Federal and B.C. Indigenous relations ministers seek meeting with Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs
Carolyn Bennett, the federal minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations, met with her provincial counterpart, Scott Fraser, in Victoria to discuss finding a peaceful resolution to blockades in different parts of the country.
It came as a growing number of ships have gathered in the waters off the Port of Vancouver. Because a sizeable amount of oil is shipped by rail, there are warnings that gas prices may spike in Metro Vancouver.
In a joint statement, Bennett and Fraser acknowledged that the blockades pose a "significant challenge".
"We share a deep commitment to relationships with Indigenous peoples based on affirmation of rights, respect, co-operation and partnership," Bennett and Fraser said. "We acknowledge that this is a difficult time for Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples and are determined to work with all our partners to find the solutions.
“We have reached out through a joint letter to the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs about meeting with us at the earliest opportunity and are hopeful we can all work together to establish a process for ongoing and constructive dialogue and action to address the issues at hand."
Mohawk activists continue blocking a CN Rail line near Belleville, Ontario.
Another blockade was set up for a while today on the Thousand Islands Bridge east of Kingston, Ontario.
Meanwhile, more than 1,000 sympathizers of Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs marched in downtown Toronto.
Bennett and Fraser's joint statement made no mention one Wet'suwet'en house's February 10 letter to the B.C. Environmental Assessment Office regarding permits.
Lawyer Kate Gunn, who represents Dark House, pointed out that the EAO has not made a decision to accept Coastal GasLink's "Certificate E14-03 Condition 1 Report #2" in connection with the Morice River Technical Boundary Area.
"In the absence of a decision on the Report, substantial portions of work on the project cannot proceed," Gunn stated in the letter. "The Technical Boundary Area is within Dark House territory and subject to Wet’suwet’en title and rights.
"It also includes the Unist’ot’en Healing Centre. Coastal GasLink’s draft Report fails to consider or address how the project will affect the Healing Centre or Dark House’s ability to provide land-based healing practices to individuals experiencing the effects of intergenerational trauma and colonization."
According to the Unist'ot'en website, Coastal GasLink's application made no mention of the centre in its original application.
"The Environmental Assessment Office acknowledged to Unist’ot’en in a recent meeting that if the Healing Center were a settler-owned wilderness lodge, that there would be no debate over whether it should have been considered in CGL’s final report," the Unist'ot'en stated. "This is institutionalized racism."
The letter was sent on the same day that Unist'ot'en matriarchs were arrested by the RCMP while performing a ceremony honouring missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls.