Other First Nations get behind Coast Tsimshian

Other First Nations get behind Coast Tsimshian

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Form the Daily News, May 3 – An alliance of Coastal First Nations have thrown their support behind Lax Kw’alaams and Metlakatla and are calling on the federal government to resume its discussions with the Coast Tsimshian on the Prince Rupert Port expansion.

“We fully support the Coast Tsimshian on this issue,” said Art Sterritt. executive director of the Coastal First Nations. “There is no question of the existence of the rights and interests of all the Coastal First Nations and particularly those people closest to the project. The Lax Kw’alaams and Metlakatla First Nations have been reasonable in their position with the federal government on the port expansion. We fully support and we support them in their objective of having ensuring that their social, environmental and economic concerns are met before the project can proceeds.”

The Coastal First Nations recently passed a resolution to support the Coast Tsimshian. In their support, the alliance of Coastal First Nations noted ‘That they strongly support the actions of Metlakatla and Lax Kw’alaams in regard to the issues related to the development of the Port of Prince Rupert, and furthermore, have resolved to commit to become actively involved in the development and implementation of an action plan, including with meeting in Prince Rupert to provide our support to the two First Nations on this issue.” (source)



For thousands of years prior to contact the Prince Rupert harbour was an area of bustling population, commerce, and culture. It was home to members of the Metlakatla and Lax Kw’alaams First Nations (commonly know as the Coast Tsimshian peoples).

In an effort to revitalize the regional economy the Prince Rupert Port Authority and the Federal Government are in the process of developing a container port in that area.

The Port is being constructed on unceded lands and over an ancient village site:

The Coast Tsimshian believe that the Port Development provides an opportunity to create a healthy economy for all residents in Prince Rupert and the surrounding region. All that we are asking is to share in the benefits from our lands and to become an active partner in developing a healthy regional economy.

In light of this our people cannot allow Phase I of the port development to commence operations until our interests have been addressed.

The Supreme Court of Canada has clearly stated that the Federal Government has a duty to consult and accommodate the aboriginal rights and title interests of the Coast Tsimshian. In a recent court ruling on the expansion of the Prince Rupert Port, Judge J. Finkenstien stated:

“I fail to see how the court can find the consultation and the accommodation offered to be reasonable where the process started out on such a misconception and minimization of the Coast Tsimshian’s claim.”

We are calling on the Federal Government to meet its obligations with respect to our First Nation communities.

We are pleased, as well, with the support give to us by other Coastal First Nation communities including the Council of the Haida Nation, the Gitga’at, Heiltsuk, Homalco, Haisla, Kitasso/Xaixais, Skidegate, Wuikinuxv, and Old Massett, who have resolved to stand with us.

On behalf of our respective first Nations:

Chief Councillor Garry Reece
Lax Kw’alaams

Chief Councillor Harold Leighton
Metlakatla Band

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