Gitga’at First Nation Launches Legal Challenge of Pacific NorthWest LNG Consultation Process
Gitga’at First Nation seeks judicial review of BC government’s decision not to consult meaningfully with them in reviewing LNG project
HARTLEY BAY, BRITISH COLUMBIA–(July 6, 2015) – The Gitga’at First Nation (GFN) is seeking a judicial review of the BC Government’s handling of consultation for the Pacific NorthWest (PNW) LNG Plant, a proposed liquefied natural gas facility near Prince Rupert that recently received a conditional final investment decision by a consortium led by Malaysian energy company, Petronas.
The judicial review filed by GFN in the Supreme Court of British Columbia targets a decision of the BC Environmental Assessment Office, which does not recognize the Gitga’at First Nation as being one of the Tsimshian First Nations entitled to full consultation on the project. The BC government is leading project proponents to believe that the duty of the Provincial crown to consult, and the responsibility of project proponents to engage meaningfully with GFN on projects in or near Prince Rupert Harbour, doesn’t exist.
“Anthropological evidence and our Adawx, which are the oral records of the Gitga’at, show that we have fished and hunted in Prince Rupert Harbour and the lower Skeena River since before the European settlers arrived,” said Arnold Clifton, Chief Councillor of the Gitga’at First Nation. “Prince Rupert Harbour is a large part of our social, cultural and economic life and proposed LNG developments would impact the rights and livelihood of every Gitga’at member.”
GFN is based in Hartley Bay, but two-thirds of the community lives in Prince Rupert. Members have strong connections to both communities.
“We’re not trying to take anything away from the other Tsimshian Tribes,” Chief Clifton clarified. “The Prince Rupert harbour area and to the mouth of the Skeena River is an area of common use for all Tsimshian people. We just want Gitga’at rights recognized and considered the same way as those of the other Tsimshian tribes who assert Aboriginal rights in the Prince Rupert area.”
GFN is seeking the assistance of the court in having the province of BC add Gitga’at to the list of Tsimshian First Nations entitled to full consultation on the project and will be represented by Christopher Devlin and Matthew Nefstead of Devlin Gailus Westaway Law Corporation in Victoria.
Gitga’at First Nation