VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Hours after it was cancelled, a meeting between Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs and the provincial and federal governments is back on.
According to one of the five hereditary chiefs opposing the natural gas pipeline through Wet’suwet’en territory, the meeting had been cancelled because government representatives had asked the chiefs to call off rail blockades. However, the chiefs refused.
Hereditary Chief Na’Moks says the government reached out to them to say the whole thing had been a “miscommunication” and ask to go ahead with the meeting.
“We received a message not too long ago, that the province of British Columbia and Canada are willing to come in and have a meeting with us late tomorrow afternoon, and we will carry it on for Friday,” he says. “Our hope is to get everything back on track because we’ve always had the willingness to meet but it was unfortunate that earlier in the day, they had cancelled it. Now they state it was a miscommunication. And yet it was clear to us that both levels had cancelled the meeting.”
He says it was clear to him and members of the Nation that the meeting had been cancelled over their refusal to tell protesters and other sovereign nations to back away from blockades across the country.
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“They had requested we talk to the Mohawks for an example, and to tell them to step down,” he says. “And we can’t do that. We can’t tell another sovereign nation what to do. We would not expect them to tell us what to do. So it’s actually against our law.”
Chief Na’Moks says he’s optimistic about the meeting and says it’s a step in the right direction.
“We’re working towards our rights and title and if we can get this fast-tracked into there were ultimately we want to change the relationship between the provinces, candidate self, and Indigenous people right across the country itself,” he says. “And that’s why we have so much support only Indigenous people but non-Indigenous as well, because it started off as an Indigenous issue and then it became a human rights issue. I’m always optimistic. But I know when we’ve heard from other Indigenous nations across the country, they said if there was some positive progress, then they would have no issue with stopping whatever actions they are taking, because progress is progress, but it has to be positive.”
Meanwhile, it’s unclear if the premier or prime minister will attend the talks, as has been requested by the hereditary chiefs.
Public Safety Minister Bill Blair told reporters Wednesday the RCMP has removed its officers from an access road to a worksite for the Coastal GasLink pipeline and stationed them instead in the nearby town of Houston.
However, as for the call to remove the RCMP presence entirely from the 22,000 square kilometres of the nation’s traditional territory, Blair said the thousands of Canadians who live in this area have a right to be protected by police.