Who gets to say ‘yes’ and ‘no’?

Decision-making for northwestern B.C. industrial projects is very complicated

WHO gets to say ‘yes’ and who gets to say ‘no’? And is a ‘yes’ a ‘yes’ and a ‘no,’ ‘no’?

It is the central issue regarding aboriginal rights and title concerning large-scale northwestern B.C. industrial development and the latest flash point is the Lelu Island location for the planned NorthWest LNG plant.

On one side are five Tsimshian First Nations whose elected leadership is working through the environmental aspects of the development based on asserted marine rights in the area of the mouth of the Skeena River. On the other is one Tsimshian First Nation, the Lax Kw’allams, who claim the island itself and whose elected and hereditary representatives have already said ‘no’ over worries of the plant’s export terminal effect on salmon populations.

The reality of differences in opinion or philosophy should be no surprise. It is like that everywhere where there are competing interests.

The challenge is to find an impartial and comprehensive decision-making structure within the northwestern B.C. aboriginal community and accepted by all where the ‘no’ can accept a ‘yes’ or the ‘yes’ can accept a ‘no’.

To a large degree that is already the case within the Haisla territory, within the Tahltan territory and within the Nisga’a treaty lands where absent of competing interests from others, ‘yes’ and ‘no’ industrial decisions are being made with the assurance of certainty.

Editorial, The Terrace Standard, Terrace, B.C.