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 Province should be involved in CGL 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 latter’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

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