Monday, January 25, 2016

Salmon Nation Summit ends with signing of Lelu Island Declaration

The Salmon Nation Summit
came to an end Saturday
with the release of the
Lelu Island Declaration

(click to enlarge
A two day summit in Prince Rupert of those opposed to the development of an LNG terminal on Lelu Island came to an end on Saturday, with the participants of the Salmon Nation Summit delivering their final points through the signing of the Lelu Island Declaration.

Describing the document as a powerful message to Premier Clark and Prime Minister Trudeau, Hereditary Chief Yahaan of the Gitwilgyoots Tribe of the Lax Kwa'laams provided the main theme of the two day conference, which reinforced the goal of those looking to stop the proposed LNG development on Lelu Island.

“The support to stop this LNG project is overwhelming. Nations are united from the headwaters of the Skeena River to the ocean. Together, we will fight this to the end."

The Text of the Lelu Island Declaration document signed on Saturday reads as follows:

The undersigned First Nation leaders and citizens of the Nine Allied Tribes of Lax Kw’alaams hereby declare that Lelu Island, and Flora and Agnew Banks are hereby protected for all time, as a refuge for wild salmon and marine resources, and are to be held in trust for all future generations. 

 Our ancestral knowledge, supported by modern science, confirms this area is critical to the future abundance of the wild salmon our communities rely on. It is our right and our responsibility as First Nations to protect and defend this place. It is our right to use this area without interference to harvest salmon and marine resources for our sustenance, and commercially in support of our livelihoods. 

 We hereby extend an invitation to all First Nations, the governments of Canada and British Columbia, and all communities that depend on the health of Lelu Island, Flora and Agnew Banks and the Skeena River estuary, to join us in defending this unique and precious place, and to protect it for all time.

Among the signatories to the Declaration were Hereditary leaders of the Nine Allied Tribes of the Lax Kw'alaams First Nation, Grand Chief Stewart Phillip of the Union of B. C. Indian Chiefs, as well as a number of hereditary leaders from a number of First Nations across Northern British Columbia.

The three Northwest NDP MLA's were also in Prince Rupert to lend their names to the declaration, with MLA's Robin Austin, Doug Donaldson and the North Coast's Jennifer Rice, all signing the document and outlining their opposition to the project in a letter.

"The proposed PNW LNG facility poses an unacceptable risk to the Flora Bank habitat that is an irreplaceable link in the Skeena River salmon ecosystem." -- MLA's Austin, Donaldson and Rice

North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice offered up a glimpse
of the weekend Salmon Nation Summit through
her Facebook page and twitter feeds  

(Photo from MLA Rice's twitter feed)

Skeena-Bulkley Valley MP Nathan Cullen also participated in the weekend forum, adding his name to the signed declaration, while adding some further thoughts on his opposition to the proposed project through his Facebook page.

“This project isn’t going to happen. This project can’t happen,”-- MP Nathan Cullen 

Skeena-Bulkley Valley MP Nathan Cullen was a participant
in the Salmon Nation Summit this weekend in Prince Rupert

(From the MP's Facebook page)

While attendance at the summit highlighted the stand that a number of residents of Lax Kw'alaams and some members of up river communities are taking when it comes to the proposed LNG development, there were a few significant absences at the weekend forum to take note of.

Included among those that did not attend the Salmon Summit, any official representation from the Metlakatla First Nation and other members of the Tsimshian Environmental Stewardship Authority, which in November had called for patience as the current environmental review process takes place. 

The members of the Tsimshian Environmental Stewardship Authority, have participated in many of the research activities related to the study of any impact that the project may have on Lelu Island and Flora Bank. In the past the members of the TESA have spoken out and expressed their concerns about the nature of the media pressure tactics used by the opponents of the project.

As recent events related to the proposed development have evolved, the timing of the Summit found the participants discussing issues related to Lelu Island following the release of a range of reports from a pair of agencies of the Government of Canada, part of the CEAA process on the Pacific NorthWest LNG proposal.

As we noted on the blog last week, representatives from the Department of Fisheries and Natural Resources Canada delivered reports to the CEAA, findings which for the most part found some common agreement on may areas of the research provided by the LNG proponent.

Those reports were on the mind of MP Cullen, who outlined for CFTK TV on Friday his surprise and disappointment at the scientific review from DFO that was found from those documents.

The Tyee website provided the first of the early reviews of the weekend summit in Prince Rupert, noting the atmosphere in the Highliner Inn Convention room and offering up some of the approaches that opponents to the proposed development may be pursuing in the future, as they look to move forward with their efforts to stop the Pacific Northwest LNG project.

At Northern Salmon Summit, a Declaration: Cancel LNG or Else
Lelu Declaration a Major Wrench in Hardhat Premeier's LNG Plans

The full media release from the weekend forum was provided by the environmental group Friends of Wild Salmon on Sunday.

More background on the event, including photos and copies of the declaration can be found here.

For an overview on the proposed Pacific Northwest LNG development at Lelu Island see our archive page here, which features a number of items from all sides of the discussion on the project.

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