Blog: Cedar LNG, and Haisla Chief Crystal Smith’s goosebumps

For this week’s blog, a change of pace: LNG-related comments condensed from a podcast featuring Crystal Smith, elected chief councillor of the Haisla Nation and chair of our First Nations LNG Alliance:

Whether it be refineries, oil, LNG, propane, methanol, we’ve had proposals within the last 10 years in regards to what the possibilities are for the west side of the Douglas Channel.

We were fortunate enough to weigh the pros and cons of each of the proposals that were coming to our Haisla nation in regards to the export possibilities. And LNG was the least impactful in comparison to other commodities.

The leadership did their due diligence in regards to educating themselves on what the impacts were, environmental and social, and weighing the pros and cons of each of them.

LNG came out in the lead with regards to what we would be able to bring to our community, and getting the communication to our leadership and getting their backing and their support to be able to pursue these projects.

We’ve had our challenges in regards to some of the impacts that have been brought to our community, but, for the most part, the positive side has been absolutely tremendous to witness.

Prior to LNG Canada announcing their positive FID (Final Investment Decision) I often talked about the hope that we had in regards to changing individual lives, and we’ve seen that come to fruition.

I’ve witnessed members as young as 20-25 getting their own mortgages and having their own homes within our community. I’ve witnessed members taking vacations to Mexico, Hawaii, Disneyland.

But the most important portion of seeing a lot of the hope come to fruition is our language and our culture. We fully fund our language and culture department, which consists of about 10-20 employees. Their sole mandate is to revive our language, preserve our language, and our culture and it is absolutely amazing to see. We’ve hired our first manager within the last six months and it’s literally taken off. I’ve got an identical twin sister, and she works at our community school. She is our language and culture teacher there.

We continually have community engagement with LNG Canada and with Coastal Gas Link. Right now, we are going through community engagement questions around (LNG Canada’s) start up.

Managing and getting accurate information out there in the communities is absolutely vital, especially when they can see the differences and the changes in the landscape of our territories occurring.

Managing that, along with LNG Canada, and our own educated Haisla members in regards to environmental access, has been definitely a big plus for us, managing the timing, and being proactive as opposed to being reactive, and getting as much information out there before any type of work occurs to let our people know what to expect.

The ownership of Cedar (Cedar LNG, a proposed LNG project of the Haisla Nation and partner Pembina Pipeline Corporation) happened when we were doing our engagement sessions with our community.

We gained majority support from our people. It’s that ownership, and that vision of having our own facility, that would be majority owned by the nation. That was a key piece in our community support, to see the potential. It was a vision, and, to be honest, we didn’t think we’d get this far.

We negotiated (gas-supply) capacity from the Coastal Gaslink project, which meant we didn’t have to build any other infrastructure. We wouldn’t have to build another pipeline and we would simply have ownership of space on it.

I get goosebumps. The largest Indigenous-owned and Indigenous-led investment in the world — majority-owned by the Haisla.

Our elected leadership was given the mandate from our hereditary system to share opportunities with our neighbouring nations. On one of my first tours of LNG Canada, I was so proud to see the Gitga’at (First Nation), which is a community down the channel from us, successfully getting contracts on the LNG Canada project.

Opportunities were being extended to (other) communities, so it wasn’t like we Haisla had everything to gain through these projects. We shared those opportunities. The majority of our community shares the same stresses and worries when it comes to managing poverty, managing suicides in our communities, unemployment rates, and we felt it was important to extend opportunities to other to communities to help them start resolving some of their issues.

I was taught, growing up, to take care of our territory, our traditional boundaries, and to ensure that future generations still had access to our territory as I did. And that’s always been taught to our membership.

What happens in Asia impacts our territory, impacts our culture, and to be part of solutions is a perspective that I will always maintain. Being a part of these projects and supporting these projects is doing something that impacts the global aspect of it.

Chief Crystal concluded with this:
“I’m not going to run again. I was fortunate enough to meet Lisa Raitt at an event. (Raitt is vice-chair of Global Investment Banking at CIBC, and former federal minister of transport, labour and natural resources.) I absolutely love meeting women that have had their time in very crucial moments and I love learning from them. I told her I’m thinking about going into the private sector. I don’t know exactly how that’s going to look. I still have my passion and my desire to see more indigenous participation.”

Cedar LNG graphic

(Posted here 24 January 2024)


1 thought on “Blog: Cedar LNG, and Haisla Chief Crystal Smith’s goosebumps”

Comments are closed.

First Nations LNG Alliance Newsletter