Happy anniversary: the day Petronas blinked

On July 25 last year, Petronas cancelled their $36B Pacific Northwest LNG project, including a massive LNG terminal in the middle of the salmon nursery on Lelu Island.

Faced with court challenges by four Indigenous groups: the Tsimshian tribe of Gitwilgyoots, the Gitanyow Hereditary Chiefs, the Gitxsan House of Gwininitxw and the Gitxsan House of Luutkudziiwus, as well as Skeena Wild Conservation Society, Petronas withdrew from the project rather than face a potentially adverse court decision.

“Together with our neighbours we fought the Petronas projects in court and the proponent saw the writing on the wall and withdrew, which gave the Skeena watershed a much-needed reprieve” – Simogyet Gwininitxw (Yvonne Lattie)

Moments like this are the result of years of dedicated campaigning. RAVEN supporters have been along for the long haul, standing with Indigenous Nations along the Skeena River who are protecting wild salmon. It’s so important that we savour the moments when we see the tide turning towards justice.

Hamii ya with gratitude to all the people who donated, organized cook-outs and concerts, and supported this fight in so many ways!

And: we must forge ahead because there is still so much to do on so many fronts.

“Without protection at the watershed level, the Skeena salmon are still at risk,” notes Simogyet (Chief) Gwininitxw. Because the court case was never completed – it was declared moot after the project was cancelled – issues of vital importance to First Nations remain unresolved. These include the standing of hereditary chiefs before Canadian courts, and the level of consultation owed to First Nations, such as Gitanyow, whose territory is geographically removed from a project site, but who depend salmon that would be affected.  

“Through the entire north-west, Simgigyet (hereditary chiefs) are responsible for the health and abundance of the land, to ensure that their House members are able to fish, hunt and gather sufficient food,” said Simogyet Yahaan (Donnie Wesley) of the Tsimshian Tribe of Gitwilgyoots. “The proponent’s withdrawal before the court had made a ruling on our case means that our traditional Indigenous governance is still not fully recognized by Canadian courts”.

“Other projects are just waiting in the wings, such as the approved and permitted Prince Rupert Gas Transmission Project. Given the BC government’s ongoing love affair with LNG, it’s only a matter of time before we have a new LNG pipe dream to deal with,” warned Richard Wright, spokesman for the Gitxsan House of Luutkudziiwus. “It’s time for the federal government to step up and act on their responsibility to protect Canada’s second largest salmon run.”

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