Adam Olsen (left) talks with hereditary chief Na’Moks (second from left) and Lihkt’samisyu Chief Dsta’hyl (right) at a small encampment of supporters just before the 39 kilometre mark of Morice West Forest Service Road on Jan. 18. (Trevor Hewitt photo)

BC Green Party leader visits Wet’suwet’en camps at heart of pipeline conflict

Adam Olsen calls for better relationship between Canada and First Nations

B.C. Green Party interim leader Adam Olsen was in the Bulkley Valley last weekend to visit Wet’suwet’en camps along the Morice West Forest Service Road.

Olsen’s visit comes after receiving an invitation from the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs to come to the territory and learn firsthand about the issues they are currently facing.

After arriving in Smithers just before noon on Saturday, Olsen began by meeting with hereditary chief Na’Moks (John Ridsdale) of the Tsayu clan to learn about Wet’suwet’en ‘Anuk nu’at’en — traditional law for the Wet’suwet’en.

Speaking to media Olsen said he believes the economic, social and environmental narratives currently unfolding in the province hinge on a better relationship between Indigenous and Canadian leadership.

He said he found Premier John Horgan’s Jan. 13 comments about respecting “the rule of law” in the dispute between Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs and Coastal GasLink (CGL) to be lacking.

READ MORE: Calls for dialogue as Coastal GasLink pipeline polarizes some in northern B.C.

“I think it’s problematic when you refer to the rule of law and indigenous law is excluded from that,” said Olsen. “It’s pretty clear that the Canadian court system has recognized Indigenous law as part of the broader legal context in this … country and in this province.”

He added that while numerous politicians have spoken out in support of the Wet’suwet’en, talk can be cheap when compared to actions.

“For me it’s more about what we do and what we show.

“I think that there’s this idea that the more simple that we can make it the easier it is that we’re going to find a resolution. The reality, though, is the more simple we make it the less likely it is that we find a resolution.”

Olsen said he has plans to meet with the Smithers RCMP detachment on Jan. 19 to discuss the ongoing situation.

He said despite the events following a Dec. 31, 2019 interlocutory injunction he has confidence the situation will be resolved peacefully.

“It’s the confrontation that makes me so sad,” said Olsen, noting that real change can’t happen until provincial and federal decision makers sit down at the table with the hereditary chiefs.

“Confrontation is easy — finding the space to have a peaceful resolution takes time and work.”

During the meeting Na’Moks expressed pride on behalf of all the hereditary chiefs having Olsen on their territory.

“You need that conversation to understand each other,” said Na’Moks. “The chiefs, when we come together, we’re the government on the land, that’s all there is to it. There’s nothing above us.”

He ended by noting the high stakes associated with the dispute.

“Other nations have called us and said that we will set the template for the future of this country — and we plan on it.”

Escorted by Na’Moks, Olsen reached kilometre 27 of the road at approximately 3:20 p.m. where a number of supporters were busy erecting a new wooden building on the land.

Speaking to supporters and members of the media Na’Moks thanked Olsen for coming out to the territory.

On behalf of all my fellow hereditary chiefs I want to thank you for this,” said Na’Moks. “This proves to everybody that doing the right thing for the right reason brings us all together, makes our heart strong, makes our soul strong, makes our song strong and you make us strong, so on behalf of my fellow chiefs misiyh.”

Olsen said it was an honour to be invited onto the land.

READ MORE: RCMP create access control checkpoint at 27 kilometre point of Morice West Forest Service Road

“I come up here with humility in my heart and with a real hope that I have in humanity that we find peaceful ways through these difficult situations.”

After chatting with supporters Olsen, Na’Moks, a few other individuals with The Office of The Wet’suwet’en and members of the media proceeded down the road to a police roadblock (which the RCMP have referred to as an access control checkpoint, but the hereditary chiefs and a number of human rights organizations have referred to as an exclusion zone) located at the 27 kilometre point of the road.

After being let in by RCMP officers, they proceeded to a small camp set up just before the 39.5 kilometre mark of the road, where a number of felled trees made further passage impossible by car.

Green Party Member of Parliament for Nanaimo—Ladysmith Paul Manly was also in town over the weekend, arriving on Jan. 19.

The Green MP said he wanted to hear the hereditary chiefs’ concerns regarding their ongoing dispute with CGL.

“I’ll be reporting back to my colleagues in the House of Commons and i’ll be bringing this up in the [House] so it’s good to have firsthand knowledge and to have an opportunity to listen firsthand,” he said of the chance to come and learn about the dispute.

In their platform both the federal and provincial Green Party indicate they are opposed to fracking and LNG exports because of climate concerns related to the process.

Echoing Olsen’s comments Manly said he was disappointed with Premier Horgan’s statements on the CGL development continuing.

“[Horgan] was asked to meet with the chiefs and he hasn’t,” said Manly, who characterized the way the situation has unfolded as a massive political failure.

“I think that, you know, if you’re talking about reconciliation and you’re talking about implementing the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples then it’s really important to have an open honest dialogue.

“The fact that we have the RCMP mobilizing on an enforcement order … that just shows failure on the part of the politicians.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Adam Olsen (left) talks with hereditary chief Na’Moks (second from left) and Lihkt’samisyu Chief Dsta’hyl (right) at a small encampment of supporters just before the 39 kilometre mark of Morice West Forest Service Road on Jan. 18. (Trevor Hewitt photo)

Adam Olsen (left) talks with Lihkt’samisyu Chief Dsta’hyl (right) at a small encampment of supporters just before the 39 kilometre mark of Morice West Forest Service Road on Jan. 18. (Trevor Hewitt photo)

Just Posted

CGL must revise impact assessment on Unist’ot’en Healing Center

Environmental Assessment Office not satisfied with report’s shortcomings

Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs call for end of police patrols

Temporary closure of field office not enough to meet demands

Confusion surrounds terms of RCMP withdrawal from pipeline construction area

B.C. Deputy Commissioner clarifies terms of agreement following minister’s statements

Stop checks, searches of Wet’suwet’en pipeline opposers unlawful: Watchdog

Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs, the B.C. Civil Liberties Association, Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs file complaint

Wet’suwet’en pipeline supporters speak up

“Protesters get one side of the story and they stand up with their fists in the air.”

VIDEO: Illicit drug overdoses killed 981 in B.C. in 2019, down 38%

Chief coroner says figures were down about a third in the province’s fourth year of the opioid crisis

VIDEO: B.C.’s seventh coronavirus patient at home in Fraser Health region

Canada in ‘containment’ as COVID-19 spreads in other countries

B.C. takes over another Retirement Concepts senior care home

Summerland facility latest to have administrator appointed

Prescription opioids getting B.C. addicts off ‘poisoned’ street drugs

Minister Judy Darcy says Abbotsford pilot project working

Royals, Elvis, Captain Cook: Hundreds of wax figures find new life in B.C. man’s home

Former director of Victoria’s Royal London Wax Museum still hopes to revive wax figure tourism

Teck CEO says Frontier withdrawal a result of tensions over climate, reconciliation

Don Lindsay speaks at mining conference, a day after announcing suspension of oilsands project

Okanagan man swims across Columbia River to evade Trail police

RCMP Cpl. Devon Reid says the incident began the evening of Thursday, Feb. 20

‘Hilariously bad’: RCMP looking for couple with forged, paper Alberta licence plate

Mounties said the car crashed when it lost a wheel but the duo ran away as police arrived

UPDATE: Two missing scout leaders found near Sooke after swollen creek traps troop

Third leader and scouts located, prior to search for two leaders who’d gone for help

Most Read