Federal Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett in Smithers, B.C. on Feb. 28, 2020. (The Canadian Press)

Wet’suwet’en elected chiefs call on Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister to resign

Wet’suwet’en are governed by both a traditional hereditary chief system and elected band councils.

The elected leadership of several First Nations split over a natural gas pipeline in northern British Columbia are calling for the immediate resignation of Crown–Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett.

In a statement released Monday, four elected Wet’suwet’en chiefs say the process by which the province, the federal government and the nation’s hereditary leaders arrived at a proposed memorandum of understanding on Wet’suwet’en rights and title is unacceptable.

In addition to calling for Bennett’s resignation, the elected chiefs are also asking the B.C. and federal governments to reject the current memorandum and begin the negotiation process again with full participation from elected leaders.

EXCLUSIVE: A first look at the land title memorandum between Wet’suwet’en, B.C. and Ottawa

“We feel it is important to reiterate that we agree with the pursuit of negotiations for Wet’suwet’en Rights and Title, but we take issue with the improper consultation with respect to an MOU which would lead to negotiations,” their statement says.

“This lack of proper consultation and secrecy means the governments are acting in bad faith contrary to the Honour of the Crown.”

The Wet’suwet’en are governed by both a traditional hereditary chief system and elected band councils.

Five elected Wet’suwet’en councils have signed agreements with Coastal Gaslink, which has government approval for construction of the pipeline that would carry natural gas through Wet’suwet’en territory to Kitimat on the B.C. coast.

But hereditary house chiefs say the company has no authority to build the pipeline through their territory without their consent, and their opposition sparked demonstrations and blockades that shut down large parts of the national economy in February.

Elected chiefs Rosemarie Skin of Skin Tyee Nation, Dan George of Ts’ilh Kaz Koh First Nation, Maureen Luggi of Wet’suwet’en First Nation and Patricia Prince of Nee Tahi Buhn Indian Band say elected council members were not permitted to see the draft memorandum until Thursday.

Details of the memorandum are sparse, but an agreement was reached on Feb. 29, and on April 29 the B.C. government said Wet’suwet’en clans had completed their review and given their support to sign it.

The memorandum has been framed as addressing land rights and title more broadly, rather than an agreement related to the pipeline.

The statement from the elected chiefs indicates the Office of the Wet’suwet’en, which is comprised of the nation’s hereditary leadership, has invited the federal and provincial governments to sign the memorandum this coming Thursday.

They say their nations met virtually with hereditary leaders as well as with Minister Bennett and her provincial counterpart in B.C., Indigenous Relations Minister Scott Fraser, to voice their concerns last week.

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

federal governmentIndigenousPipeline

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

Just Posted

No parking on Thain Road, Shawnigan police remind

Warmer weather brings complaints near Cobble Hill quarry

No lifeguards this summer for Cowichan’s Fuller Lake, Arbutus Park; Crofton pool closed

Fears of risk to health and safety during COVID-19 pandemic to blame

You’ll have to pay to get on the bus again in Cowichan

Beginning June 1, fare collection and front door boarding started again

39 caught speeding through Cowichan school zones

On June 1, North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP conducted speed enforcement in several school zones

Lake Cowichan firefighters douse blaze at Mayo Road

Sahtlam called in for mutual aid in abandoned shop and motorhome

If Trudeau won’t stand up to Trump, how will regular people: Singh

Trudeau did not directly answer a question about Trump’s actions amid protests

List of cancelled Cowichan Valley community events

An ongoing list of events that have been cancelled in the Cowichan Valley due to COVID-19

Drive-thru window smashed after suspect receives burger without mustard

Greater Victoria Wendy’s staff call police after man allegedly rips Plexiglas barrier off window

Murder charge upgraded in George Floyd case, 3 other cops charged

Floyd’s family and protesters have repeatedly called for criminal charges against all four officers

As two B.C. offices see outbreaks, Dr. Henry warns tests don’t replace other measures

Physical distancing, PPE and sanitizing remain key to reduce COVID-19 spread

Friendly Cove and Kyuquot will remain closed until further notice

Transition of other B.C. communities will be monitored before a decision to ease restrictions

Racist incident shocks Vancouver Island First Nation

Port Alberni RCMP investigating after video shows truck wheeling through Tseshaht territory

Gold River organizes a shop local initiative to creatively boost economy

Local purchases can earn shoppers $200 gift certificates to be spent on businesses within Gold River

Young killer whale untangles itself from trap line off Nanaimo shore

DFO marine mammal rescue unit was en route as whale broke free from prawn trap line

Most Read