Skeena Watershed Conservation Coalition

Skeena Watershed Conservation Coalition

November 09, 2015 16:29 ET

Over 70 First Nations Leaders, Scientists, Business Owners, and Unlikely Allies Across BC Calling on Federal Government to Reject PNW LNG on Lelu Island

PRINCE RUPERT, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwired - Nov. 9, 2015) - Over 70 Northern BC First Nations leaders, prominent scientists, businesses, unions, university groups, and faith groups from across the province have signed on to a letter written by Lax Kw'alaams Hereditary Chief Yahaan (Donnie Wesley) calling on Prime Minister Trudeau and Environment Minister Catherine McKenna to reject the Pacific Northwest (PNW) LNG plant proposed for Lelu Island and Flora Bank, and to cancel ongoing test-drilling at the site.

The Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (CEAA) decision, expected by early 2016 though possibly sooner, is the final major regulatory hurdle the project must overcome to move ahead.

The urgent letter from Hereditary Chief Yahaan states that "PNW LNG is poised to cause irreparable damage to the second largest wild salmon run in Canada, and potential catastrophe for the fisheries economy thousands of people depend on."

Lelu Island is part of the Yahaan's tribal territory of the Gitwilgyoots. He and dozens of supporters have been occupying the island since August, turning away geotechnical contractors working for PNW LNG.

Signatories to the letter include the elected Lax Kw'alaams Band Council, the Union of BC Indian Chiefs, and leaders from Gitxsan, Gitanyow, Wet'suwe'ten, Tsimshian, Fort Nelson and Salteau First Nations, as well as David Suzuki, Wade Davis, Dr. Alexandra Morton, and Dr. Barb Faggetter.

"This is the first time that such widespread and unprecedented agreement has been reached in BC on LNG," said Greg Horne of the Skeena Watershed Conservation Coalition. "From every corner of the province, we are all in agreement that Lelu Island and Flora Banks is the worst possible spot on the north coast to site an LNG facility."

"Of all the thousands of miles of coastline, they chose the one location most critical for Skeena salmon," said Des Nobels, Northern Outreach Coordinator, T. Buck Suzuki Environmental Foundation. A separate letter from the United Fisherman and Allied Workers Union (UFAWU) and coastal conservation groups echoed the same request to Trudeau: "We urge you to reject this project outright because mitigation will not be possible. The importance of this specific site is long standing common knowledge in the scientific community."

Both letters call on the Prime Minister Trudeau to fulfill his campaign promises of protecting north coast fisheries and building a new relationship with First Nations by rejecting the PNW LNG proposal.

In May, Lax Kw'alaams unanimously turned down a $1 Billion offer from Petronas for permission to build PNW LNG on Lelu Island. "We are asking the Federal Government to respect the decision of our nation to say no to this project," said Chief Yahaan. "We are calling on Prime Minister Trudeau to reject PNW LNG and stand with us and communities across the province to protect wild Skeena salmon for the sake of all future generations."

The letters and list of signatories can be viewed here:

Link to letter from the United Fishermen and Allied Workers' Union-Unifor:

Contact Information

  • Hereditary Chief Yahaan (Donnie Wesley)
    Tsimshian Nation
    (250) 615 7787

    Joey Wesley
    Tsimshian Nation
    (604) 842 7908

    Grand Chief Stewart Phillip
    Union of BC Indian Chiefs
    (250) 490 5314

    Des Nobels
    Northern Outreach Coordinator
    T. Buck Suzuki Environmental Foundation
    (250) 627 1859

    Shannon McPhail
    Executive Director
    Skeena Watershed Conservation Coalition
    (250) 842 8738

    Leila Darwish
    Media Coordinator
    (778) 679 2907