Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs lead a march in mid-January down Smithers Main Street in opposition to the Coastal GasLink natural gas pipeline. (Chris Gareau photo)

B.C. government, Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs announce reconciliation process

A potlatch feast will be held in March by the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs to discuss with clans.

Work on reconciliation is moving ahead between the Province and Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs.

A media release late Thursday afternoon reads that a bahtlats (potlatch or feast) will be hosted by the hereditary chiefs in March to share information and initiate discussion with the Wet’suwet’en clans and house groups.

The ultimate goal is for B.C. to affirm Wet’suwet’en rights and title.

While the release stresses the effort is not about any one project, it comes as legal action against and resistance to the Coastal GasLink natural gas pipeline is still in full force. The company is moving forward on construction of a work camp south of Houston and the Unist’ot’en camp of the Wet’suwet’en Dark House has accused the company of activity going beyond an interim injunction and agreement with the RCMP.

Unist’ot’en Freda Huson said in a text to Black Press Media that Coastal GasLink is “speeding up the process,” pointing out that the camp agreed to not get in the way of “preliminary work” during an interim injunction set to end May 1, something she said does not go as far as the 10 housing units Coastal GasLink announced Tuesday it is transporting to the area in the next few weeks.

Coastal GasLink said in its release Tuesday that the housing units will be occupied by local employees and contractors who over the next few months will focus on building access roads and conducting right-of-way clearing ahead of “anticipation of construction, which is not expected to get underway until next year.”

That release also said the company was to remove a “temporary structure” at one end of the Morice River bridge near the Unist’ot’en camp because it impedes safe access for the heavy equipment and housing units.

The company asked the Unist’ot’en camp to move or replace the structure, but Huson said her matriarch chief would not let them. Neither the company nor Huson clarified what that structure was.

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