In a press release issued today, the Ts’msyen hereditary chiefs, matrons, elders and hereditary leaders of the Nine Tribes of Lax Kw’alaams issued a unanimous demand that what they call, “illegal protestors on Lelu Island to stop their occupation immediately.”
The chiefs claim the occupation is only by a small radical handful of community members who have falsely suggested they represent the Lax Kw’alaams community, and who have continually mislead both the public and media as to their real powers and support.
In particular they referred to Mr. Donald Wesley, who they say is not a hereditary chief but has been falsely representing himself as one to the media. Their document requests that he immediately cease representing himself as one or referring himself as Yahaan. The nine chiefs signed an official document attesting that neither he nor any other person quoted in numerous media articles relating to Lelu Island is a rightful hereditary leader who acquired their title according to official feasting protocols.
In addition, their signed document says they stand in unison against Mr. Wesley inviting environmental militants and outsiders into their territory without the respect and manners dictated by the protocols of ayaawx (laws). Their document emphasizes their concerns about the safety of everyone concerned and respectfully requests that all parties and outsiders on Lelu Island leave their traditional territory immediately.
The demand comes on the heels of four First Nations activitsts from Northern BC attending the United Nations on Thursday, May 12 in New York, to oppose plans to build a liquefied natural gas (LNG) project.
Murray Smith and Christine Smith-Martin of the Gitwilgyoots Tribe, John Risdale, Hereditary Chief of the Wet’suwet’en First Nation, spokesperson for the Office of the Wet’suwet’en and on the board of directors of Skeena Wild and environmentalist group that reportedly bankrolled the trip to New York, and Kirby Muldoe a member of the Gitxsan First Nation, voiced their concerns about the development’s effect on their traditional lands.
“We are not against development, but we are against this dangerous, irresponsible, foreign-owned and illegal intrusion into our sacred homelands,” Smith said in a press release.
The $36 billion Pacific Northwest LNG project, backed by Malaysia state-owned Petronas, is proposed for Lelu Island near the mouth of the Skeena River.
As earlier reported in the Northern View, once the final proposal is submitted, the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency has 15 days to decide if the information request has been satisfactorily fulfilled, and if so, Minister of Environment and Climate Change Catherine McKenna has 90 days to make her decision on the project.
Comments from elected officials of Metlakatla, Lax Kw’alaams, who have made similar requests of the protesters, have not been immediately returned … more to come.
List of Signatories to the official document
Sm’oogyit [Chief] Ligiut-gwa’alk – Donald Alexcee—Gitwilgyoots
G’uin bax me dik—George Bryant – Tribal member
Sm’oogyit Nislaganoos– Randy Dudoward—Gitlan
Sm’oogyit Nis Weekx – Clyde Dudoward—Ginadoiks
Sigidimna’ax Kshum lax axsh – Doreen Mather
Sm’oogyit Nisyuganat (also Hymass)– Clifford Musgrave—Gits’iis
Sm’oogyit Nis Gitxoon– Alex Campbell—Gispaxloats
Sub-Chief Nis Pa Alaas – Ronald Mather
Sub-Chief Nis Awalp –Russell Mather Sr.
Sm’oogyit Nis Hut – Arnold Brooks— Gitzaxlaal
Elder and spokesperson Ski-las –Jack White—Gitando