Council of Canadians organizer Brigette DePape at the Lax Kw’alaams resistance camp at Lax U’u’la, November 2015.
Two members of the Council of Canadians Terrace chapter are presently on Lax U’u’la (Lelu Island) in opposition to a massive liquefied natural gas project.
Indigenous peoples and allies began setting up a camp on Lax U’u’la about fourteen months ago 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, just a short boat ride from Prince Rupert (which is located about 150 kilometres west of Terrace and a 1,500 kilometre drive north of Vancouver)
Vice News has reported, “Petronas, the Malaysian state-owned company behind the Pacific NorthWest LNG (PNW LNG) project, intends to build one of the world’s largest LNG plants 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. Members of Lax Kw’alaams First Nation and their supporters have been occupying Lelu Island since August 25, 2015, in an effort to prevent research and construction of the plant with its proposed 1.6-kilometre bridge and 1.1 km pier.”
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.
Ken Lawson or Gwishawaal, a Gitwilgyoots house leader, has stated, “This territory belongs to the Gitwilgyoots tribe. It does not belong to the other nations. They are Tsimshian. They have their own territories, they have their own houses. They have their own tribes. We are the Gitwilgyoots tribe. We are defending Gitwilgyoots territory… It’s plain and simple, it’s cut and dried. I’m not stepping on anyone’s toes, I’m defending our territory… I’m defending this estuary, the land, the water, the way they should be. All of the nations should be defending this land, not just Gitwilgyoots tribe. This is for everybody.”
Council of Canadians organizer Brigette DePape visited the island in November 2015.
At that time she wrote, “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. Chief Yehan informed me that 110 metric tonnes of waste from the paper mill which is now found in the shoreline, would be released to make way for the terminal. The bridge to transport the LNG from Kits island to Lelu, one and a half times the Golden Gate bridge, would require 500 poles underwater and would destroy the flora banks.”
DePape adds, “It was so 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.” Vice notes, “Occupiers spend their days building boardwalks, buildings, cooking, cutting firewood, patrolling the sea to disrupt the work of surveyors, removing flagging from trees marked by surveyors and putting up ‘no trespassing’ signs along the entire perimeter of the island; all the while trying to come together as a community.”
The Council of Canadians first began speaking out against the Pacific NorthWest project in March 2014. The Trudeau government approved the LNG project on September 27, 2016. If the LNG project proceeds, it could be operational as early as 2019.
The Council supports Indigenous opposition to Pacific NorthWest LNG project (September 28, 2016)