First Nations LNG Alliance Newsletter 20 – Alliance on the road

“Spring is when you feel like whistling, even with a shoe full of slush.”
— Wisconsin columnist Doug Larson.

Members and leaders of the Alliance indeed encountered a little spring slush as they hit northern BC for a series of job fairs and panel discussions, starting at the Kitselas Nation’s community hall near Terrace on March 12.

There, Alliance board members Chief Crystal Smith of the Haisla Nation and Councillor Erwin Tom of the Wet’suwet’en First Nation were joined on a panel by Clarence Innis, chief councillor and a hereditary chief of the Gitxaala Nation, and Edison Bolton, managing director of the Kitselas Development Limited Partnership.

Chief Innis (photo below) told participants how LNG-related job training can qualify people for jobs anywhere.

And then two special friends of the Alliance made presentations: Brenda Ireland, Indigenous training advisor, and Tom Sigurdson, executive director of the BC Building Trades.

Coastal GasLink was among employers who attended, and identified companies who were hiring in pipeline construction, clearing, camp services, security, and medical services.

The list from Coastal GasLink became the start of an ever-growing page on our website of information and contacts for people looking for work, or sub-contracts, around the pipeline. You’ll find that page here.  (If you have any additions, please email us.)

From Terrace, it was on to Prince George on March 14, for a session co-hosted with the Prince George Nechako Aboriginal Employment and Training Association (PGNAETA).

Chief Smith was joined for the opening panel discussion by Councillor Jasmine Thomas of the Saik’uz Nation, Chief Archie Patrick, Stellat’en First Nation, and Karin Hunt, executive director of PGNAETA.

They were introduced by Derek Orr, former chief of the McLeod Lake Band:

It was here in Prince George that Chief Patrick drew big applause with a simple statement that has since echoed around social media: “It’s quite simple: We want jobs!”

Once more, Tom Sigurdson and Brenda Ireland made strong presentations to 138 participants, and seven employers took part in the job fair, adding to our where-to-look-for-a-job page.

CKPG News covered the event: LNG Alliance highlights opportunities

And Prince George Matters also covered it: There are a lot of important facts that haven’t been put out

After Prince George, it was off to Fort St. John for our next event, on March 18.

There, our Alliance chair, Chief Dan George of the Ts’il Kaz Koh First Nation (Burns Lake Band) was joined on the opening panel by Fort St. John Mayor Lori Ackerman, Dawson Creek Mayor Dale Bumstead, and councillors Erwin Tom and Jasmine Thomas. (Mayor Ackerman was later named 2019 Canadian Energy Person of the Year by the Energy Council of Canada.)

Chief Dan (photo below) gave this encouraging message: “There are a lot of opportunities out there for all of our Nations.” But, he made it clear: “We don’t want the shovel jobs any more. We want good, paid jobs, and long career jobs.”

Then on March 21 we took part in the Nis Ts’edilh job fair at Burns Lake, hosted by the Lakes District Aboriginal Training to Employment Society (LDATES) and the Yinka Dene Economic Development Limited Partnership, and supported by the New Relationship Trust.

Undeterred by a leg injury and her crutches in the background of her photo below, Alliance board member Adele Gooding of the Skin Tyee Nation, spoke of opportunities in LNG, and of training from LDATES that include skills to protect Indigenous lands and resources:

Chief Dan George then represented us at the big pro-resources rally in Houston BC on March 23.

And then we attended the hugely successful Haisla LNG Conference and Trade Show April 2-4. Hosted by the CFNR Radio Network and Aboriginal Marketplace Events, there was a sold-out house with more than 500 delegates, and 130 exhibitors.

A highlight was the standing ovation given to Chief Councillor Crystal Smith after her keynote speech. She told the conference how her people spent 50 years being mere ‘spectators’ as industrial development took place on their land. Now the Haisla have a ‘true partnership’ with LNG Canada and Coastal GasLink.

To all who helped us through these events, many, many thanks.

And we give a special salute to guest speakers Brenda Ireland and Tom Sigurdson for travelling to more than one event:

Before all the events above, our Karen Ogen-Toews and Alliance board member John Alan Jack attended the important Canada-China LNG forum in Beijing.

Karen told delegates: “We support responsible LNG projects, that have the highest environmental standards. That is critical because Indigenous people are viewed as the stewards of the land.”  Video

Next stop: Several leaders of the Alliance will be at the big Canada Gas and LNG Conference in Vancouver next month. Here’s an invitation from Karen: