Author Topic: BC v Wet'suet'en  (Read 1770 times)

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Offline Granny

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Re: BC v Wet'suet'en
« on: February 10, 2020, 06:28:25 pm »
I'm going to say what I think I know that may clear up some of the questions you've all raised.

The Indigenous governance that existed at contact is what we now call the traditional or hereditary Councils. The leadership consists of Chiefs (spokespeople) and Clan Mothers (advisors). (They are not 'hereditary' like the British Monarchy: Clan Mothers choose Chiefs from among eligible relatives.) There are usually multiple Nations/Houses, each with a number of Clans. All decisions were ultimately made by all of the people, in a consensus decision-making model.
Their territories were vast, with many villages throughout. There may also be hunting grounds shared
with neighbouring nations (eg, Gitxsan).
Wet'suet'en Nations have never signed treaties, never ceded land to the Crown.

Canada forced villagers onto small 'reserves' (now called First Nations), first imposed 'Indian Agents', and then imposed elected Band Council governments.
Canada also outlawed traditional governance - meetings, ceremony (eg 'potlatch'), regalia, etc. Traditional leaders were targeted for harassment, or worse, children were taken to 'Indian' Residrntial Schools, Indigenous peoples were barred from using Canada's courts to pursue their rights or any justice, except as criminals, etc. etc. etc.

After the 1948 Convention on Genocide (oops!) Canada started to change its laws, but not before one last massive campaign to steal and 'de-Indigenize' their children - the 'Sixties Scoop'.
Then in the Constitution Act 1982: "Existing Aboriginal and treaty rights are hereby recognized and affirmed", including all land and other rights that existed 'at contact', and any acquired since via treaty.

Via the 'Indian' Act, Canada limited elected Band Council (First Nations) legal authority/jurisdiction to their tiny reserve lands.
In Delgamuukw 1997, the Supreme Court of Canada recognized that the traditional Coucils (Wet'suet'en and Gitxsan) were still the Aboriginal rights and title holders, on behalf of all Wet'suet'en (and Gitxsan) Nations people. The SCoC also directed governments to reconcile those Aboriginal titles with Crown title. The SCoC also ordered a second trial to clarify details - boundaries, etc. (Traditional territories are generally defined by watersheds and/or other geographic features, and may include some shared areas.)

Here's a map you can copy and google that shows Wet'suet'en traditional territory, and the small First Nations reserve lands within it. (Note: Map is misnamed as "First Nation".)

Wetsueten_First_Nation.pdf

Does the pipeline route even go through ANY reserve lands, jurisdiction of elected Band Councils? Unclear, but not possibly enough for any or even all Band Councils to claim that they had authority to sign any permissions for CGL!! Votes by the people? It is not clear that that has happened.

So here we are ... with the feds and in this case BC using the head-in-the-sand method of evading Supreme Court rulings, and relying on flimsy provincial injunctions and the RCMP instead.

It isn't a simple situation, and the will of the people is the key. But the fact is that BC Crown does have a duty to consult with the traditional rights and title holders, who do have a legitimate concern about the effects on the land and waters, and some ideas to improve that. BC NDP Premier John Horgan not only failed to consult, he was extremely rude about it.

The other element is ... it's becoming more uncertain all the time whether the project is even viable at current gas prices, and with China strongly pushing it's provinces to go directly from coal to renewable energy.
Obviously there is a confluence of opinion of environmentalists and traditional Wet'suet'en leaders, while some First Nations people want jobs and the perks CGL is giving out.

And I still think the OPP investigating the CN police for falsifying evidence is hilarious!  Lol


« Last Edit: February 10, 2020, 06:57:15 pm by Granny »
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