Work continues on a permanent structure on Lelu Island.

Work continues on a permanent structure on Lelu Island.

Lelu Island occupation refutes letter stating permit needed to build on-island structures

Those occupying Lelu Island say they have every right to construct structures, despite a letter sent from the Prince Rupert Port Authority.

Those occupying Lelu Island say they have every right to construct structures on the site, despite a letter sent from the Prince Rupert Port Authority earlier this week stating otherwise.

Don Wesley, Sm’oogyet Yahaan of the Gitwilgyoots, confirmed the group’s lawyers received a letter indicating they did not have a permit to build on the site, which included the installation of concrete pilings near the end of October, but said work will continue on the first structure and on the other two buildings planned for the camp.

“What we’re building are permanent structures. Under Canadian law, our rights are protected to build whatever structure is needed to practice our Aboriginal rights and title,” he said, noting the roof is going on the first building later this week and the goal is to have three completed for the new year.

“There has been no response to the letter because there is nothing to respond to. They are just throwing dust in the wind to see what sticks.”

While not discussing or confirming the letter’s contents, Prince Rupert Port Authority manager of corporate communications Michael Gurney said the activities on the island are on the organization’s radar.

“I can say that when it comes to building structures on crown land under the jurisdiction of the Prince Rupert Port Authority, a permit is required. When it comes to buildings related to the occupation of Lelu Island, those have not been authorized by the port authority,” he said.

“At the present we are not taking any direct action, but do continue to support the right of people to express their opinions as long as it is done safely and respectfully … our first priority is to ensure the safety of mariners in the area under port authority jurisdiction. To that end I would like to acknowledge the efforts of our boat crew who continue to work through complicated situations with respect and professionalism.”