Torn loyalties over the future of Wet’suwet’en amid blockade against GasLink – by Brent Jang (Globe and Mail – January 13, 2020)

Russell and Elsie Tiljoe have deep roots in the Wet’suwet’en Nation and worry about the growing divisions between hereditary chiefs who oppose Coastal GasLink’s $6.6-billion pipeline project and elected band councillors who support it.

Mr. Tiljoe, 83, and his 82-year-old wife, Elsie, say on-reserve residents stand to benefit from jobs created by construction of the natural-gas pipeline.

But the Indigenous elders also respect the Wet’suwet’en’s hereditary house groups, which claim authority in northern British Columbia over their traditional territory located outside federal reserves.

The couple, who have been married for 65 years and raised 10 children, feel torn between being loyal to hereditary leaders and backing elected councillors promoting economic development to raise the standard of living on reserves.

“I wish our hereditary house groups could work with the elected officials,” Mr. Tiljoe said during an interview on Saturday. “Some people think that anyone who isn’t 100 per cent behind them is against them.”

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