B.C. indigenous leaders seek UN support against gas project

First Nations group demands Canadian government reject Pacific Northwest LNG project

First Nations leaders from British Columbia brought their fight against a proposed liquefied natural gas project in the province to the U.N. on Thursday, saying it could threaten the wild salmon habitat on their ancestral lands.

The group sought the support of United Nations members for its demand that the Canadian government reject the $36-billion Pacific Northwest LNG project, which is being advanced by Malaysia’s state oil company, Petronas.

The B.C. government believes the project could generate more than 18,000 jobs and produce billions in revenue.

In a statement, Murray Smith, a leader of the Gitwilgyoots Tribe – one of the Nine Allied Tribes of Lax Kw’alaams – expressed deep concerns about the threat the project poses to the wild salmon habitat.

The project is proposed for just south of Prince Rupert on Lelu Island at the mouth of the Skeena River. Opponents say it threatens wild salmon habitat on what is the second largest salmon bearing river in B.C.

“We will not sell our salmon future for any price,” Smith said. “We are not against development, but we are against this dangerous, irresponsible, foreign-owned and illegal intrusion into our sacred homelands. ”

The First Nations leaders’ appearance at the U.N. came just two days after the Canadian government earned cheers at the 15th session of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, where Canada pledged to abide fully with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Environment Minister Catherine McKenna has said a cabinet decision on an environmental assessment covering the Pacific Northwest plant should be made by late June.