Five Tsimshian bands have come together to ensure the environment of their traditional territory is protected in the face of increasing industrial development proposals.
The Metlakatla, Gitxaala, Gitga’at, Kitselas and Kitsumkalum bans announced earlier this month the formation of the Tsimshian Environmental Stewardship Authority (TESA), which is designed to provide a way for all of the Nations to address common environmental stewardship issues such as project development proposals and cumulative impact considerations. TESA will help establish baseline monitoring programs, provide information to the communities about project impacts and potential mitigation measures, develop conditions to address environmental concerns for proposed projects in the territory, support the engagement of First nations in the environmental assessment process and maintain a regional forum to discuss projects and mitigation measures.
“By coming together, we, as Tsimshian people, will speak with a stronger voice on all major projects and their cumulative impacts,” said Metlakatla Chief Harold Leighton.
“Bak Laansk – working together – is at the core of our Tsimshian culture. With the Tsimshian Environmental Stewardship Authority, we are working together to protect our most important resource: our environment,” added Gitxaala Chief Clarence Innis.
At the time of establishment, TESA did not include the Lax Kw’alaams band. However, the group did not rule out including Lax Kw’alaams as part of TESA in the future.
“We are dedicated to the further development of the Tsimshian Environmental Stewardship Authority. We look forward to engaging Lax Kw’alaams, the Province of British Columbia, the Government of Canada, and project proponents to work together to find a path forward that protects the environmental legacy with which we are entrusted,” read a statement from TESA.