VANCOUVER — A draft agreement between hereditary chiefs who oppose a pipeline in northern British Columbia and federal and provincial governments recognize the rights and title of Wet`suwet`s under the First Nation`s governance system. His message added that once a final agreement was reached, it would be “returned to all human beings through a process that must clearly demonstrate the membership of the nation`s members.” In February, protests and blockades spread across Canada in support of a group of eight hereditary house chiefs fighting Coastal GasLinks` plan to build a $6.6 billion pipeline. The 670-kilometre-long pipeline would be from northeastern B.C. to the coast to deliver the $18 billion LNG Canada construction terminal to Kitimat for the export of liquefied natural gas. The way in which wet`suwet`s reconcile the different perspectives and interests within membership and among elected and hereditary leaders will be crucial to the success of the forthesty negotiations, which were defined in the agreement. The draft agreement does not resolve the persistent opposition to the construction of the pipeline by unzereed Wet`suwet`s Land. Most hereditary leaders still oppose the project, but the agreement aims to solve one of the main problems raised by the conflict: who will speak for people of the future. “It is absolutely appalling that they [the federal and provincial governments] are insisting on moving things forward,” said Luggi, one of four elected leaders trying to stop the signing of the agreement. Five elected leaders of Wet`suwet`en Band Councils along the Coastal GasLink Pipeline Route support the energy project and say they have been excluded from the ratification process of the agreement. Gary Naziel, a hereditary sous chef at Wet`suwet`en, said he thinks the signing process should be stopped until the pandemic is over.

The signing of the agreement with the heirs has re-engineered tensions in the ongoing conflict within the territory of wet`suwet`s over governance. There are conflicts related to the role of the elected and hereditary leadership, and conflicts over whether the traditional law of Wet`suwet`en followed during the negotiations of the agreement and is followed in the negotiation of the agreement agreements. In essence, conflicts relate to how leaders and members of wet`suwet`s participate in negotiations and decisions with the Crown on agreements relating to the rights and titles of wet`suwet`s. As a general rule, the federal government only negotiates with First Nations group councils and their democratically elected leadership. But the hereditary leaders of Wet`suwet`en for a long time The authority over much of Northern British Columbia says they never signed a contract to cede the country. During the negotiations on the agreement, different levels of indigenous leadership were also put into competition. The region`s elected leaders say they have been excluded from the talks and have called for the agreement to be abolished. But hereditary chiefs say they are responsible for their traditional territory off federal reserves, while claiming that elected chiefs have authority only within those reserves. “We are interested in reconciliation agreements,” Luggi said. “We are interested in the negotiations on the rights and title of Aboriginal people, and the way in which it is conducted is unacceptable, and the government must understand that it has a lot to do with the people of wet`suwet`s.” The wet`suwet`es nation is made up of five clans, including 13 domestic groups, each with a hereditary chief position (four are currently vacant).

Andrew Verboncouer • (920) 562-9601 •