After a week of trailing the royal couple, B.C. Premier Christy Clark was asked by the Haida Nation not to come to Friday’s event.
The community is opposed to the controversial Pacific NorthWest LNG project that received approval from the federal government this week.
“We have some outstanding issues with the premier in regards to a lot of issues. We believe the respectful thing to do would be to resolve those issues before coming in on the heels of the Royals,” said Peter Lantin, president of the Haida Nation.
“If you want to deal with the real issues, deal with them in real time and not on a day that is so important to us.”
Clark was not part of the events Friday on Haida Gwaii. The premier’s office said Clark called Lantin on Wednesday and told him she was not going to be able to come to Haida Gwaii because of her gruelling schedule, not because she was asked not to come.
In addition to touring across the province with the Royals, Clark has also been part of media events surrounding the federal government’s approval of the LNG project and delivered a major speech to municipal leaders at the Union of B.C. Municipalities’ annual general meeting praising the project.
Haida rowers protest LNG decision
Part of Friday’s events included the arrival of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge on a Haida canoe at the community’s cultural centre. As a form of silent protest, all 10 of the paddlers in the canoe with the couple wore blue “No LNG” shirts.
“We waited to take the opportunity to show our perspective on development on the coast with frack gas and our opposition to it,” said Haida member and rower Jason Alsoe.
“It was also a chance to do a respectful, silent protest.”
Members of the Haida Nation have been vocal opponents of the $38-billion LNG megaproject that would see natural gas moved from northeastern B.C. to the port on Lelu Island. The LNG would then be shipped to overseas markets including India and China.
The biggest issue for First Nations communities in the area has been the potential impact on the salmon population along the coast and around Haida Gwaii.
The federal government’s recent approval of the Pacific Northwest LNG project is contingent on Petronas meeting 190 conditions that include protection of wildlife species.
“It’s our livelihood,” said Leslie Moraes, who came to the Haida Gwaii Cultural Centre to see the Royals in person. “It represents our culture, what we stand for, the water.”
“[Clark] doesn’t represent what we believe in. We thought the support was there, and the support is not there.”