Report says First Nations support LNG development in British Columbia

Karen Ogen-Toews.

First Nations LNG Alliance CEO Karen Ogen-Toews

“The issue of poverty and the need for economic and employment opportunities for First Nations was raised consistently.” – Ogen-Toews

There’s a “high degree of support” among First Nations for LNG development in BC with representatives raising the need to push the remaining projects over the finish line, according to a new report from the First Nations LNG Alliance and the BC’s ministry of energy, mines and petroleum resources.

The report (Province of British Columbia and First Nations LNG Alliance: Joint Engagement Report) stems from regional engagement sessions in BC that were hosted by the ministry and the Alliance in the fall of 2017.

“We’re releasing the report to show that there is strong and real First Nations support for LNG development in BC,” said Alliance CEO Karen Ogen-Toews.

“That means, by definition, responsible development that balances economics and the environment, and respects First Nations rights and title.”

If LNG projects are done in a way that respects First Nation interests, they will be the most safe, environmentally rigorous, and human-rights-compliant projects in the world according to the report.

“The issue of poverty and the need for economic and employment opportunities for First Nations was raised consistently. Many First Nations view LNG projects as an important opportunity to improve poor socio-economic conditions in their communities,” the report says.

Among the report’s recommendations:

  • BC should consider a provincially supported point-person to develop, in collaboration with Indigenous representatives, a strategy for Indigenous labour market development, including support and planning for a lifecycle of job types (higher level, technical, support jobs) that would support LNG projects.
  • BC should support agreements where they have been reached and give further consideration on how to mitigate the negative impacts that project cancellations have on First Nation communities.
  • The province should engage with First Nations and LNG proponents (for current and cancelled projects) to discuss regulatory improvements.
  • BC should partner with First Nations and Indigenous organizations to improve communication, information sharing, and ongoing engagement on the LNG industry.

“What we really need is for communication and dialogue to continue and to be strengthened. Too many people have been told that First Nations oppose LNG development. That’s not true. Others believe that LNG development is automatically a negative. That’s not true either,” said Ogen-Toews.

“As the report points out, many First Nations see LNG projects as a source of jobs and training and careers, and a way to improve poor socio-economic conditions. We need all this, and the report includes important ideas on how to make it happen.”

The First Nations LNG Alliance thanked the BC Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources for co-hosting the engagement sessions that led to the report.

“The Alliance partnered with BC because we value engagement with and among First Nations on these issues,” said Ogen-Toews. “The report supports the further need for more discussion and engagement.

LNG development is not going to happen on its own, she adds but will take a co-operative partnership of industry and First Nations, and with support from government, noting that the engagement sessions have helped show how First Nations are on board with responsible development.

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