Agreement With Wet`suwet`en

“This statement of intent is an important step in our work to rebuild our relationship with the Wet`suwet`en and implement rights and titles, but we know there is still more to be done,” a department spokesman said in an electronic statement. Nathan Cullen, a former New Democrats congressman who acted as a link between governments and leaders, said the deal is expected to be signed on Thursday. On May 14, 2020, British Columbia, Canada and the Wet`suwet`en Hereditary Chiefs signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that establishes a process for the “three equal governments” to negotiate agreements on the implementation of Wet`suwet`en Indigenous title and rights. The March 1 agreement was reached amid blockades of major transport routes that crippled parts of the national economy. During the upcoming negotiations, which will be set out in the MoU, the Wet`suwet`en Hereditary Chiefs have offered to cooperate with the elected Chiefs and Councils and to commit to Wet`suwet`en membership. While the form and nature of this commitment are primarily internal governance issues that the Wet`suwet`ent are trying to reconcile, these issues also have a broader impact on how the Crown will manage and deliver its reconciliation commitments to the Wet`suwet`en people. The federal and provincial governments must also follow a transparent process and an inclusive consultation process that takes into account the interests of the Wet`suwet`en as well as the broader interests of those who want to work with Wet`suwet`en in economic development within the Wet`suwet`en territory. Clarity and certainty of governance – for wet`suwet`s and the general public – is essential to move forward on a constructive path. On May 1, 2020, elected leaders of five Wet`suwet`en groups issued a statement in which they stated that they “did not agree to or support the signing of a proposed Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on rights and title with Canada or British Columbia.” The agreement with British Columbia and Ottawa could help resolve the pipeline dispute, but other Indigenous groups are unhappy In response, the Hereditary Chiefs offered to meet to explore how the Chiefs and elected Chiefs and Councils “can work together within Wet`suwet`en`s home countries and communities.” The signing of the Memorandum of Understanding with the heirs has revived the points of tension in the ongoing conflict within the territory of Wet`suwet`en with regard to governance. There are conflicts related to the roles of elected and hereditary leaders, as well as conflicts over whether wet`suwet`en`s traditional right was respected during the negotiation of the MoU and whether it is respected when negotiating the agreements provided for in the MOU. In essence, the disputes relate to how the Wet`suwet`en – leaders and members – participate in negotiations and decisions with the Crown on agreements concerning the rights and titles of Wet`suwet`en.