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

Anyone participating in virtual Langley Walk this weekend?

Residents have until Sunday, May 31 to complete annual 5K challenge

Hot rods parade by Langley hospital at seven o’clock for front line workers

Few dozen from BC Hot Rod Association paraded their cars in private show for staff and seniors

Suspected ‘murder hornet’ leaves Langley man on edge after finding insect in bedroom

Asian giant ‘murder hornet’ had been first discovered in Brookswood on Thursday, May 28

UPDATED: Playgrounds, parkour site, and Langley City hall will partially reopen

City and Township amenities are slowly reopening with physical distancing rules in place

Credit union giving local charities money in a hurry

Envision sets up new Community Response Fund, offering $600,000 in grants to area non-profits

Feds looking at ways to reunite families amid COVID-19 border restrictions with U.S.

Some families with members of dual-citizenship have become separated due to the pandemic

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

Thanks for helping the Langley Advance Times to continue its mission to provide trusted local news

Trudeau acknowledges racial unrest in U.S.; ‘We also have work to do in Canada’

‘Anti-black racism, racism, is real; it’s in the United States, but it’s also in Canada,’ Trudeau says

Grand Forks braces for river flooding amid warm weather and rain

Warm weather and heavy rain could cause sections of Kettle River system to swell beyond 2018 levels

Large cruise ships barred from Canadian waters until end of October: Garneau

Last year 140 cruise ships brought more than two million visitors to Canadian ports

Minneapolis cop who knelt on man’s neck charged with murder

Arrest comes after three days of protests, which escalated in violence as demonstrators torched a police precinct

Police watchdog recommends charges against five Mounties in Prince George man’s death

Police used pepper spray on the man, who then had trouble breathing before dying at the scene

B.C. tourism seeks relief as businesses wait for COVID-19 restrictions to ease

Mid-June earliest for more in-province travel to be authorized

Man last seen walking out of Royal Columbian Hospital found dead

It is unclear how or why Gavin Deloes was able to leave the New Westminster hospital

Most Read