Office of the Wet'suwet'en

Office of the Wet'suwet'en

June 27, 2014 19:53 ET

Wet'suwet'en Hereditary Chiefs Congratulate the Tsilhqot'in Nation in Landmark Rights & Title Victory and Prepare for Action

WET'SUWET'EN YINTAH, BRITISH COLUMBIA and SMITHERS, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwired - June 27, 2014) - The Wet'suwet'en Hereditary Chiefs wish to express much gratitude and respect to the leadership of the Tsilhqot'in Nation in obtaining the first Declaration of Aboriginal title in the history of the Supreme Court of Canada. The Wet'suwet'en Hereditary Chiefs, along with Gitxsan Hereditary Chiefs were co-plaintiffs in the historic Delgamuukw-Gisday'wa case in which the Supreme Court of Canada, for the first time, clarified that Aboriginal title had not been extinguished, confirming that Aboriginal title rights were protected by Canada's constitution and constituted an interest in the land itself, including its resources.

"I travelled with fellow chiefs to lend our support to the Tsilhqot'in, and today, I wish to congratulate Chief Roger Williams and all Tsilhqot'in people who fought valiantly to achieve this historic affirmation of title in their traditional territory," stated Hereditary Dini ze' Hagwilnegh, Ron Mitchell of the Laksilyu Clan. "I know from my role as a translator in the Delgamuukw-Gisday'wa case that the court process can be very unkind to our people, so I commend the courage and perseverance of the Tsilhqot'in in this victory that extends to First Nations across Canada, and Indigenous peoples around the world."

Dini ze' Na'moks of the Tsayu Clan added, "This decision is a wake-up call to governments and industry that the legal landscape of Canada has changed forever and that they must respect our perspectives and seek our consent before proceeding with resource development projects and decisions on our Yintah "traditional territory" that comprises 22,000 square kilometers. I am particularly pleased that the chief justice overturned the British Columbia Court of Appeals narrow site-specific intensively-used interpretation of title stating, 'Delgamuukw [Gisday'wa] affirms a territorial use-based approach to Aboriginal title.' I will re-affirm that we do not consent to the Enbridge pipeline crossing our Yintah, nor natural gas pipelines that propose to cross our pristine salmon-bearing rivers, streams and sacred areas. This decision honours our ancestors who sacrificed so much in establishing a foundation the Tsilhqot'in successfully built upon to have their land rights recognized and affirmed."

Dini ze' Madeek, Jeff Brown of the Gitumden Clan, expressed, "We have been subjected to a disregard of our rights and title interests and the substantial concerns we have raised for too long which has compelled us to initiate collaborative discussions with other First Nations and review all our legal options. We would rather negotiate than litigate and work towards achieving honorable reconciliation, so I call on the governments of Canada and British Columbia to come to our Chiefs' table and get on with the business of establishing true government-to-government relationships; anything less will leave us with no choice but to take action and defend our interests in the court room."

Contact Information

  • Office of the Wet'suwet'en
    (250) 847-3630
    (250) 847-5381 (FAX)

    Dini ze' Na'moks (John Ridsdale)
    (250) 643-0771