Lax Kw’alaams members support oil shipping

The Eagle Spirit Energy oil pipeline project has apparently found support from community members in Lax Kw’alaams.

The Eagle Spirit Energy oil pipeline project has apparently found support from community members in Lax Kw’alaams.

Eagle Spirit Energy Holdings Ltd. is proposing to build a pipeline that would ship upgraded/refined crude oil to Grassy Point, which the company says is the safest location because of its close proximity to open water.

According to a press release attributed to the Lax Kw’alaams community, representatives from Eagle Spirit Energy held a meeting with Lax Kw’alaams members on May 8 to request permission from the community for the signing of an exclusivity and benefits agreement.

The agreement is the first step for the company to continue working with the community in the development process of the project.

“Our community has taken a first step to building a better future where we have a real partnership based on trust. We are looking forward to developing this project further with Eagle Spirit,” said Helen Johnson, Lax Kw’alaams Matriarch Mn’gadn wii hayetsk.

During the meeting, Eagle Spirit Energy’s senior technical advisor Dan Hisey, former chief operating officer of the Alyeska Pipeline Service Company, outlined how the Alaska experience could be used as a foundation in creating a “world-leading environmental model” for B.C.

According to the release, many people from Lax Kw’alaams spoke in favour of the project.

“I am a well-educated Tsimshian environmental activist from Lax Kw’alaams and I am not easily convinced of the safety of such projects … After taking the time and effort to carefully study the Eagle Spirit project I strongly recommend that our members support it,” said Brenda Wesley.

“We like the fact that Eagle Spirit has shown great respect for our culture and protocols by coming to us from the very beginning, truly listening to our concerns, and have put the environment first,” Hereditary House Leader Xaiget (Robert Sankey) said.

“We know oil is important to the national economy and will eventually come to the B.C. North Coast. We are united in opposing the shipment of bitumen (heavy oil) by rail or other means. The Eagle Spirit Project addresses our concerns while ensuring we have ongoing input into a world-class environmental model,”said Hereditary Chief Nees Wexs (Clyde Dudoward).

This comes after the Coastal First Nations issued a press release earlier this year stating the Eagle Spirit Energy proposal did not have any support from First Nations communities along the coast of B.C. and that Lax Kw’alaams Mayor Garry Reece “made it clear in conversations that his community does not support oil exports through its traditional territory”.

“There isn’t a single First Nation on the coast of B.C. that supports oil exports,” stated Art Sterritt, Coastal First Nations executive director.

Representatives from the Lax Kw’alaams Band and Calvin Helin, president of Eagle Spirit Energy, did not immediately return requests for comment by the Northern View.