Petronas, a Malaysian fossil fuel company, has a proposal for a $40 billion natural gas export facility on Lelu Island (Lax U'u'la in the Tsimshian language). The current BC Liberal party government headed by Christy Clark has been 100% behind all energy development, especially fracked gas. The current federal Liberal party (led by Justin Trudeau) has fallen in line, supporting oil and gas against First Nations wishes, both generally and in this specific case. While fracking has widespread resistance in Canada, this project is particularly resisted because of its location. Around Lelu Island is an eel grass habitat (the Flora Banks) which is essential for the transition of salmon from freshwater to saltwater. Approximately 90% of the salmon of the Skeena River (the third largest salmon river in the world by number of salmon) spend their transition phase in this habitat, which scientists have shown would be obliterated by the changes in tidal flows caused by the construction of this export facility. The salmon population of the Skeena would be devastated. Because of its inevitable impact on the salmon, there is widespread resistance from communities and activist groups throughout the Skeena watershed and amongst fishermen of the region, the majority of whose salmon come from the Skeena.
Lelu Island is the traditional territory of the Gitwilgyoots clan, one of the Tsimshian nations of Lax Kw'alaams. The clan, speaking through their spokesmen, Simoyget Yahaan (Don Wesley) and Ligitgyet Gwis Hawaal (Ken Lawson) have declared their complete opposition to the project and have initiated what is now an ongoing re-occupation of Lelu Island to prevent survey work in support of the facility , which has involved regular evictions of Petronas-employed workers from the territory.
To an outsider, First Nations politics in Canada can be very confusing, and this confusion is itself used strategically by industry. There are parallel governments for First Nations: the traditional 'hereditary' system and the imposed colonial Indian Act band councils. The Canadian Supreme Court, in the 1993 Delgamukw ruling established that the hereditary leadership is the proper authority in cases like the Tsimshian, where no treaty was ever signed surrendering sovereignty. Still industry and government attempt to work through band councils (or whoever will be coopted) in 'Divide and Conquer' tactics. The current Indian Act government of Lax Kw'alaams is headed by a family that is heavily invested in oil and gas expansion and has given their approval to Petronas, which government and industry use to attempt to represent themselves as having necessary First Nations buy-in. The Divide and Conquer tactics run deep.
-- update... on July 25, 2017, Petronas announced that it would no longer be pursuing the project, a victory for salmon, the Skeena River, Gitwilgyoots, and the people of BC! Now resistance is moving to the parallel Chinese Aurora LNG project on neghboring Digby Island. This is the other primary proposed LNG export facility in the area, representing a parallel threat to the salmon of the Skeena.(See less)