Declaration calls for protection of Lelu Island, halt of Pacific NorthWest LNG

A declaration signed by First Nations leaders, area residents and federal and provincial politicians to protect Lelu Island and Flora Bank in northwestern B.C. from industrial development could have ramifications in the northeast.

The Lelu Island Declaration is meant to protect habitat that signatories argue is critical habitat for wild salmon at the mouth of the Skeena River.

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Malaysian state-owned oil and gas giant Petronas plans to develop an LNG plant near Prince Rupert, and the declaration is meant as a roadblock to prevent the project from going ahead.

The natural gas that would be liquefied at the proposed plant would come from the northeast.

“The Lelu Island Declaration sends a powerful message to Premier Clark and Prime Minister Trudeau,” said Hereditary Chief Yahaan of the Gitwilgyoots Tribe of the Lax Kw’alaams, in a press release.

“The support to stop this LNG project is overwhelming. Nations are united from the headwaters of the Skeena River to the ocean.”

NDP Member of Parliament Nathan Cullen was among those who signed the declaration, as were three northern B.C. NDP MLAs: Jennifer Rice of the North Coast, Doug Donaldson of Stikine, and Robin Austin of Skeena.

Other signatories include Grand Chief Stewart Phillip of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs, hereditary leaders from the Nine Allied Tribes of the Lax Kw’alaams First Nation, and hereditary leaders from the Gitxsan, Wet’suwet’en, Lake Babine, and Haisla First Nations.

“Contrary to false assertions of the B.C. Liberal government and Petronas’ public relations machine, there is formidable opposition to the LNG project proposed for Lelu Island,” said Phillip in a statement.

“It is essential that the Trudeau government immediately intervene in the fundamentally flawed Canadian environmental process to ensure that the Indigenous rights of the nations of the Skeena watershed are upheld.”

The declaration states that “the undersigned First Nation leaders and citizens of the Nine Allied Tribes of Lax Kw’alaams hereby declare that Lelu Island, and Flora and Agnew Banks, are hereby protected for all time, as a refuge for wild salmon and marine resources, and are to be held in trust for all future generations.”

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