Campaign - Stand with Madii Lii – Stop Petronas
Luutkudziiwus are a Gitxsan Nation house group who are deeply opposed to TransCanada’s Prince Rupert Gas Transmission project (PRGT) through their Madii Lii territory. The pipeline will bring fracked gas from northeastern BC to a proposed Petronus LNG export plant in the Skeena River estuary. RAVEN is working together with Luutkudziiwus to raise $60,000 for a judicial review of the PRGT project.
Luutkudziiwus are stewards of their land, water, and resources. They conserve and protect their traditional territories and resources to ensure that future generations are able to live and benefit from all that their ancestral land provides.As elders put it, “We are the caretakers of the Territory. It is not only our right to protect and gather our resources without damaging or destroying any lifecycle, it is our responsibility. We received a full basket and it’s our duty to pass a full basket on.”
While Luutkudziiwus’s opposition to the pipeline project stem from their obligations and responsibilities as stewards of their traditional territory, the province of B.C. is attempting to proceed with the 900 km PRGT project without their consent, and with no regard to their aboriginal rights.
Luutkudziiwus shuts the gate on LNG
Neither BC, Canada, nor the proponent have entered into and conducted discussions or negotiations with Luutkudziiwus in regard to the proposed gas pipeline or the LNG terminal at the coast. Luutkudziiwus allege this is a clear infringement of their title and rights on unceded lands.
Luutkudziiwus are now planning to challenge this in court, preparing to launch legal action that will return governance and authority to the rightful holders, and put any pipeline proposals for the area to rest for good.
The initial goal is to raise $60,000 by October 15, 2015 to cover the cost of filing a judicial review.
Hereditary chief Luutkudziiwus (Charlie Wright) notes, “Our Madii Lii territory is not for sale or use by the province of BC or TransCanada.”
Xsim Wits’iin (Les Moore) states, “The province has been stealing from our house territory for 150 years, and this needs to end. The proposed PRGT pipeline project is in deep conflict with core Luutkudziiwus interests and values.”
Where is the Madii Lii territory?
The Madii Lii territory is in north-central BC, approximately 12 km east of New Hazelton, 55 km west of Smithers, and accessed by the Suskwa Forest Road. TransCanada’s proposed gas pipeline has been approved by BC government to cross 34 km of Madii Lii territory.
What's at Stake?
If the proposed PRGT project is developed through Madii Lii territory,10,000 years of Luutkudziiwus cultural heritage, including the grease trail “Babine Trail” will be wiped out. There will be direct and indirect adverse impacts of the proposed pipeline to Luutkudziiwus rights, including title. These include effects to fish and their habitats, wildlife and their habitats, terrestrial and aquatic resources, including cumulative effects, as well as large-scale impacts to social, cultural, and economic values.
In January 2013, Petronas announced the $36 billion LNG project that includes the North Montney Joint Venture fracked gas supply, the $1.7 billion North Montney Mainline (wholly owned by TransCanada Corp), the $6 billion PRGT pipeline (wholly owned by TransCanada), and the $11 billion Pacific Northwest LNG (PNW LNG) liquidfication and export facility.
The biggest fear revolves around impacts to the wild Skeena juvenile salmon migration in the estuary. Construction of the PRGT gas pipe and the PNW LNG plant and berthing facility at Lelu Island will impact the very sensitive Flora Bank eelgrass bed and the Skeena River delta front, which supports approximately 85% of all Skeena juvenile salmon including steelhead. The estuarine habitat impacted by the proposed PNW LNG development is critical in allowing juvenile salmon to behaviorally and physiologically adapt to the marine environment as they leave the freshwater and begin their oceanic life history stage. The PNW LNG plant would spell the end of healthy and abundant Skeena salmon runs, which many First Nations in northern BC and Southeast Alaska depend on; any threat to their salmon fisheries threatens their survival as an Aboriginal people.
Richard Wright, member of and spokesperson for the house of Luutkudziiwus, has undertaken an initiative to build solutions regarding their territory, its resources, and interests. Wright stated: “Managing our territories will enable us to focus on sustainable economic development and cultural revitalization programs, all the while stopping destructive development from proceeding unabated.”
What will the pipeline carry?
While the proposed pipeline is slated to carry liquid natural gas (LNG), there is no guarantee that the government won’t convert the pipeline to carry oil or bitumen. An example of this is the recent proposal to convert the Energy East Pipeline, a natural gas line, to carry oil. It is unacceptable to Luutkudziiwus to have oil or gas pipelines across the Madii Lii territory as it’s simply too risky for the environment, fish, wildlife, people and life.
What are the next steps?
Luutkudziiwus have never ceded their Aboriginal rights over the Madii Lii territory; they are now pursuing legal action against BC government, in particular, BC Environmental Assessment Office and BC Oil and Gas Commission. This will initially proceed with a judicial review followed by a title action.
What are the funds raised for?
Wilps Luutkudziiwus is looking for support to help pay for legal expenses occurred in fact gathering, research, and procedural process in regard to the judicial review. Costs would help cover record and fact checking, and case assessment and development.
Who's associated with the project?
Since the PRGT was formally proposed in 2013, Luutkudziiwus has been in discussions and formed alliances with Gitxsan, Wet’suwet’en, Tsimshian, and various local and regional non-native groups. Collaborations vary from informal to formal allied political positions, general support, and formal funding arrangements.
Luutkudziiwus is taking and maintaining their own particular approach and strategy given the mandate from house members in regard to the PRGT and the lack of consultation by BC. Luutkudziiwus is not in a partnership and does not work closely with any other First Nation group in a legal context.
Where can I get more information?