Our blog is . . . a First Nations lens

Love that we don’t have to start our new blogspace with a dictionary definition, especially one such as this:

“A blog is a regularly updated website or web page, typically one run by an individual or small group, that is written in an informal or conversational style.”

Well, OK, our blog may turn out to be all of the above, but let’s keep it simple: It’s a webpage where we can discuss LNG and related resource issues of the day—through a First Nations lens.

That helps to ensure that First Nations views, needs and priorities are out there. And every time we write a blog, we’ll use social media to invite the public to read and absorb it. Most importantly, we want First Nations people exposed to a variety of views about the LNG industry.

There have been some recent messages that they need to hear. For example:

  • Ellis Ross, former chief councillor of the Haisla Nation (and now BC Liberal MLA for Skeena): “If the government really wants reconciliation for First Nations . . . you have to get behind economic development and actually support industries that help First Nations get out of poverty. They don’t want your handouts. They don’t want handouts. They want to support themselves. And, yes, this means supporting fish farms, forest and range agreements, LNG.”
  • Calvin Helin of the Lax Kw’alaams Band, on eco-activists who claim to support First Nations objections to resource developments: “These environmentalists are happy to make a park in somebody else’s backyard. Well, screw that. You are talking about people where there is 90 per cent unemployment.”
  • Joe Bevan, chief councillor of the Kitselas Nation: “A resource-based economy is a big reality of living and working in the north. Resource economies bring well-paying jobs, stability for many families and prosperity to our communities. But, ensuring that the right voices are heard is crucial when trying to engage with industry or government to get resource projects underway.”
  • And such headlines as “B.C. is now the worst destination in Canada for oil and gas investors — and among the worst in the world: survey.”

That last was a column in Financial Post. Among the things it listed as deterrents to natural-gas development in BC were ‘disputed land claims and protected areas.’

If that’s some kind of short-hand for “First Nations objections”, let’s be clear: First Nations, like any other society or community, encompass different views about economic development. Some welcome responsible resource development; some want the resources left in the ground.

We feel our First Nations LNG Alliance is in the common-sensible middle of the road:

  • We believe in responsible LNG development that can offer Indigenous people and communities jobs, incomes, training, education, security, and (as Ellis Ross and others put it) a pathway out of poverty, alcohol, and worse.
  • But First Nations communities in BC and Canada were stewards of the environment long before there was a Canada or a BC, and we continue to have that responsibility. So LNG and natural-gas development must respect the environment and First Nations rights.

Please join and support our cause for engagement and dialogue. And keep your eyes on our social media channels (Facebook and Twitter) for notice of our next blog.

Karen Ogen-Toews, CEO, First Nations LNG Alliance