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Solidarity with Gitxsan First Nation court challenge against Pacific NorthWest LNG project

Gitxsan hereditary chief Yvonne Lattie and Richard Wright, a spokesperson for Charlie Wright, Gitxsan hereditary chief of Wiip Luutkudziwuus.

The Council of Canadians expresses its solidarity with the Gitxsan First Nation court challenge against the Pacific NorthWest liquefied natural gas (LNG) project approved by the Trudeau government in September 2016.

The Globe and Mail reports, “The two leaders of house groups called Gwininitxw and Luutkudziiwus are asking the Federal Court to quash Ottawa’s approval of plans to build a liquefied natural gas terminal on Lelu Island, located in the Port of Prince Rupert. Yvonne Lattie of Gwininitxw and Charlie Wright of Luutkudziiwus, who also go by the names of their respective house groups, say LNG development will harm salmon habitat. They filed an application on Tuesday for a judicial review of the federal Liberal cabinet’s decision [to approve the] $11.4-billion terminal.”

Chief Lattie says, “The Canadian government’s decision to approve this project did not respect our fishing rights protected under the Canadian Constitution. We were not consulted.”

The Georgia Straight notes, “Although the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency stated that First Nations were consulted during environmental assessments, chiefs said they were offered inadequate funding for their input, while at other times, they were told they would not be directly affected by the expansion.”

The Globe and Mail adds, “In October, the Gitwilgyoots tribe of the Lax Kw’alaams First Nation, the Gitanyow hereditary chiefs and SkeenaWild Conservation Trust became the first three organizations to seek a court order that would quash the cabinet’s approval of Pacific NorthWest LNG. The latest legal filing marks the fourth application in Federal Court against the project.”

The project is being led by the Malaysian state-owned company Petronas, with minority shareholders including Sinopec, the Indian Oil Corporation, and PetroleumBrunei. It would receive fracked gas from Treaty 8 territory in northeastern British Columbia via TransCanada’s Prince Rupert Gas Transmission Project pipeline.

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.

Indigenous peoples and allies set up a camp on Lax U’u’la (Lelu Island) in late-2015 in an effort to prevent the construction of the Pacific NorthWest LNG terminal there. Council of Canadians organizer visited the island in November 2015 and a member of the Terrace chapter has been at the camp for several months.

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