Wet’suwet’en

Thank you for writing to me about your concerns related to the recent RCMP action on Wet’suwet’en territory in relation to a court injunction granted in BC Supreme Court.

 

Because this issue is in front of the Court, and in fact the Court has recently asked BC’s independent prosecution service to attend hearings related to this matter, I am limited in what I can say about this troubling issue.

 

While the court and policing actions to date have involved a private company and the protesters, rather than the provincial or federal governments, the province has in fact been on the ground working with the Wet’suwet’en before, and after these disturbing events.

 

For an extended period, well before the recent RCMP actions, our provincial government has been involved in conversations with the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs to establish new reconciliation processes.

 

That background work to begin the long process of building trust was revealed on February 7, 2019, when the provincial government issued a joint announcement with the West’suwet’en Hereditary Chiefs about a new nation-to-nation reconciliation table “with the goal of B.C. affirming Wet’sweet’en rights and title.”

 

You can read the full joint statement here:

https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2019PREM0018-000195

 

Like you, I believe that we need a new government relationship with BC’s indigenous peoples, and I understand that this community sent me to Victoria to engage in that important reconciliation work.

 

As Attorney General, I am honoured to be working closely with Indigenous people to craft an Indigenous justice strategy that will make a real difference across our province. As a member of government, I am proud of our funding commitments to protect and enhance Indigenous languages across the province, and a new law degree program to preserve and promote Indigenous legal traditions as a pillar of our justice system.

 

I am glad we are a provincial government willing to build housing on reserve, that we are ending BC’s status as one of only two provinces that doesn’t share gaming revenue with First Nations. I am very happy that my colleagues are working with Indigenous Nations and leaders to craft and announced ground-breaking partnerships related to everything from resource management to the removal of fish farms from sensitive ecological areas along the coast to protect salmon.

 

This is challenging work on both sides, and there will be very public and difficult setbacks. Thank you for your trust and support in sending me to Victoria to help shift the structure of how the provincial government and Indigenous Nations interact, a structure that has been almost unchanged for generations.

 

As the joint statement with the Wet’suwet’en says in its concluding paragraph: “We all recognize that the path forward will involve challenges. It will take a willingness to innovate and take bold steps together.” I am honoured to be your local representative tasked with ensuring that this work continues to move forward.

 

Yours truly,

David Eby