15 Apr 2021  • 

Wet`suwet`en Agreement With Federal Government

Under the traditional governance of the Wet`suwe`en, the wet`suwe`ten are divided into five clans, subdivided into 13 house groups that control individual areas of the House of Representatives that cover the traditional territory of wet`suwe`ten. Each group in the House of Representatives has an inheritance head and sous-chefs, chosen according to the traditional laws of Wet`suwet`en, each of which has a specific responsibility for the house. House and clan groups interact according to social and economic relations established under traditional law. “I don`t understand why the government gave them this because it has nothing to do with what the protests have done across Canada,” said George. Din`ze Gisday`wa (Fred Tom), Gitdumt`en (Bear) – “It`s a wonderful day. We still have a long way to go —150 years. We called our ancestors to be here with us. I would like to thank all our supporters from the city, Moricetown, Tse Kya, Lake Babine, all the students and those who came to Yintah. According to Naziel, at least one clan had voted against ratification of the agreement before face-to-face meetings were interrupted, while another was “on the brink of no.” It is not very clear. The hereditary chiefs of Wet`suwet`en did not say when the municipality would discuss the interim agreement. The three-way agreement also notes a rare decision by the federal and provincial governments to negotiate directly by bypassing an expensive and difficult contractual process, which typically takes decades through different levels of negotiation.

The conflict has fuelled the national debate about the importance of indigenous claims, particularly in B.C, where the majority of the province is a non-decompensated country whose land claims are unresolved. Contrary to Canada`s own legal requirements, many of these land claims were considered non-existent, with unskilled land considered the Crown. Wet`suwet`en Hereditary Chiefs, Scott Fraser, B.C. Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation, and Carolyn Bennett, Federal Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations, signed the agreement by video conference on May 14, 2020. The agreement was virtually signed to meet public health guidelines for protecting the health and well-being of individuals and communities during the COVID 19 pandemic. “It proves that the blockades make news, and the news puts politicians at stake,” he told The Narwhal newspaper. “But I don`t know if it will lead to a better deal or worse, we don`t know, because we haven`t seen the agreement.” Coastal GasLink has been approved by the government to build its pipeline, which is to extend 670 kilometres northeast B.C to an LNG export plant on the Kitimat coast. But the hereditary house chiefs of Wet`suwet`s say the company does not have the power to build the pipeline through their territory without their consent. After two months of discussions, the wet`suwet`es agreed to sign a document with the provincial and federal governments that could change the future of indigenous rights and B.C title negotiations.

Legal expert Signa Daum Shanks says she suspects the federal government understands that it could expect high court costs if they fought and lost in court against the Wet`suwet`s.