AFN intervened in Wet’suwet’en and RCMP conflict amid negotiations - APTN NewsAPTN News

AFN intervened in Wet’suwet’en and RCMP conflict amid negotiations

AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde called RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki “to ensure the RCMP is operating in good faith and to remind the RCMP they are there to serve and protect, not incarcerate.”

Justin Brake
APTN News
Hereditary Wet’suwet’en leaders turned to the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) last week amid an ongoing threat of RCMP retaliation to the continued defence of unceded Wet’suwet’en territories by members of the Unist’ot’en House group.

APTN News has learned that on Jan. 10, as hereditary chiefs were brokering a deal with RCMP over the enforcement of a B.C. Supreme Court injunction granted to a private pipeline company against Indigenous land defenders, AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde called RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki “to ensure the RCMP is operating in good faith and to remind the RCMP they are there to serve and protect, not incarcerate,” a briefing note share with APTN by the AFN said.

The AFN note confirms Na’Moks, a hereditary chief of the Wet’suwet’en Nation, requested Bellegarde intervene on the matter days after armed officers of the RMCP’s tactical and paramilitary units raided an access point and camp belonging to the Gidimt’en Clan of the Wet’suwet’en.

Gidimt’en members and supporters were defending their territory from Coastal GasLink, a subsidiary of TransCanada Corp.—now going by the name TC Energy—which was granted an injunction in late November to deal with Indigenous people defending their lands.

Bellegarde asked Lucki “for assurance…that talks will continue [with Wet’suwet’en leadership] and peace will be maintained,” the note says.

“The Commissioner said that as long as all sides are talking there will be no action,” it continues, adding Lucki stated the “RCMP has to take action if there are Criminal Code offenses but that is the only situation in which they will act.”

On Jan. 7 the RCMP arrested 14 individuals during their raid of the Gidimt’en access point along a remote service road about an hour outside the town of Houston, B.C.

The event garnered international media attention and brought the Wet’suwet’en struggle for jurisdiction and sovereignty to the fore.

In an unusual move prior to enforcing the injunction the RCMP released a statement interpreting the 1997 Supreme Court of Canada (SCC) Delgamuukw decision, which affirmed the Wet’suwet’en have never ceded their 22,000 square kilometres of lands.

But the RCMP’s take on the landmark case stated that, because the Supreme Court ordered a new trial, and since that trial hasn’t happened, “Aboriginal title to this land, and which nation holds it, has not been determined.”

After public backlash for what many perceived as an attempted justification for the RCMP’s forthcoming actions, the force retracted the statement.

On Jan. 9, two days after the raid, Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs and the RCMP reached a tentative agreement to let pipeline workers through the Unist’ot’en access point, which has kept industry out of the territory for almost a decade.

The following day an agreement was reached that will see the Unist’ot’en control the access point while allowing pipeline workers and police through.

That agreement also includes the establishment of a temporary RCMP “detachment” and a police presence to ensure the safety of Unist’ot’en House members who say they’ve faced threats of violence from locals in recent years.

Members of the RCMP tactical and paramilitary units raid a peaceful camp on territory belonging to the Gidimt’en Clan of the Wet’suwet’en Nation on Jan. 7, 2019. Photo: Michael Toledano.

A statement from RCMP media relations Tuesday said Lucki and Bellegarde “have spoken on this matter and are in frequent contact on a wide range of issues.

“The RCMP supports continued efforts for a renewed, nation-to-nation relationship, based on recognition of rights, respect, co-operation, and partnership.”

Na’Moks told APTN Monday that he appreciates Bellegarde’s support in the matter.

Bellegarde and the AFN serve as an advocacy group for First Nation bands, chiefs and councils established by Canada under the Indian Act.

But in a Jan. 8 statement he called the RCMP’s “use of force against people people” at the Gidimt’en camp “a violation of human rights and First Nations’ rights.

“Building consensus under duress will make the resolution of the situation in Northern British Columbia very difficult,” he said. “Real consensus will be built when the parties, with very different views, come together in meaningful and productive dialogue.”

On Monday Bellegarde raised the issue with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and several cabinet ministers at a meeting in Ottawa.

He told Trudeau the RCMP’s actions were “not respectful of our laws, of our people’s rights,” and that “First Nations law was vetoed by Canada’s domestic laws in the assumed Crown sovereignty over our lands and territories.”

Na’Moks said he’s glad Bellegarde raised the matter with Trudeau, “because the more people realize that we were the peacekeepers in this, and that we were actually invaded — I think the public needs to know that.”

On Monday RCMP held a press conference in Surrey, B.C. to brief media on the situation.

RCMP Assistant Commissioner Eric Stubbs said the RCMP would conduct a standard review of their operation, which will include reviewing video footage of the arrests, but that as of Monday they “have not yet identified any issues regarding police officer conduct.”

Stubbs also referred to the territory Wet’suwet’en were defending as “traditional” and did not use the term Unist’ot’en, Gidimt’en and others refer to as “unceded”.

The issue of title and jurisdiction has been front and centre of the conflict.

Na’Moks said he wants it to be known that Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs have not struck a deal with CGL, only with the RCMP.

Stubbs thanks the hereditary chiefs during Monday’s press conference.

“It’s clear to me [that] the level of trust between the RCMP and the Hereditary Chiefs now in place will continue to play a direct and positive role going forward.”

Responding to the comment Na’Moks said that “at this point in time we don’t have trust” with the RCMP, and that “that trust has to be built.”

He said the Wet’suwet’en chiefs only made the agreement “for the safety of our people” against the threat of further action from the RCMP, and that they are “still adamantly opposed” to the pipeline.

In a statement released Friday, the same day RCMP and hereditary leaders brokered the deal, CGL President Rick Gateman said that a “positive solution enabling us to peacefully cross the bridge and public access road, allowing work to progress, has been achieved.”

He reiterated the company’s agreements with the elected chiefs and councils of the Wet’suwet’en Nation to build the pipeline through the territory.

“I credit this achievement to a commitment to respectful and meaningful dialogue demonstrated by all parties involved in our discussions with the Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chiefs and RCMP.”

Since the RCMP’s enforcement of the injunction solidarity rallies and demonstrations have continued across the country.

On Wednesday Wet’suwet’en hereditary leaders will be joined by Grand Chief Stewart Phillip of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs in leading a rally and march outside the Dze L K’ant Friendship Centre in Smithers.

Phillip has called the situation a “crisis” and demanded intervention by the provincial and federal governments.

jbrake@aptn.ca
@JustinBrakeNews

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13 Responses to “AFN intervened in Wet’suwet’en and RCMP conflict amid negotiations”

  1. mcleodenator@gmail.com'
    Chris January 18, 2019 at 1:09 am #

    The RCMP are now interpreting the law and waiting for an opinion on a case decided in 1997? I don’t think there is going to be a new case in Delgumuukw, do Mr. RCMP?

    In an unusual move prior to enforcing the injunction the RCMP released a statement interpreting the 1997 Supreme Court of Canada (SCC) Delgamuukw decision, which affirmed the Wet’suwet’en have never ceded their 22,000 square kilometres of lands.

    But the RCMP’s take on the landmark case stated that, because the Supreme Court ordered a new trial, and since that trial hasn’t happened, “Aboriginal title to this land, and which nation holds it, has not been determined.”

  2. m***********@gmail.com'
    Chris February 19, 2019 at 6:33 pm #

    The RCMP are now interpreting the law and waiting for an opinion on a case decided in 1997? I don’t think there is going to be a new case in Delgumuukw, do Mr. RCMP?

    In an unusual move prior to enforcing the injunction the RCMP released a statement interpreting the 1997 Supreme Court of Canada (SCC) Delgamuukw decision, which affirmed the Wet’suwet’en have never ceded their 22,000 square kilometres of lands.

    But the RCMP’s take on the landmark case stated that, because the Supreme Court ordered a new trial, and since that trial hasn’t happened, “Aboriginal title to this land, and which nation holds it, has not been determined.”

  3. 4Dakota.Redman@gmail.com'
    Audrey Redman January 17, 2019 at 3:42 pm #

    My prayer as a descendent of the Creator’s Natural Law is that all that our ancestors left to us will be preserved and saved from Canada’s destructive Rule of Law. They were not meant to rule but to protect the land and people and keep the peace as was laid down in The Great Law of Peace that was established by the First People of this land and to which they agreed. Otherwise we would not have had the peace we all share here on Turtle Island.

  4. 4*************@gmail.com'
    Audrey Redman February 19, 2019 at 6:27 pm #

    My prayer as a descendent of the Creator’s Natural Law is that all that our ancestors left to us will be preserved and saved from Canada’s destructive Rule of Law. They were not meant to rule but to protect the land and people and keep the peace as was laid down in The Great Law of Peace that was established by the First People of this land and to which they agreed. Otherwise we would not have had the peace we all share here on Turtle Island.

  5. jmorg@sympatico.ca'
    John Morgan January 16, 2019 at 8:45 pm #

    The PM and all those involved including RCMP in illegally invading the territory in question should be brought before the International Criminal Court in The Hague for adjudication. Where is the UN in all of this. I have addressed this by email with the UN and Canada’s Ambassador both by phone and email. Have heard nothing. Canada is an embarrassment but the UN could be in the same position.

  6. j****@sympatico.ca'
    John Morgan February 19, 2019 at 6:21 pm #

    The PM and all those involved including RCMP in illegally invading the territory in question should be brought before the International Criminal Court in The Hague for adjudication. Where is the UN in all of this. I have addressed this by email with the UN and Canada’s Ambassador both by phone and email. Have heard nothing. Canada is an embarrassment but the UN could be in the same position.

  7. louispronovost@yahoo.com'
    Louis Pronovost January 16, 2019 at 12:49 am #

    Fact check please……………..
    Original Traditional Native Nations don’t need the help from canadian band councils whom come under the British Crown. Especially the afn whom were put in place by the canadian government.

  8. keptin@eastlink.ca'
    Keptin dr, John jOE SARK January 15, 2019 at 11:03 pm #

    As a member of the Traditional Government for the Mi’kmaq Nation for the district of pekwitk (PEI), I fully support the Heredity Chiefs and their members who maintain that Indigenous law and Western law is the rule of law in their land.

    On December 11, 1997, Delgamuukw v. British Columbia set a precedent for how treaty rights are understood in Canadian courts, affirming the recognition of oral testimony from Indigenous people.

    Prime Minister Trudeau speaks with a forked tongue when he talks reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples. Then he uses the RCMP, and their weapons of war to arrest and manhandle our elders and our women. That is a blatant disrespect. How does that differ from Gestapo acts elsewhere? We have deep respect for our Elders and our Indigenous women because they carry, give birth to life and care for our children. Tense terrorist actions against our People by the RCMP, clearly shows us that the historic terrorist and genocide action by the PRIME MINISTER of Canada and the RCMP, is still practised in Canada. It is sad indeed to see our elders, women and other people, arrested for protesting the destruction of their environment (Sacred Mother Earth) and her precious water, fish, berries, plants and animals. We depend on these for healthy food for now and for future generations of people whether Indigenous or non-Indigenous.

    Our Indigenous Peoples have the right to protect their own land, which according to the “rule of law” is all of the unseeded land in Canada. What rule of law is Trudeau talking about? He is certainly not talking about the criminal act of stealing Indigenous lands and resources carried out by the Federal Crown and the Federal Government.

    The Canadian Government totally ignores and violates the ‘rule of law’ in favor of the “corporate welfare bums” who have taken billions of dollars worth of natural resources from our land and water.

    Here on beautiful (PEI), our Mi’kmaq never surrendered any territory to the British Crown or the Crown in right of Canada. This means that under the provisions of the Royal Proclamation of 1763 we still own all of what is now called Prince Edward Island. The Royal Proclamation also stated that; “but that, if at any Time any of the said Indians should be inclined to dispose of the said Lands, the same shall be purchased only for Us, in our Name, at some public Meeting or Assembly of the said Indians, to be held for the purpose by the Governor or Commander in Chief of our Colony [.]” The 1763 Royal Proclamation.

    The 1763 Royal Proclamation forbid British governors from granting the right to survey or settle any lands which had not already been sold to the Crown, or might be sold by treaty in the future.

    In 1752 and 1760, THE British subjects later settled Míkmákis in violation of what the Mí kmaq considered their treaty right to keep their lands and resources. By comparison, most of British Columbia was settled–and continues to be settled–without any treaties. British Columbia First Nations maintain
    that they have never given up any of their aboriginal land rights. On December 11, 1997, the Supreme Court of Canada agreed with the British Columbia Hereditary Chiefs that they had the power over their traditional lands and that their laws prevailed on the Delgamuukw decision.

    Yours Sincerely,
    Keptin DR. John Joe Sark LLD
    2146 Fort Augustus Road, Route 21
    Johnson’s River, PEI.

    • jpage@telusplanet.net'
      J Page January 25, 2019 at 12:14 am #

      I , unlike you, have spent an entire career in the construction industry seeing the oil and gas companies and all of their contractors giving highest priority hiring to any native that walks in the door. I’ve seen these workers come into the industry with no skills and come out as highly qualified construction trade workers, Pipeline inspectors , office workers, plant managers and multi millionaire business owners. I also have a degree in anthropology going back too 1970, when my professor lectured for two hours on the horrible statistics of life on the reserve, with only a tiny percentage graduating from High school, while 60 % of the girls will be raped by 16, 80 % will have violent deaths in their families, and most boys having criminal records by 18. The following week’s two hour lecture was the prof excitedly bragging the government’s “Hawthorne Report” had just come out, to state the government of Canada must ” preserve these traditional native lifestyles so they can be studied forever ” . He was thrilled that now the anthropology professors will have an unlimited cash cow to milk forever, and all they had to do was watch those deplorable statistics and living conditions which statistically speaking have hardly changed in these 48 years. The LNG consortium has the written support of 100 % of the indigenous elected leaders along the right of way, with huge dollars committed to indigenous and local workers and businesses and now a handful of unelected leaders are planning to prevent a big step up out of poverty for those communities because of why ? Are they happy with those traditional statistics ?

  9. Forheavenlysake@hotmail.com'
    Georgina Hnatiuk January 15, 2019 at 10:15 pm #

    The provincial and federal government and politicians always refuse to legislate First Nations title and Rights, which are affirmed in courts, into meaningful and reconcillatory policy. They receive no criminal charges for failing to uphold Aborginal title and Rights. Instead, they keep arbitrary Indian Affairs and Natural Resource laws in place, undermining the spirit and intent of UNDRIP, and Section 35 of the Constitution. Canada’s purpose is to keep juristictional loopholes in place, so First Nations rights and Human rights fall through the cracks, while appearing lawful to the ignorant and naive. All art of war. Shame on Canada for its political hypocrisy reguarding reconciliation.

  10. l*************@yahoo.com'
    Louis Pronovost February 19, 2019 at 6:27 pm #

    Fact check please……………..
    Original Traditional Native Nations don’t need the help from canadian band councils whom come under the British Crown. Especially the afn whom were put in place by the canadian government.

  11. k*****@eastlink.ca'
    Keptin dr, John jOE SARK February 19, 2019 at 6:21 pm #

    As a member of the Traditional Government for the Mi’kmaq Nation for the district of pekwitk (PEI), I fully support the Heredity Chiefs and their members who maintain that Indigenous law and Western law is the rule of law in their land.

    On December 11, 1997, Delgamuukw v. British Columbia set a precedent for how treaty rights are understood in Canadian courts, affirming the recognition of oral testimony from Indigenous people.

    Prime Minister Trudeau speaks with a forked tongue when he talks reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples. Then he uses the RCMP, and their weapons of war to arrest and manhandle our elders and our women. That is a blatant disrespect. How does that differ from Gestapo acts elsewhere? We have deep respect for our Elders and our Indigenous women because they carry, give birth to life and care for our children. Tense terrorist actions against our People by the RCMP, clearly shows us that the historic terrorist and genocide action by the PRIME MINISTER of Canada and the RCMP, is still practised in Canada. It is sad indeed to see our elders, women and other people, arrested for protesting the destruction of their environment (Sacred Mother Earth) and her precious water, fish, berries, plants and animals. We depend on these for healthy food for now and for future generations of people whether Indigenous or non-Indigenous.

    Our Indigenous Peoples have the right to protect their own land, which according to the “rule of law” is all of the unseeded land in Canada. What rule of law is Trudeau talking about? He is certainly not talking about the criminal act of stealing Indigenous lands and resources carried out by the Federal Crown and the Federal Government.

    The Canadian Government totally ignores and violates the ‘rule of law’ in favor of the “corporate welfare bums” who have taken billions of dollars worth of natural resources from our land and water.

    Here on beautiful (PEI), our Mi’kmaq never surrendered any territory to the British Crown or the Crown in right of Canada. This means that under the provisions of the Royal Proclamation of 1763 we still own all of what is now called Prince Edward Island. The Royal Proclamation also stated that; “but that, if at any Time any of the said Indians should be inclined to dispose of the said Lands, the same shall be purchased only for Us, in our Name, at some public Meeting or Assembly of the said Indians, to be held for the purpose by the Governor or Commander in Chief of our Colony [.]” The 1763 Royal Proclamation.

    The 1763 Royal Proclamation forbid British governors from granting the right to survey or settle any lands which had not already been sold to the Crown, or might be sold by treaty in the future.

    In 1752 and 1760, THE British subjects later settled Míkmákis in violation of what the Mí kmaq considered their treaty right to keep their lands and resources. By comparison, most of British Columbia was settled–and continues to be settled–without any treaties. British Columbia First Nations maintain
    that they have never given up any of their aboriginal land rights. On December 11, 1997, the Supreme Court of Canada agreed with the British Columbia Hereditary Chiefs that they had the power over their traditional lands and that their laws prevailed on the Delgamuukw decision.

    Yours Sincerely,
    Keptin DR. John Joe Sark LLD
    2146 Fort Augustus Road, Route 21
    Johnson’s River, PEI.

    • j****@telusplanet.net'
      J Page February 19, 2019 at 6:33 pm #

      I , unlike you, have spent an entire career in the construction industry seeing the oil and gas companies and all of their contractors giving highest priority hiring to any native that walks in the door. I’ve seen these workers come into the industry with no skills and come out as highly qualified construction trade workers, Pipeline inspectors , office workers, plant managers and multi millionaire business owners. I also have a degree in anthropology going back too 1970, when my professor lectured for two hours on the horrible statistics of life on the reserve, with only a tiny percentage graduating from High school, while 60 % of the girls will be raped by 16, 80 % will have violent deaths in their families, and most boys having criminal records by 18. The following week’s two hour lecture was the prof excitedly bragging the government’s “Hawthorne Report” had just come out, to state the government of Canada must ” preserve these traditional native lifestyles so they can be studied forever ” . He was thrilled that now the anthropology professors will have an unlimited cash cow to milk forever, and all they had to do was watch those deplorable statistics and living conditions which statistically speaking have hardly changed in these 48 years. The LNG consortium has the written support of 100 % of the indigenous elected leaders along the right of way, with huge dollars committed to indigenous and local workers and businesses and now a handful of unelected leaders are planning to prevent a big step up out of poverty for those communities because of why ? Are they happy with those traditional statistics ?

  12. f**************@hotmail.com'
    Georgina Hnatiuk February 19, 2019 at 6:21 pm #

    The provincial and federal government and politicians always refuse to legislate First Nations title and Rights, which are affirmed in courts, into meaningful and reconcillatory policy. They receive no criminal charges for failing to uphold Aborginal title and Rights. Instead, they keep arbitrary Indian Affairs and Natural Resource laws in place, undermining the spirit and intent of UNDRIP, and Section 35 of the Constitution. Canada’s purpose is to keep juristictional loopholes in place, so First Nations rights and Human rights fall through the cracks, while appearing lawful to the ignorant and naive. All art of war. Shame on Canada for its political hypocrisy reguarding reconciliation.