Hereditary Chief Na’Moks addresses a crowd at Bovill Square in Smithers on Jan. 10. (Trevor Hewitt photo)

‘I think it’s an easy way out’: hereditary chief feels feds should be involved in talks

The hereditary chiefs have repeatedly called for talks with the Province and federal government

Hereditary Chief Na’Moks (John Ridsdale) isn’t buying it.

That is, the response from the Office of the Prime Minister (PMO) regarding why Justin Trudeau or a federal representative won’t be taking part in discussions between the hereditary chiefs and the Province regarding the former’s ongoing dispute with Coastal GasLink (CGL).

On Jan. 30 the Office of the Wet’suwet’en confirmed it would be entering into a seven-day discussion with the Province, who will be represented by Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation Scott Fraser.

The discussions begin next week and will last seven days, however there will be no representative from the federal government at the table.

When asked if they would be meeting with the hereditary chiefs, the PMO redirected The Interior News to the Office of the Minister of Natural Resources.

“Our government is committed to a renewed relationship with Indigenous peoples based on the recognition of rights, respect, cooperation and partnership,” said Director of Communications with the office Carlene Variyan.

“This project went through a provincial review, and remains fully under provincial jurisdiction. We encourage all the parties involved to work together towards a solution.”

READ MORE: Coastal GasLink stresses pipeline ‘on a schedule’ as B.C. appoints liaison for Wet’suwet’en

But Na’Moks had another explanation.

“I think it’s an easy way out,” said Na’Moks. “The big issue is we have … heavy RCMP presence on our territory, well you’ve got to realize the provinces only contract the RCMP from the federal government.”

The hereditary chiefs have repeatedly called for police to be removed from the territory. This includes from a roadblock that was set up earlier this month at the 27 kilometre point of the Morice West Forest Service Road and the RCMP Community-Industry Safety Office (C-ISO) located at the 29 kilometre point.

However contrary to this the RCMP has confirmed to The Interior News on Jan. 31 that they are mobilizing in the Bulkley Valley for enforcement of a Dec. 31, 2019 Supreme court injunction granting Coastal Gaslink access to a worksite near Houston.

While police are being moved into the area a spokesperson for the RCMP has confirmed they will abide by the seven-day “Wiggus” (meaning respect in the Wet’suwet’en language) period and wait for disucssions to take place before moving further.

The RCMP say the decision to mobilize was made before the announcement the Province and hereditary chiefs would be meeting, however Na’Moks still said he feels the police presence is moving in the wrong direction.

“That’s not what we talked about,” he said.

“We requested that [the Community-Industry Safety Office] that’s established on our territory at 29 kilometre be vacated. And also the fact that the enforcement level must be low, and so I was surprised.”

Trudeau has repeatedly stated that Canada needs to do more in terms of reconciliation. In his first press conference after being re-elected he noted it’s important the country takes steps to make sure that “reconciliation isn’t just a word.”

As for Na’Moks, he wasn’t mincing his.

“Respect is respect, and that means telling the truth.”



trevor.hewitt@interior-news.com

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

Just Posted

Coastal GasLink gives $100K to United Way efforts in Northern B.C.

Organization’s COVID-19 Relief Fund benefits seniors in isolation, among others

UPDATE: First presumptive case of COVID-19 in Prince Rupert

Doctor says it was a visitor, Northern Health won’t confirm

Fisheries and Oceans Canada lifts at-sea observer requirements due to COVID-19

Fisheries Management Order went into effect April 2 and will remain for 45 days

Some Smithers businesses may re-open sooner rather than later

Weekly Chamber of Commerce video conference focuses on business concern amid COVID-19

B.C. firefighters only responding to most life-threatening calls during COVID-19 pandemic

The directive comes after province spoke with paramedics, fire services, according to top doctor

COVID-19: 4 new deaths, 25 new cases but only in Vancouver Coastal, Fraser Health

A total of 1,291 people have tested positive for the novel coronavirus

COVID-19: Don’t get away for Easter weekend, Dr. Bonnie Henry warns

John Horgan, Adrian Dix call 130 faith leaders as holidays approach

COVID-19: Trudeau says 30K ventilators on the way; 3.6M Canadians claim benefits

Canada has seen more than 17,000 cases and at least 345 deaths due to COVID-19

RCMP call on kids to name latest foal recruits

The baby horses names are to start with the letter ‘S’

As Canadians return home amid pandemic, border crossings dip to just 5% of usual traffic

Non-commercial land crossing dipped by 95%, air travel dropped by 96 per cent, according to the CBSA

Logan Boulet Effect: Green Shirt Day calls on Canadians to become organ donors

While social distancing, the day also honours the 16 lives lost in the 2018 Humboldt Broncos Crash

COMMENTARY: Knowing where COVID-19 cases are does not protect you

Dr. Bonnie Henry explains why B.C. withholds community names

B.C. wide burning restrictions come into effect April 16

‘Larger open burns pose an unnecessary risk and could detract from wildfire detection’

Most Read