Report: Lax Kw’alaams members in Prince Rupert oppose LNG benefits offer

Reports coming out of the second night of Lax Kw'alaams member voting on an LNG benefits agreement indicate there was strong opposition.

  • May. 8, 2015 5:00 p.m.

Reports coming out of the second night of Lax Kw’alaams member voting on an LNG benefits agreement indicate the result was very similar to a meeting the previous night.

Sources close to the situation told the Globe and Mail that more than 225 eligible members stood up in opposition to the agreement during a meeting in Prince Rupert on May 7, a vote which followed more than 180 opposition votes in Lax Kw’alaams earlier in the week.

While there remain two membership meetings scheduled for Vancouver early next week, a video that surfaced on social media this week shows members making very impassioned speeches about why they were voting in opposition at the Lax Kw’alaams session.

Among the concerns was the impact the Lelu Island terminal would have on the way of life for people on the North Coast.

“I will never, ever give up the Skeena River. I will never, ever give up my livelihood for money. There is far too much at stake … we are Tsimshian people, that is who we are … we live off the ocean, we live off the seaweed and we live off what is around us,” said one attendee.

“I don’t care how many jobs they promise you, I don’t care how much money they promise you, it doesn’t beat what we have.”

Another concern raised was that decisions made today will impact generations to come.

“We can’t go ahead with a handshake tonight or tomorrow and say ‘yes, this is the way it is going to be’. It shouldn’t be our decision. We have kids that can’t talk and we have to think about that,” said another attendee.

“This is a big picture, a game-changer for Port Simpson. It is going to change our lives forever.”

Members of the band are being offered a benefits agreement worth more than $1 billion by proponents of the Pacific NorthWest LNG terminal, the Prince Rupert Gas Transmission project and the provincial government. The offer, which includes payments and land, would see benefits going to the community over the next four decades.