by Daniel Mesec on 1/26/16
To the deep beat of drums, hereditary chiefs and elders from coastal and inland First Nations entered the Highlander Hotel and Convention Centre, packed with more than 300 people. They were there for a show of strength and unity against government and the onslaught of gas development in the heart of their traditional lands, the “bread basket” of the Lax Kw’alaams people.
On Saturday January 23 the Lelu Island Declaration was signed by the nine allied tribes of Lax Kw’alaams as well as other hereditary and elected chiefs from neighboring nations, sending a clear message to government and industry that the Skeena watershed will not allow the $11 billion Pacific Northwest Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) project to be built.
The tribes decreed that First Nations have not only rights, but also responsibilities, when it comes to harvesting from and sustaining the environment.
“Our ancestral knowledge, supported by modern science, confirms this area is critical to the future abundance of the wild salmon our communities rely on,” the declaration said. “It is our right and our responsibility as First Nations to protect and defend this place. It is our right to use this area without interference to harvest salmon and marine resources for our sustenance, and commercially in support of our livelihoods.”
Salmon is the link, said Grand Chief Stewart Phillip of the Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs (UBCIC) in his remarks closing the weekend summit. Read more…