Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Perry Bellegarde is joined by First Nations leaders as they discuss the current situation and actions relating to the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs during a press conference at the National Press Theatre in Ottawa on Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

It’s up to all Wet’suwet’en people to work through agreement: Bellegarde

The focus of the draft agreement is Wet’suwet’en rights and land title

Assembly of First Nations National Chief Perry Bellegarde says it’s up to all Wet’suwet’en people to work through the draft agreement struck on Sunday between their hereditary chiefs and senior Canadian officials.

The agreement is the result of four days of negotiations, held in response to the hereditary chiefs’ opposition to the construction of the Coastal GasLink pipeline in northern British Columbia that sparked solidarity protests and blockades across the country.

A joint statement by representatives of Wet’suwet’en Nation, the province and the federal government acknowledged they had not come to an agreement on the pipeline, and the company was expected to resume its work this week.

But they say the focus of the draft agreement is Wet’suwet’en rights and land title.

Bellegarde says it’s an opportunity to resolve unsettled issues dating back to a 1997 Supreme Court of Canada decision that recognized the hereditary chiefs’ authority and the exclusive right of Wet’suwet’en peoples to the land, but fell short of recognizing the territorial boundaries.

He says it’s up to Wet’suwet’en people themselves to find the balance between hereditary chiefs and elected chiefs, which will take time, and those talks should include all those in the community.

“They haven’t had this formalized since 1997 (with) the Delgamuukw-Gisday’way decision,” Bellegarde told The Canadian Press on Wednesday after delivering a keynote address during a seminar on the repatriation of Indigenous cultural objects and ancestral remains at the University of British Columbia.

“It’s important for them to have that time and space to bear fruit from this agreement and that’s the dialogue I’ve had with the prime minister.”

Aboriginal rights and title are already recognized and affirmed through many Supreme Court decisions, Bellegarde added.

“Let’s get the executive and legislative branches of government, start to keep up with judicial branch is saying.”

READ MORE: Wet’suwet’en elected council wants in on pipeline, B.C. land talks

READ MORE: Five arrested after refusing to leave B.C. Legislature building

READ MORE: Wet’suwet’en chiefs, ministers reach proposed agreement in B.C. pipeline dispute

The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Coastal GasLinkIndigenousPipeline

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

Just Posted

A second wave of COVID-19 is probable, if history tells us anything

B.C.’s top doctor says that what health officials have learned this round will guide response in future

UPDATE: Police oversight agency investigating after shots fired Saturday night in Chilliwack neighbourhood

RCMP reported a ‘distraught male’ fired at police officers on Christina Drive – IIO is on scene Sunday

VIDEO: Suspected drunk driver caught on dashcam in Abbotsford

Police say they located vehicle, nearby intoxicated man, but couldn’t tie him to the driver’s seat

Prospera Credit Union, Westminster Savings lay off over 100 staff following historic merge

2020 merger was largest credit-union merger in Canadian history

Fraser Health declares COVID-19 outbreak at Abbotsford fruit processing plant

Five employees at Nature’s Touch test positive, facility voluntarily closed until May 25

LIVE: Procession to honour Snowbirds Capt. Jennifer Casey comes to Halifax

Snowbirds service member died in a crash in Kamloops one week ago

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

The importance of accurate, ethical reporting is critical – perhaps as never before

B.C. employers worry about safety, cash flow, second wave in COVID-19 restart

A survey found 75 per cent of businesses worry about attracting customers

Ex-BC Greens leader Andrew Weaver says province came close to early election

Disagreement centred on the LNG Canada project in northern B.C.

Canada’s NHL teams offer options to season-ticket holders

Canadian teams are offering refunds, but also are pushing a number of incentives to let them keep the money

Boy, 2, left with ‘soft tissue injuries’ after being hit by car in Squamish intersection

Boy was release from hospital, police continue to investigate

B.C. premier says lessons to learn from past racism during response to pandemic

B.C. formally apologized in the legislature chamber in 2008 for its role in the Komagata Maru tragedy

Snowbirds to remain at Kamloops Airport indefinitely after fatal crash

small contingent of the Snowbirds team is staying in Kamloops, acting as stewards of the jets

Oak Bay man stumbles upon eagle hunting seal, grabs camera just in time

The eagle did ‘a perfect butterfly stroke to shore’ with its prey, photographer says

Most Read