Fort St. John – The BC Treaty 8 Council of Chiefs are stating their support for the Elsipogtog First Nation’s right to protect lands and water.
The Elsipogtog community believes its traditional territory is at risk due to fracking and shale gas development, which has been undertaken without negotiation or consent from the First Nation.
“We are deeply saddened by the escalation to violence in the past weeks resulting from the Elsipogtog community not being allowed to voice their concerns against destructive resource extraction in their territory,” stated Treaty 8 Tribal Chief Liz Logan. “We are urging a more peaceful approach and strongly suggest that companies and our government respect the Elsipogtog by stopping this disrespectful disregard for the immediate and long term impacts of gas development.”
The Treaty 8 First Nations know well the approach of resource development companies and governments when it comes to traditional territories as northern communities have been inundated with mining, oil and gas and now LNG projects dating back nearly 60 years. A lack of a careful and collaborative approach that examines cumulative impacts has already impacted the Nations’ ability to use the land, drink the water and support local wildlife, including numerous species at risk.
“Recently, the West Moberly First Nation was forced to approach the courts to protect the Burnt Pine Caribou Herd because our own Provincial government failed to develop a plan to fully protect the caribou from the construction of a mine,” said Chief Roland Willson of West Moberly First Nation. “It is an embarrassment that we have to force our elected officials to realize that money does not take precedent over the livelihood of human beings.”
“First Nations cannot continue to let money hungry governments open the door to industry development at all costs,” said Willson. “There is an obligation of the Crown to work with First Nations to find a balance between economic development and protecting our lands and resources for future generations.”
Treaty 8 First Nations support resource development done in cooperation with Aboriginal peoples that takes into consideration both short and long-term impacts to social, economic and environmental aspects in both traditional communities as well as the greater northern region.