Following is the text of an open letter sent by the Alliance to BC Premier David Eby on 22 February 2023:
February 22, 2023
The Honourable David Eby KC, M.L.A. By email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Premier of British Columbia
PO Box 9041 STN PROV GOVT
VICTORIA, BC V8W 9E1
Dear Premier Eby:
Re: Open Letter Concerning Liquefied Natural Gas
The members of the First Nations LNG Alliance are issuing this open letter in response to rising concerns about the future of Liquefied Natural Gas in British Columbia. Your government’s apparent withdrawal from this most important pillar of economic reconciliation and responsible energy transition would be an environmental and economic policy failure that threatens the wellbeing of our members and the province as a whole.
Our concerns are triggered by the glaring lack of express commitment to LNG development in the February 6, 2023 Throne Speech together with long delays in regulatory decision-making.
We are also fully aware that your office is under extreme pressure from certain members of caucus and various ill-informed NGOs who believe that the province should immediately cease all traditional energy development, regardless of the economic and human consequences.
We do not hold these irresponsible and unrealistic views. Rather, for the first time in many generations, LNG development has provided immediate and medium-term opportunities to lift thousands of Indigenous people and our communities out of intergenerational poverty. In fact, we are already seeing benefits from employment, training, contracting, procurement, and benefits agreements which we anticipate will continue flowing from responsible resource development projects into the future.
Similar hopes and plans are increasingly shared by other First Nations across Canada, as evidenced by our recent alliance with White Bear First Nations in Saskatchewan and Miawpukek Mi’kamawey Mawi’omi First Nation in Newfoundland and Labrador. These First Nations also recognize the tremendous national opportunities that are being lost through Canada’s energy policies, most recently in the apparent rejection of natural gas exports to Germany and Japan. We expect the government of British Columbia to support economic reconciliation despite these federal failures.
We remind you that First Nations have supported provincial priorities in LNG development since its inception. This support was cautiously given after substantial internal and intergovernmental consultation. Based on agreements reached through these processes and our conviction that LNG is the only available transition-to-net-zero fuel, we have made substantial investment decisions that aligned our economic reconciliation aspirations with provincial values and commitments.
We acknowledge the Throne Speech commitment to a range of social programs and community supports. However, without equally clear commitments to economic reconciliation projects, such programs and supports will have no more success than they have had in the past. Reconciliation is impossible without the hope and dignity supported by participation in a viable, modern economy.
Your government’s Throne Speech recognition that “First Nations working to pursue sustainable economic development and long-term partnerships with industry, benefit not just First Nations – but everyone around them, now and into the future” provides a clear path forward to support and approve liquefied natural gas projects now that groundbreaking Indigenous resource reconciliation decisions have been made.
To do otherwise for no other reason than to appease climate alarmists is impossible to reconcile with these values or your government’s commitment under the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the provincial Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act, and the judicially recognized economic component of treaty and Aboriginal rights protected by section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982.
We will not hesitate to advance and enforce our interests should British Columbia default on any of these obligations.
Karen Ogen, MSW, MBA
Chief Executive Officer
First Nations LNG Alliance
cc: Board members
Hon. Josie Osborne, Minister of Energy, Mines and Low Carbon Innovation
Hon. Murray Rankin, Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation
Statements from the Board of Directors
Karen Ogen, Chief Executive Officer stated: “We’ve come such a long way in support of LNG projects, some of which are now waiting for positive decisions so they can proceed. When you decide to listen to us, and when we say ‘yes’ to unlocking prosperity in our communities, every community in BC also prospers. There is an opportunity in advance of Budget 2023 for the BC NDP government to show reconciliation in action by recognizing the value of LNG in British Columbia’s path to reconciliation.
Please make the right decisions to build strong and healthy First Nations communities, benefiting all residents. The journey has begun. Please join us.”
Chief Annette Lonechild from White Bear First Nations in Treaty 4 in Saskatchewan says “nations have the inherent economic right as sovereign nations for economic inclusion and reconciliation in developing the Indigenous economy. Sustainable Indigenous energy and LNG play an essential role in supporting communities with meaningful development. Nation-to-industry and nation-to-nation policy, development, and shared beneficial outcomes make for a better quality of life and environment for all. Exclusionary politics should not be restrictive and discriminatory tools against Indigenous self-determinism and continuous improvement.”
Chief Lonechild leads White Bear Nations Development Corp in energy and infrastructure development and plays a leading role with indigenous engineered, procurement, and constructed developments across the Indigenous energy and infrastructure sector. She advocates for a sustainable vision with The First Nations LNG Alliance from coast-to-coast-to-coast action with LNG and energy outcomes.
John Jack, Member of Council for Huu-ay-aht First Nations
“LNG projects in Canada are necessary to address the very real economic needs of British Columbians, especially indigenous peoples and communities. Realistically, indigenous governments must help create and share value in a globalized economy to change the heavily damaged destinies of their peoples and communities. The difficult economic situation of indigenous communities and people must be considered on balance with overarching but impersonal climate-related goals. Like many inconvenient industries, LNG is essential for true economic reconciliation between indigenous communities and British Columbia and Canada.”
Clifford White, Gitxaala Nation Hereditary Chief
“While the world seeks better ways to improve climate change, Liquid Natural Gas (LNG), handled in an environmentally sustainable way, helps our developing countries reduce greenhouse gases from the use of coal, diesel, and wood burning.
Liquid Natural Gas provides our Indigenous communities with a cleaner fuel for generating electricity, heating homes, and cooking. Among many opportunities, LNG provides our Indigenous peoples and communities with training, higher education, skills, employment, higher paying jobs, local First Nation Government agreements, and environmental monitoring to protect Mother Earth and our communities.
As the Stewards of Mother Earth, we have a responsibility to protect our environment, reduce global warming, and continuously finding alternative ways to leave this world in a better place for our children’s children yet to be born. For now, LNG helps the world reduce negative emissions. In less than a day, the air that is breathed in other countries, we breath in now.”
Jackie Thomas, FNLNGA Board Member
“In the larger context of energy efficiency and environmental sustainability, natural gas seem safer than coal burning or nuclear power to me, and First Nations should have the power of choice. Our ancestors always respected this concept.”
Councillor Ellen Lorentz, Ts’il Kaz Koh First Nation
“In recent years, there have been rising concerns about our climate here on Earth and the role Liquified Natural Gas plays in it. This low cost, reliable energy, in partnership with the Indigenous population, has a very significant benefit to billions of people around the world. Because of fossil fueled developments, climate related deaths are at an all-time low. This energy is behind literally every industry in North America. It even runs the machinery that is needed to clean the air in the goal of attaining net zero. With technology, strides are being achieved and will continue.
LNG, working with Indigenous partners, can build better projects and bring economic reconciliation to the people. With the Coastal Gas Link project, there have been benefits in education, employment and contracting, bringing communities out of poverty. The cost of living is rapidly rising and putting wholesome lifestyles out of reach of the average person in North America. Without LNG, life would be a great deal more costly than it is currently.
There are other countries that predominantly use coal. Canada is in the position to help Mother Earth as a whole, not just home. Liquified Natural Gas is not our rival.”
(Posted here 22 February 2023)