After kicking out government officials at industry summit, Fort Nelson First Nation signs LNG worker camp deal

Fort Nelson FN chief Sharleen Gale speaking at LNG conference.

Fort Nelson FN chief Sharleen Gale speaking at LNG conference.

After both praise and backlash for expelling B.C. government from an industry summit in April, the Fort Nelson First Nation has signed on to an LNG camp deal with Black Diamond, which would include a 425-room lodge in the Horn River area.

The operating camp, signed with Black Diamond Dene Limited Partnership, would include a 425-room lodge in the Horn River area near Fort Nelson.

The camp would support what is expected to be a massive fracking boom expected for her natural-gas-rich northeast territory.

Reached by phone, Chief Gale said she could not comment due to upcoming elections, and later wrote in an email:

“The simple fact is that oil and gas development has been in our territory since the 1950s. We have always been a part of the industry… Many of our own members are business people engaged in the industry.”

It’s a big turn from her earlier tough talk.

“The way things are going now – it’s a no go,” she told the Vancouver Observer in April.

“We can’t allow this devastation to happen to our communities without being part of the decisions.  Especially when it comes the environment, and the controls that need to be in place.”

“If Fort Nelson is not on board, there won’t be anything flowing down the pipe.”

But this week, she emphasized that Black Diamond are “good partners” and are “supportive” of the Fort Nelson First Nation’s goals.  Black Diamond and the Fort Nelson First Nation entered into an equity-based agreement called Black Diamond Dene LP in 2009.
Natural Gas fields near Fort Nelson.

Natural Gas fields near Fort Nelson.

The Fort Nelson Chief gained national media prominence in April after her “feather” incident prompted 28 First Nations bands and political organizations — including the First Nations Summit — to sign a Declaration to put B.C.’s plans for rapid LNG development “on hold.”

“This is the end of the love-in on LNG,” said Coastal First Nation director Art Sterritt told the Vancouver Observer after the declaration.  “Everyone was trying to make it work, but when everyone took off the rose-coloured glasses, you realized everyone was getting a raw deal,” he added.

Following the incident, Premier Christy Clark paid a visit to her community. Chief Gail subsequently said deal making was in the works.

Fort Nelson First Nation’s traditional land in northern B.C. is part of Treaty 8 territory, a vast area covering 279,000 square kilometres in British Columbia, as well as land in northern Alberta, Northwestern Saskatchewan and southern Northwest Territories.

Fracking boom expected

The area in Northeastern B.C. is key for the province’s LNG ambitions, but Chief Gale has repeatedly expressed concerns about the “cumulative” impacts on air, water and wildlife.  The band also once said the expected fracking would require “15 and 520 billion litres” of fresh water over two decades.

Treaty 8 Tribal Chief Liz Logan has expressed similar worries.  She’s said the damage from 6,000 new wells planned in northern B.C. would make it near-impossible for First Nations to live off the land — a right which was guaranteed by the treaty.

Although Chief Gale’s move to kick out government officials in April was cheered by many, she was also met with instant political backlash. Northern Rockies Regional Municipality mayor Bill Streeper apologized to bureaucrats and gas industry officials for the incident, calling the Chief’s move a “knee-jerk” reaction.

The mayor told media that the town of Fort Nelson, which is in his municipality, is “100 per cent depending on the LNG and the gas industry for its existence” and that “if LNG fails, this town will fail.”

The Fort Nelson First Nation Chief said Wednesday that she has a team now “fully engaged” with the B.C. government, and that “progress is being made”, though there is work to be done.

“We have also been firm that shale gas development is only acceptable in our Territory if is approached in the right manner with the direct involvement of the Fort Nelson First Nation and the appropriate safeguards to back up our interests,” she said.

“We have an obligation to protect our lands and our Treaty Rights. We also have an opportunity to create new ways for the environment not to become a victim of the economy. That is what our people have asked us to do.”

The Black Diamond expects revenue to exceed $17 million through 2015.

With files from Mychaylo Prystupa

Posted on August 15, 2014, in Indian Act Indians, Oil & Gas and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 10 Comments.

  1. cynthiajoanmorrison

    Really? So protecting Mother Earth is NOT the Native spirituality after all? After all this ‘white’ racial bashing…..I get….even tho I am an environmentalist….& I would never sell out for money. Well….there you go….it’s all coming out in the wash now, eh buddy?

    • Listen idiot, just because Indian Act chiefs and councilors sell out to industry should not allow you to act all arrogant and self-righteous. Grassroots Indigenous peoples and movements are as much in conflict with the collaborators as they are with corporations and the state. And don’t ever call me buddy you racist fool.

  2. ZigZag, do you know of ways in which we can provide support to the grassroots people in Fort Nelson who haven’t and won’t sell out? (“We” includes those who, like myself, live too far away to actually go to Fort Nelson.)

  3. Many would rather cut off arm rather than sully Mother Earth. Evidently not Dene That’ neighbors. Run, run, run to the bank before you spend the thirty pieces of silver!

  4. sad news. polluting ground water via fracking, and hyper-wasting precious, clean water, this will make it impossible for all life
    . we all know this. no amount of money can change this fact. so how much was enough to sell out the people and the land? ten dollars? might as well be. money disappears in a blink of an eye. then what? we can eat plastic from walmart, or real food from our Mother Earth, as we have for all of time. industry, government, sell-out ‘leaders’, you just don’t care, as long as you have your ten dollars

  5. Hearing lots of criticism and can understand. I have been listening to the Fort Nelson FN for some time, since before the LNG (for export) was on our radar screens. I would like to offer that their message has been consistent … ‘they are not opposed to industry but that it needs to be done sustainably’. Since 2009 they have been saying that rate of expansion was becoming unsustainable, with particular concerns for the ‘water’ … but were met with deaf ears – especially the government and industry. I watched the Fort Nelson FN appear before a Yukon Legislative Assembly Select Committee (Regarding the Risks and Benefits of Hydraulic Fracturing) in January this year and gained more perspective. In listening to reactions on this in the media, I am concerned that, if we come from a place of judgement and blame in the absence of a deeper understanding, we could unintentionally be feeding into the ‘divide and conquer’ and inevitably – WE All Lose. I would encourage anyone seeking a deeper understanding to watch and listen to the Fort Nelson FN …

    • The people, the land, and the water are going to lose if this fracking continues and expands, and that is exactly what the band council of Fort Nelson FN is perpetuating and collaborating with. You can see how the Fort Nelson FN is quickly losing credibility because squawking about the ill effects of fracking and then going on to sign a deal with industry that will expand that same industry appears highly hypocritical. The Mi’kmaq in New Brunswick are showing a much better example by attempting to stop any fracking from occurring at all.

  6. chiefs and government are made of the same cloth now it is woven with greed with the material used is crooked tong. they sold mother earth for money for today and will kill us tomorrow.

  7. Snowflakes Please retweet #aboriginal #serialkiller #equality

  8. starlessgolightly

    I dont like the way fracking is being developed and trialed on North American soil. White Europeans (Floodites) have already ruined their own European continent with their rampant industrialization and now we Natives are being forced to pick up the environmental tab on behalf of their G-dless, “consumer culture”; *Remember the Mercury poisoning at Grassy Narrows?* Are we supposed to trust them given their track record of poisoning us with germ warfare and industrial waste? Don’t let these over eager ‘floodites’ swindle you any further… Their only loyalties lie with their oil-addiction and gas prices. Its our bloodlines that will have to clean up their mess…
    “Now the Green-elves of Ossiriand were troubled by the coming of Men, and when they heard that a lord of the Eldar from over the Sea was among them they sent messengers to Felagund. ‘’Lord,’ they said, ‘if you have power over these newcomers, bid them return by the ways that they came, or else to go forward. For we desire no strangers in this land to break the peace in which we live. And these folk are hewers of trees and hunters of beasts; therefore we are their unfriends, and if they will not depart we shall afflict them in all ways that we can.’” – The Silmarillion; J. R. R. Tolkien.

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