Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he knows people are impatient for a resolution to tensions involving a disputed natural gas pipeline in northern British Columbia, but time is needed to respect the traditions of the Wet’suwet’en people.
Speaking to reporters in Halifax this morning, Trudeau acknowledged the opposition of some Wet’suwet’en leaders to the Coastal GasLink pipeline has led to difficult times for many Canadians over the past few weeks.
He said his government has been focused on trying to find a solution, but added that current tensions stem from centuries of marginalizing Indigenous Peoples in Canada.
Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs and senior federal and BC cabinet ministers reached a proposed agreement over the weekend, but details are not being released until the Wet’suwet’en people are consulted through their traditional feast process, which could take up to two weeks.
Russell Tiljoe, an elder in the community, says he hasn’t seen the agreement but he expects the hereditary house chiefs will eventually call an all-clans meeting to discuss it, given its gravity.
All-clans meetings are held in the feast hall and are the traditional way that members of the nation reach decisions through consensus.
The draft deal reached on the weekend is believed to cover the broader concepts of rights and title without directly addressing a controversial pipeline through the First Nation’s traditional territory.
Trudeau says his government is respecting this process, but he sidestepped a question about how the deal will affect the pipeline project.
The draft accord only deals with land and title rights and BC Premier John Horgan has said the pipeline project will go ahead as planned.
This report was published by Canadian Press on March 3, 2020.