Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Perry Bellegarde is joined by First Nations leaders as they discuss the current situation and actions relating to the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs during a press conference at the National Press Theatre in Ottawa on Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Perry Bellegarde is joined by First Nations leaders as they discuss the current situation and actions relating to the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs during a press conference at the National Press Theatre in Ottawa on Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

It’s up to all Wet’suwet’en people to work through agreement: Bellegarde

The focus of the draft agreement is Wet’suwet’en rights and land title

Assembly of First Nations National Chief Perry Bellegarde says it’s up to all Wet’suwet’en people to work through the draft agreement struck on Sunday between their hereditary chiefs and senior Canadian officials.

The agreement is the result of four days of negotiations, held in response to the hereditary chiefs’ opposition to the construction of the Coastal GasLink pipeline in northern British Columbia that sparked solidarity protests and blockades across the country.

A joint statement by representatives of Wet’suwet’en Nation, the province and the federal government acknowledged they had not come to an agreement on the pipeline, and the company was expected to resume its work this week.

But they say the focus of the draft agreement is Wet’suwet’en rights and land title.

Bellegarde says it’s an opportunity to resolve unsettled issues dating back to a 1997 Supreme Court of Canada decision that recognized the hereditary chiefs’ authority and the exclusive right of Wet’suwet’en peoples to the land, but fell short of recognizing the territorial boundaries.

He says it’s up to Wet’suwet’en people themselves to find the balance between hereditary chiefs and elected chiefs, which will take time, and those talks should include all those in the community.

“They haven’t had this formalized since 1997 (with) the Delgamuukw-Gisday’way decision,” Bellegarde told The Canadian Press on Wednesday after delivering a keynote address during a seminar on the repatriation of Indigenous cultural objects and ancestral remains at the University of British Columbia.

“It’s important for them to have that time and space to bear fruit from this agreement and that’s the dialogue I’ve had with the prime minister.”

Aboriginal rights and title are already recognized and affirmed through many Supreme Court decisions, Bellegarde added.

“Let’s get the executive and legislative branches of government, start to keep up with judicial branch is saying.”

READ MORE: Wet’suwet’en elected council wants in on pipeline, B.C. land talks

READ MORE: Five arrested after refusing to leave B.C. Legislature building

READ MORE: Wet’suwet’en chiefs, ministers reach proposed agreement in B.C. pipeline dispute

The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Coastal GasLinkIndigenousPipeline

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

Just Posted

During a press event on March 6, Const. Alex Berube, media relations officer for the West Shore RCMP, addressed a deadly shooting that occurred in Metchosin the night before. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)
VIDEO: One man shot dead in ‘targeted incident’ on Sooke Road

Highway 14 reopens following multi-hour closure for investigation

Victoria man Brett Andersen is asking for people’s help to secure him one of eight free tickets to the moon. (Screenshot/@brettandersen Instagram)
Victoria man wants your help securing a free ticket to the moon

Japanese billionaire offering eight people a trip to the moon

A decade into the 100-year blueprint for restoring the Bowker Creek watershed, Soren Henrich, director of the Friends of Bowker Creek Society, feels positive about the future of conservation and daylighting of the creek. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)
Ten years in, Greater Victoria’s 100-year Bowker Creek blueprint gets a boost

Victoria council passes several restoration recommendations

A resurfacing of the tennis court in Metchosin is being eyed for the community. However, funding opportunities still need to be solidified for the project. (Michelle Cabana/Black Press Media)
Renewed surface eyed for Metchosin tennis court

Funding source must first be solidified in order for project to happen

The James C Richardson Pipe Band marches in a Remembrance Day parade on Nov. 11, 2019 in Chilliwack. Wednesday, March 10 is International Bagpipe Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of March 7 to 13

International Bagpipe Day, Wash Your Nose Day and Kidney Day are all coming up this week

The Conservation Officers Service is warning aquarium users after invasive and potentially destructive mussels were found in moss balls from a pet store. (BC Conservation Officers Service/Facebook)
Aquarium users in B.C. warned after invasive mussels found at pet store

Conservation officers were told the mussels were found in a moss ball from a Terrace pet store.

Hockey hall-of-fame legend Wayne Gretzky, right, watches the casket of his father, Walter Gretzky, as it is carried from the church during a funeral service in Brantford, Ont., Saturday, March 6, 2021. HE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Walter Gretzky remembered as a man with a ‘heart of gold’ at funeral

The famous hockey father died Thursday at age 82 after battling Parkinson’s disease

Donald Alan Sweet was once an all star CFL kicker who played for the Montreal Alouettes and Montreal Concordes over a 13-year career. Photo courtesy of Mission RCMP.
Ex-B.C. teacher who was CFL kicker charged with assault, sexual crimes against former students

Donald Sweet taught in Mission School District for 10 years, investigators seek further witnesses

(Black Press Media files)
Medicine gardens help Victoria’s Indigenous kids in care stay culturally connected

Traditional plants brought to the homes of Indigenous kids amid the COVID-19 pandemic

Personal protective equipment is seen in the COVID-19 intensive care unit at St. Paul’s hospital in downtown Vancouver. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
$16.9 million invested to improve worker safety, strengthen B.C.’s food supply chain

Money to be used for social distancing, personal protective equipment, cleaning, and air circulation

More than ever before, as pandemic conditions persist, the threat of data breaches and cyberattacks continues to grow, according to SFU professor Michael Parent. (Pixabay photo)
SFU expert unveils 5 ways the COVID-19 pandemic has forever changed cybersecurity

Recognizing these changes is the first in a series of steps to mitigate them once the pandemic ends, and before the next: Michael Parent

Kevin Haughton is the founder/technologist of Courtenay-based Clearflo Solutions. Scott Stanfield photo
Islander aims Clearflo clean drinking water system at Canada’s remote communities

Entrepreneur $300,000 mobile system can produce 50,000 litres of water in a day, via solar energy

Most Read