Smithers (BC) – Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chiefs representing all five clans of the Wet’suwet’ en nation reiterate our request to meet with Premier John Horgan regarding ongoing infringements to Wet’suwet’en rights and title.
Mr. Horgan and Minister Scott Fraser of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation (MIRR) have directed communications through Chief Na’moks, rather than following established channels to meet with the Wet’suwet’ en Hereditary Chiefs collectively.
On Wednesday a representative of the Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chiefs met with Minister Fraser, as a representative of Premier Horgan, in order to reiterate our request for a nation-to-nation meeting with Premier Horgan. MIRR is not an appropriate party for a nation-to-nation discussion, accordingly, this request has still not been fulfilled.
MIRR is mandated to work with First Nations to adopt and implement UNDRIP, and to adopt the Supreme Court’s Tsilqhot’in Decision as it pertains to Aboriginal title territories. Instead, MIRR has undermined Wet’suwet’en rights and title and contributed to division in the Wet’suwet’en community.
In 2016, MIRR funded the creation of a divisive group that was expressly formed to sign benefits agreements with the Coastal Gaslink project on behalf of the Wet’suwet’en. MIRR’s actions have undermined the authority of the Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chiefs and created confusion about which hereditary chiefs can make decisions about the territory in question.
Wet’suwet’en people have a longstanding history of implementing Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC), which is part of UNDRIP as well as Anuc’nu’at’en (Wet’suwet’en law). The Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chiefs, on behalf of the Wet’suwet’en title holding collective, were plaintiffs in the landmark Delgamuukw-Gisday’wa court case, which found that rights and title had never been extinguished across 22,000km2 of unceded Wet’suwet’en territory.
We underline the urgent need for respectful dialogue with the Hereditary Chiefs. Only Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chiefs have authority to make decisions about what happens on our lands.