BC First Nations See Big Benefits From LNG Canada FID
BC’s First Nations, many standing firmly opposed to crude oil pipelines through their territories, say the long-awaited decision to move ahead with the $40bn LNG Canada project will bring them “big and long-term benefits.”
“This is huge news,” Karen Ogen-Toews, former chief of the Wet’suwet’en Nation and CEO of the First Nations LNG Alliance of BC, said of the positive final investment decision announced October 1 by LNG Canada. “It means jobs and training and education and it means opportunities for First Nations businesses and procurement and partnerships. Imagine what these can do for First Nations communities where unemployment now can be running at 50% and 60% and 70%.”
Over the longer term, Ogen-Toews said in a statement, LNG development in BC will mean lifetime careers, steady and reliable sources of revenue for First Nations and other communities, and billions of dollars in taxes for all levels of government.
Dan George, chief of the Ts’il Kaz Koh First Nation in northeastern BC and chair of the Alliance, said the LNG Canada FID is a major step towards reconciliation for BC’s First Nations.
“Our northern nations have watched industry take resources from our lands for years and get nothing for it,” he said. “We see the LNG Canada project as offering, over time, a way of helping First Nations tackle poverty, unemployment, and social issues, and as a way of building careers for our people and economies for our First Nations. The sooner the better, for all of us.”
LNG Canada will build its liquefaction terminal on the traditional territory of the Haisla Nation at Kitimat, on BC’s northern coast, and Crystal Smith, Haisla’s chief councillor and an Alliance board member, sees benefits that go well beyond employment.
“It will enable us to focus on social impacts. We can focus on preserving our culture and our language, and focus on healing aspects, dealing with impact of the residential schools, for example. These are things that we hear about from our people. Indigenous people are resilient, and that’s inspiring. We would hope to reach out to other Nations in this area of social impact as well.”
Both Smith and Ogen-Toews offered high praise for the way the LNG Canada team worked with Haisla and other First Nations to protect the environment and respect traditional and hereditary territories.
“The environment is absolutely important to us, and LNG Canada has set a standard for how to address our concerns, and for how responsible development can be done,” Smith said.
“LNG Canada will produce LNG with fewer carbon emissions per tonne than all other large LNG facilities in the world,” Ogen-Toews said. “And that will help reduce emissions in Asia as LNG replaces coal to generate electricity there. This is going to be the equivalent of taking 19mn million cars off the world’s roads.”