Office of the Wet'suwet'en

Office of the Wet'suwet'en

May 30, 2011 18:16 ET

Victory for the Wet'suwet'en

SMITHERS, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwire - May 30, 2011) - Office of the Wet'suwet'en -

The BC Supreme Court has granted an injunction which restrains Canadian Forest Products Ltd. ("Canfor") from engaging in timber harvesting activities within a culturally vital portion of Ilk K'il Bin Territory known as Redtop. Through Kelah, the Wet'suwet'en Chief responsible for the Territory, the Wet'suwet'en have continuously – with considerable struggle and sacrifice - occupied, used and relied on Ilk K'il Bin since well before first European contact down to the present day. Justice Dillon found that "the relationship to particular lands … defines the social structure of Wet'suwet'en society, that places the land as the foundation of cultural identity, and that determines the structure of governance."

Kelah and the House Group of Ginehklaiyex have taken steps to protect culturally significant ecosystems for over a hundred years. The BC Supreme Court has acknowledged our Hereditary Leader's authority and responsibilities over their territory. Kelah and other Wet'suwet'en chiefs fought for this recognition in the Delgamuukw\Gisday wa case and now have that recognition. This ruling is a victory as in the past it has seemed that corporate interests have trumped Aboriginal rights.

The Wet'suwet'en continue to assert title, rights and authority as the rightful title holders over their territory. Wet'suwet'en Hereditary Chiefs and members collectively hold title, rights and authority over the land and resources of House territories, and are responsible for the welfare of all life on the territories.

The Wet'suwet'en Hereditary Chiefs are prepared to negotiate 'reconciliation' through fair and balanced agreements with all levels of government, and the private sector on acceptable land use and responsible resource development that will sustain cultural values, protect environmental integrity, support essential social services, provide economic opportunities, and ensure benefit for the betterment of all.

As Kelah stated: "My father and grandfather and the other Wet'suwet'en chiefs fought for the protection of our lands their whole lives. I am glad to have lived to finally see the recognition of our rights and the importance of the lands to the Wet'suwet'en. Maybe the government will now treat us with respect and work with us to plan how to protect the lands."

The court decision can be viewed at:
http://www.courts.gov.bc.ca/jdb-txt/SC/11/06/2011BCSC0676.htm

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