Will musicians against LNG compensate First Nations for losses?

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We saw in the news “over 200 musicians” stand in solidarity with the small minority who are in opposition to the Coastal GasLink pipeline in an open letter.

One has to wonder why they are not willing to stand in solidarity with the 100 per cent of elected Indigenous bands who have agreements in place and support this major investment into their communities.

Just this week, LNG Canada announced nearly $1 billion in contracts and subcontracts to First Nations enterprises and other businesses across Canada. That’s just a piece of the $40 billion private sector investment coming down the line, the largest ever announced in Canada.

Coastal GasLink has already awarded $620 million in contract work to Indigenous businesses, with “another anticipated $400 million in additional contract and employment opportunities for Indigenous and local B.C. communities.”

That’s just a piece of the $6.2 billion construction cost that will bring major benefits to communities in B.C. and across Canada.

Oh, and we forgot to mention the $48 million spent in northern B.C., with the over $2 million in community and Indigenous investments along the route.

Given these musicians clear commitment to standing in solidarity against Coastal GasLink, surely they are as equally committed to put their money where their mouth is to compensate these communities for the hundreds of millions of dollars that would be lost in contracts and community benefits if this pipeline was stopped?

Hopefully, we can look forward to an announcement from these musicians of a multi-billion dollar investment into Northern B.C. in the weeks ahead.

If that’s not something they have in mind, maybe they could try actually listening to Indigenous leaders and workers who back this project and want to see it go through.

Don’t take our word for it. Here is just a small sample of some of their words:

“We as a small band are really struggling and we want better education and economic development for our young generation and also we have housing problems. This talk with Coastal GasLink didn’t start yesterday, it’s been years in progress. We supported it.” – Hereditary Chief Helen Michelle, Skin Tyee Nation

“So I see the green light for LNG Canada as meaning not just jobs and revenue. To me, it means a chance for affected First Nations to take a small step toward narrowing that gap between their standard of living and that of non-Indigenous Canadians, and beginning to deal with a myriad of social problems.” – Karen Ogen-Toews, former elected chief of the West’suwet’en First Nation and CEO of the First Nations LNG Alliance 

“This land has been our home for thousands of years. The relationship between our Nation and industry has never been this healthy and open. Industry has come and gone from our Territory and not until now have we had this much influence in seeing it happen responsibly, and sustainably.” – Chief Councillor Cystal Smith, Haisla Nation 

If they ever change their minds, they can do a different kind of letter to support the Indigenous bands along the pipeline route who support Coastal GasLink. Just visit this link and tell the provincial government to remain firm in support of LNG and help see this project through!

-Evan Menzies

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