Thursday, July 9, 2015

North Coast First Nations form Tsimshian Environmental Stewardship Authority

A number of North Cost First Nation communities are banding together to address environmental concerns related to proposed LNG development in the region, forming under the collective name of the Tsimshian Environmental Stewardship Authority.

The announcement of the new initiative on the North coast was delivered through an open letter to members of the Metlakatla, Kitselas, Gitxaala, Kitsumkalum and Gitga'at First Nations, with the group looking to show unity on the issue to provide for a stronger voice on environmental issues.

And while considered supportive of LNG development in the region, the mandate of the new First Nations group is to overview proposed LNG projects in the area to assess any long term impacts that they may have.

Noticeably absent from the group is the Lax Kw'alaams First Nation, in May the Lax Kw'alaams Band Council outlined its position when it comes to the development of the Petronas led Lelu Island development. At that time, Lax Kw'alaams turned down a proposed 1.5 billion dollar benefits package from the energy giant Petronas.

Over the course of the last six months, Petronas/Pacific NorthWest LNG have signed a number of benefit agreements with local First nations.

Kitselas First nation and Pacific Northwest LNG announce IMBA Term sheet
Metlakatla and Pacific NorthWest LNG sign Impact Benefit 

In their letter announcing the formation of the new authority, the current members of  TESA outlined how they were looking forward to engaging with not only the Lax Kw'alaams on issues of the environment, but to also work with the Province of British Columbia, Government of Canada and the individual proponents of LNG development in the region on environmental concerns as well.

Also of note from the group of five initial signatories to the Stewardship group, is that of the Gitga'at Nation, as we outlined on the blog on Monday, that First Nation is currently in the process of taking its concerns to the British Columbia Supreme Court, seeking a judicial review of the issue of consultation by the Province of British Columbia when it comes to the Petronas proposal.

The Metlakata First Nation and other First nations of the region participated in a First Nations Energy and Mining Council event at the North Coast Convention Centre in Prince Rupert from July 7th to 8th

Update: a media release from the Metlakatla First Nation provided some further details on some of the initatives the new Authority will take on.

Included in those duties are:      

The copy of the agreement signed by five
North Coast First nations to form the
Tsimshian Environmental
Stewardship Authority
Providing expert advice regarding the establishment of baseline studies and monitoring programs                     

Providing information to the members of our communities about potential project impacts and proposed mitigation measures

Working to develop the conditions by which our Nations would address environmental concerns regarding proposed projects in our territories

 Strengthening oversight of federal and provincial environmental assessment processes, by supporting the engagement of our First Nations in these processes

Maintaining a regional forum where impacts of common concern and proposed mitigation measures can be discussed and implemented together

All five leaders of the communities involved provided short thoughts on what they hoped to achieve with the  Stewardship Authority, with Metlakatla Chief Harold Leighton noting the collective aspect of the process.

"By coming together, we, as Tsimshian people, will speak with a stronger voice on all major projects and their cumulative impacts.”

More background on the formation of the new Stewardship authority can be found below:

July 9 -- Five Tsimshian First Nations take step to monitor development in their territories
July 9 -- Area First Nations create Stewardship Authority (video)
July 9 -- Five First Nations join forces to assess impact of B. C. LNG exports

(Note: the item above has been updated from its original form to reflect the added information related to the scope of the Stewardship Mandate)

No comments:

Post a Comment