Saturday, July 25, 2015

Lax Kw'alaams First Nation set to intervene in Gitga'at LNG litigation

The Gitga'at First Nation is set
to go to the Supreme Court
over LNG issues on the North Coast
The Gitga'at First Nation will have some company in court when they take their litigation over Pacific NorthWest LNG's plans for development on the North Coast to the British Columbia Supreme Court.

But members of the Hartley Bay area First Nation probably won't be too thrilled with some of what they hear when they get their day in court.

Earlier this week, the Lax Kw'alaam First Nation outlined that they would be filing an intervention in the upcoming court case, with preparations underway to to call into question some of the statements from the Gitga'at related to aboriginal rights in the Prince Rupert area.

In a statement from the Lax Kw'alaams First Nation, Mayor Gary Reece outlined some of the concerns that the Lax Kw'alaam have with the Gitga'at claims.

They note that in their opinion, the petition brought forward by the Gitga'at "wrongfully claims a history of use and occupation of the Prince Rupert area and aboriginal rights to harvest land and sea resources in the Prince Rupert area."
The Lax Kw'alaam First Nation
has filed an intervention in the
upcoming Gitga'at litigation
on LNG Development 

As well, the Lax Kw'alaam First Nation further outlined how the "Gitga'at First Nation have been our respected Tsimshian neighbours to the south for millennia, but their traditional territory is at Hartley Bay along the Douglas Channel, well south of the Skeena -- they have never previously made any claims to Prince Rupert."

As for what motivation that the Gitga'at may have for their litigation at this time, in the Lax Kw'alaams media release of Tuesday, Mayor Reece noted that "Unfortunately, their desire for a cash grab from the Province and LNG companies has led them to disrespect our aboriginal rights and title and we must intervene to make sure the Court has the full facts."

Adding for emphasis it would seem that "Prince Rupert harbour is the exclusive territory of the nine Allied Tribes."

You can review the statement from the Lax Kw'alaams Band website here.

Court case highlights the
Conflicting opinions among
North Coast First Nations over
areas of common use
As we outlined on the blog back on July 6th, the Gitga'at enlisted the services of the Victoria law firm Devlin Gailus Westaway Law Corporation to make their case to the Supreme Court.

Seeking to have the Gitga'at First Nation added to the list of Tsimshian First Nations entitled to consultation on the Pacific NorthWest LNG project.

In a press release at the time, the Gitga'at observed that to their people, the area of the Prince Rupert harbour and to the mouth of the Skeena River is considered an area of common use for all Tsimshian people.

A theme that it appears isn't being accepted at the northern reaches of the North Coast.

And while the Lax Kw'alaams may be providing a helpful argument for Pacific NorthWest in this instance, it probably shouldn't be seen as any reversal of opinion on development of LNG in the Lelu Island area.

That opposition was made fairly clear on May 13th, when the Lax Kw'alaams First Nation outlined a number of its concerns related to the proposed LNG Terminal development.

You can review more background on the many issues surrounding the Petronas led Pacific NorthWest LNG Terminal plans from our archive page here.

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