First Na­tions join to­gether to call for a multi­bil­lion-dol­lar energy cor­ri­dor

The McLeod River Post - - Viewpoint -

Spe­cial to the Post

First Na­tions elected and Hered­i­tary Chiefs from across North­ern Bri­tish Columbia have joined to­gether to sign a his­toric let­ter that de­clares their sup­port for the de­vel­op­ment of a multi­bil­lion-dol­lar energy pipeline cor­ri­dor through their tra­di­tional ter­ri­to­ries by Ea­gle Spirit Energy.

“The energy cor­ri­dor pipeline will not only ben­e­fit many First Na­tion com­mu­ni­ties, but will ben­e­fit the economies of B.C. and all of Canada,” said Lax Kw’alaams Hered­i­tary Chief Alex Camp­bell.

First Na­tions lead­ers sup­port the gov­ern­ment of B.C.’s po­si­tion that the ship­ment of Liq­ue­fied Nat­u­ral Gas (LNG) is the pri­or­ity. The pro­posed energy cor­ri­dor is not only the so­lu­tion for ship­ping B.C. LNG but also Al­berta oil.

“This route will en­able the ship­ment of both Liq­ue­fied Nat­u­ral Gas (LNG) and oil,” said Wes­ley Sam, Chiefs’ Coun­cil Rep­re­sen­ta­tive for the First Na­tions on the Ea­gle Spirit Pipeline.

“We re­al­ize that much more work needs to be done and it is time to get on with it.”

Three years ago Ea­gle Spirit Energy was formed as a First Na­tions led ini­tia­tive to de­velop an energy cor­ri­dor from Al­berta to B.C. tide­wa­ter. An energy cor­ri­dor means that pipe­lines can be built to ef­fi­ciently and safely trans­port Liq­ue­fied Nat­u­ral Gas (LNG), and later on oil, to a pro­posed tanker load­ing ex­port fa­cil­ity lo­cated on tide­wa­ter in north­ern B.C.

This his­toric let­ter to Prime Min­is­ter Harper, and Pre­miers Clark, Not­ley and Wall states, “our sup­port [is] for mov­ing for­ward with Ea­gle Spirit to con­tinue to meet with all com­mu­ni­ties, to con­tinue the nec­es­sary due dili­gence in terms of the en­vi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion, to as­sess the vi­a­bil­ity of the pro­ject, and to clearly es­tab­lish the ben­e­fits to our com­mu­ni­ties.”

“This let­ter is his­toric be­cause it is the first time that First Na­tions have come to­gether with a res­o­lu­tion like this,” said Wes­ley Sam.

“Our com­mu­ni­ties are com­mit­ted to sup­port­ing the Ea­gle Spirit pro­ject through an en­vi­ron­men­tal lens,” he said.

“The Chiefs have come to­gether as lead­ers com­mit­ted to de­vel­op­ing a world class en­vi­ron­men­tal model, while con­tin­u­ing to pro­vide due dili­gence over this pro­ject through tra­di­tional First Na­tions law and en­vi­ron­men­tal stew­ard­ship. As mean­ing­ful par­tic­i­pants and own­ers of the Ea­gle Spirit pro­ject, we know that our eco­nomic fu­ture, as well as that of the Cana­dian econ­omy, is best served by en­sur­ing that oil can reach mar­kets abroad in the safest way pos­si­ble. We refuse to see oil shipped by rail through our tra­di­tional ter­ri­to­ries.”

“We fully sup­port Premier Clark’s five con­di­tions for a pipeline which in­clude safe­guard­ing our en­vi­ron­ment and meet­ing the le­gal re­quire­ments re­gard­ing Abo­rig­i­nal and treaty rights,” said Chief Camp­bell, whose Lax Kw’alaams First Na­tion is lo­cated near the pro­posed marine ter­mi­nal in the Prince Ru­pert area.

This break­through is the re­sult of two years of lis­ten­ing to the con­cerns of First Na­tions com­mu­ni­ties. A re­spon­sive model was de­vel­oped that would pro­vide ap­pro­pri­ate con­sul­ta­tion, en­hanced land and marine en­vi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tions, and fair com­pen­sa­tion for the Province of Bri­tish Columbia, First Na­tions, and north­ern com­mu­ni­ties.

Ex­clu­siv­ity and ben­e­fits agree­ments, and non-dis­clo­sure agree­ments have been signed by those First Na­tions through whose tra­di­tional ter­ri­to­ries the pipe­lines would cross. The ini­tial and on­go­ing par­tic­i­pa­tion of im­pacted First Na­tions will be in­cor­po­rated into the pro­ject through the for­ma­tion of an in­no­va­tive Chiefs’ Coun­cil. The par­ties are presently work­ing to­gether to de­ter­mine the fi­nal route and to­wards the com­ple­tion of fi­nal bind­ing agree­ments.

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