Neskonlith Kukpi7 (Chief) Judy Wilson sees inaction by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and B.C. Premier John Horgan as the prime factor in the continuing protests across the country.
She said she expects blockades will continue until Trudeau meets with the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs, as they requested a year ago.
She points out that CP Rail issued an unprecedented letter for the company on Feb. 20 supporting the Wet’suwet’en and the request for dialogue with the prime minister. She hopes other citizens and companies will step up in the same way.
Wilson said Trudeau is able to travel around canvassing for a seat on the UN Security Council in other countries, but can’t take time to fly across Canada to meet with the Wet’suwet’en “and deal with this issue like a leader should be doing…”
Also, she pointed to Horgan’s trip to northern B.C. in mid-January to visit the LNG Canada project site in Kitimat when he did not make a requested visit with the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs.
Wilson says the real issue is the Delgamuukw case from 1997 (brought by Wet’suwet’en and Gitxsan hereditary chiefs), when the Supreme Court of Canada recognized property rights and title of the Wet’suwet’en for the territory. It also recognized that the hereditary chiefs who brought the case were the proper title holders.
“For the Wet’suwet’en, their lands were never surrendered or extinguished, they have territorial say and they did not agree 10 years ago to Coastal GasLink, and so the government’s been quietly going around trying to usurp them, trying to go around behind them by going to the different bands but they’re fully aware of the 1997 Delgamuukw case,” Wilson said. “When governments say they’re not sure who to talk to, they’re talking through both sides of their mouth on that issue.”
Wet’suwet’ens are not only shaping calls to action, she says, they’ve also shaped the legal history in Canada. The issue of inherent title and rights is very much tied to the issues of Secwepemc people, she notes.
“My heart and my soul and my everything continues to be with the people,” she says, referring to the Secwepemc people and those across Canada supporting the Wet’suwet’en, as well as the Wet’suwet’en themselves.
Wilson emphasizes this is tied to climate change, a wake-up call for the need to move away from oil and gas to a better, sustainable and renewable path which, so far, has been blocked by oil and gas.
“They want the revenue to go to the one per cent while the 99 per cent struggle from day to day and are the ones paying for the one per cent.”