Wet’suwet’en Chiefs and Government Make Progress

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CBJ — The Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs and the federal government have reached a proposed arrangement to acknowledge land title rights established more than 20 years ago in a Supreme Court decision.

There are still negotiations to be settled, but this is seen as an important step relating to a natural gas pipeline expansion dispute. The two sides still disagree on some issues about how to move forward with the controversial pipeline.

Federal Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett and British Columbia Indigenous Relations Minister Scott Fraser would not give details on the proposed arrangement, saying it first has to be reviewed by the Wet’suwet’en people.

Coastal GasLink, the company building the pipeline, did sign agreements with representatives from 20 First Nations for the pipeline, including Wet’suwet’en elected band councils. The project was subsequently approved by the provincial government. But some hereditary chiefs voiced their disapproval of it.

Lawyer Peter Grant, who represented the Wet’suwet’en and neighbouring Gitxsan First Nation, said the proposal is not a treaty. “It’s a draft arrangement, but I think it’s very powerful,”

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