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Montreal chapter screens ‘A Last Stand for Lelu’

The Council of Canadians Montreal chapter screened the film ‘A Last Stand for Lelu’ at Concordia University on April 6.


The description for the 24-minute documentary notes, “A great injustice is being done on Lelu Island near Prince Rupert, B.C., the sacred and traditional territory of the Lax Kw’alaams people for over 10,000 years. The B.C. provincial government is trying to green light the construction of a massive LNG terminal on the island – Pacific Northwest LNG, backed by Malaysian energy giant Petronas, without consent. The Lax Kw’alaams are the keepers of Lelu Island and its connected Flora Bank, a massive sand bar that is part of the Skeena River estuary and known by fisheries biologists as some of the most important salmon habitat in Canada.”


Chapter activist Abdul Pirani tells us, “Our event began with a presentation by Natasha, a hip-hop artist who performed her rap called ‘Help Momma Earth Breathe’ with Sally Livingston on drum. Then we watched the outstanding film about the resistance of the Lax Kw’alaams defending their traditional territory Lax U’u’la (Lelu Island) and the Flora Bank wild salmon habitat from the Pacific Northwest LNG project. After the film, we had a lively audio discussion with a couple of determined activists on Lax U’u’la. We were told that the federal environment minister Catherine McKenna is reviewing the Canadian Environment Assessment Agency (CEAA) report and is expected to rule by June 22 if the LNG facility can go forward.”


On March 11, the Council of Canadians made its formal submission to the CEAA in opposition to the LNG terminal.


In that submission, our Vancouver-based organizer AJ Klein and water campaigner Emma Lui wrote, “We urge Minister of Environment and Climate change Catherine McKenna to reject the Pacific Northwest LNG terminal on Lelu Island. We call on the federal government to take steps to establishing a genuine nation-to-nation relationship with the Indigenous peoples on Lelu Island by respecting their land title rights and their position against the proposed terminal. We also urge Minister McKenna to review the changes the Harper government made to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, restore lost protections and implementing strict safeguards to protect fish life and ecosystems.”


The film showing in Montreal was also a fundraiser for the Lax U’u’la Camp, where land defenders are in place to protect their traditional territory from the LNG terminal.


In November 2015, our organizer Brigette DePape visited the camp at the invitation of Lax Kw’alaams Hereditary Chief Yahaan. DePape wrote afterwards, “When I traveled there, it was heartbreaking to see what could be lost if the LNG terminal proposal goes forward: the flora banks that would be drudged up for the bridge, the fishing livelihoods of friends who rely on the salmon to feed their families, the lush forest on Lelu island that is the home to so much incredible life like the beautiful blue stellar jays. …It was also inspiring to meet the people who having been on the island for 84 days, many of them sleeping there and taking part in the construction of a permanent structure to protect the island.”


At the film screening in Montreal, Pirani notes, “The activists on the island asked folks to call and e-mail the prime minister and environment minister to put pressure on them to reject the LNG project.”


To do so, you can email the prime minister at pm@pm.gc.ca or tweet to him at @Justin Trudeau. The environment minister can be reached at Catherine.McKenna@parl.gc.ca or at @ec_minister via Twitter.


To see a trailer for ‘A Last Stand for Lelu’, please click here.