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Visit to Lelu Island: Protect the Skeena and Stop Petronas LNG

Photo: Lax U’u’la (Lelu Island)

After a very chaotic election, I was taking some time away from the Internet to be outside and visit friends and family in Prince Rupert and Haida Gwaii. Concerned about the proposed Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) terminal on Lelu Island, I also wanted to visit the Lelu Island Occupation camp near Prince Rupert.

The site for the Petronas LNG terminal was chosen without the consultation of local First Nations and Skeena communities, and the Lax Kw’alaams First Nations voted against the proposed terminal.

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.

I had a glimpse into what is at stake. 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. It was wonderful to see allies traveling to the camp to support, and to connect with land defenders from the Unistoten camp who have been occupying their lands. Indeed, like Maadi Li, Unistoten and other camps, this camp is part of a larger movement to live on the land as a means of protecting it.

It was amazing to travel there by boat with hereditary Cheif Yahaan Wesley and his family who have been a critical force in protecting Lelu Island. Formerly a logger, Chief Yahaan never saw himself as doing this kind of thing. But he has been called by a sense of responsibility to protect the island. He quit his livelihood of fishing and is sacrificing many of the comforts of home like seeing his grandchildren in the city. He wants to be able to continue to fish, and wants the same for future generations.

What is overwhelming is that Petronas has already started drilling to collect samples. The waters were being closely monitored by the Prince Rupert Port Authority and many areas were blocked off.

Hereditary Chief Yehan has written a letter to Justin Trudeau to ask him to reject the LNG proposal. You can sign onto it here: http://www.laxuula.com/#!letter-to-prime-minister-trudeau-pnw-lng/n76zu.

Together we can stop LNG on Lelu Island!