Tag Archives: Lax Kw’alaams

LNG Opponents Ordered To Halt Construction Of Protest Camp On Lelu Island

Lelu Island camp. (Credit: Gene Law)

Lelu Island camp. (Credit: Gene Law)

Notice orders protesters to halt construction at proposed B.C. LNG site

The Canadian Press | Published, Apr. 11, 2016

The Port of Prince Rupert has ordered opponents of a proposed liquefied natural gas plant to stop constructing a protest camp on Lelu Island on B.C.’s north coast.

A notice ordering an end to construction activities was issued Monday morning after the port consulted with the leadership of local Coast Tsimshian communities, part of the Lax Kw’alaams First Nation.

Port of Prince Rupert CEO Don Drusel says the port respects safe and peaceful expressions of opinion, but construction of makeshift shelters does not meet that definition and is not authorized.

The federal government is expected to make a decision within weeks on the proposed Pacific NorthWest LNG export terminal on the island, about 15 kilometres south of the Prince Rupert port.

Lax Kw’alaams Mayor Jonn Helin sent a letter to federal officials in March, announcing the First Nation would conditionally support the Lelu Island terminal, as long as two environmental conditions were met.

That letter sparked a protest within the First Nation as members demonstrated Friday outside the Lax Kw’alaams office in Port Simpson, arguing they were not consulted.



First Nation To Claim Land Title To Block Pacific NorthWest LNG Terminal

Pacific NorthWest LNG’s marine terminal (Credit: Pacific Northwest LNG via Facebook)

Pacific NorthWest LNG’s marine terminal (Credit: Pacific Northwest LNG via Facebook)

The Canadian Press

LELU ISLAND, B.C. — A northern British Columbia First Nation says it is seeking aboriginal title to the land where a Malaysia-led consortium hopes to build a $36-billion liquefied natural gas terminal.

The Lax Kw’alaams First Nation says it will launch an action claiming title to Lelu Island and Flora Bank, where the Pacific NorthWest LNG project would be built.

The nation says if it successfully establishes title, the province would have to seek its consent for massive projects like the one spearheaded by Malaysia’s state-owned Petronas.

Mayor Garry Reece says the Lax Kw’alaams are open to development including the Pacific NorthWest project, but only if an alternate site is found to avoid Flora Bank.

The nation says the area is a critical fisheries habitat located in the estuary of the Skeena River and it is concerned that construction would irreparably harm salmon stocks.

Earlier this spring, Lax Kw’alaams members overwhelmingly rejected a $1.15-billion package from the company and province.

Source: The Vancouver Observer

Lax Kw’alaams Members Occupy Lelu Island To Protect Flora Banks (VIDEO)

Video: First Nations Group Occupy Lelu Island to Save Flora Banks

By Red Power Media, Staff

Lax Kw’alaams First Nation members set up camp on Lelu Island to prevent its use as a liquefied natural gas terminal.

A group led by North Coast Lax Kw’alaams members have set up a camp on Lelu Island, near Prince Rupert, as part of a “peaceful occupation” of the island that is the proposed site of Pacific Northwest LNG, a consortium led by Malaysian energy giant Petronas.

A tent and camp has been set up on Lelu Island. — Image Credit: Stop Pacific NorthWest LNG/Petronas On Lelu Island / Facebook.Com

A tent and camp has been set up on Lelu Island. — Image Credit: Stop Pacific NorthWest LNG/Petronas On Lelu Island / Facebook.Com

The first tent was setup on Lelu Island the night of Aug. 25.

The camp was initiated by Lax Kw’alaams, Hereditary Chief Sm’oogyet Yahaan (Don Wesley Sr.), who traveled to his traditional territory with his sons Don and Joey to exercise his Aboriginal right to the territory and protect Flora Bank from industrial activity.

Video: Amazing support from other Nation

“We are there to carry out traditional Tsimshian activities such as smoking salmon, picking berries, drying halibut strips, and picking medicines such as devil’s club, and have every right to do so with Sm’oogyet Yahaan’s permission,” reads a statement from the group.

One of the concerns of those involved relates to the eelgrass on Flora Bank, an important habitat feature for salmon in the area.

“We got word that they’re trying to cut off eelgrass off Flora banks, and they’re going to try to transplant that at another location in the Skeena River here somewhere,” said Joey Wesley.

The occupation of Lelu Island, was sparked by recent sightings of a barge carrying equipment into the area for investigative work by Petronas contractors.

A barge carrying equipment related to geotechnical work for Petronas’ proposed Lelu Island LNG plant (facebook)

A barge carrying equipment related to geotechnical work for Petronas’ proposed Lelu Island LNG plant (facebook)

The group has launched the Stop Pacific NorthWest LNG/Petronas on Lelu Island Facebook page to provide updates on their activity.

Many people — including  the Gitxsan, Haida, Nisga’a and Lake Babine First Nations, as well as non-native people — have been to the island.

Video: Pacific NorthWest LNG outlined some of the work it intends to do on Lelu Island during a media tour of the island.

The terminal and its pipeline has been viewed as a leading project in the Christy Clark-led Liberal government’s efforts to start a new natural gas export industry to Asia.

The $36-billion project — by Malaysian state-controlled Petronas — has been approved by the province but is mired in a federal review that stalled because of concerns over the project’s effects on Flora Bank.

Earlier this year, the Lax Kw’alaams rejected a $1.15-billion benefits package from the company and B.C. government over similar concerns.

Hereditary Chief Sm’oogyet Yahaan said they were there to tell the people of Canada and British Columbia they were not giving up Flora Bank and want Lelu Island to remain intact. “If you take away the fish, then you take away the people. It’s as simple as that,” he said, referring to the importance of Flora Bank to salmon rearing.

He notes that the Island has been used as a homestead by his people for over 10,000 years.



Lax Kw’alaams First Nation Opposes Eagle Spirit Energy Pipeline

The Eagle Spirit Energy company meet with representatives of 30 First Nations over the weekend. (Eagle Spirit Energy)

The Eagle Spirit Energy company meet with representatives of 30 First Nations over the weekend. (Eagle Spirit Energy)

CBC News

Company claims its pipeline has support from 200 representatives of 30 First Nations

A First Nation in B.C. is contradicting recent claims from Eagle Spirit Energy about its support for a pipeline that would transport crude oil through its territory from Alberta to B.C.’s northwest coast.

Eagle Spirit Energy met with dozens of First Nations communities last weekend. On Tuesday, it announced that 200 representatives from 30 First Nations, including the Lax Kw’alaams, spoke out in support of the company’s proposed pipeline project.

But Lax Kw’alaams Mayor Garry Reece says that’s not entirely correct.

“That’s not the case,” said Reece. “There’s some that support it, yeah, but that’s a handful of them.”

Eagle Spirit Energy calls the coastal Lax Kw’alaams community a key to its proposed pipeline — as it’s the region to which oil from Alberta would be shipped.

Reece says the proposal needs approval from the entire community, not just a few representatives.

“Until we hear from our people to see if they’re going to support oil, no matter what kind of oil it is, it has to come from our people.”

Lax Kw’alaams will start its own research into the pipeline proposal. Reece says only then he can really educate his people on what it might mean for the community.

The Lax Kw’alaams First Nation recently voted against a $1 billion LNG proposal from energy company Petronas and the province.


For The Lax Kw’alaams, Cultural Identity Is Priceless Compared To LNG

Aboriginal artist Lianna Spence poses with her 12-year-old daughter Kiera on Finlayson Island, near Lax Kw’alaams. (Brent Jang for The Globe and Mail)

Aboriginal artist Lianna Spence poses with her 12-year-old daughter Kiera on Finlayson Island, near Lax Kw’alaams. (Brent Jang for The Globe and Mail)

The Globe and Mail

Aboriginal artist Lianna Spence will treasure this feast long after the 100 friends and relatives finish their plates filled with B.C. seafood.

It is a special occasion for this late-afternoon potluck lunch at the elders’ lodge in Lax Kw’alaams. On a long table are an array of delicacies, including dried salmon and halibut, smoked black cod, boiled Dungeness crab and fried eulachon – small fish that many natives enjoy eating whole, from head to tail.

It is a day to laugh and cry as residents share memories to celebrate the life of Ms. Spence’s great-grandmother, Vera, who raised her in Lax Kw’alaams, a remote B.C. community accessible by boat or float plane. Ms. Spence, 32, spent months carving and painting an elaborate totem pole in honour of Vera, who died in 2006 at the age of 87.

During this long day full of emotion, Ms. Spence takes time to talk about a subject that has dominated the Lax Kw’alaams people’s thoughts over the past couple of weeks – Pacific NorthWest LNG’s $1-billion cash offer to the 3,600-member band, or the equivalent of almost $320,000 a person.

The fear among the Lax Kw’alaams is that construction of the massive LNG project will harm juvenile salmon habitat in Flora Bank, a sandy reef-like area next to Lelu Island in the estuary of the Skeena River. Flora Bank, which is part of the traditional territory of the Lax Kw’alaams, has become intertwined with the people’s cultural and economic identity. For a great many of the band members, the risks to juvenile salmon far outweigh the potential benefits from building an LNG export terminal on Lelu Island, located 50 kilometres south of Lax Kw’alaams.

“They’re offering us benefits if we vote Yes. But we already have a lot of benefits around us – we have coho, spring and sockeye salmon. We have halibut, crab and eulachon. Those are our benefits,” says Ms. Spence, who was one of hundreds of eligible Lax Kw’alaams voters who recently spurned the LNG joint venture led by Malaysia’s state-owned Petronas.

“Lax Kw’alaams people depend on the seafood that they get for free,” says Ms. Spence, who lives in nearby Prince Rupert with her 12-year-old daughter Kiera. “I eat mostly seafood. I have two deep freezers and they’re loaded with seafood.”

After a morning boat ride over to the nearby Finlayson Island gravesite, Lax Kw’alaams members carefully lifted the totem pole. Four non-natives were honoured guests to bear witness to the ceremony. A high school art teacher from Prince Rupert, Tasha Parker, brought along her husband, longshoreman Ian Dobson. Ms. Parker and 14-year-old twin sons Ivan and Liam helped carve the totem pole. Mr. Dobson sympathizes with the Lax Kw’alaams and their worries about potential harm to salmon habitat. “Flora Bank is the nursery of life for the Skeena River,” he says.

The third and final round of voting wrapped up on Tuesday in Vancouver. In each instance in Lax Kw’alaams, Prince Rupert and Vancouver, eligible voters rose from their chairs to overwhelmingly reject the offer from the Petronas-led LNG group.

Pacific NorthWest LNG’s benefits package includes the $1-billion spread over 40 years. There are also provincial land transfers valued at $108-million. The catch is that the Lax Kw’alaams band council, after canvassing members, must provide aboriginal consent to plans to build an LNG export terminal on Lelu Island.

Pacific NorthWest LNG’s proposed suspension bridge over Flora Bank would carry a pipeline that extends southwest for 1.6 kilometres away from Lelu Island. That span would connect with a 1.1-kilometre-long trestle to a deep-berth location for tankers filling up with LNG in Chatham Sound. A report commissioned by the Lax Kw’alaams warns that the trestle would threaten to disrupt a complex system that effectively holds Flora Bank in place. A study commissioned by Pacific NorthWest LNG, however, reaches a vastly different conclusion, submitting that the LNG project would have little to no impact on Flora Bank.

“The bottom line is we’ve demonstrated that we’re open and through constructive consultation have adapted things to the environment,” Pacific NorthWest LNG president Michael Culbert said during a phone interview.

The Lax Kw’alaams are one of five Tsimshian First Nations consulted by Pacific NorthWest LNG as part of the environmental review process for the energy-export proposal. Two groups, the Metlakatla and the Kitselas, signed impact-benefit agreements with the joint venture in December. Two others, the Kitsumkalum and Gitxaala, have not yet announced their decisions.

Donnie Wesley of the Gitwilgyoots, one of nine allied tribes of the Lax Kw’alaams, says jobs are hard to come by, but the local fish-processing plant and logging operation are important employers. “Our logging company even has an office over in Beijing for marketing. And we have about 60 boats in our fishing fleet,” Mr. Wesley says as he walks down a gravel road in Lax Kw’alaams to the beat of drums and spiritual songs.

An estimated 800 people live in the community of Lax Kw’alaams, or roughly one-fifth of the total number of band members. Roughly 1,800 are based in Prince Rupert and another 1,000 in Vancouver and elsewhere.

“Our people are not against LNG for the most part. Based on my conversations with some members, they want LNG development. They want to see jobs, opportunity and economic benefits, but there are better bets than Flora Bank,” say Chris Sankey, an elected councillor with the Lax Kw’alaams band, formerly known as the Port Simpson band. He says Lax Kw’alaams Mayor Garry Reece and the 12 elected councillors will take a look at any tweaks that Pacific NorthWest LNG might make. “We’re going to be here for the next 10,000 years and that LNG project won’t be,” Mr. Sankey says.

During this sunny day in Lax Kw’alaams, two young boys play street hockey outside their parents’ home in a typical Canadian scene, except this house also sells some treats and groceries. Howard Green and his wife, Traci Reece, operate the modest store out of their home. They are in a good mood because a group of boys and girls visiting from Prince Rupert made the trip over to play basketball against Lax Kw’alaams youth. The visitors boosted sales of candy and ice cream, valuable commodities in Lax Kw’alaams, where residents need to plan carefully to supplement their seafood diets because the major grocery stores are in Prince Rupert. A ferry service operated by the band runs five days a week for the 45-minute journey between Prince Rupert and Lax Kw’alaams, but the sailings are limited to a maximum of two trips in each direction daily.

Mr. Green says his people’s connection with Skeena River and other seafood-rich waters remains strong, and he won’t be swayed by the promise of LNG riches. “There’s too much at stake. The people who live here are worried about the effects of LNG on our food,” he says.

Mr. Green and Ms. Reece are looking forward to this fall, when their sons Dennis and Jaycee, ages 8 and 4 respectively, will attend a new school being built with the help of $19.7-million in federal funding. Ms. Reece says she was thinking of her children’s future when she voted against Pacific NorthWest LNG’s offer during a meeting in Lax Kw’alaams. “If people knew the food that we eat, they would have a greater appreciation of our way of life,” she says.

 Source: http://fw.to/Wz2Pq0E