Thursday, May 12, 2016

Efforts to stop Lelu Island LNG terminal reach the United Nations

Representatives of a number of Northwest
First Nations that are opposed to the
Pacific NorthWest LNG project took
their message to the United Nations
First Nations leaders from the Northwest that are opposed to the proposed Pacific NorthWest LNG project at Lelu Island are taking their concerns beyond Canadian borders.

A media information statement released today notes that the First Nations leaders have taken their message to the United Nations in New York City this week in order to seek the support of the international body in their quest to have the Liberal Government and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau reject the project.

"We are not against development, but we are against this dangerous, irresponsible, foreign- owned and illegal intrusion into our sacred homelands,"  ..."We stand against this project for all the peoples of this world. We don't want money, we want justice. We invite you to join our battle, to add your voices to our struggle to protect the only home we have ever had." -- Algmxaa Murray Smith speaking to the issues related to Lelu island development to be raised at the United Nations

His comments to the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues covered a range of areas including a reminder that the Federal Government has committed to justice for Canada's First Peoples and how the Petronas/Pacific NorthWest LNG decision is a critical first test.

He noted for the organization that "by turning down the promise of a billion dollars in so-called benefits, we have told the world that you cannot buy a social licence from the Lax Kw'alaams people. We will note sell our salmon future for any price."

A full text of Mr. Smith's Statement to the United Nations can be reviewed here.

Joining Mr. Smith in New York were: Li'dytsm'Lax'nee'ga Neexl, Christine Smith-Martin, Na' Moks, John Ridsdale, a Hereditary Chief of the Wet'suwet'en First Nation and spokesperson for the Office of the Wet'suwet'en, and HapWilxsa, Kirby Muldoe, of the up-river Gitxsan First Nation.

The status of the project remains in a suspended state as the CEAA considers the most recent information provided by Pacific NorthWest LNG related to some questions by the federal body when it comes to the suspension bridge concept for the project.

The most recent update from the Federal government's Environment Minister Catherine McKenna was that it was expected that the project would be delivered to the federal cabinet for a decision sometime in late June.

Kirby Muldoe of the Gitxsan First Nation notes that the group considers the Lelu Island project decision as a test of the Federal Government's commitments to First Nations in Canada.

"To us, what happens in the Skeena right now is a litmus test for our new government," "Our food security is at risk. So is our culture. We are the natural stewards of the Skeena, and we will not allow it to be desecrated by an offshore oil company, period."

Christine Smith-Martin also outlined some of the impressions that the group have taken from their stop over in New York.

"What we are hearing at the UN is that many other hereditary Canadian First Nations leaders share our concern that the Trudeau government is confused about where decision-making authority lies when it comes to our lands and waters. Our band councils are not nations. If the Government of Canada wants a nation-to-nation relationship, then that begins and ends with our ancestral, hereditary leadership. And in the case of Petronas, that begins by putting an end to this project without further delay."

You can review more about the New York visit from the media release here.

While the group that appeared at the United Nations represents a number of residents of the First Nations of the Northwest in their concerns related to the proposed LNG development at Lelu Island, they are not speaking as a unified body for all of the First Nations residents of the Northwest.

Other First Nations have taken part in the community engagement process and environmental overview from the beginning, having contributed towards the environmental research on the development, as well as signing a number of agreements in recent months to move the proposal forward.

In recent months the project has also found growing momentum with the recently elected Band Council at Lax Kw'alaams which in March reversed some of its previous opposition to the project and offered the prospect of further involvement with the process ahead during the CEAA's Environmental Review.

On our Pacific NorthWest LNG Archive page you can review our full listing of items related to the project and the controversy that has surrounded it over the last few years.

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