Hereditary leaders from Lax Kwa’alaams have declared their support of the federal government’s Bill C-48, the Oil Tanker Moratorium Act.
The hereditary leadership of the Allied Tribes of Lax Kw’alaams said in a statement released on Feb. 27 they do not agree with the Chief’s Council, a group that has spoken against Bill C-48.
“The ‘Chief’s Council’, which according to Eagle Spirit Energy is comprised of First Nations members from B.C. and Alberta, has been presented as the voice for hereditary leaders in Lax Kw’alaams. It is in fact a committee hand-picked by the Eagle Spirit Energy project, which have never consulted the Gits’iis Tribe, whose territory the project is sited for, and do not have permission to represent them,” said the statement signed by Sm’oogit Galksic (Andrew Tait) and Sm’oogit Txaxgax (Garry Reece).
“It is disappointing that they [Eagle Spirit Energy] continue to use the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) to argue First Nations were never consulted and do not support the federal oil tanker ban,” said Sm’oogit Galksic (Andrew Tait) of the Gits’iis tribe. “We do support the oil tanker ban and want to make it clear that Eagle Spirit has never consulted the rightful title holders of Grassy Point, and we’ve never given permission for any project to be built on their territories.”
In January, a GoFundMe campaign was launched by 30 First Nations communities — called the Chiefs Council — to fundraise for a legal challenge to Bill C-48.
The Chiefs Council claimed the legislation was promoted through the lobbying efforts of foreign environmental NGOs, and that its economic impact will ultimately harm the First Nations communities the council represents.
The Chiefs Council supports the Eagle Spirit Pipeline, a pipeline that would bring oil from Alberta to the North Coast of B.C. Gary Alexcee, vice-chair for the Chiefs Council, said in his interview with the Northern View on Jan. 26 the tanker ban would be an obstacle to the pipeline, and prevent First Nations communities from receiving revenue from the project.
Alexcee declined to comment on Feb. 27 regarding the Allied Tribes’ statement.