First Nations LNG Alliance members Chief Dan George, Karen Ogen-Toews and Chief Clifford White after meeting NDP MLAs in Victoria, May 10, 2018. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)

Indigenous leaders see new hope for LNG

‘Once in a lifetime’ economic opportunity for B.C.’s northwes

A group of northwestern B.C. Indigenous leaders is encouraged by meetings with the NDP government about the prospects for liquefied natural gas development.

Members of the First Nations LNG Alliance travelled to Victoria this week, after Premier John Horgan’s government breathed new life into the emerging industry with tax incentives for the Shell-led LNG Canada project that would include an export terminal at Kitimat.

The Alliance is chaired by Chief Dan George of the Ts’il Kaz Koh, formerly known as the Burns Lake Band. He said the group’s role is to present the benefits and risks to communities along the proposed pipeline that would cross their territories.

“There are very few opportunities that come along in northern B.C.,” George said in an interview with Black Press. “We have very small communities, we don’t have prime real estate, so our economic development is very limited. These are once-in-a-lifetime opportunities for us.”

The main environmental disturbance in the northwest today is the aftermath of the pine beetle epidemic. The salvage logging that followed has left clearcuts that extend for 30 km or more.

The Ts’il Kaz Koh council has been working for five years with TransCanada, proponent of the Coastal Gaslink pipeline that would bring natural gas from the northeast to the coast.

“A pipeline uses a 200-metre right of way, and it’s relatively small compared to the big picture in northern B.C.,” George said.

Karen Ogen-Toews is a former chief of Wet’suewet’en and now CEO of First Nations LNG Alliance. She said the group had a warm reception from the NDP caucus, discussing environmental impact and the four conditions for LNG support set out by Horgan before last year’s election.

The conditions are a fair return to B.C. for the gas resource, jobs and training, partnerships with Indigenous communities and projects that fit the province’s greenhouse gas commitments.

“Long before the NDP got in, we worked with both governments, and we have surpassed those four conditions,” Ogen-Toews said.

Other alliance directors on the trip were Crystal Smith, Chief Councillor of the Haisla Nation, site of the proposed LNG Canada terminal, and Robert Dennis Sr., Chief Councillor Huu-ay-aht First Nations. Huu-ay-aht are partners on the Kwispaa (formerly Sarita) LNG project at Sarita Bay near the mouth of Alberni Inlet on Vancouver Island, the largest proposal that is not in the northwest.

Chief Clifford White of the Gitxaala Nation represents the island group between the northwest mainland and Haida Gwaii, where the community known as Kitkatla has been occupied for 14,000 years.

White said the Gitxaala elected and hereditary leadership are concerned about the local environment, but also understand that LNG is a global project to replace coal’s impact on the atmosphere shared by all countries.

“We’re still living in poverty, so the opportunities like LNG when they come along, are important,” White said. “We have been fortunate that people have reached out in partnership with us.”

Just Posted

Cool Arts’ double header event features Lake Country artist

Celebration of artist Mark Mercer’s work to run alongside community art night in Kelowna.

Scammer targeting elderly in Kelowna with broken-down vehicle story

A door to door scammer is in Kelowna, targeting seniors according to Kelowna RCMP

Kelowna rallies around father of five after cancer diagnosis

Fundraisers are planned throughout November

Universal childcare in Kelowna off to a good start

Kelowna’s Little Scholars seeing positive results from B.C government’s $10-a-day project

Kelowna raises $177,000 for BC Cancer Foundation

Luncheon supports patient and family emergency services for Southern Interior B.C. residents

Weekend weather update: Crisp and sunny

This weekend will see lots of sunshine and below season temperatures for the Okanagan, Shuswap and Similkameen.

Canada’s health system commendable overall but barriers to care remain: UN

The United Nations says Canada’s health care system is “commendable” overall but vulnerable groups still face barriers to quality care.

Unique technology gives children with special needs more independent play

UVic’s CanAssist refined seven prototypes aided by $1.5M government contribution

$224.5 million announced for Highway 1 bridge replacement in Sicamous

Transportation Minister Claire Trevena says bridge option will be announced next month

Kelly Ellard’s boyfriend has statutory release revoked

Darwin Duane Dorozan had several parole infractions that found him ‘unmanageable’

Okanagan volunteers reflect on building classrooms in Nepal

Through the charity Her International, the volunteer group built four classrooms

Accident north of Vernon involves SUV and semi truck

Minor delays reported in Highway 97 crash

Ontario driver rolls car in Okanagan

Crash near Vernon follows reports of erratic driving

Doctor’s note shouldn’t be required to prove you’re sick: poll

70% of Canadians oppose allowing employers to make you get a sick note

Most Read