How Haisla Nation's Cedar LNG Project is a New Dawn for Indigenous Peoples

How Haisla Nation's Cedar LNG Project is a New Dawn for Indigenous Peoples

rendering of Cedar LNG offshore floating LNG export facility

Rendering of Cedar LNG

Who formed the partnership between Haisla Nation and Cedar LNG, and why? Who benefits from this project? Is there First Nations support for this project, and if so, what can we learn from it?

Into the Water

The Haisla Nation and Pembina Pipeline Corp. Cedar LNG first proposed this project to the government in 2019.  Since then, this partnership has proven to be successful in achieving the details of the project, such as government approval and recently B.C.’s Environmental Assessment Certificate.

Plans for the $3 billion floating export terminal in Kitimat is to start shipping to places like Asia by 2027. There is a market for Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) worldwide, which is expected to grow dramatically over the next several years.

Dwellers Down River

It’s not hard to see the pride in the faces of people from Haisla Nation as this project has evolved. Particularly Chief Councillor Crystal Smith and former Chief Councillor Ellis Ross as they tirelessly negotiated to have their people as partners in the project from the conception through to the operational stage.

Despite being Indigenous, I am not from the Haisla Nation but I consider this a positive step forward for all Indigenous people in Canada. Additionally, to see a female Indigenous Chief so passionate about making change in her community while implementing their cultural values and maintaining responsible social and environmental priorities into this major project is undeniably inspiring.

The impact this project will have on Indigenous people may begin with the Haisla people, their community, and the region surrounding them. But it also includes those families and businesses involved with this project, whether that be BC Hydro to supply renewable power, or smaller companies that are providing goods and services in the area.

Our country and the world stand to benefit immensely from Cedar LNG, as it will ship some of the lowest GHG-emitting LNG globally and be a go-to source of natural gas as the world looks to transition to renewables.

There Will Always Be Naysayers

Realistically, there will always be people who do not want someone or something to succeed, I call this the glass half empty mentality. The same seems to ring true for energy projects in Canada.

Let us just say that anti-oil and gas protestors don’t go unnoticed. When First Nations stand up to support energy projects in Canada, the backlash from these opponents seems extreme.  Stating those of us who encourage Indigenous partnerships with energy companies are “colonialized” misunderstand that partnerships create economic reconciliation. It is also a bit insensitive, as we have the right to choose to support the responsible development of natural resources in Canada if we want to.

The opportunities for Indigenous communities to improve their quality of living through housing, drinkable water, proper education, modern healthcare, and social programs like mental health counselling are essential to our people.

Who Are We Becoming?

“We” Indigenous people are becoming educated, business-oriented, partners in large energy projects, owners of businesses, independent of government dependence, and breaking away from negative stereotypes of Indigenous people. We are regaining our culture, languages, and spirituality, while remaining stewards of the land – that will never change.

What we learn is that Haisla Nation and the Cedar LNG project will change history in regards to how oil and gas projects work with Indigenous people. Involving Indigenous people from the beginning stages of a project, throughout the project, and for generations to come is how you can build better relationships with local communities, advance economic reconciliation with First Nations, protect the environment, and perhaps get some new major energy projects built while at it.

About the Author

Estella Petersen - Heavy Equipment Operator & Indigenous Woman in the Oil Sands

Estella Petersen is a heavy machinery operator in the oil sands out of Fort McMurray. Estella is from the Cowessess Reserve and is passionate about Canada and supporting Canadian natural resources.