The Kitsumkalum First Nation has signed two LNG benefits agreements with the province to improve and grow their current infrastructure and economic opportunities.
Kitsumkalum is set to receive $20.35 million over four years under the first LNG Benefits Agreement.
A $15 million payment will be used for land and economic development for Kitsumkalum to purchase private lands within their traditional territory. A $2.25 million payment will be put into a community development fund for social initiatives, with $2.35 million put into a legacy fund for education and skills training for Kitsumkalum members to participate in business or employment opportunities created by LNG projects.
In addition, Kitsumkalum will receive approximately $750,000 annually under their Coastal Fund Agreement, with exact amounts depending on the shipped volume of any current LNG projects or future developments.
The province will also provide Kitsumkalum with $1.5 million in initial base funding, with $500,000 available within the first 60 days.
“I am confident that the LNG Benefits and Coastal Fund Agreements adequately address environmental issues and will preserve Kitsumkalum title and rights and food security for our people,” says Kitsumkalum Chief Don Roberts in a joint press release from the province.
“With these agreements in place, I am supportive of the LNG Canada project and other LNG projects where cumulative impacts, both environmental and socioeconomic, are mitigated to ensure continued Aboriginal Title and Rights are enjoyed by the people of Kitsumkalum.”
The agreements signed March 27 recognize Kitsumkalum’s stake and required support in the LNG facilities proposed in any one of the eight LNG projects listed in the agreements, with the LNG Canada project in Kitimat the first to make a final investments decision.
“The LNG Canada project is creating long-term, economic prospects for the entire province and this agreement ensures Kitsumkalum benefits,” says Michelle Mungall, Minister of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources.
Though future LNG proposals will still need to pursue a meaningful consultation process with Kitsumkalum.
The amount decided within the Kitsumkalum LNG Benefits Agreement focused on financial benefits, while several other agreements have included a combination of land transfers and financial benefits.
Kitsumkalum to move forward on projects
Kitsumkalum describes the benefit agreement negotiations as a “long hard fight” in a written reaction to the signed agreement online, as they say Canada and British Columbia refused to recognize Kitsumkalum as a tribe within Tsimshian Nation.
Kitsumkalum’s marine harvest areas are scattered along the coast and border neighbouring Tsimshian nations.
“Following five years of negotiations with British Columbia, Kitsumkalum was successful in gaining recognition as a tribe proper of the Tsimshian Nation,” reads the statement.
Kitsumkalum says these agreements will bring training and employment opportunities to prepare their members for a changing labour force over the next five years, and funding to upgrade their aging infrastructure.
Paving preparation for streets, parking lots, and driveways will begin this spring and is expected to finish by this fall. It will be done using money bargained from LNG operations, and paving will be done in house to save dollars with the corporation, Roberts says.
Discussions for Kitsumkalum’s new school are in progress with the Department of Indian Affairs. The school would be built across the street from the Tempo Gas Station.
Kitsumkalum is also negotiating with the current owners of the Billabong property across the Kalum River to purchase it for a new office complex.
These LNG benefits agreements also enable Kitsumkalum to negotiate their own benefits agreement with the Prince Rupert Port Authority — currently, most contracts and benefits are given to Lax’kwalaams and Metlakatla despite Kitsumkalum’s claim over coastal land areas.
They also argue CN Rail, PRPA and Ridely Terminal Inc. are not being transparent with information about the expected increase in ship and rail traffic that travel along the Skeena and through Kitsumkalum territory, including the villages at Casey Point, Dzagaedil and Barrett Rock.