Haisla Nation taking delivery of new tugboats as B.C. LNG project approved to proceed

The Haisla Nation on Canada’s west coast has reason to celebrate.  

The community’s $3 billion proposed Cedar LNG project now has provincial and federal environmental approval to proceed.  

Meanwhile, the Nation is taking delivery of a fleet of environmentally friendly tugboats to support the LNG Canada project.  

Days before Cedar LNG’s approval, HaiSea Marine, majority owned by the Haisla Nation in partnership with shipbuilder Seaspan ULC, celebrated the naming and blessing of its new tugboat fleet, which is under construction in Istanbul, Turkiye.  

The fleet – with arrival dates in 2023 – includes three fully electric harbour tugs and two LNG-powered escort tugs that will guide LNG carriers through the Douglas Channel to open water – 36 hours round trip. 

 This is the longest escort in the world at 159 nautical miles,” said Capt. Jordan Pechie, a master mariner with HaiSea Marine. He said all five tugs have private cabins for each crew member – unique in the tugboat industry. 

The world’s first fully electric tugboats will be used to maneuver LNG carriers in the Port of Kitimat. Photo courtesy HaiSea Marine

The Haisla Nation/Seaspan joint venture is designed to ensure employment opportunities for community members, said Haisla Chief Councillor Crystal Smith during a ceremony in Turkiye 

 It is meaningful to be here on behalf of the Haisla Nation to celebrate the naming and blessing of the first vessels in the HaiSea fleet,” she said.

“The HaiSea Wee’git, HaiSea Wamis, and HaiSea Brave were named by Haisla members and carry special meaning for our people, history, and territory.”

Among the traditional people of Canada’s west coast, Wee’git was a character of wide repute, who was well known for getting things done and bringing light into the world. Wamis was the first settler of Kitamaat, who sought sanctuary. Brave is the name of all the sports teams in Haisla territory and has been emblazoned across Haisla jerseys for decades.

Two more boats are dedicated to other communities – Warrior is the name of Gitxaala Nation’s basketball team, and Kermode the spirit bear is a traditional representation of the region and territory for the Gitga’at Nation.

The fleet will provide ship-docking and escort towing services for LNG carriers in the Port of Kitimat. The businesses will help create an economic and social transformation in Haisla territory, Smith said.  

Approval of the Cedar LNG project, a partnership with Pembina Pipeline Corporation, expands potential opportunity for the community.  

Once completed, the export facility will be one of the largest industrial projects ever developed by an Indigenous community in Canada. Cedar LNG would be located near the LNG Canada facility, which is expected to begin operating mid-decade. Both projects will source natural gas from the Coastal GasLink pipeline. 

Today is not just about the approval of an LNG facility,” Smith said this week as B.C. announced approval for the project to proceed.

“Today is about changing the course of history for my nation and Indigenous peoples everywhere – a history where Indigenous people were left on the sidelines of economic development in their territories. We can take charge of our future and be partners with industry, government and other communities.”  

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