach to the courts.

"We're not trying to take anything away from the other Tsimshian Tribes ... The Prince Rupert harbour area and to the mouth of the Skeena River is an area of common use for all Tsimshian people. We just want Gitga'at rights recognized and considered the same way as those of the other Tsimshian tribes who assert Aboriginal rights in the Prince Rupert area." 

The Gitga'at First Nation is based in Hartley Bay, but a large number of its members live in the Prince Rupert area and the Gitga'at consider the mouth of the Skeena River to be an area of common use for all Tsimshian people.

The issue of consultation for the Gitga'at has been a long running concern, as highlighted in this Globe and Mail article of January 2014 that outlined their concerns with a proposed LNG development in the Kitimat area.

Some background on today's developments can be found below:

Globe and Mail -- Gitga'at seek review of B. C.'s LNG consulting process
Business in Vancouver -- B. C. First Nation seeks judicial review of government's handling of Petronas consultation

Further information on the Pacific NorthWest LNG proposal can be found on our archive page

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