The Nisga’s Lisims government is voicing its support of the liquefied natural gas industry in B.C. In the wake of some Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs opposing the construction of the Coastal GasLink pipeline from Dawson Creek to Kitimat, the Nisga’a have released the following statement:
The Nisg̱a’a Nation feels it is important to join with other Indigenous nations speaking out in favour of LNG development in British Columbia.
In 2014, the Nisg̱a’a Nation showed leadership by entering into an agreement to support LNG development on the northwest coast of British Columbia. Since that time, we have been actively pursuing opportunities to establish an LNG project, which will allow us to achieve our goals of economic prosperity and prudent use of our lands and resources.
Our decision to support LNG development was made only after a rigorous environmental assessment process and a thorough process of consultation. We continue to believe that such processes can result in an LNG project that strikes the right balance by bringing significant economic opportunities to our Nation and our people while minimizing impacts to our lands and resources.
As the first Indigenous nation in British Columbia to enter into a modern treaty, the Nisg̱a’a Nation has constitutionally protected rights of self-government, clear legal ownership of our Nisg̱a’a Lands, and significant rights and co-management responsibilities over the much larger areas covered by our treaty. These rights reflect the long-held principles and values of the Nisg̱a’a Nation and are the product of decades of negotiation. We use these rights, principles and values to thoroughly review each project that is proposed in our lands, inform ourselves about the potential impacts of the project, and determine whether it is right for our Nation.
The Nisg̱a’a Nation has joined with the Lax K’walaams, Metlakatla and Haisla Nations to form the First Nation Climate Initiative. Our objective in forming FNCI is to work with Indigenous nations, governments, industry and environmental organizations to create a regulatory and policy platform that will enable us to achieve the goal of economic self-sufficiency through the responsible development of LNG projects in a manner that is consistent with our rights, principles and values, while meaningfully addressing climate change through the reduction of global greenhouse gas emissions.
We are very concerned that our aspirations and tireless efforts to bring environmentally responsible economic development to our lands and economic prosperity to our people may be frustrated by a small and disruptive minority who oppose LNG development, many of whom have agendas other than advancing the interests of Indigenous people in British Columbia.
We stand with the many other Indigenous nations who have done the work necessary to understand that a natural gas pipeline (as distinct from a pipeline carrying bitumen or crude oil) can have minimal impacts on lands and resources, who have worked with proponents and our governments to mitigate those impacts to the extent possible, and who have weighed them against the significant economic opportunities that such a project can bring to their nations and their people, as well as to other Canadians.
And we urge all of the Indigenous leaders who have done that work, and who have decided on behalf of their nations and their people to support the Coastal Gas Link Project, to stand behind those decisions. The success of that project will help all of us to prosper.