Your March 28th Environment News article ‘ Huu-Aay-aht Citizens Approve Sarita LNG Project’’ deserves more than a passing comment on the sidebar. Please print the link to ‘Sarita Bay LNG Vote Came with Promise of Multimillion-Dollar Education Fund’
But Stella M. Peters, a citizen of the nation, said members were left with little choice after leaders promised $2 million for education and training and to more than double monthly grants to elders — but only if the LNG development was approved in the referendum.
“It was like an ultimatum to vote yes,” charged Peters. “It seemed to me like a sellout.”
Members living in Port Alberni or Vancouver don’t understand what could be lost if the project goes ahead, said Peters.
“A good number of our off-reserve people who voted have never gone out salmon fishing or clam digging,” she said. “All they saw was the money and they didn’t consider long-term impacts.”
Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, president of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs, said there is a major power imbalance between First Nations and energy companies.
“Oil and gas companies are quite adept at coming into communities and preying upon the deeply rooted structural poverty of these communities,” he said.
Most LNG agreements with First Nations are conditional on projects going ahead and being profitable, Phillip said. But the B.C. government’s aspirations for LNG are “market dead” due to a global methane glut, he added.