Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs have agreed to sign a memorandum on rights and title with B.C. and Ottawa, but elected chiefs are demanding it be called off over lack of consultation. (Thom Barker photo)

Wet’suwet’en elected chiefs call for withdrawal of ‘premature’ agreement on rights and title

The elected chiefs claim negotiation process ignored them and many clan members

Elected chiefs of the Wet’suwet’en are calling for a retraction of a joint statement by the hereditary chiefs, B.C. officials and the federal government regarding the signing of a memorandum on rights and title.

The joint statement, released this week, noted that the groups reached an agreement on Feb. 29 in regards to the contents of a memorandom of understanding (MOU), which remain confidential. The MOU was created through a days-long discussion in Smithers earlier this year.

But in their own joint statement release on Friday (May 1), the elected chiefs of the Wet’suwet’en Nations say they don’t support the agreement.

“This MOU consultation process has lacked any semblance of credibility,” the statement reads.

“The federal government, the provincial government and the hereditary chiefs have completely ignored many clan members and elected chiefs. These discussions have not included openness and respect for all parties.”

READ MORE: Wet’suwet’en agree to sign memorandum on rights and title with B.C., Ottawa

Details of the memorandum have not been released, but the hereditary chiefs, federal and provincial governments agree it commits them to implement the rights and title of the First Nation.

The statement notes the signing of the MOU, tentatively scheduled for May 14, would come just after the 33rd anniversary of the beginning of the original Delgamuukw-Gisday’wa case in B.C. Supreme Court, which started on May 11, 1987.

In that case, the chief justice at the time ruled against the Wet’suwet’en and Gitxsan. A later Supreme Court of Canada decision in 1997 affirmed rights and title, but did not establish details such as the boundaries of the land claims, causing a series of conflicts and ambiguities in recent years – specifically in regards to pipeline projects in the area.

READ MORE: Story of Wet’suwet’en Chief Alfred Joseph Alfred (Gisday’wa) being told

The elected chiefs called the announcement of the MOU signing “premature” and have demanded it be withdrawn until after COVID-19 restrictions on large gatherings have been lifted.

“We welcome engagement and collaboration with our fellow clan members, the hereditary chiefs and all levels of government, once it is safe for our communities to gather,” they said.

The memorandum is aimed at addressing broader land claim issues and does not change anything in the ongoing dispute over the Coastal GasLink (CGL) pipeline. In an earlier statement on April 28, the hereditary chiefs called the MOU “a step in the right direction,” but reaffirmed their opposition to the natural gas project.

Opposition to construction of 670-kilometre pipeline set off demonstrations and blockades that shut down large parts of the national economy in February.

The five communities represented by the elected chiefs have all signed on to the project and a number of Wet’suwet’en people are working on the construction, which is ongoing.

The Interior News has an interview scheduled for this afternoon with Chief Maureen Luggi (elected leader of the Wet’suwet’en First Nation) and has reached out to the hereditary chiefs and province for comment on the disconnect between the two statements.



editor@interior-news.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Kimberley Arts Council keeping the arts alive during pandemic

Centre 64 is Kimberley remains closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but… Continue reading

The Weed Warrior: an invasive weed, new to the East Kootenay

Wild Parsnip is a plant that most of us don’t want to have a Close Encounter of any Kind with

Selkirk graduation in Kimberley will look very different this year

We have all had to change things in the face of the… Continue reading

Council to write letter of support for Kimberley Dynamiters

KIJHL teams all seeking financial support from the provincial government in wake of COVID-19

City Hall reopens Monday, June 1 with new safety measures in place

After carefully plotting out how and when to re-open its facilities while… Continue reading

11 new COVID-19 cases in B.C. as top doc urges caution amid ‘encouraging’ low rates

Dr. Bonnie Henry also announced that two care home outbreaks would be declared over

Surrey mayor’s party under fire for ‘sickening’ tweet accusing northern B.C. RCMP of murder

Mayor Doug McCallum says tweet, Facebook post ‘sent out by unauthorized person’

Father’s Day Walk Run for prostate cancer will be virtual event this year throughout B.C.

The annual fundraiser for Prostate Cancer Foundation BC has brought in $2.5 million since 1999

Dr. Bonnie Henry announces official ban on overnight kids’ camps this summer

New ban comes after talking with other provincial health officials across the country, Henry says

Senior man in hospital after unprovoked wolf attack near Prince Rupert

Conservation officers are on site looking for the wolf

Introducing the West Coast Traveller: A voyage of the mind

Top armchair travel content for Alaska, Yukon, BC, Alberta, Washington, Oregon and California!

VIDEO: NASA astronauts blast off into space on SpaceX rocket

Marks NASA’s first human spaceflight launched from U.S. soil in nearly a decade

‘I knew what he wanted’: Man recalls black bear chasing him up tree in Slocan Valley

Francis Levasseur is no stranger to the outdoors, but a recent run-in with a bear caused quite a scare

PHOTOS: U.S. cities brace for increasing unrest over police killing of George Floyd

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz has fully mobilized the state’s National Guard

Most Read