Friday, September 18, 2015

Lax Kw'alaams First Nation to proceed with title action on Lelu Island and Flora Bank

North Coast residents can add one more item of interest to the growing file on the proposed development of the Lelu Island area for any LNG Terminal development, with the announcement this morning from the Lax Kw'alaams First Nation that they intend to move forward with a title action related to Lelu Island and Flora Bank.

That would set in motion the process of establishing existing aboriginal title to that region, which if successful could then require the government to seek Lax Kw'alaams consent for any development proposals.

The latest development on the controversial plan to develop an LNG terminal at that location comes at the end of a week when test drilling took place off of the Island,  with some residents of the First Nation north of Prince Rupert setting up what they have referred to as an occupation camp on the island to practice their aboriginal rights and title on the land at Lelu Island.

The announcement issued out of Vancouver today, highlights some of the past concerns that the First Nation has expressed when it comes to the environmental aspects of any proposed development of that area.

 “The Lax Kw’alaams people will not tolerate any threat to our sea resources,”  ...“We are open to development, including PNW’s project. But not the way the project is currently constituted. We have serious concerns about Flora Bank and its environmental importance. The project needs to change before its embraced by the Lax Kw’alaams members.”

As well, this mornings statement also noted what the Lax Kw'alllam First Nation calls the apathy and indifference shown towards the First Nation by both the Government of Canada and the Prince Rupert Port Authority.

The Lax Kw’alaams have been extremely concerned with the apathy and indifference shown by the Government of Canada and its delegated body, the Prince Rupert Port Authority (PRPA). The PRPA has repeatedly ignored Lax Kw’alaams concerns about the placement of the PNW project in the culturally and environmentally sensitive area of Flora Bank.

While the statement did not dismiss the prospect of an LNG facility on Lelu Island and a times reinforces a spirit of seeking development through the region, Mayor Reece noted that the First Nation is looking for a"proper process and good science" requiring that "all projects be reviewed to a standard set by our scientists and experts"
Lelu Island is once again the centre of
attention when it comes to
LNG development, with the
Lax Kw'alaams First Nation
announcing that it will proceed with
at title action related to the Island
and Flora Bank

Mayor Reece offered one further observation on the nature of the Flora Bank area of the development and how the Lax Kw'alaams First Nation is approaching that controversial region of Lelu Island.

"Our traditional law, backed by our scientific reports made it clear that Flora Bank can't be touched by PNW or any other company that proposes development ... This decision is backed by community and an alternate site must be found if the project is to proceed"

You can review the full statement from the Lax Kw'alaams First Nation here.

More background on the decision to move on the title claim, which apparently came following a Special Council meeting of September 14th can be found in this Information Update to the Lax Kw'alaams First Nation.

That document provides a more expansive explanation of some of the issues, concerns and consultations that took place prior to today's announcement.

As well the update notes some disappointment for the Lax Kw'alaams First Nation with the approach that some of the other Tsimshian communities in the Northwest have taken in relation to the proposed terminal development at Lelu Island.

"Sadly, it seems that other Tsimshian communities chose to accept agreements with PNW, both prior to a full scientific evaluation of the proposed facility and in conflict with Lax Kw'alaams rights and interests and those of up-river Nations. This is regrettable. A number of these same Tsimshian communities are making spurious claims in respect of Prince Rupert harbour."

The secondary document also addresses what the Lax Kw'alaams Council refers to as false and misleading statements distributed through Social Media by a Band Council member.

No timeline was outlined, nor indication as to how the process of seeking title action on the area was provided as part of any of the morning's information releases.

More background on the plans from the Lax Kw'alaams Council could be revealed on September 30th,  when the Mayor and Council will host a Community meeting to answer questions about the Pacific NorthWest LNG project and the moves towards title claim for the Lelu Island region.

To this point, there has been no comment, or reaction from the Federal or Provincial Governments, nor  has there been comment as of yet from the Prince Rupert Port Authority or from Pacific NorthWest LNG, the proponents for the Lelu Island LNG Terminal.

You can find more information on developments from Lax Kw'alaams from our archive page here.

While more background on the proposed LNG development at Lelu Island can be found on our project archive page here.

Update: The Prince Rupert Port Authority provided for the first of the local reaction and comment towards the developments of the day, with a Friday afternoon statement which outlined the Port's position following the announcement from Lax Kw'alaams today.

The Prince Rupert Port Authority respects aboriginal rights and is involved in ongoing consultations with area First Nations according to established processes. In the context of Lelu Island and the Pacific NorthWest LNG project, the environmental, geotechnical and geophysical surveys underway were begun after consultation and engagement with area First Nations, including Lax Kw’alaams. 

At this time Pacific NorthWest LNG has not received federal environmental authorizations or permission from the Prince Rupert Port Authority to proceed with construction work on the site. 

The Port Authority is aware of the announcement by the Lax Kw’alaams First Nation that it intends to initiate a title claim to Lelu Island and Flora Bank. It is the right of the members of the Lax Kw’alaams First Nation to take this step if they so choose. It would be inappropriate for the Port Authority to comment on, or speculate, regarding a potential legal matter.

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