B.C. chief says they didn’t give up rights for gas pipeline to be built

Hereditary chief: no elected band council or Crown authority has jurisdiction over Wet’suwet’en land

Drummers play as Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chief Namoks (John Ridsdale), front left, enters the room as Indigenous nations and supporters gather to show support for the Wet’suwet’en Nation before marching together in solidarity, in Smithers, B.C., on Wednesday January 16, 2019. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck)

No elected band council or Crown authority has jurisdiction over the land, a Wet’suwet’en hereditary chief told a crowd of supporters and First Nations leaders gathered in the territory that has become a battleground for Indigenous sovereignty.

Chief Na’Moks said agreements signed by pipeline builder Coastal GasLink are illegitimate and the support shown by those gathered, and by many people around the world, proves the Wet’suwet’en hereditary leaders do not stand alone.

READ MORE: RCMP to review actions at Wet’suwet’en pipeline protest camps

“Our rights to those lands have never been extinguished,” Na’Moks said during the gathering on Wednesday.

First Nations leaders from across British Columbia travelled to Smithers for the rally to show their support for the hereditary chiefs, after RCMP enforced a court injunction last week allowing the natural gas pipeline company access into the territory.

Following the rally, chiefs and supporters marched along part of Highway 16, which cuts through the Wet’suwet’en territory.

Chiefs and elected council members from several B.C. First Nations, including Haida, Gitxsan, Babine Lake and Lax Kwa’laams, stepped up to share their stories of resistance against industry and frustration with the application of Canadian laws during the gathering.

Wayne Christian of the Secwepemc nation told the crowd that “legislative genocide” had been waged against Indigenous Peoples for generations, referring to colonial and Canadian laws he said have been used to take away land and deny rights.

He said reconciliation cannot occur “at the end of a gun.”

Several leaders spoke about conflicts they have had with industry and cases where Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs have shown them support that they now want to return.

Harvey Humchitt, a hereditary chief with the Heiltsuk First Nation in Bella Bella, where a tug ran aground spilling diesel and lubricants into the waters, said it only takes one incident to cause devastation.

Murray Smith of the Lax Kw’alaams First Nation said Na’Moks supported members of his nation trying to protect eel grass from industry at Lelu Island, and again when they appeared before the United Nations to appeal for their authority to be recognized.

“You are in charge of your land, make no mistake about it. We are in charge of our land. And at times, we need to rely on each other for support,” he said.

The natural gas pipeline would run through Wet’suwet’en territory to LNG Canada’s $40-billion export facility in Kitimat, B.C.

The company said it has signed agreements with the elected councils of all 20 First Nations along the route, including some Wet’suwet’en elected council members who say they are independent from the hereditary chief’s authority and signed deals to bring better education, elder care and services to their members.

However, any who oppose the pipeline says the company has noauthority without consent from the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs.

The hereditary chiefs say elected bands administer the reserves while they have authority over 22,000 square kilometres of traditional territory.

Amy Smart, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Widespread concerns spur UFV to halt international enrolment growth

New target hopes to limit international students to 20% of all enrolment to give time to ‘catch up’

Mission MP Brad Vis has kept busy since the election

Local federal representative spoke with several members of the Mission Chamber

UFV & other B.C. universities post $340 million worth of surpluses thanks to international student tuition

Students call for spending as international enrolment produces huge surpluses at many universities

INFOGRAPHIC: How much money did your local university or college make last year?

B.C. university and colleges posted a combined $340 million surplus in 2018/19

Abbotsford man was ‘unintended victim’ of 2018 fatal shooting, police say

Jagvir Malhi, 19, was gunned down while on his way to university

VIDEO: Boys help rescue Cariboo bear cub

The cub, weighing just 24lbs, has been taken to wildlife sanctuary in Northwest B.C. for the winter

Owners of hotels on Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside fight $1 expropriation in court

Vancouver City Council voted to expropriate the properties for $1 each in November

‘Things haven’t changed enough:’ Ecole Polytechnique anniversary prompts reflection

Fourteen women were fatally shot by a gunman at the Montreal school on Dec. 6, 1989

Bear raids freezer, gorges on Island family’s Christmas baking

Hungry bruin virtually ignored meat and fish, focused, instead, on the sweets

B.C. pharmaceutical company’s stocks double in value after successful lupus drug trial

More than 40 per cent of patients using voclosporin saw improvements in kidney function

Second warning on romaine lettuce from California region as another E. coli case reported

Two cases of E. coli have been reported in relation to the illness in the U.S.

Braille signs coming to TransLink bus stops in 2020

Transit authority says it’s the first to do so in Canada and the United States

CUPE issues 72-hour strike notice for SkyTrain

Local 7000 release states ‘parties are still bargaining’, union will have job action plan by Saturday

Residents in B.C. city could face 133% tax hike in ‘worst case’ lawsuit outcome: report

An average home could see a tax increase of $2,164 in one year

Most Read