Chief Crystal Smith shares insights into the Haisla Nation's revolutionary approach to sustainable resource development.
Haisla Chief Councillor Crystal Smith.
Partnership in responsible natural gas development has sparked prosperity, hope, and cultural renewal within the Haisla Nation. However, the Nation’s success was never inevitable.
When natural gas proponents first began reaching out in 2011 about plans to build projects in the territory, the conversation wasn’t about partnerships, but rather looking for the green light to proceed. Even so, these talks opened the doors to new possibilities.
“This wasn’t an overnight success,” says Haisla Chief Councillor Crystal Smith. “It took many people who believed in the vision of what we wanted, and understood what it would take to reach these goals. It was their work that convinced these proponents they needed to think about partnerships as their way forward.”
Today, agreements with projects like LNG Canada and the Coastal GasLink pipeline have increased the Haisla Nation’s capacity to generate its own prosperity and build up the strength and health of their community.
“Joint venture partnerships are creating opportunities for us to become self-sufficient,” Smith continues. “Our people have the doors open to seek education and to build good careers, in natural gas or anywhere else. Our Nation is reconnected as well with our culture and language, rebuilding our people’s confidence and identity.”
Agreements with developers have opened the doors, but it's a springboard for Haisla who are looking to future projects with natural gas to advance the ambitions of a net zero future.
Haisla Nation has partnered with Pembina Pipeline Corporation in a proposal to develop a floating liquefied natural gas facility in their territory, on a site directly across the Douglas Channel from Haisla’s home community, Kitamaat Village.
This project, Cedar LNG, uses innovative designs to produce low-carbon, low-cost liquefied natural gas, to minimize impacts while building an ongoing legacy for future generations of Haisla, and other regional communities.
“We can only become a strong and independent people by working together with government and business, and within our community, with a spirit of respect and cooperation,” says Smith. “By being a partner in projects we are able to create opportunity while ensuring the work is done in a responsible manner that respects our environment and traditions.”
Smith is the Chair of the First Nations LNG Alliance, which she has held since 2019. The Alliance is committed to encouraging First Nations development of LNG, to provide employment and other sustainable benefits.
This article was originally published by The Indigenous Partnerships Success Showcase.