First Nations, LNG, and eco-activists

LNG Alliance CEO Karen Ogen-Toews is dismayed by some environmental activists.
A special opinion piece first published in The Interior News, Smithers:

The days when First Nations take a back seat on how their territories are managed are past.

In fact it is dismaying to find that some environmental activists are trying to control First Nation territories, just as governments and corporations have done so in the past, and using the same old divide-and-conquer tactics.

A recent Financial Post story reported on First Nation leaders trying to navigate these complex issues:

“They said in interviews they’ve had enough of activists invading their lands, misleading them about their agendas, recruiting token members to front their causes, sowing mistrust and conflict, and using hard-line tactics against those who don’t agree.

“‘The best way to describe it is eco-colonialism,’ said Ken Brown, a former chief of the Klahoose First Nation in southwestern B.C.’”

In fact, there are many First Nations in B.C. who support responsible economic development in their territories and for many in the North that means LNG development.

It is no longer acceptable to relegate First Nations into poverty or to criticize the many that rightfully want the benefits that flow from LNG development. Many First Nations that relied on the projects like the now-cancelled Pacific NorthWest LNG project are reeling from the negative impacts of the lost opportunity. Because once these projects are gone, well, that’s just it — they’re gone.

Of course, not all First Nations leaders, peoples, or communities support resource development, and they absolutely have every right to oppose it.

But if you hear of eco-activists’ support for Indigenous rights and title, be wary because the support seems to apply only if First Nations oppose development. It looks as if the real green agenda does not really support the full expression of Indigenous decision-making.

Finally, reading a simple quote by a First Nation leader (often the most controversial ones picked by the journalist) is not necessarily an accurate representation of how First Nations view these projects. These issues are far more complex and nuanced.

It is imperative that we support First Nation decision-making in relation to the development of their territories and remember that they hold Aboriginal Title, not political organizations or industry.

— Karen Ogen-Toews is CEO of First Nations LNG Alliance.

(Here is the article as it appeared in the Interior News. It was also published as a letter to the editor in the Alaska Highway News and the North Thompson/Barriere Star Journal. And then it ran on the BC Local News website of BC-based Black Press.)

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