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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Comments are closed

Just Posted

Guilty verdict for one of two men in large illegal marijuana grow-operation in Chilliwack

Charges dismissed against property owner where 3,200 plants, 32 kgs of dried weed found in 2017

Search continues for person seen floating in Coquihalla River in Hope

Rescuers halted the search Thursday night as darkness fell

Rescuers halt Coquihalla River search due to darkness, after reports of person in river

No information to indicate a child is involved, RCMP state, after this information surfaced on social media

Mission company wins third award for Kermode Cabin

Lacey Construction nets Georgie Award for project at Sandpiper Resort in Harrison Mills

Two Chilliwack women make weekly Crime Stoppers most wanted list

Ashley Felix and Raina McDonald wanted on unrelated issues

VIDEO: Musqueam Chief captures captivating footage of bald eagle catching meal

‘This is why we have chosen to live here since time immemorial,’ Chief Wayne Sparrow’s nephew says

Police ramp up efforts to get impaired drivers off B.C. roads this summer

July is dedicated to the Summer CounterAttack Impaired Driving Campaign

Migrant workers stage multi-city action for full status amid COVID-19 risks

‘COVID-19 has exacerbated an existing crisis’

Okanagan school drops ‘Rebels’ sports team name, citing links with U.S. Civil War

Name and formerly-used images “fly in the face” of the district’s human rights policy, says board chair

PHOTOS: B.C.’s top doc picks up personalized Fluevog shoes, tours mural exhibition

Murals of Gratitude exhibit includes at least one portrait of Henry alongside paintings of health-care workers

Langley vigil demands justice for Ontario animal activist killed protesting in front of slaughterhouse

More than two dozen people gathered at Britco Pork to remember Regan Russell, and fight Bill 156

In troubled times: Independence Day in a land of confusion

Buffeted by invisible forces and just plain worn out, the United States of America celebrates its 244th birthday

Stop enforcing sex work laws during COVID-19, advocates say

There are provisions in Canada’s prostitution laws that make workers immune from prosecution, but not from arrest

Liberal party finished 2019 having spent $43 million, raised $42 million

All political parties had until midnight June 30 to submit their financial reports for last year

Most Read