Marching down Highway 16 in February 2019 in Smithers. B.C., chiefs gather in Smithers to support Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs’ position on Unist’ot’en camp and opposition to Coastal GasLink natural gas pipeline. (Chris Gareau photo)

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

Details surrounding the deal have not been released and remain confidential

The Wet’suwet’en have come to an agreement with the federal and provincial governments when it comes to future title negotiations and settling Indigenous territorial claims, according to one of the clans’ hereditary chiefs.

“The Wet’suwet’en People have reached consensus and have agreed to sign a memorandum of understanding between the federal government and province of B.C. to resume the full management of our Yintahs (lands) using our governance system,” Hereditary Chief Smogelgem said in a tweet on Saturday (April 28).

Further details of what the memorandum entails have not been released.

The agreement to sign the document does not resolve the ongoing conflict over the Coastal GasLink natural gas pipeline.

In February, the dispute reached heightened tension when the RCMP enforced a court-ordered injunction and subsequently raided a number of encampments along a forestry road just west of Houston, sparking solidarity protests and transport disruptions across the country.

A number of Indigenous peoples, matriarchs and allies were arrested in the process.

WATCH: First Nation supporters march to Premier John Horgan’s MLA office

Beyond the construction of the pipeline project, the dispute also involves other unsettled land rights and title issues, including who has the right to negotiate with governments and corporations, the fact that the land is not covered by a treaty and remains unceded, and a 1997 court case that recognized the hereditary chiefs’ authority and the exclusive right of the Wet’suwet’en peoples to the land but did not specify the boundaries.

ALSO READ: Wet’suwet’en and B.C. government have been talking Aboriginal title for over a year

Shortly after the court order was enforced, the hereditary chiefs and federal and provincial ministers entered days-long discussions, before coming to a proposed agreement in early March.

During that time, Coastal GasLink halted construction but has since resumed work along the route.

At the time, Chief Woos, one of the Wet’suwet’en hereditary leaders, called the draft a milestone for everyone involved but said the “degree of satisfaction is not what we expected.”

He stressed that the hereditary chiefs remain opposed to the pipeline in their traditional territory.

“We are going to be continuing to look at some more conversations with B.C. and of course with the proponent and further conversation with the RCMP,” Woos said. “It’s not over yet.”

READ MORE: Confusion surrounds terms of RCMP withdrawal

In a statement Monday (April 28), the Gidimt’en clan said that they had hoped discussions between hereditary leaders and government officials would “end the conflict on the ground” in the region.

“Although this is a step in the right direction, CGL [Coastal GasLink] continues to trespass on Wet’suwet’en territory in direct violation of the eviction order enforced by the Hereditary Chiefs on January 4th, 2020,” the statement reads.

“The details of Wet’suwet’en title discussions are not public, however, we can expect the success or failure of the ratification process to be announced by the nation within the next few months.

“Until then, we continue to oppose this project and demand that CGL and RCMP get out and stay out of Wet’suwet’en yintah.”

– with files from The Canadian Press

IndigenousPipeline

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

Just Posted

Vernon rapper feeds the need amid Strange Times

NOX donates to Food Bank for every stream

Armstrong restaurant heading to Shuswap

Fairways Bistro at Royal York Golf Course closes due to COVID but will reopen in Salmon Arm

Fundraiser launched to support Vernon gym owners forced to close amid COVID-19

9Round Fitness in Vernon Square Mall owners announced permanent closure of facility May 25

Salmon River upgraded to flood watch, residents warned to protect property

Forecast of high temperatures, rain could lead to rapid rise in waters in North Okanagan, Shuswap

Reconsider downtown Vernon OD prevention site: city council

Several members of council voiced concerns about Interior Health’s expansion

B.C. records no new COVID-19 deaths for the first time in weeks

Good news comes despite 11 new test-positive cases in B.C. in the past 24 hours

Peachland recovery task force proposes larger patios

Several initiatives proposed by the Peachland COVID-19 recovery task force will go to council tonight

Fatal motorcycle crash on Highway 97 near Summerland

The incident involving a motorcycle happened just before 4 p.m.

BC Corrections to expand list of eligible offenders for early release during pandemic

Non-violent offenders are being considered for early release through risk assessment process

Fraser Valley driver featured on ‘Highway Thru Hell’ TV show dies

Monkhouse died Sunday night of a heartattack, Jamie Davis towing confirmed

B.C. visitor centres get help with COVID-19 prevention measures

Destination B.C. gearing up for local, in-province tourism

36 soldiers test positive for COVID-19 after working in Ontario, Quebec care homes

Nearly 1,700 military members are working in long-term care homes overwhelmed by COVID-19

Most Read