Average Wet’suwet’en people caught in pipeline dispute crossfire, says wing chief

Click to play video: 'First meeting of all Wet’suwet’en clans in decades'
First meeting of all Wet’suwet’en clans in decades
WATCH: First meeting of all Wet'suwet'en clans in decades (Feb. 12) – Feb 12, 2020

A Wet’suwet’en hereditary wing chief is raising concerns that the growing dispute over the Coastal GasLink pipeline is leaving average Indigenous people caught in the crossfire.

Andrew George Jr. is a wing chief, or secondary leader, with Gidimt’en (Grizzly House), which is a part of the Wet’suwet’en Bear Clan. According to an APTN report, he is the voice calling for an all-clan meeting.

In a statement issued Friday morning, he said the pipeline dispute has gotten out of control on all sides.

“The recent conflict between the RCMP and the professional protesters who wrongfully use Wet’suwet’en ancestry as the means to advance their agenda are putting Wet’suwet’en community members at risk,” George wrote.

Story continues below advertisement
Click to play video: 'Pipeline battle splits Wet’suwet’en community'
Pipeline battle splits Wet’suwet’en community

George alleged there were also “protesters bullying Wet’suwet’en elders to acquire hereditary chief names.”

He also raised concerns of pressure and bullying tactics on the side of pipeline supporters, including “retaliation from elected Indian Act band council towards community members and elders who do not agree with their unilateral decisions.”

Adding greater concern to the situation, George wrote, was growing racial tension between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people amid what he described as the province’s “decision to veto the 1997 Gisdayway-Delgamuukw court ruling.”

That watershed Supreme Court of Canada ruling affirmed the existence of Indigenous rights and title, along with the legitimate existence of pre-colonial forms of government.

Story continues below advertisement
Click to play video: 'Dashcam captures heated moment at pipeline protest'
Dashcam captures heated moment at pipeline protest

“B.C. Premier John Horgan’s decision to enforce an illegal permit has affected the community’s most vulnerable: the elders, women and girls,” George wrote, adding that his statement was meant to coincide with Friday’s day of remembrance for missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls.

“There are transnational corporations seeking to consult with community members in disingenuous ways that include bullying the sick and elderly as a means to tick their
consultation checkbox,” he added.

“There is strong evidence that rogue vigilantes are preying upon Indigenous women, girls and men.”

George declined an interview request with Global News and did not provide an update on the status of a potential all-clan meeting.

Story continues below advertisement

It’s unclear if or when such a meeting will take place. Wet’suwet’en hereditary Chief Na’moks initially told Global News a meeting had been planned.

But on Thursday, he clarified via text message that hereditary high chiefs still needed to discuss the idea.

Sponsored content