VANCOUVER, Oct. 19, 2015 /CNW/ - The Lax Kw'alaams First Nation means business when it comes to their title claim for Flora Bank and Lelu Island, contrary to comments made last week by Rich Coleman, Deputy Premier and Minister for Natural Gas Development.
"This is not about posturing for negotiations. This is about protecting our sea resources," says Lax Kw'alaams Mayor Garry Reece. "We mean business when it comes to protecting Flora Bank and Lelu Island. And we have the support of the community because the majority of our members' livelihoods and many of our traditions are directly connected to the sea."
Reece says that message of community support to protect Flora Bank and Lelu Island was made loud and clear when his members rejected the $1.15 billion dollar package made by Petronas last spring. Despite the divisions that exist within the Nine Allied Tribes, Reece says the majority of his community supports his position.
Lax Kw'alaams members, Mayor and council have all been clear the area is not open for resource development. The Lax Kw'alaams launched an Aboriginal title claim on Lelu Island, the proposed site of the project, to protect Flora Bank and the crucial salmon habitat, not for any other reason.
"This litigation is not about negotiation, it's about getting title to the land and stopping the project as it's currently designed," says Greg McDade, lawyer for the Allied Tribes of Lax Kw'alaams, the plaintiffs in the Aboriginal title case. "My instructions are to pursue this case to the end."
Flora Bank is an area of critical fisheries habitat located in the estuary of the Skeena River. The Lax Kw'alaams community members are concerned that construction of the massive LNG project will irreparably harm all salmon stocks originating from the Skeena River system. It has been shown definitively that all Skeena salmon stocks use Flora Bank during critical stages in their development.
"The Lax Kw'alaams people will not tolerate any threat to our sea resources," says Reece. "We need a proper process and good science. Lax Kw'alaams requires all projects be reviewed to a standard set by our scientists and experts." Mayor Reece says his people feel both the provincial and federal environmental review processes seem unable to fully evaluate the risks to Lax Kw'alaams interests, especially the cumulative effect of all projects (up to 7 in total now) being proposed for the area.
"Our traditional law, backed by our scientific reports, has made it clear that Flora Bank cannot be touched by PNW or any other company that proposes development. This decision is backed by the community and an alternate site must be found if the project is to proceed."
SOURCE Lax Kw'alaams
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