PETRONAS and other Asian companies want to build the Pacific NorthWest LNG facility on Lelu Island.

PETRONAS and other Asian companies want to build the Pacific NorthWest LNG facility on Lelu Island.

Fake news? Not in northwestern B.C.

Aboriginal, environmental groups express legitimate concerns surrounding LNG development.

Dear Sir:

In his Jan. 17, 2017 BC Views online column, “Fake news is all around us,” Tom Fletcher accused our organization and others of spreading “fake news”. We have a number of questions for Mr. Fletcher.

To begin, why did you not contact me – or any of the organizations or aboriginal groups you are claiming put out fake news – to check your assumptions and “facts”? That is, after all, what professional reporters do for a living.

Next, the groups involved in the litigation, who are working to keep Petronas off of critical salmon habitat, have legitimate concerns.

And, yes, we are working together to protect the salmon. This is no secret. Our collaboration with these groups certainly doesn’t constitute “fake news”.

Are you saying our groups do not have legitimate concerns about the potential impacts of this project on our salmon?

You insinuate SkeenaWild and Skeena Watershed Conservation Coalition are pulling the strings behind the scenes. Are you saying that the Gitanyow hereditary chiefs, Gitwilgyoots tribe, Office of the Wet’suwet’en Chiefs, chiefs of Gwininitxw and Luukudziiwus, and the Council of the Haida Nation are not able to think for themselves?

Are you saying conservation groups are manipulating them to oppose this development?

You mention that American foundations fund our groups. I am not sure how this information is relevant. However, since you mention funding, why do you not also mention that foreign money – the state-owned oil and gas companies of Malaysia and China – also fund Pacific NorthWest LNG?

You also fail to mention that Black Press, the company which owns newspapers in the northwest, including The Terrace Standard, and their websites, pays your salary and has a vested interest in this issue.

Black Press makes money selling advertising to the LNG and oil industry. Further, David Black, the proponent of an oil refinery near Kitimat, owns Black Press.

You state Gitxsan and other groups are upriver, insinuating they have no interest in bringing legal challenges or concerns forward about the project.

The fact is this facility has the potential to impact the salmon that upriver First Nations depend on for food. Their rights to those salmon are constitutionally protected.

Court decision after court decision have stated aboriginal groups who could be impacted by a project need to be consulted. Extensive scientific work over the last 40 years by the federal government, Simon Fraser University, Skeena Fisheries Commission, and Lax Kw’alaams Fisheries shows Flora and Agnew Banks are critically important to all Skeena salmon populations.

In the 1970s and 80s, federal scientists recommended against development in this exact location. Why did you not include any of this important context in your opinion piece?

You mention that 9 of 10 Gitxsan chiefs have signed an agreement in support of the project. While it is true 9 of 10 Gitxsan chiefs whose territory the pipeline (that would feed PNW LNG) would cross have signed an agreement, you fail to mention there are 52 other Gitxsan hereditary chiefs who did not sign.

All of these chiefs (and all Gitxsan members) rely on the area that would be impacted by the project for the health of their salmon. Why did you not clarify this?

Finally, your “facts” need a couple additional corrections: the Unist’ot’en camp is in the Morice Valley, not the Suskwa Valley; and an independent filmmaker filmed the “slick video” about the occupation camp on Lelu Island last summer. SkeenaWild and Skeena Watershed Conservation Coalition had nothing to do with the video you referenced.

It appears you are correct. Fake news is all around us.

Greg Knox, Executive Director,

SkeenaWild Conservation Trust,

Terrace, B.C.