Friday, September 18, 2015

Metlakatla stakes a claim to the discussion over Lelu Island

The Metlakatla First Nation has
offered the first response to
today's notice from Lax Kw'alaams
It's been a day of duelling media releases when it comes to the latest developments related to Lelu Island and any proposed LNG Terminal to be located at that site.

As we outlined earlier today on the blog, the major news story of the day for the North Coast was an announcement from the Lax Kw'alaams First Nation, stating their intention to seek title to Lelu Island, noting the importance of the Flora Bank area to their community.

In addition to that declaration of the path ahead for the Lax Kw'alaams Council Government, they also addressed some concerns that they have with some of the other First Nation governments in the region and their approach to the Lelu Island question.

From the day's events, it would appear that one paragraph of the Lax Kw'alaams information flow has clearly caught the attention of the other Tsimshian nations of the region.

"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."

That broadside from the upper reaches of Tuck Inlet has provided for the first comments and response from one of those other Governments.

With the Metlakatla First Nation issuing its own media advisory late in the day on Friday, providing an overview of their engagement on the process related to Lelu Island at this time

The Metlakatla First Nation has a strong interest in any title actions concerning Lelu Island and the Skeena River estuary, and we will continue our work to address environmental concerns regarding the Pacific Northwest LNG project (PNWLNG).

Metlakatla has a respected track record of environmental stewardship and due diligence. Through the Metlakatla Stewardship Society, we review the potential environmental impacts from projects independently from our governing council and economic development corporation.

As well as the statement of position when it comes to the environment, the Metlakatla First Nation also highlighted the lengthy list of engagement that it has taken on when it comes to discussions over Lelu Island.

Noting the number of meetings that they have attended, the studies and working groups that they have participated in. They also take some time to explain the nature of their engagement in the ongoing CEAA review process, highlighting the 200 questions or comments that they have made to this point of the review, as well as the submissions that they have provided to that process since it began.
In a statement on Friday afternoon, the
Metlakatla First Nation noted that as a result of past
discussions, Pacific NorthWest LNG has made design
modifications to their proposed terminal project

On the theme of ongoing discussion with Pacific NorthWest LNG, Metlkatla observes that their efforts with the Natural Gas Terminal proponent has already resulted in modifications to the project design, with discussions continuing on other issues.

Our concerns regarding the environmental impact of the PNWLNG project have not been resolved. However, we acknowledge a constructive relationship and that design modifications have been incorporated as a result of ongoing discussions.

The final portion of the information statement notes that Metlakatla and other members of the Tsimshian First Nations have been working together to speak with a stronger voice.

We reviewed the formation of the group known as the Tsimshian Environmental Stewardship Authority on the blog back on July 9th, reviewing that initiative and what participants involved hoped to achieve as they combined their efforts to address a number proposed projects in their territories.

As one of their final points on the day, Metlakatla noted that hey have offered Lax Kw'laaams the opportunity to partner with them towards that goal and advise that they intend to remain part of the ongoing process.

In July 2015, Metlakatla joined with four other Tsimshian Nations to form the Tsimshian Environmental Stewardship Authority (TESA), with the goal of working together and speaking with a stronger voice on regional environmental issues. The TESA Nations agree that resource development can only take place when the environment and our communities are protected. We have issued a standing invitation to Lax Kw'alaams to partner with us as part of TESA.

As leaders we have a duty to our children and future generations to fairly and thoroughly assess the potential benefits and impacts of project development in our territory. We will continue to participate in the CEAA process and will ultimately decide whether to support this project based on our rights and titles interest.

You can review the full statement from the Metlakatla First Nation here.

More background on items of note from Metlakatla can be found here.

While our archive page for the Pacific NorthWest LNG project provides a full overview of the past and current developments.

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