Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chief Namoks (John Ridsdale) speaks 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)                                Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chief Namoks (John Ridsdale) speaks 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)

Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chief Namoks (John Ridsdale) speaks 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) Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chief Namoks (John Ridsdale) speaks 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)

Province, feds, Wet’suwet’en announce progress in MOU talks

Community engagement process launched to implement northern B.C. First Nation’s rights and title

Northern B.C. governments, industry, business and recreation groups will be receiving an invitation to assist in forming a regional engagement group as B.C. and Canada seeks to successfully implement Wet’suwet’en rights and title.

The provincial and federal government affirmed their commitment to work together under the memorandum of understanding signed earlier this year with Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chiefs.

Although B.C. Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation, Scott Fraser and federal Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations, Carolyn Bennett said the coronavirus pandemic has created additional challenges, they are having important conversations which will continue to move them forward.

Read More: Complaints of checkpoint debris spark controversy

“We are engaged in important dialogue on matters of Wet’suwet’en rights and title that have remained unresolved since the Delgamuukw-Gisday-wa decision more than 20 years ago,” Fraser and Bennett said in a joint statement Aug. 13.

“This is complex and important work and it will take time.”

A jointly developed external community engagement process has been launched, with invitations sent to potential participants to join a regional engagement group, and to suggest participants for a core advisory council.

Read More: Wet’suwet’en land title disputes an ‘internal issue,’ B.C. minister says

“As our work progresses, we will also be consulting neighbouring Nations,” said Fraser and Bennett.

Both hope to reach a negotiators’ understanding by mid-October 2020 on an affirmation agreement for Wet’suwet’en rights and title that will also set the stage for further implementation negotiations.

“The draft agreement will then require approval and ratification by Wet’suwet’en clan members and the provincial and federal governments, which we will seek to conclude before the end of the year,” the ministers stated.

“During this time, internal engagement within Wet’suwet’en will continue, as will external community engagement with other interested parties on the negotiations and draft agreement.”

Read More: Lake Kathlyn school sold to Wet’suwet’en for new seat of government

Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chief Hagwilnegh (Ron Mitchell) was not available for immediate comment.

The Wet’suwet’en will be creating a seat of government for the entire Yintah (land) through the $1.2 million purchase funded by the Province of Lake Kathlyn Elementary School in Smithers. With the property transfer completed last month, the We’tsuwet’en will be working with School District 54 and Bulkley Valley Bright Beginnings Childcare to ensure a smooth transition next year.

Read More: B.C. orders Coastal GasLink to stop pipeline construction near protected wetlands


Do you have a comment about this story? email:
rebecca.dyok@wltribune.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

BC governmentfederal governmentFirst Nations

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

Just Posted

Fentanyl was among the drugs seized by New Hazelton RCMP in a big bust in early January. (File photo)
New Hazelton RCMP arrest five, seize drugs and large amount of cash

Police find suspected heroin, fentanyl and crystal meth during early January drug bust

Smithers Local Health area reported 32 new cases of COVID-19 for the second week of January. (BC CDC graphic)
Weekly new cases of COVID-19 rise to 32 in Smithers LHA Jan. 10 – 16

Northern Health reports 35 new cases for 501 active, 44 hospitalized, 17 in critical care Wednesday

Brett Alexander Jones is wanted on several warrants province-wide, in connection with multiple charges. Jan. 21, 2021. Kitimat RCMP photo
Kitimat RCMP searching for man wanted on several warrants province-wide

Jones is described as a five-foot 10-inches Caucasian man, with blond hair and blue eyes.

Smithers Secondary School students participate in a high performance workout in advance of the school becoming a campus of the Canadian Sport School. (Thom Barker photo)
Smithers Secondary chosen for campus of elite sport school

The Canadian Sport School provides supports and resources for high performance athletes

Robin Price in action with Thompson Rivers University women’s soccer team. (TRU photo)
Former Smithers athlete helps Kamloops homeless people

Robin Price, now a fourth year nursing student and soccer player at TRU, spearheads fundraiser

Businesses continue to struggle under COVID-19 restrictions as the pandemic reaches the one-year mark. (B.C. government)
Another 564 COVID-19 cases, mass vaccine plan coming Friday

15 more deaths, community cluster declared in Williams Lake

A specialized RCMP team is investigating a suspicious trailer, which might have connections to the illicit drug trade, found abandoned outside a Cache Creek motel. (Photo credit: <em>Journal</em> files)
Police probe U-Haul trailer linked to illicit drugs left outside Cache Creek motel

Hazardous materials found inside believed to be consistent with the production of illicit drugs

Premier John Horgan leaves the podium following his first press conference of the year as he comments on various questions from the media in the Press Gallery at B.C. Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Monday, January 13, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Interprovincial travel restrictions a no-go, Horgan says after reviewing legal options

The B.C. NDP government sought legal advice as concerns of travel continue

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Gem Lake Top, at Big White Ski Resort, seen at Jan. 8. (Big White Ski Resort)
Big White cancels $7.3M in lift tickets, accommodations due to COVID-19 orders

Since November, the ski resort has been forced to make several changes

Darlene Curylo scratched a $3M ticket, BCLC’s largest ever scratch and win prize. (BCLC)
Kelowna woman in shock after winning BCLC’s largest-ever instant-ticket prize

Darlene Curylo couldn’t believe her eyes when she saw the amount of money she’d won from a scratch ticket

While each person has different reasons for becoming homeless, a UBCO study shows they learn through their interactions with different services to perform ‘as homeless’ based on the expectations of service providers. (Contributed)
Kelowna homeless forced to ‘perform’ for resources, says UBCO study

One participant in the study said ‘It is about looking homeless, but not too homeless’

Gov. Gen. Julie Payette takes the royal salute from the Guard of Honour as she makes her way deliver the the throne speech, Wednesday, September 23, 2020 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Chartrand
Gov. Gen. Julie Payette resigns, apologizes for ‘tensions’ at Rideau Hall

Payette, who is the Queen’s representative in Canada, has been the governor general since 2017

Grounded WestJet Boeing 737 Max aircraft are shown at the airline’s facilities in Calgary, Alta., Tuesday, May 7, 2019. WestJet will operate the first commercial Boeing 737 Max flight in Canada today since the aircraft was grounded in 2019 following two deadly crashes. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Passengers unfazed as WestJet returns Boeing 737 Max to service on Vancouver flight

After a lengthy review process, Transport Canada cleared the plane to return to Canadian airspace

Most Read