OPINION: Who speaks for the Wet’suwet’en people? Making sense of the Coastal GasLink conflict – by Jody Wilson-Raybould (Globe and Mail – January 24, 2020)


Hon. Jody Wilson-Raybould, P.C., Q.C., M.P., is the independent member of Parliament for the British Columbia riding of Vancouver Granville.

“Our people are in a profound period of transition and of nation building or rebuilding.” I said these words when I was regional chief of the B.C. Assembly of First Nations some eight years ago. They remain true today.

Understanding this transition is key to making sense of the conflict regarding Coastal GasLink’s pipeline and who speaks for the Wet’suwet’en people in approving or not approving developments through their territory.
Much of the pipeline dialogue is framed in simplistic ways: Build the pipeline, or don’t; respect Indigenous rights, or not. But such frames do not help us understand how we got here, and what we must do to avoid or quickly address such conflicts. Let me explain.

Reconciliation requires transitioning from the colonial system of government imposed on First Nations through the Indian Act, to systems of Indigenous governance that are determined by Indigenous peoples and recognized by others.

Indigenous peoples must do this work. We have to deconstruct the colonial reality, identify shared priorities and visions, rebuild governance structures and capacity, determine how to move out of the Indian Act and revitalize legal orders. This includes clarifying the role of hereditary chiefs and systems in today’s world.

For the rest of this article: https://www.theglobeandmail.com/opinion/article-who-speaks-for-the-wetsuweten-people-making-sense-of-the-coastal/

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