19 February 2019, Tuesday | 07:50am

Canadian First Nations hold power to bring down emissions

2019-01-11

Who are all these non-Indigenous people who are telling First Nations in B.C. what is good for them and what is good for our environment?

We have been looking after the environment in this province for 10,000 years and more and we will continue to do so. It is always a vital priority for us Indigenous people.

We do not need “help” from outsiders. We do not need “support” from those young, non-Indigenous people who joined the blockades of the Coastal GasLink pipeline.

Leave us, please, to allow our nations to make informed decisions on their own and to come together for the betterment of their communities, without radical outsider interference. Any differences of opinion in our communities are for us to resolve, not for others.

As an Indigenous elder working on this natural-gas pipeline in an environmental capacity, I see all things pointing toward a positive outcome for our people. A future that includes jobs, careers and revenue that we can apply to our social and community needs and priorities.

Rendering of the North East side of the LNG Canada plant that will be supplied by the Coastal GasLink pipeline. LNG Canada / VSUNwp

And it includes building a strong environmental voice with First Nations members from one end of this pipeline project to the other, and for future projects.

There will be Indigenous environmental advisors out on the front lines, protecting lands of all communities from Dawson Creek to Kitimat, reporting daily on progress, and addressing any issues during construction.

We know, if young outsiders do not, that B.C. has among the strictest environmental laws, regulations and controls in the world. B.C. is no longer a province where a developer can simply bulldoze onto First Nations territory and damage or devastate it and the environment.

We, as First Nations people, will work alongside development proponents to uphold these laws — laws and controls that are also required by our members — to ensure that our lands, our waters, our air, our fish, our food stock and our rights throughout our territories are respected and upheld.

By working together we can build a better future for all of our communities, Indigenous and non-Indigenous.

Everyone is entitled to an opinion, mine being this: As First Nations in B.C., we have a human responsibility to help the world bring down its overall emissions. LNG from B.C. will do that.

We have the natural resources within our territories to help the world. I would prefer other cultures from around the world to see our First Nations as “Those who helped the world” rather than “Those who were taken from.”

Until there is a better, 100 per cent secure and environmentally friendly way to heat our homes and power our industries, LNG is simply good for the world. It is the cleanest fossil fuel on earth. Let’s share it with the world to help make our entire world — not just our own backyard — a cleaner place to live.

Let’s make it happen!

Mike Gouchie is an environmental and safety consultant in Prince George and an elder of the Lheidli T’ennehFirst Nation.

 

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