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Wet’suwet’en Elected Chiefs, call on federal minister to resign, reject current Memorandum of Understanding

The Wet’suwet’en Elected Chiefs are calling on Federal Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations, Carolyn Bennett to resign and to reject the current Memorandum of Understanding on rights and title calling the consultation process flawed and incomplete.

In a statement, the Elected Chiefs said the nations conducted separate phone meetings with Minister Bennett and Minister Fraser.

According to the Chiefs, they told the Ministers the process that was conducted to date is completely unacceptable and disrespectful to their people.

They also claimed that the Elected Chiefs did not get a copy of the MOU.

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“Aboriginal rights and title are the collective rights of ALL Wet’suwet’en people; they are not held only by Hereditary Chiefs and they cannot be defined or compromised by the small hand-picked group the government is dealing with,” the statement said.

Last week, the Elected Chiefs released a statement saying all of the clans were not consulted on the MOU despite the joint statement by the Hereditary Chiefs and senior ministers saying all clans have approved the MOU.

Last Thursday (May 7) the Elected Chiefs and the Hereditary Chiefs participated in a 6-hour virtual meeting.

According to the Elected Chiefs, they were treated improperly and failed to adequately inform them of the proceedings and processes that have taken place to date.

“To ignore their clan members and Elected Councils, something is terribly amiss. They do not represent us, and they have no legal authority to negotiate or sign any documents on behalf of our clans or our members without a mandate,” the statement said.

On Tuesday, The Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chiefs responded to the statement by posting a letter that was sent o Chief Luggi and other Chief councillors.

In the letter, the Hereditary Chiefs said Elected Councillors did not get a copy of the MOU to ensure it wasn’t prematurely leaked to the media and claimed the MOU was delivered to the Elected Chiefs on May 7.

The Hereditary Chiefs also responded to the Elected Chiefs to delay the signing of the MOU saying if there was a specific timeline they would recognize a purpose of extension of time.

“For us to delay for an indefinite time the signing of the MOU will be for us to ignore all of the Wet’suwet’en who have participated and carefully considered the MOU and directed us to move forward with the MOU,” the letter said.
The MOU was agreed between the Hereditary Chiefs and senior Ministers during three days of talks in Smithers in February.

The Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chiefs have invited Federal Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations Carolyn Bennett and B.C. Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation Scott Fraser to sign the MOU on May 14.

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