In January 2015, the Moricetown Indian Band signed on to receive millions of dollars in payments from two liquefied natural gas (LNG) deals.
One of these deals was a provincial government benefits agreement pertaining to TransCanada’s Coastal GasLink Pipeline. Under this agreement, Moricetown will receive approximately $6 million in benefits, including 37,000 cubic metres of forested land.
The second deal was to support Chevron Canada’s Pacific Trail Pipeline, a proposed 480-kilometre pipeline that would deliver gas from Summit Lake to Northwest B.C. Under this agreement, Moricetown will receive an immediate payment of $1.1 million and long-term financial rewards totaling $55.4 million.
While for some people those deals imply economic growth, not everyone is celebrating. In fact, the Moricetown Indian Band is now facing some backlash.
Theresa Morris, who sits with the Git’dum’den Clan of the Wet’suwet’en Nation and is a Moricetown Indian Band member, is taking the lead in bringing forward legal, social and environmental concerns.
In a press release, Morris said the Moricetown Indian Band membership was left out of the consultation process.
“Our people were burned out of their homes, forced to live on reserves, and be under the Indian Act. It has taken decades to re-build ourselves. Yet, the Moricetown chief and council do not respect our inherent rights or clan system, and are looking to make a quick buck on something that will impact us indefinitely,” read the press release.
According to Morris, there have been “procedural irregularities” leading up to the agreements. She says that only five out of the eleven elected band councillors voted in favour of these agreements.
Morris went on to caution her leadership [Moricetown Indian Band] that without band consent and support, they have no authority to sign away Wet’suwet’en title and rights to the land.
Morris and her supporters are planning a community meeting on May 3, 2015, to “review their options.”
Barry Nikal, Chief of the Moricetown Indian Band, told Lakes District News to speak directly to the band’s spokesperson. The spokesperson did not respond by press time.
Moricetown, located 30 km west of Smithers and 32 km east of Hazelton, is home to approximately 661 on-reserve members and 1129 off-reserve members.