Wet'suwet'en Chief Says Talks With Province Represent New Way of Reconciliation

John Crawford

A Wet'suwet'en Hereditary Chief says the discussions currently underway with the province are not negotiations, but a way to advance reconciliation.

Chief Na'moks (John Ridsdale) and other chiefs have been meeting this week in Witset to discuss last Saturday's traditional Smoke Feast, which was attended by Premier John Horgan and members of his cabinet.

Chief Na'moks says the discussions with the province are an attempt to find a new way to address issues on a government-to-government basis, rather than constantly pursuing matters throught the courts.

"You have to understand that a Smoke Feast is only an announcement feast, it's not a finalization -- but we had to follow our traditional governance of announcing it in our Peace Hall, and having the Premier and his cabinet there with the ministers to make sure they understand that we're going to use our hereditary law, our traditional law all the way through;  this is so unique it's never happened in British Columbia before -- we've been telling them for years the proper way to do things, well now they need to start listening and agree there is a better way of doing things -- you can't talk down to indigenous people, you must talk with them, not at them," he explained.

[FILE PHOTO:  Chief Na'Moks]

Chief Na'moks says while a lot of attention has centred lately on the conflict between the Wet'suwet'en and the province over the Coastal GasLink project, this process encompasses much more than just one project or one industry.

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