The Innu First Nations of Mashteuiatsh, Pessamit and Essipit say they are ready to take measures, even legal proceedings, to prevent the construction of LNG Quebec’s Énergie Saguenay project on their territories.
The statement released Friday was a response to comments from GNL Quebec president Tony Le Verger, who said last weekend that he wanted to continue negotiations with Indigenous communities.
Charles-Edouard Verreault, vice-chief of the Mashteuiatsh First Nation and spokesperson for the three Innu First Nations, said in an interview on Friday that GNL Quebec will not receive their consent.
The Innu First Nations had already expressed their opposition to the multi-billion dollar plan in May, following the publication of the report of the Quebec Environmental Review Commission on the project.
“We have listened, we have done our own research on the project, and following the conclusions of the BAPE report, it is clear that our position will remain the same,” said Verreault. “This project will not take place in our territories. “
The 500-page report by the BAPE, Office of Public Hearings on the Environment, said the benefits of the 750-kilometer-long pipeline would not outweigh the associated environmental costs. The review of the project elicited the greatest response of all BAPE reports with over 2,500 briefs submitted, 91% of which were against the idea.
“As mentioned in the report, GNL Quebec has no way of ensuring that liquefied natural gas would serve as an effective substitute for polluting fuels already used in targeted export markets,” said Verreault. “It is impossible for the company to meet its commitment to reduce greenhouse gases.
GNL Quebec spokesperson Louis-Martin Leclerc said in an interview that the company remains open to negotiations with the communities to explain the benefits of the project.
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“We are and remain open to dialogue in order to have the opportunity to explain our commitments and to demonstrate that the Énergie Saguenay project will provide liquefied natural gas with the lowest carbon footprint in the world, thus making an important contribution to the fight against climate change. , Leclerc said.
The Énergie Saguenay project was first presented to Indigenous communities in 2014 as a measure to fight climate change, said Verreault.
The proposed route would transport liquefied natural gas from western Canada to a liquefaction plant in Port Saguenay, Quebec. However, Verreault said the road will pass through Indigenous lands.
For the Innu First Nations, accepting a project that could pose environmental threats would go against ancestral values, he said.
“This territory is where our ancestors have been established for centuries and where we hold ancestral rights and Innu titles,” said Verreault.
The ancestral rights of the Innu First Nations have not yet been officially recognized by the Government of Quebec.
Quebec Native Affairs Minister Ian Lafrenière said on Friday that he was aware of the position of the Innu but was awaiting Environment Minister Benoit Charette’s decision on the project.
The Quebec government said in April that it would make a decision on whether to give the project the green light by the end of the summer.
“All the options are on the table, in terms of actions we could take (to stop the project) if the government goes ahead,” Verreault said.
“There is no way that GNL Québec will see the light of day on Innu territory.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published on July 17, 2021.
Virginie Ann, The Canadian Press