B.C. LNG: First Nations appeal to UN to help stop Petronas project

First Nations leaders from northwestern British Columbia have taken their battle against a liquefied natural gas project to the United Nations.

Scientists have raised concerns about the project slated for Lelu Island

An artist's rendering of the proposed Pacific NorthWest LNG plant near Prince Rupert, B.C., showing the new suspension bridge design, included after concerns about the impact on fish habitat. (Pacific NorthWest LNG)

First Nations leaders from northwestern British Columbia have taken their battle against a Petronas-backed LNG project to the United Nations.

The group was scheduled to travel to New York Thursday to seek UN support for a demand that the Canadian government reject the LNG project proposed just south of Prince Rupert.

Opponents say the $36-billion Pacific Northwest plant, slated for Lelu Island at the mouth of the Skeena River, threatens wild salmon habitat on the second largest salmon bearing river in B.C.

Hereditary Chief of the Wet'suwet'en First Nation, John Ridsdale, says Prime Minister Justin Trudeau earned cheers at a recent UN forum by pledging to protect the rights of indigenous people.

But Ridsdale says the LNG development, backed by Malaysia's state oil company, Petronas, endangers that pledge and is "the wrong project in the wrong place at the wrong time."

Environmental assessment 

Environment Minister Catherine McKenna has said a cabinet decision on an environmental assessment covering the Pacific Northwest plant should be made by late June.

The B.C. government believes the project could generate more than 18,000 jobs and produce billions in revenue.

"We will not sell our salmon future for any price," Murray Smith, one of the House Leaders of the Gitwilgyoots Tribe, said in a news release.

The Gitwilgyoots Tribe is one of the Nine Allied Tribes of Lax Kw'alaams opposed to the LNG plant.

"We stand against this project for all the peoples of this world. We don't want money, we want justice. We invite you to join our battle, to add your voices to our struggle to protect the only home we have ever had," he said in the release.

Fellow Gitwilgyoots member Christine Smith-Martin says the group is respectfully asking the federal government to do the right thing, and wants to the world to bear witness to its concerns.