By Ash Kelly and Brielle Morgan for Discourse Media. For a full, interactive version of this investigative piece, visit Discourse Media.
For more than 5,000 years, First Nations people have collected plants and harvested red cedar on Lelu Island, which sits where the Skeena River meets the Pacific Ocean near Prince Rupert in northern British Columbia. Adjacent to some of the most critical salmon habitat on the West Coast, Lelu Island is considered so valuable that, according to local Indigenous oral histories, Indigenous tribes have long battled to control it.
Not much has changed today — except that the battleground has shifted to Victoria and Ottawa. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government is set to make a decision about Pacific NorthWest LNG (PNW LNG)’s proposed $36-billion liquefied natural gas (LNG) project, which is majority-owned by the Malaysian energy company Petronas. That decision could come at any time, although deliberations are likely to stretch into the fall. If built, the project will link a pipeline that weaves through traditional First Nations territories with a conversion plant and shipping terminal on Lelu Island.