Common Sense Canadian

First Nations occupying Lelu Island, blocking early Petronas LNG work

PostedAugust 27, 2015 by in International

The battle over Malaysian energy giant Petronas’ controversial LNG terminal in the Skeena River Estuary is intensifying, as local Lax Kw’alaams First Nation members are setting up camp on Lelu Island, near Prince Rupert – the site of the proposed project.

“Basically we’re going to be occupying our traditional land, exercising our rights, harvesting whatever natural resources we have” says Joey Wesley, a member of the Lax Kw’alaams band.

A barge carrying equipment related to investigatory work for Petronas' proposed Lelu Island LNG plant (facebook)

A barge carrying equipment related to geotechnical work for Petronas’ proposed Lelu Island LNG plant (facebook)

A recently-launched facebook page spearheading the campaign has garnered over a thousand likes in just a few days.

Members of the Lax Kw’alaams recently rejected $1.15 Billion in promised economic benefits and a large parcel of crown land – offered in exchange for signing onto the project – over concerns of its potential impacts on wild salmon.

The occupation of Lelu Island, led by several hereditary chiefs, was sparked by recent sightings of a barge carrying equipment into the area for investigative work by Petronas’ contractors (pictured here).

“The work at Lelu Island investigating geotechnical conditions there is beginning imminently, and Pacific Northwest LNG has indicated that it will continue through to November,” confirms the Port Authority’s Michael Gurney – as reported by local CFTK TV.

“We are here to protect Flora Banks and Lelu Island from development from LNG company – namely Petronas,” states Hereditary Chief Sm’oogyet Yahan (Don Wesley Sr.) in the above video by Skeena Wild, as fellow community members work on constructing the camp. He notes that the Island has been used as a homestead by his people for over 10,000 years.

“The people of Lax Kw’alaams have unanimously voted ‘No’ against the project because of devastation it would cause to Flora Banks. It’s a habitat for juvenile migrating salmon, crabs, eulachon, halibut.”

We have had people on Lelu Island doing looking for sites for test drilling…We are here and we’re telling the people of Canada and British Columbia that we’re not giving up Flora Banks.

About the Author

Damien Gillis

Damien Gillis is a Vancouver-based documentary filmmaker with a focus on environmental and social justice issues - especially relating to water, energy, and saving Canada's wild salmon - working with many environmental organizations in BC and around the world. He is the co-founder, along with Rafe Mair, of The Common Sense Canadian, and a board member of both the BC Environmental Network and the Haig-Brown Institute.


    Susan Markey

    “WE” in the lower Mainland MUST stand side by side with the First Nations!! We must protect our sacred land from LNG Development, NOW!! Prevent Kinder Morgan from transporting OIL from
    Edmonton across our Province To Vancouver’s Burrard Inlet. There is such a HIGH RISK of an OIL SPILL in the Harbour or along the B.C. Coast. Think what a catastrophe that would be….
    Please don’t just think about it, TAKE ACTION!!!!!
    Thank You

    Elise Charlebois

    Has anyone made the connection between Petronas and Progress Energy in Calgary? They are fracking near Ft St. John and there have been two earth quakes directly related to the fracking.

    Elise Charlebois

    I will continue to post updates in support Canada’s First Nations and stand alongside them against the intrusive government.

    tom baker

    KICK the MALAYSIANS OUT of Canada!!!!!

    Stephen Taylor

    Without meaningful representation on Tribal councils the peoples of Canada have had to create a new and inclusive legislative assembly that is accountable to the peoples of Canada and not just to the hereditary families and their loyal followers. The peoples of Canada have all come to these lands for many reason not the least of which was to flee oppressive religious regimes. The concept that these regimes are once again beginning to secure a foothold in the political and financial landscape of these lands is frightening and completely unacceptable. All the people of Canada must have a say in the policies that will and do affect us all. It is time to remove the treaties in the pursuit of the freedoms and equality of all Canadians.


    I am glad the natives are doing this – this LNG – already barging their way through anyone and anything – keep up the good work First Nations…and Rich Coleman in charge of gas and energy – like putting a fox in charge of the henhouse isn’t it?


      Premier Clark has signed an iron clad contract with Petronas that puts the onus on the taxpayer for any environmental damage caused by them. That tells me all taxpayers of BC should be within their rights to protect their environment as they see fit. Obviously our government holds its’ citizens in lesser regard than industry. Obviously with science that tells us to expect the big earthquake some day and knowing that fracking is a component of the LNG industry I would strongly recommend our Premier receive therapy. Something is wrong with her decision making.


    Good on First Nations. Obviously we can no longer trust Rich Coleman and company. If our environment is going to be protected, it will have to be done by us. Makes one wonder what governments are for. Scandals I guess.

    Wii Gwinaalth -Gitando -Tsm'syen

    why is the media seem afraid to mention our real tribal identities -it is -“Sm’gigyet Yahaan “-Gispwudwada” [they use Ne’xl-(killerwhale) -as there main crest]–“Gitwilgyots “[people of the kelp(the type used for herring to spawn on) and it is there” Lax Yuup”[on land/ground]–part of there “Gugwilth Yans [tangible inheritance]-and they are known as -“Tsm’syen” [people inside the river of mists or juice of the heavens] –and the river we know it as “-Kala Ksye’en” [river of mists or juice of the heavens] –the Tlingit nation call it -Jiin He’en -and the new comers call it the skeena river

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