Coast Tsimshian

July 02, 2008 16:00 ET

Lax Kw'Alaams, Metlakatla Negotiating With Canada and the Prince Rupert Port Authority Over Port Expansion Issues; Separate Archaeological Table Also Underway

PRINCE RUPERT, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwire - July 2, 2008) - The Lax Kw'Alaams and Metlakatla First Nations, known as the Coast Tsimshian, are pleased to have taken another step towards resolution of their concerns over expansion of the Port of Prince Rupert by negotiating with the Government of Canada and the Prince Rupert Port Authority.

Negotiations between the Coast Tsimshian and the federal government are underway in Vancouver and working towards a summer deadline. Litigation by the Coast Tsimshian over lack of consultation and accommodation on Phase 1 of the Fairview Terminal Expansion is in abeyance pending the results of negotiations.

"We have had some frustrations getting to this stage with the Government of Canada," says Lax Kw'Alaams Chief John Helin, "but with the framework finally in place and negotiations underway we are hopeful that Ottawa will move quickly and allow us to reach a settlement that is fair and respectful for our people."

"Our people want to be able to support the development of the Port," says Metlakatla Chief Harold Leighton, "and we look to these negotiations to resolve our outstanding issues, and that will allow us to support the development of the Port.

"Our ancestors have lived on the very land the Port wants to develop for more than 5000 years," says Leighton. "It is important to us that the burial sites and traces of our history that are here are protected and handled with proper care and integrity."

Both Chiefs want to enter into a mutually beneficial agreement with the Government of Canada to establish and maintain a relationship centered on the development of the Port and related economic benefits.

A separate table has also been established to address archaeological issues.

Numerous archaeologists including Dr. George MacDonald, OC, founding Director of the Canadian Museum of Civilization and Director of the Bill Reid Centre at Simon Fraser University, says archaeological sites at Prince Rupert harbour are unique on the west coast of North America in terms of the volume of middens, cultural artifacts, and human remains that are in place.

"We have recovered hundreds of intact artifacts plus more than 5000 pieces of wood, bone, or other materials that show evidence of being worked and shaped by hand," says Dr. MacDonald. "But of more importance are the human remains to be found in thousands of square meters of shell middens that are on-site.

"These sites are of worldwide archaeological interest," says Dr. MacDonald, "and losing them to reckless development would be a terrible loss to the Tsimshian people and to world history."

Contact Information

  • Gary Ley
    Media Contact
    (604) 685-5485
    Lax Kw'Alaams
    Chief John Helin
    Media Contact
    (250) 625-3293
    Chief Harold Leighton
    Media Contact
    (250) 628-3234