Haisla Chief Councillor Crystal Smith.                                File photo

Haisla Chief Councillor Crystal Smith. File photo

Coast GasLink is a path to reconciliation

Shannon McPhail’s op-ed diminishes an amazing achievement

Dear Editor,

It’s unfortunate that Shannon McPhail’s op-ed (Industry, government signing agreements with wrong chiefs, September 26, 2018) seems to diminish what an amazing achievement it is for Coastal GasLink to have 100 per cent support along its pipeline route with the elected Indigenous bands and, at the same time, downplays the role of elected representatives in First Nations communities.

As the elected Chief Councillor for the Haisla Nation, we are proud to be counted among those nations that have negotiated agreements with Coastal GasLink for the benefit of our entire nation. Our decisions, as always, aim to enhance the quality of life for all Haisla members.

We of course only speak from the Haisla perspective, but the system we follow for economic development has created a very welcoming environment that works towards projects which are responsible and sustainable.

If we want to discuss a pathway to reconciliation, examples like the Coastal GasLink project are it. That is, creating those relationships and agreements to keep First Nations at the table, and to consider our expertise and input to creating safe projects.

Through economic development, we are achieving reconciliation, both with industry proponents and with the provincial government as well.

Getting in the way of that reconciliation, however, are pieces such as this which paints the picture that First Nations are confused with how they govern themselves. It’s not helpful and gets in the way of effective economic development.

What reconciliation may mean to other Nations is of course up to them individually.

What we can say though is that the Haisla Nation Council has the mandate from its members to pursue responsible LNG development. We do not go into agreements lightly, and we are proud of what we have accomplished with TransCanada on Coastal GasLink.

Crystal Smith

Haisla Nation Chief Councillor

haislakitimat kitamaatlng canada