Placing the well-being of the Earth above monetary interests, the Lax Kw’alaams First Nations tribe in British Columbia has rejected a $1 billion offer and voted against a proposed liquid natural gas (LNG) terminal.
In the third and definitive vote on the Pacific Northwest (PNW) LNG project last Tuesday, tribal members unanimously opposed the project, which would be located entirely within Lax Kw’alaams traditional territory on Lelu Island and the adjacent Flora Bank and required tribal consent before going forward.
“Our elders remind us that money is like so much dust that is quickly blown away in the wind,” Grand Chief Stewart Phillip told the Globe and Mail, “but the land is forever.”
In a press statement following the vote, the tribe describes the potential threat to fisheries and the refusal by the government and PNW to impose sufficient environmental safeguards on the project, adding that there has been “indifference to the point of negligence or willful blindness, or both.”
In exchange for their approval, PNW had offered the 3,600-member tribe a land swap as well as $1 billion in cash to be delivered over 40 years—which in total would have amounted to a payout of roughly $320,000 for each member. The project is also backed by Malaysia’s state-owned energy giant, Petronas.