SMITHERS, B.C. — British Columbia’s minister of Indigenous relations and reconciliation says the progress on a memorandum of understanding signed last year marking the start of a new relationship between the hereditary chiefs of the Wet’suwet’en Nation and the federal and B.C. governments has been slower than the parties would have liked.
In a news release, Murray Rankin says the pandemic and the complexities of the negotiations are behind the slow progress.
He says he has met with hereditary and elected Wet’suwet’en leadership over the past two days, and that the parties are committed to implementing the title and rights in the memorandum.
The memorandum of understanding was negotiated between government representatives and the hereditary chiefs who oppose Coastal GasLink’s pipeline going across the First Nation’s traditional territories.
The project caused countrywide rail blockades and marches early last year.
The memorandum of understanding doesn’t address Wet’suwet’en opposition to the pipeline, which is part of a $40-billion liquefied natural gas export terminal project in Kitimat on B.C.’s northern coast, but it states that the federal and B.C. governments recognize the First Nation’s rights and title are held under their system of governance.
It also placed timelines when it was signed in May 2020 over a 12-month period on negotiations affecting jurisdiction of land-use planning, resources, water, wildlife, fish, and child and family wellness, among other things.
Five elected Wet’suwet’en councils signed agreements with Coastal GasLink, allowing the 670-kilometre natural gas pipeline to be built through their territory in northern B.C. to Kitimat.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 3, 2021.
The Canadian Press