First Nations and Northwest BC residents gathered at Lelu Island near Prince Rupert today to raise a totem pole at the site which was to be home to a controversial LNG project.
(Photo Credit: Dan Mesec)
The pole-raising comes after Petronas, a Malaysian oil and gas company pulled the plug on the proposed Pacific Northwest LNG terminal on the island earlier this year.
Leaders of the Gitwilgyoots, one of the nine tribes of Lax Kw’alaams, raised a new totem pole to celebrate what they say is the protection of the area under the Tsimshian law.
“This area, particularly Flora Bank, is Grand Central Station for Skeena Wild Salmon. It supports vital fisheries up and down B.C.’s North Coast and up-river as well” said Greg Knox, Executive Director of SkeenaWild Conservation Trust.
The eelgrass beds that exist in the shallow waters of Flora Bank provide critical rearing habitat for juvenile wild salmon as they migrate from the freshwater environment of the Skeena River to the saltwater of the Pacific Ocean.
Lelu Island was at the center of controversy surrounding the proposed LNG project. It was occupied by members of the Gitwilgyoots in opposition to the development while other First Nations, including the elected leadership of the Lax Kw’alaams had offered conditional support to the project.
While Pacific Northwest LNG won’t go ahead, those gathered at Lelu Island say today’s pole raising is about permanent protection of the area from industrial development.