Most First Nations in northern B.C. support LNG pipeline, group says

First Nations LNG Alliance says at least 20 First Nations have signed agreements with LNG Canada

Despite the headline-grabbing news coming from the Gitdumt’en anti-pipeline site, most First Nations living near the LNG pipeline route support the project.

At least 20 First Nations from Fort St. John to Kitimat have signed agreements with LNG Canada, Donald MacLachlan, media officer with the First Nations LNG Alliance, told Black Press Media.

READ MORE: RCMP arrest 14 people in northern B.C. over anti-LNG pipeline protest

Chief Rene Skin of the Skin Tyee near Burns Lake said his First Nation was among the first to lend its support to LNG.

“We’ve always been in support of the pipeline. We voted together,” Skin said. “Lots to do with jobs, up and coming housing – people will be able to start their own companies. For years to come, there will be a lot of benefits.”

Skin couldn’t offer many specifics on the benefits, which are detailed in the confidential term sheet that was negotiated with LNG Canada.

In general, the agreements signed with the First Nations near the pipeline are worth millions of dollars, MacLachlan said, including $620 million in conditional contracting and employment opportunities, and another $400 million in contracting opportunities for local and Indigenous business.

Skin Tyee band councillor Helen Michelle said a long process of negotiation between Skin Tyee members and hereditary chiefs eventually led to an agreement with Coastal GasLink, the company behind the project that would transport natural gas to Kitimat.

“We discussed it thoroughly and we struggled with it,” Michelle said. “We agreed upon it for our future generations. No other chiefs speak for us or our territory. We speak for ourselves.”

Burns Lake First Nation Chief Dan George, who is also the First Nations LNG Alliance chair, has said there are hereditary chiefs who support the project.

“Helen Michelle and Skin Tyee are not alone,” he said. “Other First Nations such as the Haisla and Kitselas have declared their support for LNG.”

Karen Ogen-Toews, CEO of the First Nations LNG Alliance, said amidst the media coverage, regular people from the Wet’suwet’en community are caught in the middle.

“The backlash Wet’suwet’en people are facing, whether they are for or against the project, is devastating,” Ogen-Toews said.

“Our leaders, elected or hereditary, are advancing what they believe is right, and as such all deserve respectful treatment. Social-media campaigns led by non-Indigenous groups are simply not contributing to a solution.”

The activity at the Gitdumt’en blockade camp near the Morice River Bridge, south of Houston, has been trending on Twitter under the hashtag #unistotencamp.

“There is no doubt that the hereditary leadership has some responsibility for land and natural resources within our territory,” Ogen-Toews added. “At the same time, the elected leadership has responsibility for our people and the external affairs of their First Nation.”

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

Just Posted

Disrespectful that Horgan won’t meet during northern B.C. tour: hereditary chief

Na’moks said he was frustrated Horgan didn’t meet with the chiefs

BC Green Party leader visits Wet’suwet’en camps at heart of pipeline conflict

Adam Olsen calls for better relationship between Canada and First Nations

Premier Horgan announces business plan approval for new hospital in Fort St. James

The new hospital in the district is aimed to be open to patients by 2024

Horgan cancels event in Fraser Lake due to security concerns, says mayor

The premier will still be visiting the district, but the location and day will not be made public

Third annual Lego Robotics challenge held in Vanderhoof

Technology is going to be a big part of our students’ futures, says elementary school teacher

After cashing in on QB gambles, Chiefs and 49ers to clash in Super Bowl

KC beats Tennessee, San Francisco dispatches Green Bay to reach NFL title game

B.C. VIEWS: Few clouds on Horgan’s horizon

Horgan’s biggest challenge in the remainder of his term will be to keep the economy humming along

Victoria family focuses on ‘letting go, enjoying time together’ after dad gets dementia

Walter Strauss has developed an interest in music and now takes line dancing classes

B.C. forest industry grasps for hope amid seven-month strike, shutdowns, changes

Some experts say this could be worse for forestry than the 2008 financial crisis

Northern B.C. RCMP investigating alleged sexual assault in downtown Smithers

One person was transported by ambulance to hospital following RCMP investigation at Sedaz

UBC, Iranian-Canadian community create memorial scholarship in honour of victims

The Jan. 8 crash killed 176 people, including 57 Canadians

Canucks extend home win streak to 8 with 4-1 triumph over Sharks

Victory lifts Vancouver into top spot in NHL’s Pacific Division

Most Read