A map of the Nasoga Gulf from the Nisga’a Lisims Government created in Feb. 1, 2016.

Coast Tsimshian release demands and shared solutions on land dispute with Nisga’a

Nine Tribes say they are prepared to share the benefits of an LNG project with the Nisga’a Nation

The Nine Tribes of Lax Kw’alaams have released their list of demands if the B.C. government goes ahead with the sale of the Nasoga Gulf Lands to the Nisga’a Nation.

One of the shared solutions offered by the Nine Tribes of the Coast Tsimshian, which includes Lax Kw’alaams and Metlakatla, is that they are willing to engage in a conflict-free collaboration within the Nasoga Gulf Lands for liquefied natural gas (LNG) investors.

“We have heard from LNG proponents that they will not invest in this area if there is a conflict on these lands. We look forward to the day that we all share in the benefits that LNG and other uses of our lands bring to everyone. But this can only happen if this unilateral sale to the Nisga’a Nation doesn’t proceed,” said Chief Harold Leighton of the Metlakatla First Nation.

The B.C. government is proposing the transfer 22,100 hectares of the Nasoga Gulf Lands to the Nisga’a Nation — land the Nine Tribes say is traditionally part of Coast Tsimshian territory. On Friday, June 7, they are protesting the plans by holding an information blockade along the Skeena Highway, between Prince Rupert and Terrace.

READ MORE: Coast Tsimshian to hold information blockade on land transfer to Nisga’a

READ MORE: Nisga’a want land deal for LNG

The Nine Tribes say their membership would consider LNG development provided that it is done in a responsible way with all First Nations on the North Coast working in tandem with the provincial and federal government to develop in an environmentally sustainable way using renewables and electrification.

Another shared solution offered states they they want an opportunity for a collaborative Environmental Assessment.

The Nine Tribes are also demanding a chance for them and other First Nations to be included in pipeline projects. Some members of Lax Kw’alaams, including Mayor Helin’s brother, Calvin Helin have expressed interest in developing an energy corridor from Alberta through their territory however, Bill C-48, the Oil Tanker Moratorium Act, may hamper their plans if it were to pass.

Territory of the Nine Tribes of Lax Kw’alaams, according to a Feb. 15, 2018 map that was submitted into a civil claim in the Supreme Court of British Columbia.

The Nine Tribes say they have title to the land as proven by their oral traditions and an independent expert report from UBC expert Andrew Martindale, and that transfer of the land to the Nisga’a would go against the province’s commitment to implement the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous People (UNDRIP).

The province said they are currently in consultations with Lax Kw’alaams Band and Metlakatla First Nation on the proposed transaction.

“It’s important to note that no agreement regarding any land sale would be signed without full consultation with neighbouring First Nations,” said Sarah Plank, communications director for the Ministry of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation, in an email on June 6.

An update is to come later today. The information blockade will take place on June 7 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.


Jenna Cocullo | Journalist
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