Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Lelu Island delegation take concerns to Prime Minister's Office

A delegation of First Nations leaders
was in Ottawa on Tuesday to speak
out against Lelu Island LNG development

(Photo from FWS website)
A delegation of First Nations leaders from the Northwest was in Ottawa on Tuesday, taking their concerns over the proposed LNG terminal for Lelu Island to the capital and calling on the federal government to reject the project.

Highlighting what they described as deeply entrenched and broad indigenous opposition to the proposed Pacific NorthWest LNG project, the group called attention to the federal government's own goals when it comes to environmental protection and climate change issues.

One of the key elements of the discussion from the group was to note that the proposed project by the international energy company Petronas is undermining the government's own environmental ambitions.

The group that travelled to Ottawa included Hereditary Chiefs from Lax Kw'alaams and other communities in the Northwest, as well as Grand Chief Stewart Phillip of the Union of B. C. Indian Chiefs.

“We have travelled to Ottawa to set the record straight with the Canadian government. As the proper title holders and decision-makers for Lelu Island and Flora Bank, we have not been properly consulted. Without our agreement, this project cannot and will not proceed,” -- Simoyget Yahaan, hereditary chief of the Gitwilgyoots Tribe of the Lax Kw’alaams people.

Former Lax Kw'alaams Mayor Gary Reece was also part of the delegation and he took issue with the recent shift in direction by current Mayor John Helin.

In a correspondence as part of the CEAA process related to the project, the newly elected Mayor offered up the support of Lax Kw'alaams should the CEAA provide for a positive decision on the project, though with conditions.

On that letter former Mayor Reece had the following to say: “The B.C. government has been saying that we’ve changed our minds and support the project,” “That’s simply not true, and Jon Helin had no business sending a letter to that effect without consulting his elected council, hereditary chiefs and our community. That letter does not represent the position of the Nine Allied Tribes of Lax Kw’alaams.”

Grand Chief  Stewart Phillip
addressing the media as part
of a delegation to Ottawa
Photo from FWS website)
Grand Chief Stewart Phillip observed that the Federal government cannot ignore the concerns of those in opposition to the LNG project proposed for Lelu Island.

“Contrary to the mythical claims of First Nations support being spread by B.C. government officials and Petronas lobbyists in Ottawa, there is a deeply entrenched, extensive and broad Indigenous opposition to the proposed PNW LNG project. Prime Minister Trudeau and his cabinet ministers can no longer pretend that this is not a significant factor in deciding if the project goes ahead.”

The group also called attention to what they called rogue elected band officials acting without authority and how they will continue to fight the project both in the courts and on the land if needed.

The website for Friends of Wild Salmon hosted a media release from Tuesday outlining further background to the Ottawa stop for the delegation, you can review it here.

As part of the media release, the recent letter from Prince Rupert Port Authority to those currently encamped on Lelu Island made for a prominent part of their concerns to the federal government, with the delegation asking if the correspondence was how the Federal government intends to conduct its new relationship with First Nations.

The stop in Ottawa has received some attention from a number of media groups, with the coverage of the travels of the delegation providing for an interesting range of focus and tone, with one article noting that any approval of the project would be akin to declaring war.

Former Mayor of Lax Kw'alaams upset by band's support for LNG Terminal
LNG fans, foes in B.C. clash over First Nations support
BC Chiefs say approving Petronas gas project akin to declaring war
Delegation of NorthWest Hereditary Chiefs in Ottawa (video)
Indigenous leaders head to Ottawa to oppose LNG project

More background on the proposed LNG terminal development for Lelu island can be found on our archive page here.

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