The Haisla Nation has been working with Natural Gas companies for many years to develop a project in the territory. This has been supported by a majority of the membership through community meetings, elections and votes. Despite the majority voting in favor it is understandable that not everyone agrees on why or how these projects will be done.
Resource development has been the main source of economy, with forestry, and fishing happening in the territory. Those industries have severely declined over the last few decades leaving many without work. The modernization of the smelter was good for the construction but now there are less operational jobs and that will only decline as more automation happens. The Nation needs an economy to survive because federal government funding doesn’t provide for the needs of the community, much less for the Nation.
The Nation has been approached by many different industries over the years that have not been environmentally acceptable, and/or that have not respected the Haisla Nation way of life. Haisla Nation fought several years to stop the Northern Gateway Pipeline that would carry heavy crude oil though the territory, and sued Eurocan for the damage they caused. Haisla has denied a proposed coal project that was not an acceptable product and refined oil projects that seemed environmentally and financially not viable. Only after careful review was natural gas acceptable to the Nation. Natural gas, which will be cooled to a liquid (Liquefied Natural Gas – LNG), and shipped to Asia that will replace dirty fuel there, such as coal, was a product and an industry that met many of the Haisla requirements for an acceptable project. Replacing coal and other dirty fuels in Asia will significantly help the planet.
The LNG Canada plant site is located within Haisla Territory and the pipeline that will bring gas to that plant covers 20 nations in total. All 20 nations have signed agreements approving the pipeline. The Wet’suwet’en Nation has agreed to the project but a select few have opposed the project with a blockade. This division within their nation is up to them to resolve, and we hope they are able to do this in a peaceful, respectful manner.
What we do not support are any outside groups or activists using these events to their benefit to sow discontent through embellishment and one-sided debate.
The issues surrounding this debate are complicated and these groups are standing for First Nations rights only when it aligns with their own interests, while simultaneously vilifying our own Nation for how we exercise our Rights.
We will not stand for any bullying of our people or our community’s leadership for the work that is done for the benefit of all Haisla members.
Haisla members are always welcome to phone our office (1-888-842-4752) or visit us in person (500 Gitksan Avenue), or of course attend any number of opportunities throughout the year, to speak to the elected Council to further understand the work we do.
Please see below for some general information about the situation surrounding the Coastal GasLink project, the blockades, and Haisla Nation Council’s position.
- Haisla Nation Council
What is the Coastal GasLink project, and what is HNC’s position on it?
Coastal GasLink is the name of the pipeline project that would feed natural gas to the LNG Canada facility where it would be liquefied and shipped overseas. Haisla Nation Council supports LNG Canada and the pipeline. In 2018 Haisla Nation Council formally signed project benefit agreements with Coastal GasLink. We were honoured to have Hemas Jasee (Sammy Robinson) and Muzilth Adec (Verlie Nelson) attend the signing for those agreements to offer blessing.
What has taken place regarding the Unis’toten and the blockade?
For years now some members of the Unis’tot’en, a clan of the Wet’suwet’en have managed a blockade which has prevented Coastal GasLink employees from accessing part of the pipeline’s Right of Way. In November 2018, a temporary court injunction granted to Coastal GasLink would allow the company access, and restrict any blockade activities. A second blockade, called the Gidimt’en camp, was established following the court injunction ruling. On Monday, January 7, the RCMP began activities to enforce the court injunction. A tentative agreement was reportedly reached since then, allowing pipeline workers to access the area.
What is the Haisla Nation Council position on the blockade and activities?
It is Haisla Nation Council’s position that what is taking place at the blockades is the result of internal Wet’suwet’en matters, and we have no comment on any of their challenges and situations. We empathize with the struggles of their community members and we wish for a quick and peaceful resolution, but it is not our place to offer any suggestion or comment for how they conduct their Nation’s business.
How do recent activities affect Haisla Nation and its members?
As we have signed benefit agreements with both LNG Canada and Coastal GasLink, we have an interest in seeing these projects developed. From the HNC perspective, we are open to having discussions and negotiations with companies which appreciate and respect our Aboriginal Rights and Title, and show good faith in developing projects that will bring a better quality of life to our membership.