First Nations LNG Alliance Newsletter 18 – Chiefs, councils, and the people


Alliance leaders have been talking sense to news media about issues around hereditary chiefs and elected councils.

For example, Alliance CEO Karen Ogen-Toews, a former elected chief councillor of the Wet’suwet’en Nation, was on CBC Radio’s Early Edition show, discussing the matter with host Stephen Quinn.

Among other things, she said, the people of any Nation have to come first:

“Whether we’re elected chiefs or hereditary chiefs, we must find ways forward for our people. And I think that’s the critical point that everybody’s missing. . . .

“Both elected and hereditary chiefs can work together. . . And this is a critical time because there are going to be resource development projects coming along and we need to find a way forward together. We need to sit down collectively for the people.”

Alliance Board member Chief Clifford White of the Gitxaala Nation was on CKNW, telling show host Jon McComb how hereditary and elected chiefs can work together, ‘putting first the First Nation’s people.’

  • Listen to the January 18th, audio recording, “In Support of a Pipeline, Russian Attacks & Letting Money Laundering Slide”, with Chief White’s segment starting at 04:16

Chief Crystal Smith of the Haisla Nation, another of our board members, has been a powerhouse in telling the public about her Nation’s acceptance of LNG development, and the benefits to the people that it brings.

Among Chief Crystal’s messages: ‘We do not go into agreements lightly, and we are proud of what we have accomplished with TransCanada on Coastal GasLink.’

As well, Haisla member Brendon Grant, a master’s business student, took to Facebook to say: “The Haisla Nation Council have been on a long journey  . . . to maximize a variety of benefits for its community members. The economic benefits were no mistake, or sell out.”  His posting

And Haisla member Mathias Robinson, Chief Crystal’s brother, went on Facebook with a supportive post that has been seen by hundreds of people, and has been shared more than 130 times. His message:

“I stand by the decisions of the chief and council of yesteryear. I stand by the decisions made by Ellis Ross. I stand by the decisions currently made by my sister and the current Council.  . . . So thank you to the past, present and future Chief and Councils for all that you’ve done thus far. I am proud to be of Haisla Nation.”
His Facebook posting carried this photo:


Ellis Ross, Liberal MLA for Skeena and Crystal Smith’s predecessor as chief councillor for the Haisla, was ever-active on social media in support of LNG and the Coastal GasLink pipeline: 

  • Who speaks for Aboriginal people on resource development?
  • “It’s ultimately up to the band members to decide who their leaders are. The best we can do as outsiders is to leave them alone and expose the manipulators who will take advantage of a very complex issue.”
  • “There is a reason why we have consensus with all of the First Nations affected by the pipeline, through their elected leadership.”
  • “I opposed my own council every time they tried to give me a raise. . . .  I couldn’t, in good conscience, accept an increase if I felt I hadn’t substantially affected our unemployment levels.”


  • Susanna Pierce of LNG Canada on the pipeline project: ‘Is there sufficient consultation with hereditary chiefs? The answer to that is, yes there is.’
  • BC natural gas pipeline project helps build a better future: Union leader.
  • The Northern View newspaper:  The silent majority supports Coastal GasLink’s pipeline and the $40-billion LNG Canada project in Kitimat — but it’s the vocal minority that is commanding media and internet attention.
  • Toronto Star editorial: The Coastal GasLink pipeline will bring ‘well-paying jobs and much needed economic development.’ There must be a way forward:
  • The Coastal GasLink pipeline should generally have minor impacts on the area governed by the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs, according to a BC Environmental Assessment Office report:
  • Poll from Insights West: 62% of British Columbians back LNG.

First Nations LNG Alliance Newsletter