First Nations confer over B.C.’s approval process for industrial development

Treaty 8 First Nations met with four other First Nations concerned about the B.C. government’s approval process for industrial development.

Last Thursday, four Treaty 8 First Nations met in Prince George with leaders from the Gitsxan, Wet'suwet'en, and the Gitanyow First Nations, along with elders from Kaien Island, located near Prince Rupert. A representative from the Lax Kw'alaams band was also there as an observer.

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The First Nations have issues with the government’s approval process over industrial projects, according to Gerald Amos, director of community relations for the Headwater Initiative, a B.C. environmental group, who said he helped facilitate the meeting between the various First Nations.

West Moberly First Nation Chief Roland Willson has been a vocal critic of government’s approval of the Site C dam.

Other First Nations chiefs also expressed concern with the government process.

One such project is the LNG export facility Petronas wants to build at Lelu Island near Prince Rupert. A bridge connecting the terminal to the mainland would be built near Flora Bank, an area Wet'suwet'en First Nation members say is important for the salmon in the area.

"The decision to site a massive LNG plant atop the most critical salmon habitat on the Skeena illustrates just how broken government’s approach to major project development is,” said Wet'suwet'en Chief Na Moks. “If you were to pick the worst place on the entire coast to site an LNG plant, it would be Lelu Island and Flora Bank.”

The First Nations plan to release a joint statement at a later date, Amos said, but wouldn’t say what the statement will likely entail.

“Their intent is to meet again on Sept. 8 in Vancouver, as a group, to release a statement about the situation they find themselves in,” he said.

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