The company planning to build an oil export facility at Grassy Point near Lax Kw’alaams has garnered the backing of three Northwest First Nations.
At a press conference in Calgary on Feb. 11, Eagle Spirit Energy announced it had received declarations of support from Chief Dan George of the Ts’il Kaz Koh First Nation (Burns Lake Band), Chief Archie Patrick of the Stellat’en First Nation near Fraser Lake and two Gitxsan Hereditary Chiefs: Larry Marsden, Head Chief on behalf of the Gitsegukla Hereditary Chiefs, and Art Mathews, head chief on behalf of the Gitwangak Hereditary Chiefs.
Many of those chiefs said the reason for backing the project had to do with how Eagle Spirit Energy approached First Nations with the project and the potential equity in the $14 billion to $16 billion project which would carry refined light crude to an export terminal on the coast.
“This project supports and shares the vision and declaration of First Nations, as it proposes to put ownership and control over the environment in the hands of the rightful landowners. The proposed Eagle Spirit Energy Corridor provides a business platform that puts First Nations in a critical decision-making role. The opportunity for First Nations to define and express themselves in a commercial context has arrived,” read a statement signed by the chiefs.
“We are declaring that we are united in our thinking around natural resource commerce in our territories and in continuing our consideration for the First Nations’ led and owned commercial stewardship opportunity presented by Eagle Spirit Energy.”
The chiefs also state that this declaration, coupled with the Tsilhoqut’in decision handed down by the Supreme Court of Canada last year, sends a strong message to other companies looking to do business in their territories.
“This declaration of support provides evidence that, in fact, we First Nations intend, can and will work together; and he or she who wishes to do resource business in our territory needs to work with us,” read the statement.
“The attitudes and approach to the process of working together must change … we have confirmed rights and title to economically valuable land and are prepared to work with business leaders who understand this new post-Tsilhoqut’in legal landscape.”