B.C. First Nations dispute over North Coast LNG project reaches Ottawa

Chiefs head to Ottawa to fight project near Prince Rupert

First Nations leaders from B.C. were scheduled to travel to Ottawa this week to make their case against a proposed liquefied natural gas project near Prince Rupert.

Hereditary Chiefs of Lelu Island, Wetsuwe’ten and Gitxsan First Nations join other leaders to protest what they say are misleading claims of indigenous support for the Petronas-led Pacific NorthWest LNG project.

A recent letter from Lax Kw’alaams Mayor John Helin to federal Environment Minister Catherine McKenna offered backing for the $36-billion LNG project on Lelu Island, south of Prince Rupert, if two conditions are met.

In a new release, Hereditary Chief Donald Wesley, a Lax Kw’alaams delegation member, says the incorrect claim of aboriginal support led to a letter from the Port Authority of Prince Rupert, threatening the eviction of protesters from traditional Lelu Island territories.

Opponents of the Pacific Northwest LNG project say it threatens Canada’s second largest wild salmon run and could undermine Canada’s climate change commitments.

The B.C. government says the project could generate more than 18,000 jobs and produce billions in revenue.

McKenna said in March that a cabinet decision on the environmental assessment should be made by late June.

The release issued by the delegation pointed to what opponents argue is significant First Nation opposition from leaders and communities throughout northwestern British Columbia and across the province.

First Nations leaders were expected to clarify their position within the Lax Kw’alaams community in regards to Helin’s letter and address regional First Nation concerns and opposition to Pacific Northwest LNG while they are in Ottawa.

The Canadian Press