VIDEO and story: Totem pole raised on Lelu after LNG project falls
Bad Video Embed Code

VIDEO and story: Totem pole raised on Lelu after LNG project falls

More than 100 people came to the pole raising on Lelu Island after the end of Pacific NorthWest LNG

In a stand of defiance against federal authorities, members of the Gitwilgyoots Tribe and supporters raised a totem pole on Lelu Island on Oct. 20 to signify their claim to the land.

The occupation of Lelu Island began in 2015 on the site where Petronas proposed to build a liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal and it has continued even after the company abandoned its Pacific NorthWest LNG project in July.

People who either took part or supported the resistance movement came to witness the totem pole being raised on a mound overlooking where the sea meets the Skeena River.

RELATED: THE FOOTPRINT PACIFIC NORTHWEST LNG LEFT BEHIND

“It’s a historic event. It’s to signify who were are, where we come from, what we stand for and this is our territory. We’re marking our territory, we’re occupying our land as we have years ago,” said Ken Lawson, or Gwishawaal of wolf clan, a Gitwilgyoots house leader of one of nine allied tribes of the Lax Kw’alaams.

However, the territory they have claimed is federal Crown land. While a few boats transported approximately 100 people from Port Edward to the island, the Prince Rupert Port Authority (PRPA) patrol boat remained close.

“Lelu Island is federal land within the managerial jurisdiction of PRPA. In compliance with that responsibility, PRPA considers any activities conducted on Lelu Island without PRPA authorization as trespass. PRPA has not been asked for authorization, nor has PRPA granted authorization, for any construction on Lelu Island,” stated the port authority in an email.

Yet, people had come from all over to witness the event. There were members of Lax Kw’alaams, Metlakatla, Gitga’at and Gitxsan Nation, as well as non-Indigenous people who travelled from Montreal, Wyoming, California and New Mexico. They stood close together on a muddy knoll to watch the cedar pole with a wolf near the base carved by Tsimshian artist Phil Gray.

Vincent Sampare, youth inclusion program coordinator at the Friendship House, brought a group of Indigenous youths to share traditional knowledge of their culture. For many of them this was their first pole raising experience.

“We showed up when they were still carving it and some of the youth here actually helped with the carving so we made them follow through with the entire process,” Sampare said. “And it’s healing for them too.”

Desiree Bolton and her son drove from Terrace, and had supported the protest against building a LNG terminal on Lelu Island. “It’s pretty important because as First Nations we depend a lot on the land for our food sources and our medicines,” she said.

RELATED: TRIBE OR BAND, A JUDGE WILL DECIDE WHO REPRESENTS LELU

The concern many have with Lelu Island is the effect that a LNG terminal, or other industrial development, would have on the salmon habitat in the Flora Bank and surrounding the area. This was the reason Donald Wesley, or Yahaan, started the occupation on Lelu Island. He has been involved in a federal court battle to overturn the government’s decision to approve the now defunct Pacific NorthWest LNG project.

“It’s a very happy time for everybody of the Tsimshian Nation who were concerned about this. We’ll take this as a W, which is a win. This is a win not for myself and Yahaan, but a win for the nation and the people, not just the First Nations people but all the people of B.C. and Canada because we all use this resource. We all love the clean air, we all love the clean water, we did what we had to do,” Lawson said.

Since the first structures were built on Lelu Island two years ago, they have continued to develop on the land to mark their claim.

There are now two buildings, the totem pole and Lawson said they have many more plans, but there “has to be agreements” first.

RELATED: CASE DISMISSED OVER LELU ISLAND

 

shannon.lough@thenorthernview.com 

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter 

Lelu IslandPacific NorthWest LNG

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

The totem pole for Lelu Island was carved by Tsimshian carver Phil Gray. (Shannon Lough / The Northern View)

The totem pole for Lelu Island was carved by Tsimshian carver Phil Gray. (Shannon Lough / The Northern View)

(Above) Ken Lawson, or Gwishawaal, before the totem pole was raised on Lelu Island, Oct. 20. (Below) Indigenous and non-Indigenous people came from all over the continent to help raise the totem pole on Lelu Island. (Shannon Lough / The Northern View)

(Above) Ken Lawson, or Gwishawaal, before the totem pole was raised on Lelu Island, Oct. 20. (Below) Indigenous and non-Indigenous people came from all over the continent to help raise the totem pole on Lelu Island. (Shannon Lough / The Northern View)

VIDEO and story: Totem pole raised on Lelu after LNG project falls

Myrtle Ryan took part in the ceremony to blow life onto the totem pole before it was raised on Lelu Island. (Shannon Lough / The Northern View)

Myrtle Ryan took part in the ceremony to blow life onto the totem pole before it was raised on Lelu Island. (Shannon Lough / The Northern View)

Indigenous and non-Indigenous people came from all over the continent to help raise the totem pole on Lelu Island. (Shannon Lough / The Northern View)

Indigenous and non-Indigenous people came from all over the continent to help raise the totem pole on Lelu Island. (Shannon Lough / The Northern View)

Ken Lawson, or Gwishawaal, with his wife after the totem pole was raised on Lelu Island, Oct. 20. (Shannon Lough / The Northern View)

Ken Lawson, or Gwishawaal, with his wife after the totem pole was raised on Lelu Island, Oct. 20. (Shannon Lough / The Northern View)

Patricia and Ken Lawson, or Gwishawaal, pose for photos after the totem pole was raised on Lelu Island, Oct. 20. (Shannon Lough / The Northern View)

Patricia and Ken Lawson, or Gwishawaal, pose for photos after the totem pole was raised on Lelu Island, Oct. 20. (Shannon Lough / The Northern View)

Just Posted

The COVID-19 outbreak at the two Coastal GasLink workforce lodges has officially been declared over. (Lakes District News file photo)
COVID-19 outbreak at Coastal GasLink worksites declared over

In total, 56 cases were associated with the outbreak in the Burns Lake and Nechako LHAs

Prince Rupert Fire Rescue was dispatched to a boat fire on Jan. 21 at Fairview Marina. (Photo: supplied)
Boat fire under investigation

Prince Rupert Fire Rescue attended boat fire at Fairview Marina

Toronto-based director Michelle Latimer was recently scrutinized after years of claiming she was of Algonquin and Metis descent. (CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young)
Haida activist calls for hefty fines, jail time against those who claim to be Indigenous

Filmmaker Tamara Bell proposing the Indigenous Identity Act – to dissuade ‘Indigenous identity theft’

Prince Rupert lawyer, Donald A. Silversides has been appointed to the BC Liberals Election Organizing Committee, announced the party on Jan 21. (Contributed photo)
Don Silversides appointed to BC Liberal election organizing committee

Prince Rupert lawyer is the current BC Liberals acting president

Brett Alexander Jones is wanted on several warrants province-wide, in connection with multiple charges. Jan. 21, 2021. Kitimat RCMP photo
Kitimat RCMP searching for man wanted on several warrants province-wide

Jones is described as a five-foot 10-inches Caucasian man, with blond hair and blue eyes.

Toronto Public Health nurse Lalaine Agarin sets up for mass vaccination clinic in Toronto, Jan. 17, 2021. B.C. is set to to begin its large-scale immunization program for the general public starting in April. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
B.C.’s COVID-19 mass vaccinations expected to start in April

Clinics to immunize four million people by September

Police are searching for an alleged sex offender, Nicole Edwards, who they say has not returned to her Vancouver halfway house. (Police handout)
Police hunt for woman charged in ‘horrific’ assault who failed to return to Surrey halfway house

Call 911 immediately if you see alleged sex offender Nicole Edwards, police say

A screenshot from a local Instagram account video. The account appeared to be frequented by Mission students, and showed violent videos of students assaulting and bullying other students.
Parents, former students describe ‘culture of bullying’ in Mission school district

Nearly two dozen voices come forward speaking of abuse haunting the hallways in Mission, B.C.

Joe Biden, then the U.S. vice-president, and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau take their seats at the start of the First Ministers and National Indigenous Leaders meeting in Ottawa, Friday, Dec. 9, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau, Biden to talk today as death of Keystone XL reverberates in Canada

President Joe Biden opposed the Keystone XL expansion as vice-president under Barack Obama

Prince Edward Island’s provincial flag flies on a flag pole in Ottawa, Friday July 3, 2020. A lozenge plant in Prince Edward Island has laid off 30 workers, citing an “almost non-existent” cold and cough season amid COVID-19 restrictions. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
‘Almost non-existent’ cold and cough season: P.E.I. lozenge plant lays off 30 workers

The apparent drop in winter colds across the country seems to have weakened demand for medicine and natural remedies

Robert Riley Saunders. (File)
Disgraced Kelowna social worker faces another class-action lawsuit

Zackary Alphonse claims he was not informed of resources available to him upon leaving government care

A specialized RCMP team is investigating a suspicious trailer, which might have connections to the illicit drug trade, found abandoned outside a Cache Creek motel. (Photo credit: <em>Journal</em> files)
Police probe U-Haul trailer linked to illicit drugs left outside Cache Creek motel

Hazardous materials found inside believed to be consistent with the production of illicit drugs

Premier John Horgan leaves the podium following his first press conference of the year as he comments on various questions from the media in the Press Gallery at B.C. Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Monday, January 13, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Interprovincial travel restrictions a no-go, Horgan says after reviewing legal options

The B.C. NDP government sought legal advice as concerns of travel continue

Gem Lake Top, at Big White Ski Resort, seen at Jan. 8. (Big White Ski Resort)
Big White cancels $7.3M in lift tickets, accommodations due to COVID-19 orders

Since November, the ski resort has been forced to make several changes

Most Read