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The elected chiefs called the announcement of the MOU signing “premature” and have demanded it be withdrawn until after COVID-19 restrictions on large gatherings have been lifted.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

Vernon gym knocked out by COVID-19

9Round Fitness in Vernon Square Mall owners announce permanent closure of facility

North Okanagan regional district board delays food scraps ban

Move is to help businesses and organizations during pandemic

2019 payroll costs City of Vernon $26M

City discloses remuneration report and CAO is top earner

Vernon minor hockey players make cut for documentary

Hockey 24 includes Austin Seibel and his Vernon Tier 2 Bantam teammates, filmed by Coldstream woman

Power knocked out for 1,700 Lake Country residents

BC Hydro crews on scene to restore the outage

Video: Okanagan mayors encourage water conservation this summer

Water conservation this summer could be more important than ever, experts say

Snapshot: Distanced dancing in Salmon Arm

Friends use picnic shelter at Blackburn Park for safe practice

Kelowna’s Homebase Baseball Tournament cancelled

A live auction will still take place to raise funds for Joeanna’s House

Kelowna General Hospital Foundation launches fundraising initiative to support local health care

The initiative also highlights workers at Kelowna General Hospital

Kelowna man charged with harming a hamster

The 20-year-old Kelowna man faces several animal cruelty charges

High tech fish transport system set up to ‘whoosh’ salmon past Big Bar landslide

Fish will spend roughly 20 seconds inside the system, moving at roughly 20 metres per second

Trudeau to seek 10 days of paid sick leave for Canadian workers, says talks are ongoing

Paid sick leave is key to keeping COVID-19 spread under control, prime minister says

Snowbirds jets will not be leaving Kamloops, just yet

The Snowbirds have been in Kamloops since May 17 when a plane crashed killing Capt. Jennifer Casey

COVID-19 checkpoints ‘up to them,’ Bonnie Henry says of remote B.C. villages

Support local tourism economy, but only if you’re invited in

Most Read