Tag Archives: Wet’suwet’en Nation

Wet’suwet’en elected chiefs demand inclusion in negotiations with government

People take part in a protest in solidarity with the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs opposed to the LNG pipeline in northern B.C. near Confederation Bridge in Borden, Prince Edward Island on Feb. 17, 2020. With the hereditary chiefs now on a fast track to settle Indigenous rights and title, elected leaders who have approved the pipeline project say they cannot be ignored. JOHN MORRIS/THE CANADIAN PRESS

Elected band council chiefs of Wet’suwet’en Nation are demanding a voice on the tentative agreement reached this past weekend between hereditary chiefs and the governments of Canada and British Columbia, saying negotiations so far have taken place without their involvement.

The division between elected and hereditary chiefs of the Wet’suwet’en has been exposed by the construction of the Coastal GasLink pipeline through their traditional lands. Now, as the hereditary chiefs are on a fast track to settle Indigenous rights and title, elected leaders who have approved the pipeline project say they cannot be ignored.

“Negotiation of this agreement to date has moved forward without our Wet’suwet’en communities,” the elected chiefs representing the Nee Tahi Buhn Indian Band, Skin Tyee Nation, Ts’il Kaz Koh (Burns Lake) First Nation, Wet’suwet’en First Nation and the Witset First Nation stated in a joint news release.

“We need to be engaged in our feast hall, in our respective communities to ensure all of our clan members are heard and acknowledged.”

Chief Patricia Prince, of the Nee Tahi Buhn Indian Band, said Tuesday the hereditary chiefs, through the Office of the Wet’suwet’en, a non-profit society, have invited her community to travel to Smithers, B.C., to discuss the terms of the proposed agreement, which have not been publicly disclosed.

“I’m not sure I can load up all our members and take them there,” she said in an interview. “We need collaboration. I would like to see them come to our communities and address our members.”

Sparked by a countrywide conflict over the pipeline, representatives of the hereditary chiefs and the Indigenous relations ministers for Canada and British Columbia met for three days in Smithers last week.

The pipeline dispute remains unresolved, with hereditary chiefs remaining opposed to the project. But the negotiations resulted in a proposal to expedite negotiations to implement Wet’suwet’en rights and title, pending ratification by Wet’suwet’en clan members.

The Wet’suwet’en say their unceded traditional territory covers 22,000 square kilometres in British Columbia. About 190 kilometres of the 670-kilometre pipeline route cross Wet’suwet’en territory.

There have been solidarity protests across the country since early February, when the RCMP arrested 28 people along a B.C. logging road while enforcing a court order sought by Coastal GasLink to gain access to pipeline work sites.

B.C. Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation Scott Fraser said Tuesday he has been in touch with both the elected and hereditary chiefs about the ratification process that is expected to conclude by March 13.

He said in an interview he expects the ratification will include both elected and hereditary leaders – and the Wet’suwet’en people.

“It’s an opportunity to address rights and title issues, and governance issues, in a meaningful way,” he said. “I’m urging all to make sure that it’s an inclusive process that will withstand scrutiny.”

However, Mr. Fraser is unclear of the details of how the ratification will be conducted. He referred to a vote, but the traditional governance of the Wet’suwet’en is through feasts, where hereditary leaders are held accountable to their people.

The Wet’suwet’en Nation comprises five clans, under which there are 13 house groups, each with a hereditary head chief position (four are currently vacant). One house chief has taken a neutral position on the pipeline project.

There are eight hereditary house chiefs spanning the five clans who are opposed to Coastal GasLink. So far, three of the clans scheduled meetings this week.

Organizers have been seeking to set up access for off-reserve members to listen in on the meetings.

The Wet’suwet’en have been fighting for recognition of their rights and title for decades and a resolution is not expected quickly. But the consultation process now taking place is expected to lead to some clarity about the opposition to the pipeline within the community.

Elected band councils along the pipeline route have signed benefit agreements to work with the company.

The elected chief of the Wet’suwet’en First Nation, Maureen Luggi, said engagement by the hereditary chiefs has been “extremely minimal,” but she said the hereditary chiefs have agreed to come to her community on March 11 to outline the proposed deal.

Chief Luggi said this is the time for the elected and hereditary leaders to come together. “We want to work with them and be on the same page,” she said in an interview. “People in the public say the Wet’suwet’en need to resolve our matters, and I agree with that.”

While some protests continue, CN announced Tuesday it has started calling back most of the rail company’s temporarily laid off employees based in Eastern Canada.

More than 1,400 trains, including passenger trains, were delayed or cancelled because of the blockades, but there have been no significant illegal actions since the weekend.

Transport Minister Marc Garneau said it was a “positive development” for railways, CN workers and communities affected by recent rail disruptions. “I’m pleased to see our railway network on its way to recovery,” Mr. Garneau said on Twitter.

This article first appeared in The Globe and Mail.

[SOURCE]

Arrests made at rail blockade near New Hazelton, tires slashed on RCMP cars

RCMP before the arrests at the rail blockade near New Hazelton, north of Smithers, B.C.. on Monday evening. (Photo: Dinize Ste ohn tsiy (Rob)/Twitter)

Arrests made, tires slashed on patrol cars: RCMP

VANCOUVER — A First Nation leader says he was among several people arrested Monday night at a blockade outside New Hazelton on territory that neighbours the Wet’suwet’en Nation.

Hereditary Chief Spookwx of the Gitxsan Nation said Tuesday three other hereditary chiefs were also taken into custody as the RCMP broke up the demonstration on a CN Rail line in northern British Columbia.

The RCMP said 14 people were arrested.

A similar blockade was set up by the Gitxsan earlier this month and removed as a show of good faith on Feb. 13, but Spookwx said the protest resumed because the RCMP have not acted quickly enough to leave the Wet’suwet’en’s traditional territory where a natural gas pipeline is under construction.

Elsewhere in B.C., anti-pipeline protests blocked an intersection that serves as a key entry point to the port of Vancouver, and a group of protesters remained at the B.C. legislature.

Vancouver police told the demonstrators to move out of the intersection at the port or risk arrest for violating a court injunction, and most of the estimated 70 protesters had moved to the sidewalk.

Commuter rail service was moving again between Vancouver and the Fraser Valley after demonstrators blocked rail tracks late Monday afternoon, saying they were acting in support of Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs opposed to the Coastal GasLink pipeline.

Following his arrest on Monday night, Spookwx said supporters blocked Highway 16, the main route through the region, until about 3:30 a.m. when all the people arrested were released.

Spookwx, who also goes by Norm Stephens, said First Nations across Canada must act together as sovereignty issues raised by the construction of the pipeline are addressed because “their rights are ultimately at risk here.”

“The First Peoples of Canada should be treated with respect,” he added.

At least two dozen people blocked the tracks west of New Hazelton, the RCMP said in a statement.

One train reportedly nearly hit a male on the tracks, just before CN Rail was made aware of the blockade, the statement said.

The RCMP enforced the injunction at the request of CN Rail and the Mounties said those arrested were released on the condition that they abide by the injunction order and attend an upcoming court date.

Before midnight, police officers noted the tires were slashed on four patrol cars parked across from the highway, which the RCMP is investigating.

“We would like to remind the public that any attempts to block rail tracks is extremely dangerous and unlawful,” Cpl. Madonna Saunderson said in the news release.

“Should they put themselves in harm’s way, protesters are not only putting their own lives at risk, they are also putting the lives of train operators, rail employees, responding police officers and members of the public at risk.”

The Canadian Press, published Feb. 25, 2020.

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Wet’suwet’en complaints about pipeline builder to be probed by government, police

RCMP officers join hereditary chiefs and supporters as they walk towards Unist’ot’en camp near Houston, B.C., on Wednesday, January 9, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS

Wet’suwet’en say traplines and tents destroyed, archeological impact assessment not yet done

The British Columbia government says it will inspect the site of a planned natural gas pipeline southwest of Houston following allegations that the company building the project is violating its permits.

Members of the Wet’suwet’en Nation and supporters have alleged that Coastal GasLink is engaging in construction activity without an archeological impact assessment and also destroyed traplines and tents unnecessarily.

The Ministry of Energy, Mines, and Petroleum Resources says in a statement that joint site inspection will be conducted by the province’s Environmental Assessment Office and the B.C. Oil and Gas Commission next week.

“We anticipate that it will take some time subsequently to determine whether any non-compliances are evident and, if so, the appropriate enforcement action,” the ministry said.

The RCMP also said it has received complaints from both the Office of the Wet’suwet’en and Coastal GasLink regarding traplines and the removal of personal property items.

“We are following up on all complaints and continue to facilitate ongoing and direct dialogue between all parties regarding various issues,” the RCMP said.

Gidimt’en say 3 tents bulldozed

Trans Canada-owned Coastal GasLink is working to build a natural gas pipeline from northeastern British Columbia to LNG’s export facility on the coast as part of a $40-billion project.

Members of the Gidimt’en clan of the Wet’suwet’en Nation issued a statement Monday saying the company “wilfully, illegally, and violently destroyed” its property this weekend, while the company said its actions have been permitted and lawful.

Jen Wickham, a member of the Gidimt’en clan, said Coastal GasLink bulldozed three tents constructed with timber and canvas in an area along a logging road not included in the company’s plans.

“CGL workers just tore down all our stuff, threw them in [shipping containers] and said we had until the end of the day to pick them up or they would be thrown in the dump,” she said.

The tents were constructed when members erected a barrier at the same location, where RCMP enforced a court injunction on Jan. 7 and arrested 14 people in a move that sparked protests across Canada and internationally.

Wickham said Wet’suwet’en members told RCMP they wanted the tents to remain to host cultural workshops.

Following the enforcement of the court injunction, a road was plowed around the tents allowing free movement of vehicles.

President of Coastal GasLink pipeline Rick Gateman leaves the Office of the Wet’suwet’en after meeting with RCMP members and hereditary chiefs in Smithers, B.C., on Jan. 10. (Chad Hipolito/Canadian Press)

Coastal GasLink said in a statement that all work it’s doing is “approved and permitted and in full compliance” with its environmental assessment certificate issued by the province and the company has met all required pre-construction conditions.

“These areas are active work zones that are lawful and permitted. Any obstruction impeding our crews from safely accessing these work zones is in contravention of a court order,” Coastal GasLink said.

Traplines in dispute

On Friday, Coastal GasLink said it stopped work in an area closer to its planned work site because traplines had been placed inside construction boundaries and people were entering the site, raising safety concerns.

Jason Slade, a supporter with the nearby Unist’ot’en camp run by Wet’suwet’en members, said Monday that work only halted temporarily and the traplines had been destroyed. He said excavation had begun at the site of a planned “man camp.”

The Unist’ot’en allege the actions violate the Wildlife Act by interfering with lawful trapping, as well as an agreement that the Wet’suwet’en hereditary clan chiefs had reached with RCMP allowing the company access to the area and ensuring traditional practices like trapping could continue.

The clan also alleges it is violating its permits with the B.C. Oil and Gas Commission and Environmental Assessment Office by beginning construction work before an archeological impact assessment has been complete.

In a letter to the commission on Friday, Chief Knedebeas of the Unist’ot’en Clan points to an affidavit filed by a company official in November as part of its court injunction application, saying the assessment is scheduled for May.

Knedebeas asks in the letter that a stop-work order be issued immediately while the allegations are investigated.

The Canadian Press · Posted: Jan 29, 2019

[SOURCE]

 

Coastal GasLink stops work on pipeline over trapline dispute in northern B.C.

RCMP officers look on as contractors pass through their roadblock as supporters of the Unist’ot’en camp and Wet’suwet’en First Nation gather at a camp fire off a logging road near Houston, B.C., on Jan. 9. (THE CANADIAN PRESS)

A company building a pipeline has stopped work on the project in northwestern British Columbia where 14 people were arrested earlier this month.

Coastal GasLink says in a notice posted on its website on Thursday that it stopped work in an area south of Houston because traps had been placed inside construction boundaries and people were entering the site, raising safety concerns.

The company says it was working with the RCMP to address the issue.

Earlier this week, the Unist’ot’en Clan of the Wet’suwet’en Nation alleged on social media that pipeline contractors had driven a bulldozer through the heart of one of their traplines south of Houston, which they say violates the Wildlife Act by interfering with lawful trapping.

The company says its work in the area has been fully approved and permitted, and it reminded the public that unauthorized access to an active construction site where heavy equipment is being used can be dangerous.

The pipeline will run through Wet’suwet’en territory to LNG Canada’s $40-billion export facility in Kitimat.

Opponents say Coastal GasLink has no authority to build without consent from Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs.

The company says it has signed agreements with the elected councils of all 20 First Nations along the route, including some Wet’suwet’en elected council members

Those council members say they are independent from the hereditary chiefs’ authority and inked deals to bring better education, elder care and services to their members.

Hereditary chiefs say they have authority over 22,000 square kilometres of Wet’suwet’en traditional territory while elected band members administer the reserves.

Carolyn Bennett, the minister of Crown-Indigenous relations, says the dispute is an example of how the Indian Act, which imposed the band council system on First Nations, is still creating confusion and conflict over Indigenous governance.

The Canadian Press

[SOURCE]

RCMP Roadblock Lifted Allowing Access to Unist’ot’en Camp

Image – Unist’ot’en Camp Facebook page

Hereditary chiefs expected to give update on talks with RCMP when media reach camp 

  • RCMP roadblock lifted, allowing supporters and media access to Unist’ot’en camp.

According to CBC News, RCMP have opened their roadblock on a remote forest road in northern B.C., allowing access to a camp that has been the focal point of a First Nations protest against a natural gas pipeline.

Wet’suwet’en Nation hereditary chiefs reached an agreement with the RCMP that includes opening the area that had been off limits to supporters and the media since Monday.