First Nation, environmentalists rally against Shell project

Members of a northern B.C. First Nation and their supporters rallied Friday afternoon outside the Supreme Court to protest Shell’s plans for a coal-bed methane project on lands they claim as their ancestral territory.

The rally was supported by Western Canada Wilderness Committee and attended by about 100 people, including environmentalist David Suzuki.

The Tahltan First Nation has blocked access to what they call the Sacred Headwaters, at the source of the Skeena, Nass and Stikine rivers.

Shell was in court Friday seeking an injunction that would allow them to arrest people at the blockade so the company can proceed with its project.

“Our resolve to protect our Sacred Headwaters is stronger than ever,” said Oscar Dennis, a Tahltan spokesman in a release. “Our blockade will stand until we see [the land] protected from Shell.”

Environmentalists said they are concerned the province has opened the door to the energy projects without proof they are safe.

“The B.C. government continues to push coal-bed methane on communities against their wishes,” said Will Horter of the Victoria-based Dogwood Initiative.

“This is a risky, unproven industry and it’s time the B.C. Ministry of Energy and Mines started standing up for its citizens instead of acting as Shell’s marketing department.”

A similar protest was held in Smithers.