Wet’suwet’en Chiefs Challenge Recent Unist’ot’en Camp Media Coverage

Wet’suwet’en First Nation Chief Karen Ogen.

Wet’suwet’en First Nation Chief Karen Ogen.

Wet’suwet’en Chiefs Say Unist’ot’en Do Not Speak For Their Nations

BURNS LAKE, BC, Aug. 31, 2015 /CNW/ – Wet’suwet’en First Nation Chief Karen Ogen, Nee Tahi Buhn Chief Ray Morris, Burns Lake Band Chief Dan George, and Skin Tyee Nation Chief Rene Skin, say they are disappointed at recent media coverage that represents the Unist’ot’en as speaking for their Nations, and that fails to represent the complexity of the issues.

“We have long believed it is short sighted to turn down projects such as the Coastal GasLink project before understanding the true risks and benefits; that is just an easy way to avoid dealing with complex issues,” says Chief Ogen, spokesperson for the four Chiefs and for the First Nations LNG Alliance, a group of First Nations that support LNG development in British Columbia. Chief Dan George states, “Our Nations support responsible resource development as a way to bring First Nations out of poverty and bring opportunities for our young people.”

The Chiefs say they are also concerned with the number of individuals and groups, some Aboriginal, some political, some environmental and others, who have signed the We Stand with the Unistoten petition. “The definition of sustainability for some of the groups who signed the petition and live in the Lower Mainland of British Columbia, elsewhere in Canada and outside the country, is very different from what it means for Nations in northern British Columbia that are anxious to climb out of poverty and find meaningful opportunity. This issue needs to be resolved by the Wet’suwet’en people, and not by others who hold no interest in our land,” says Chief Skin.

After careful study and consideration of the dedicated natural gas pipeline, a number of First Nations entered into benefits agreements with Coastal GasLink once they were satisfied that economic and social benefits would be balanced with the protection of the environment.

The Chiefs also point out that should the Coastal GasLink project proceed, the Unist’ot’en Camp that has been established at the Morice River Bridge, could continue to operate, as a proposed route option, requested by some of the Hereditary Chiefs for Coastal GasLink to consider, if selected, would not conflict with the continuance of the Camp.

“It is in times of crisis where we have the greatest opportunity to come together as Wet’suwet’en leaders,” says Chief Ogen. “There is a way to work together to find a path forward and keep everyone safe.” “We are urging all Wet’suwet’en leaders – First Nation and Hereditary Chiefs – to meet as soon as possible to discuss a path forward. We as leaders are responsible for the collective well being of Wet’suwet’en people. We have an obligation to work together in our collective interest to represent our people,” states Chief Morris.

By participating in these processes with industry, and by collaborating among First Nations, the Chiefs believe that First Nations have the opportunity to raise the bar on environmental protection. “Environmentalism must mean more than just saying no,” Chief Ogen said. “There is no doubt sustainability means protecting our environment. But sustainability also means ensuring our people have access to real opportunities and a decent standard of living. Sustainability means standing on our own two feet, providing our young people with good paying jobs, and reducing the 40 to 60% unemployment we now experience. Already, many of our members have been working on this project, which brings tangible benefits to our communities.”

The four Chiefs are confident the path forward for First Nations is to collaborate and find ways to balance environmental protection with economic opportunity, and in the process, create a more sustainable future for all.

Wet’suwet’en First Nation Chief Karen Ogen
Nee Tahi Buhn Chief Ray Morris
Burns Lake Band Chief Dan George
Skin Tyee Nation Chief Rene Skin

SOURCE: Wet’suwet’en First Nation


5 thoughts on “Wet’suwet’en Chiefs Challenge Recent Unist’ot’en Camp Media Coverage

  1. Terrace Daily

    Karen Ogen only speaks for the Broman Lake Band, she does not speak for the Wet’suwet’en on any level. This is another “white man speak with forked tongue” trick. In December of 2011, at the same time Gitxsan man Elmer Derrick signed a deal with Enbridge, the Federal Government changed the names of dozens upon dozens of Band councils, most the use the word “Nation” in their new name. The Broman Lake Band was suddenly now allowed to call themselves the “Wet’suwet’en First Nation”. The true Wet’suwet’en peoples are led by their Hereditary Chiefs and they have an office in Smithers. Chief Namoks (John Ridsdale) is the head spokesperson for the Chiefs and he is clear, they have all discussed this and all stand united against any and all pipelines through their Nations territories. Namoks made it very clear in this address – http://www.mwpr.ca/show11166a300x300y1z/BC_DOESNT_HAVE_THE_FINAL_SAY_ON_ENBRIDGE_NOR_DOES_HARPER

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Rhea

    Unist’ot’en Nation speaks for us all. I and my children are members of the Burns Lake Band and have no voice like many others in the surrounding Nations. Those out on the land protecting our most precious resources are the true leaders. We can all learn from each of them what it means to be Wet’suwet’en. I will never support these false ideas of sustainability. We as a nation can surely find a way to meet everyone’s needs without encouraging total destruction of the Territory. There is no amount of $ money worth our future.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Donna Polgar

    I’m quite surprised by this article, and that the respected Chiefs feel their people will come out of this with jobs. These jobs are temporary in nature. Not only will there not be permanent jobs, the hunting grounds will be destroyed in the process, and where will your people get their food.

    As well, from the reports Christie Clarke is already allowing Petronas, the Malaysian company, to use foreign workers on their proposed sites.

    We also signed the petition as we do not condone RCMP terrorist tactics and bullying of the Aboriginal peoples. RCMP are paid by the taxpayers and should be upholding the laws of Canada, which include the Constitution.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Gragor Gorgra

    “…The Chiefs also point out that should the Coastal GasLink project proceed …” They are already clearing the right of way which are the corridors allowing for human and animal predation on species living within the sectors transected.

    So this isn’t a ‘ should … proceed’ kind of proposition. The damage is already a done deal. Just not all the damage that is going to occur. Allowing them to get the right of way just makes the project harder to stop. Even if they don’t build the pipeline the damage to the wildlife has already commenced.

    These LNG projects could already be a bust and never get built. Power to the Unist’ot’en activists for stopping the damage from being done to their territory before there is even a viable project.


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