Disrespectful that Horgan won’t meet during northern B.C. tour: hereditary chief

Na’moks said he was frustrated Horgan didn’t meet with the chiefs

It’s disrespectful that Premier John Horgan won’t meet with five hereditary chiefs who oppose a natural gas pipeline while he is touring northern British Columbia, says the highest-ranking chief.

Chief Na’moks, who also goes by John Ridsdale, said the chiefs have asked the premier for a face-to-face discussion about the Coastal GasLink project.

Na’moks said he was frustrated Horgan didn’t meet with the chiefs on Friday, when the premier was in the area touring the LNG Canada project site in Kitimat and meeting with business leaders in Terrace.

“It really bothered me that he was not that far away and yet somehow could not take the time to come and speak with us,” Na’moks said Saturday.

The premier’s office said in a statement that upon receiving the meeting request on Thursday, it reached out to the hereditary chiefs to schedule a phone call.

“The aim of any discussion would be continued dialogue with a focus on de-escalation and on safety for all,” it said.

The office added that the premier has commitments that rule out a meeting on this trip, but he is not ruling out a meeting completely

“Staff continue to be in touch to work on this,” it said.

Na’moks said only an in-person conversation will demonstrate respect for the chiefs, who assert jurisdiction over 22,000 square kilometres of unceded Wet’suwet’en territory.

“We want to show the respect back, too,” he said. “If you’re going to have decent communication with anybody, it’s best to be looking eye to eye.”

The chiefs have refused meetings with Coastal GasLink and instead called for discussions with provincial and federal government leaders, arguing the duty to consult is held by the Crown, not the project proponent.

Coastal GasLink has signed benefits agreements with all 20 elected band councils along the 670-kilometre pipeline route. But the hereditary chiefs argue band councils only have jurisdiction over reserve lands rather than unceded territories.

READ MORE: Calls for dialogue as Coastal GasLink pipeline polarizes some in northern B.C.

Crystal Smith, elected chief of the Haisla Nation, has said her band council signed an agreement because the project is creating jobs for Indigenous people and lifting communities from poverty.

Horgan said this week that the provincially permitted project will be built, and the rule of law must prevail.

The B.C. Supreme Court has granted an injunction against supporters of the hereditary chiefs who are have set up camps close to a pipeline work site near Smithers. It authorizes RCMP to arrest and remove anyone contravening the order.

However the RCMP has said it’s not enforcing the injunction to allow time for dialogue between the hereditary chiefs and Coastal GasLink.

Horgan was set to continue his northern B.C. tour on Saturday with an announcement about a new hospital in Fort St. James and by attending the men’s B.C. Winter Classic hockey game in the community.

Meanwhile, Adam Olsen, interim leader of B.C.’s Green party, was set to visit the camps set up by pipeline opponents on Saturday.

Federal Green MP Paul Manly also said he was traveling to Wet’suwet’en territory to meet with the hereditary chiefs.

“I am going to listen and to observe the situation on the ground,” he said in a statement.

“I have publicly stated my support for the hereditary chiefs and others who are engaged in non-violent action to protect Wet’suwet’en land. They are in a very challenging and volatile situation. They need to be heard.”

— By Laura Kane in Vancouver

The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Truck smoking profusely on the Malahat, no reports of traffic being affected

Shawnigan RCMP say they are on route to the incident

CRD wants closer relations with First Nations

Committee recommends the CRD board open the door to representation

Police watchdog looking for witnesses to arrests in Victoria’s inner harbour

One male left injured after arrests near Red Fish Blue Fish

Speaker ‘will not tolerate illegal activity’ on B.C. legislature grounds, says chief of staff

Chief of staff to the B.C. speaker Alan Mullen says situation with demonstrators appears ‘fluid’

Fashion Fridays: Tammy’s big makeover

Kim XO, helps to keep you looking good on Fashion Fridays on the Black Press Media Network

Ryan nets hat trick in return as Senators beat Canucks 5-2

Ottawa winger received assistance for admitted alcohol problem

Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs meet with provincial, federal ministers

Neither party speaking on the groundwork laid for tomorrow’s talks

MPs to examine privacy implications of facial-recognition technology used by RCMP

The MPs will look at how the technology affects the privacy, security and safety of children

Dates back to 2009: Calgary police lay charges in fraud involving semi-trucks

Three people from Calgary are facing charges that include fraud over $5,000

Gandhi featured at Sooke’s Intermission Film Series

Epic historical film won eight Academy Awards

Comox 442 Squadron carries out two sea rescue missions north of Vancouver Island

Submitted by Lt. Alexandra Hejduk Special to Black Press 442 Transport and… Continue reading

Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs optimistic ahead of talks with feds, province

Discussions with provincial and federal governments expected to start later today

Most Read