Skip to content

Council backs Lax Kw’alaams Hereditary Chief’s letter to prime minister opposing LNG project

DePape and allies at the protest camp on Lax U'u'la on Nov. 7.

DePape and allies at the protest camp on Lax U’u’la on Nov. 7.

The Council of Canadians has signed on to an open letter written by Lax Kw’alaams Hereditary Chief Yahaan (Donnie Wesley) calling on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Environment Minister Catherine McKenna to reject the Pacific Northwest liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal proposed for Lax U’u’la (Lelu Island) and Flora Bank, and to cancel ongoing test-drilling at the site. Council of Canadians organizer Brigette DePape also spent Saturday (Nov. 7) with Chief Yahaan and numerous allies at a protest camp on Lax U’u’la to demonstrate our solidarity with his nation.

Lax U’u’la is part of Chief Yahaan’s tribal territory of the Gitwilgyoots.

This morning, the Globe and Mail reports, “A new alliance formed by aboriginal leaders and environmental activists wants the newly elected Liberal government to block a liquefied natural gas project in northwestern British Columbia. Donnie Wesley, a Lax Kw’alaams tribal chief who started a protest camp in August on the site of the proposed LNG terminal, is urging Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Environment Minister Catherine McKenna to take action to protect juvenile salmon habitat. Mr. Wesley has enlisted the backing of nearly 80 native groups, environmental organizations, unions and an array of other supporters.”

In the letter, Chief Yahaan states:

“Prime Minister Trudeau, you have an opportunity and a responsibility to address this issue and bring resolution to this escalating conflict. The Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency is the final major permit this project needs before it can proceed under Canadian and BC law. This approval is expected any day now from your government. You pledged to Canadians that you would revamp and strengthen the CEAA process, build a new relationship with First Nations, and protect BC marine resources via increasing the extent of both marine protected areas and funding for the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. During your campaign you stated that even though governments grant permits, only communities can grant permission. If you stand by these commitments, you will not allow the Pacific Northwest LNG project to be approved by CEAA, and you will direct the current geotechnical work on Flora Bank to cease.”

“You have an incredible opportunity here to start your term in government by sending a clear message that you are serious about the promises you made on the campaign trail. We ask that you respect the decision of our nation to say no to this project. We ask that you work with First Nations to find projects that are truly responsible and sustainable, and that do not threaten the very resources and landscapes that define us all. We call on you to stand with us and the communities along the Skeena River to protect wild salmon for the sake of all future generations.”

The Council of Canadians has repeatedly expressed its solidarity with the Lax Kw’alaams Nation and other First Nations opposing the Pacific Northwest LNG project. On October 14, we co-organized a protest against the project outside the ‘International LNG in BC’ conference in Vancouver. On October 2, our Victoria chapter was at a demonstration outside the Union Club in Victoria during a government-industry LNG luncheon to support both Chief Yahaan and Richard Wright from Madii Lii who spoke at the protest. In June, when Petronas decided to proceed with the project, Council of Canadians chairperson Maude Barlow stated, “People from coast to coast don’t want gas, oil and bitumen crisscrossing our waterways, increasing tar sands production and fracking. This is not a done deal.” And on October 17, 2014, DePape spoke at a rally outside the Petronas office on West Hastings Street in Vancouver.

In May, the Lax Kw’alaams voted unanimously in three referendums to reject a $1 billion offer from the consortium behind the project, which is led by the Malaysian-based corporation Petronas.

The Globe and Mail notes, “The Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (CEAA), which is reviewing plans by the consortium, is expected to issue its final ruling by late February.”

The LNG terminal is scheduled to be in-service by 2018.

For more on our campaign against LNG projects, please click here.

Photo: DePape and allies at the protest camp on Lax U’u’la on Nov. 7.