More than a week after federal and provincial ministers made a deal with Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs protesting a natural gas pipeline, elected Wet’suwet’en leaders say they haven’t yet seen details of the deal, which will implement a 22-year-old Supreme Court of Canada decision over aboriginal rights and title in their region.
“We were excluded from the process,” said Wet’suwet’en First Nation Chief Maureen Luggi of the meetings held over three days between the hereditary chiefs and Indigenous-Crown Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett and her provincial B.C. counterpart Scott Fraser.
Luggi’s community is one of six Wet’suwet’en First Nations in northeastern British Columbia whose interests are entwined in both the landmark 1997 Delgamuukw decision and the Coastal GasLink pipeline, five of which have signed deals related to the $6.6 billion project.
After RCMP arrested several protesters on Feb. 6 at a blockade erected on a road used by Coastal GasLink to supply construction efforts, solidarity protests erupted across B.C. and at railways in Ontario and Quebec, bringing freight transportation to a standstill. The meetings with the hereditary chiefs aimed to resolve the crippling rail blockades held in protest against the pipeline.
This week, Luggi expects the Office of Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs will present her community with what she anticipates is a memorandum of understanding over asserting aboriginal land title recognized by the decades-old Delgamuukw decision, and resulting from the Bennett-Fraser meetings.
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