Author Topic: BC v Wet'suet'en  (Read 9854 times)

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Offline waldo

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Re: BC v Wet'suet'en
« Reply #390 on: March 05, 2020, 12:11:58 am »
Feb 28 - Open letter to Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs after Tsayu clan meeting - author Troy Young (Wit'suwet'en, matrilineally descended from Na’Moks Lucy Holland in the Tsayu clan, with my father clan being Laksilyu.)

We have seen three female chiefs being stripped of their name because they don’t agree with the “Hereditary Chiefs” within the society that is the Office of the Wet’suwet’en. This stripping was not done following our law. We have seen individuals be given Chief’s names that then flout our Law on many fronts. A newly named chief can’t speak for a year, yet these new chiefs have been vocal in the media. We have seen a chief break our Law by claiming a name from another house. We have seen a chief name be given to some whose parents sit together in the feast hall. We have seen adoptions across clans take place without merit or proper transfer.
The decisions seem to be taking place in Smithers at the Office of the Wet’suwet’en {OW}, a registered society created to negotiate treaty following the SCC victory. Our laws dictate that the feast hall is where decisions are made. This has not been followed, with the OW acting like a government, which they are not. Our chiefs are to meet with their house groups and do as the house group decides; they are not the decision makers. In the past the Tsayu clan representative has set up Tsayu clan meetings on a near monthly basis, and our chief has only ever showed up to the first meeting, never to meet with his clan again. How does he speak on behalf of a house group he doesn’t have time to meet with? Then the clan representative was changed, and the meetings became exclusive, with very limited notice to times and dates.
One chief complaint of some house chiefs has been that industry and government won’t talk to the OW. Now that they have been offered the opportunity, they have not taken advantage of the offer. The elected councils of Witset, Nee Tahi Buhn, Wet’suwet’en First Nation (Broman Lake), Skin Tyee, and Ts’il Kaz Koh (Burns Lake Band) all signed agreements with industry and government to provide a step to further discussions with government. The Office of the Wet’suwet’en also entered negotiation with industry and government over pipelines, but were removed by Witset because of internal disagreements over how the negotiations took place, and who was to benefit from any agreement reached. Even when Witset took over negotiations, Witset council invited the house chiefs to attend all negotiations to provide advice and counsel. The OW has prevented the chiefs from attending the negotiations under threat of removal from their paid positions.

I speak outside the Feast Hall now because some of our house chiefs have decided that only their voice matters and they are expressing it in the public. I call on all Witsuwit’en to talk to their elders, matriarchs, wing chiefs, and house chiefs to remind our house chiefs of their duties to uphold our Law, and for our house chiefs to listen. They must understand that they are chiefs so that they can carry our voice and do our bidding, they are not our dictators. They need to be reminded that they carry the name of someone who was remembered, and if they tarnish this memory, it will not be forgotten.
Witsuwit’en have wanted to get government talking, and now that the opportunity is here, some would sooner go to court. This makes no sense when we have the ability control how we negotiate; be we lose control if we let a court decide.

We have all talked about self-reliance and the need to control our future. Industry is paying our communities for access to the territory, with no control over how the money gets spent. Our leaders get to control the funds coming in to spend as their members wish, not at the behest of INAC agents. This is an important step, not having an overseer is admirable.

To be successful, we need our house chiefs and our elected chiefs to work for the betterment of all Witsuwit’en – our children, our elders, our chiefs, our matriarchs.