Wet’suwet’en pact with Ottawa and B.C. disputed by elected chiefs

Elected chiefs of a First Nation that’s split over a natural gas pipeline through their territory say they will not sign a deal on rights and title, a day after the hereditary chiefs backed the agreement.

The elected chiefs of the Wet’suwet’en Nations say they don’t support the proposed memorandum of understanding on rights and title with the federal and British Columbia governments.

The hereditary chiefs decision to sign the memorandum was announced Thursday in a joint statement they issued with Ottawa and the province.

The hereditary chiefs oppose construction of a pipeline through their northwestern B.C. territories, while a majority of elected band councils support the Coastal GasLink project.

Opposition to construction of 670-kilometre pipeline set off demonstrations and blockades that shut down large parts of the national economy in February.

Details of the memorandum haven’t been released but Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs, the federal and provincial governments agree it commits them to implementing the rights and title of the First Nation.

Elected chiefs say that the memorandum consultation process “lacked any semblance of credibility,” and they are asking for withdrawal of the hereditary chief’s “premature” announcement.

“The federal government, the provincial government and the hereditary chiefs have completely ignored many clan members and elected chiefs,” says the statement signed by five elected chiefs.

The negotiation process did not include openness or respect, it says, and fails to give a voice to all clan members.

“Negotiations cannot move forward until all parties agree to discuss governance among the Wet’suwet’en people so that we can work together with all levels of government,” says the statement.


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