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Council supports Gitxsan & Lax Kw’alaams opposition to the Pacific NorthWest LNG project

The Council of Canadians stands in solidarity with the Gitxsan Nation legal challenge against the Trudeau government’s approval of the Pacific NorthWest liquefied natural gas (LNG) project.

We also support the Madii Lii camp in Gitxsan Nation territory in northwestern British Columbia that was established to block the pipeline that would feed the LNG terminal and the Lax Kw’alaams resistance camp on Lax U’u’la (Lelu Island) on the northern coast of BC that seeks to block the construction of the terminal itself.

The Trudeau government approved the LNG project on September 27, 2016. Federal environment minister Catherine McKenna stated, “Indigenous Peoples were meaningfully consulted, and where appropriate, impacts on their rights and interests were accommodated,” but did not mention consent (as required by the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples). If the LNG project proceeds, it could be operational as early as 2019.

The Terrace Standard reports, “Hereditary chiefs from the [of Luutkudziiwus and Gwininitxw houses of the] Gitxsan Nation travelled to Vancouver on [January 10] in full regalia, alongside with other northern First Nations groups, to announce a legal challenge that is asking the federal court to do a judicial review of the approval due to a lack of consultation. President of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs Stewart Phillip also appeared at the press conference. The specific Gitxsan chiefs are joining members of the Gitwilgyoots and Gitanyow, who took legal action on October 27, 2016 to overturn the federal government’s [approval of the LNG terminal].”

The article notes, “The Gitxsan hereditary chiefs said they were offered inadequate funding for their technical input, something the government offers affected First Nations during the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency’s process, or were told they weren’t directly affected in the way they claimed.”

Gitxsan hereditary chief Yvonne Lattie (of the Gwininitxw house) says, “We have a message for the Pacific NorthWest LNG project’s investors in Asia. Sell your stock. The Canadian government’s decision to approve this project did not respect our fishing rights protected under the Canadian constitution. We were not consulted.”

There are also two resistance camps that have been set up to block the project.

DeSmog reports, “The Madii Lii camp, which includes a cabin, smokehouse, greenhouse and garden, strategically blocks the path of the proposed Prince Rupert Gas Transmission pipeline. The 900-kilometre pipeline is proposed to carry natural gas from northeastern British Columbia to the Pacific NorthWest LNG export terminal. The occupiers of the Madii Lii camp don’t believe the economic benefits of the projects are worth the environmental and cultural risks they pose. They are focused on protecting the salmon that swim through a series of rivers in Gitxsan territory and eventually end near the proposed site of the PNW LNG terminal on the coast.”

The Madii Lii camp is on the territory of the Luutkudziiwus house group of the Gitxsan Nation.

And Indigenous peoples and allies set up a camp on Lax U’u’la (Lelu Island) since August 2015 in an effort to prevent the construction of the Pacific NorthWest LNG terminal there. The island is located at the mouth of the Skeena River, on the northern coast of British Columbia, Vice News has reported, “Petronas intends to build [the terminal in] an ecologically sensitive area encompassing Lelu Island, the edge of Flora Bank, and an estuary that lies at the mouth of the Skeena River.”

Lax U’u’la (Lelu Island) in on the territory of the Gitwilgyoots house group of the Lax Kw’alaams Nation.

The Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency says the terminal would result in 5.3-million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions a year, and that another 6.5-million to 8.7-million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions would come from the extraction and transportation of the fracked gas that would feed the terminal. Beyond the project being one of the largest greenhouse gas emitters in Canada, the LNG terminal and its associated upstream operations would also consume 5.1 million cubic metres of fresh water per year, the equivalent of the annual fresh water use of 56,000 people.

The Council of Canadians first began speaking out against the Pacific NorthWest project in March 2014.