PRINCE RUPERT, BC–(Marketwired – October 01, 2015) – The ancient drums beat loudly in Prince Rupert on the evening of September 25, 2015 calling Ts`msyen and their ancestors to the first major meeting of the nine tribes of the Lax Kw’alaams in thirty five years. The purpose of the meeting was to commemorate the signing an exclusivity and benefits agreement with the First Nations led company Eagle Spirit Energy after three years of discussion, community meetings, and careful consideration of detailed independent legal advice. The highest ranking sm’gi gyet (chiefs), si gidmn’ha’ax (chief women or matriarchs), and gulm’algyax (chief’s spokespersons) were in attendance to support the project and feast.
The preliminary Eagle Spirit Energy proposal is for the building of a pipeline that would ship upgraded oil to Grassy Point (which, due to its close proximity to open water, is considered the environmentally safest location for such a port). All First Nations partners along the route will have initial and ongoing input into the project through the innovative inclusion of the first-ever Chiefs Council.
Gulm’algyax Ski-las (elder Jack White) spoke for all when he said that, “Our greatest concern is for the environment. We know that if we are not involved the government will try to push heavy oil through our territories without our input into protecting the environment and we will not benefit.” Si gidmn’ha’ax Mn’gadn wii hayetsk (matriarch Helen Johnson) said, “Unlike some of the LNG proposals to date, our tribes support this project because Eagle Spirit involved us from the very beginning, providing the very best environmental safeguards, and will provide significant financial, employment, and educational and training benefits that are consistent with the risk we are taking in our traditional territories. With Eagle Spirit everything is transparent and open, unlike now, where discussion are conducted in secrecy behind closed doors and where a few k’umsi’wah [white people] who have no understanding of our tribes and history are making all the decisions.”
Sm’gi gyet (chiefs) and si gidmn’ha’ax (matriachs) of the nine tribes of Lax Kw’alaams Nies Laganoos (Randy Dudoward), Niesho.t (Arnold Brooks), Gal del Km’ Hayetsk (Merle Hughes), Hymass (Clifford Musgrave), Dalks (Beatrice Byrant), Ligi Watgwatk (Donald Alexcee), Nies Weexs (Clyde Dudoward), Sudalx (Elaine Hughes), La Dox (William Sampson), and Gitxoon (Alex Campbell) stated, “As they have for the last ten thousand years, our tribes hold aboriginal title to their traditional territory directly — not through the colonial invention of the mayor elected under the Indian Act. The authority of the elected mayor and council extends only to the borders of our reserve lands. The tribes have full and final authority to decide what projects and developments will be accepted over their traditional territories. We will provide openness and transparency in relation to all projects with our members and the mayor and his k’umsi’wah lawyer and consultants should cease and desist all such misrepresentations on our behalf.”
The nine tribes of Lax Kw’alaams represent the lower Skeena River (nine of the fourteen tribes of the Tsimshian nation). The Nine Tribes are: Giluts’aaw, Ginandoiks, Ginaxangiik, Gispaxlo’ots, Gitando, Gitlaan, Gits’iis, Gitwilgyoots, and Gitzaxlaal. Collectively, the nine tribes of Lax Kw’alaams are the proper Aboriginal rights holders, for the purpose developments within their traditional territories, in accordance with Article 18 of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples which states:
Indigenous peoples have the right to participate in decision-making in matters which would affect their rights, through representatives chosen by themselves in accordance with their own procedures, as well as to maintain and develop their own indigenous decision-making institutions.
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For more information, contact:
Alex F. Campbell