The Kitsumkalum First Nation is threatening to put a halt to liquefied natural gas projects on the North Coast unless the province accommodates their concerns.
Kitsumkalum Chief Don Roberts said the LNG projects – including the BG Group terminal on Ridley Island and the Pacific NorthWest LNG terminal on Lelu Island – are on their territory, but the government is simply not including the nation in discussions.
“We are part of the Tsimshian Nation. We own sites on the coast. We have been there from the beginning of time and we are still there,” he said.
“Our members continue to rely on sea foods and other resources up and down the coast today. These projects will affect our people a great deal and that is not being recognized by the government,” said Roberts.
“If British Columbia continues to deny us the recognition and respect for our title and rights on the coast, and fails to include us meaningfully in the benefits of this industry, we will do whatever is required to make sure that these projects do not proceed.”
One example Roberts points to is the revenue sharing agreement the province reached with the Lax Kw’alaams and Metlakatla bands for an exclusivity agreement the government signed with Woodside LNG and Aurora LNG to explore creating terminals at the site. Roberts said the agreement does not open the coast for LNG development.
“They have not yet dealt with Kitsumkalum and until they address our concerns and accommodate for the impacts, LNG cannot be developed on the coast.
Roberts said Kitsumkalum has requested to meet with Minister of Natural Gas Development Rich Coleman and current Minister of Aboriginal Relations John Rustad, but those requests “have been ignored”.
“We are willing to talk but they haven’t even picked up the phone,” he said.
A representative from the Ministry of Aboriginal Relations and Reconcilliation, however, said that is simply not the case. The Ministry said not only have they met with Kitsumkalum “a number of times” to discuss LNG, but have signed an Engagement Framework Agreement and Workplan “that focuses on matters related to LNG projects within Kitsumkalum asserted traditional territory”.