The occupation by Indigenous protesters on the steps of the B.C. Legislature may soon be coming to an end, as a proposed arrangement was reached by senior government officials and Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs Sunday morning.
The announcement comes as talks between the hereditary chiefs and the ministers entered a fourth day.
“We, I believe, have come to a proposed arrangement that will also honour the protocols of the Wet’suwet’en people and clans,” said Federal Crown-Indigenous Minister Carolyn Bennett.
The proposed arrangement recognizes Wet’suwet’en rights and title.
A joint statement issued by Bennett, B.C. Indigenous Relations Minister Scott Fraser and Wet’suwet’en hereditary Chief Woos, notes the “result of these discussions was a draft arrangement that will be reviewed by the Wet’suwet’en clan members through Wet’suwet’en governance protocols for ratification.”
“This arrangement for the Wet’suwet’en will breathe life into the Delgamuukw-Gisday’wa decision so that future generations do not have to face conflicts like the one they face today.”
The ministers would not give any more details on the arrangement, saying it first has to be reviewed by the Wet’suwet’en people.
Chief Woos says the proposal represents an important milestone.
“We’re at a point in this moment in time to see if the arrangement will work in all aspects on what we stand for as Wet’suwet’en,” said Woos. “And again, as Wet’suwet’en , we are the land and the land is ours. We maintain that right from day one.”
However, differences still remain for both parties on the Coastal GasLink project, a natural gas pipeline that is being constructed in northern B.C., some of which runs through their territory.
In Victoria, Indigenous demonstrators say they’re skeptical and are sticking around just in case.
“Until we see what this agreement looks like, until we understand if the Wet’suwet’en people fully accept this, we will be here in case, once again, we return to an impasse,” said Kolin Sutherland-Wilson, a member of Indigenous Youth for Wet’suwet’en and the Gitxsan nation.
Government officials say they will return to Wet’suwet’en territory to sign the arrangement if it’s agreed on by the clans.