Treaties and Land Claims: Current Problems

Indigenous Laws and Governance

April 23, 2021


Declaration on Natural Resources on Treaty 5 Territory

Fisher River Cree Nation, Treaty 5 Territory – Manitoba First Nations protest Bill 57 “Protection of Critical Infrastructure Act” — also called the anti-protest bill. Fisher River Cree Nation, Treaty 5 Territory – The Treaty 5 Nations in Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario will resist all permits, licenses or other land dispositions issued by the governments unless approvals are obtained by First Nations in accordance with the Declaration on Natural Resources on Treaty 5 Territory. Treaty 5 covers most of central and northern Manitoba and extends into the Saskatchewan and Ontario borders. The Declaration on Natural Resources on Treaty 5 Territory was adopted at the Summit of Treaty 5 Sovereign Nations on January 27 & 28, 2021. Chief Sheldon Kent, Black River First Nation stated, “I believe the work permits issued by the governments must cease until the baseline and standards are met according to our expectations and approvals. Land allocation disparities and compensation for loss of use are an ongoing concern especially the lack of access of our own resources. New legislative restrictions put in place by Manitoba exasperates this concern.”

Chief David Crate, Fisher River Cree Nation stated: “There is now a paradigm shift on how we deal with natural resource extractions in our territories and its time we deal with this in the spirit of Treaty Justice, Truth and Reconciliation, and United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. As a mover of the declaration, I am fully aware of the challenges ahead to fulfil our Treaty rights. The government has mitigated on the duty to consult doctrine’s intent and purpose to adequately accommodate the First Nations. Proponents such as Berger, Sunterra Horticulture (Canada) Inc. and Sun Gro Horticulture acquire permits to extract peat moss in our territory but have not met our standards and concerns of the wildlife”.

June 7, 2021


Hišuk ma c̕awak Declaration

Huu-ay-aht, Ditidaht, and Pacheedaht First Nations – have been stewards of the forest, fisheries, and all resources within their ḥahahuułi (traditional territories).

On June 4, 2021, the three Nations signed the Hišuk ma c̕awak Declaration to take back their power over their ḥahahuułi. For more than 150 years they have watched as others decided what was best for their lands, water, and people. This declaration brings this practice to an immediate end.

“We have made a commitment to our people to manage the resources on our ḥahahuułi the way our ancestors did – guided by our sacred principles of:

  • ʔiisaak (utmost respect)
  • ʔuuʔałuk (taking care of), and
  • Hišuk ma c̕awak (everything is one)

explained Huu-ay-aht Tayii Ḥaw̓ił ƛiišin (Head Hereditary Chief Derek Peters), Ditidaht Chabut Satiixub (Hereditary Chief Paul Tate), and Pacheedaht’s Hereditary Chief Frank Queesto Jones.

“We are in a place of reconciliation now and relationships have evolved to include First Nations. It is time for us to learn from the mistakes that have been made and take back our authority over our ḥahahuułi.”
This Declaration acknowledges that three sacred principles are often ignored, and the Nations are the last to benefit from what is taken out of the territory and the last to be asked what must be put back.

October 20, 2021

Fed. Govt.

Mi’kmaw Netukulimk Moderate Living Fishery

Kwilmu’kw Maw-klusuaqn Negotiation Office – Assembly of Nova Scotia Mi’kmaw Chiefs (Assembly) met with Minister Bernadette Jordan, Department of Fisheries and Oceans; Minister Carolyn Bennett, CIR and Minister Marc Miller, ISC to further discuss how the Mi’kmaq will be exercising their right to fish for a moderate livelihood. The Assembly pushed for Canada to accept the Community Netukulimk Livelihood Fishery Management Plans, as these plans have been developed by communities, and have been provided to and accepted by the Assembly. The Mi’kmaq of Nova Scotia are well within their Rights to fish under these Plans and Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) needs to recognize that authority.

September 21, 2021

Fed. Govt.

Mi’kmaw Netukulimk Moderate Living Fishery

Global News – …a flotilla of non-Indigenous fishermen removed about 350 lobster traps off the coast of southwestern Nova Scotia…under the watch of RCMP, coast guard boats and police helicopters. “The gear that we were collecting was what was in violation of the law,” Colin Sproul, President of the Bay of Fundy Inshore Fishermen’s Association said. “There’s nothing more to show that fishermen have the true, just, lawful position here than the fact that we conducted that activity yesterday and nobody stopped us.” What law is being broken: the deliberate theft and destruction of Indigenous “property” by white fisherman with the active support of the police and government authorities or the actions by authorities and government to deny Indigenous rights and title even when confirmed by the Supreme Court of Canada.

May 12, 2021

Fed. Govt.

Mi’kmaw Netukulimk Moderate Living Fishery

Ku’ku’kwes News: In a letter dated April 30, the chair for the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) asked Leslie Norton, Canada’s permanent representative to the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland to explain what Canada has done to:

  • Investigate alleged acts of racism, violence and vandalism against Mi’kmaw fishers and supporters
  • Investigate alleged lack of response by officers with the RCMP and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans to protect Mi’kmaw people
  • Prevent further acts of violence, racist hate speech, incitement of violence and destruction of property against Mi’kmaw people
  • Respect, protect and guarantee the rights of Mi’kmaw people right to fish and be consulted

The CERD chair has also requested that Canada “provide details on the status of the treaties concluded between 1760 and 1761 and the implementation of Mi’kmaq fishing rights under such treaties.”

May 11, 2021

Fed. Govt.

Mi’kmaw Netukulimk Moderate Living Fishery

Kwilmu’kw Maw-klusuaqn Negotiation Office – The community of Potlotek First Nation has now filed a legal proceeding against DFO challenging the validity of the DFO regime in its limitations of Mi’kmaw livelihood harvesting activities. “We are filing for a declaration that the Fisheries Act and Regulations are invalid as against authorized Mi’kmaw harvesters who are in compliance with our community’s Livelihood Plan,” said Chief Wilbert Marshall, Potlotek First Nation. “Our harvesters have a right to be out on the water and that right was affirmed by the highest court in the country. DFO continues to put limitations on our livelihood fishery, when they have no justification or position to.”

March 30, 2021

Fed. Govt.

Mi’kmaw Netukulimk Moderate Living Fishery

APTN – Mi’kmaw lobster harvesters in Nova Scotia have launched legal action against Canada’s attorney general, RCMP, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO), and 29 non-Indigenous fishers including the Bay of Fundy Inshore Fishermen’s Association (BFIFA) for the events around the launch of the Moderate Living Fishery in September 2020

March 3, 2021

Fed. Govt.

Mi’kmaw Netukulimk Moderate Living Fishery

Department of Fisheries – Introduced a path forward for Moderate Livelihood Fishing Plans based on three key principles:

  • implementation of First Nations Treaty rights
  • conservation and sustainability of fish stocks, and
  • transparent and stable management of the fishery.

The Sipekne’katik First Nation and the The Assembly of Nova Scotia Mi’kmaw Chiefs reject the plan
The Chronicle Herald – The plan dictates that “all MFLPs must be under the regulatory authority of the federal and provincial governments; any future moderate livelihood fishery has to take place within the existing commercial season; and fishery will be conducted under licences issued by her department

February 3, 2021

Fed. Govt.

Mi’kmaw Netukulimk Moderate Living Fishery

Global News – The Sipekne’katik First Nation has filed a court action against the Attorney General of Nova Scotia to challenge a provincial regulation on purchasing fish products, saying it’s unconstitutional. This regulation orders that any fish products sold in Nova Scotia must be caught and registered under a commercial licence with the Department of Fisheries. The court action asks the court to declare that prohibitions against buying fish from Mi’kmaq, fishing outside of DFO’s commercial licence regime, and prohibiting Mi’kmaq to moderately fish outside of the commercial season, are unconstitutional and contrary to Treaty Rights.

December 21, 2020

Fed. Govt.

Mi’kmaw Netukulimk Moderate Living Fishery

The Unified Fisheries Conservation Alliance (UFCA) – a newly formed alliance of commercial fishery stakeholders, is calling on the Government of Canada to establish clear, lasting, responsible, regulatory oversight for all fisheries – commercial, food, social, and ceremonial. Established in Nov. 2020, the UFCA represents thousands of multi-species commercial fishermen, fishery associations, and associated businesses from across Atlantic Canada and its membership is growing.

The UFCA believes that Indigenous and non-Indigenous fishermen can work side by side like they do today in the commercial fishery and recognizes and acknowledges the importance of cooperation with Indigenous communities, and that Indigenous fishermen have a right to fish for commercial, food, social, and ceremonial. “We want to work with the Government of Canada and First Nations to inform and understand viewpoints and ultimately establish regulatory certainty. Our members reject all forms of racism, intolerance, and violence, and believe there is a path to move beyond the controversies and heated rhetoric of recent months, to a positive outcome for all,” said Sproul.

October 23, 2020

Fed. Govt.

Mi’kmaw Netukulimk Moderate Living Fishery

Kwilmu’kw Maw-klusuaqn Negotiation Office – Representatives of the DFO Conservation and Protection (C&P) officers, who seized traps from Potlotek and Eskasoni authorized harvesters, refused to attend the consultation discussions (between DFO and Assembly of Nova Scotia Mi’kmaw Chiefs) to explain their actions and DFO representatives in attendance said they would not exercise authority over C&P officers.

While the Mi’kmaq of Nova Scotia have done their due diligence, bringing all documents, including Community Netukulimk Management Plans, to the table for transparent and fulsome discussions, what is being said by the Minister publicly about working in good faith with the Mi’kmaq, is not the direction that her Negotiations Team is taking. Since the Mi’kmaq of Nova Scotia see the discussions with Canada failing them at a critical moment, the Mi’kmaq are now prioritizing a new way forward.

October 21, 2020

Fed. Govt.

Mi’kmaw Netukulimk Moderate Living Fishery

Sipekne’katik First Nation awarded an interim injunction “authorizing police to arrest anyone whose interference, blockades or threats keep the community from carrying out its fishery…

Chief Michael Sack has indicated that “The plan…includes conservation measures, regulations for the boats and their safety and compliance officers”. The main concern for the non-Indigenous fisherman is the sale of the lobsters outside of the regulated commercial fishing season; an issue that the band and community will address.

In the meantime, the governments of Canada and Nova Scotia insist that the laws of Canada must be obeyed. The Supreme Court of Canada’s September 17, 1999 decision in the DonaldMarshall case affirmed a treaty right to hunt, fish and gather in pursuit of a ‘moderate livelihood’, arising out of the Peace and Friendship Treaties of 1760 and 1761.The Decision affected 34 Mi’kmaq and Maliseet First Nations in New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, and the Gaspé region of Quebec. (Government of Canada website, Sept, 2020.

October 1, 2020

Fed. Govt.

Mi’kmaw Netukulimk Moderate Living Fishery

Kwilmu’kw Maw-klusuaqn Negotiation Office – Mi’kmaw harvesters from the Potlotek Mi’kmaw community will exercise their inherent right to fish for a moderate livelihood under their communities own self-governed fisheries plan. The harvesters will take to the waters of St. Peter’s Bay on the annual celebration of Treaty Day, a date to recognize and honor the treaties signed between the Mi’kmaq and the Crown in the 1700’s. The
is a step towards self-governance. Potlotek has been working collaboratively with the Assembly of Nova Scotia Mi’kmaw Chiefs, Kwilmu’kw Maw-Klusuaqn Negotiation Office (KMKNO), their community harvesters and community members to develop a plan that follows the Mi’kmaw traditional beliefs of Netukulimk, respects conservation, follows safety protocols and allows for a sustainable and responsible fishery.

Netukulimk is the use of the natural bounty provided by the Creator for the self-support and well-being of the individual and the community. Netukulimk is achieving adequate standards of community nutrition and economic well-being without jeopardizing the integrity, diversity, or productivity of our environment.

September 18, 2020

Fed. Govt.

Mi’kmaw Netukulimk Moderate Living Fishery

Toronto Star – “In its 1999 Marshall decision – borne of a court case against Mi’kmaw fisherman and icon Donald Marshall – the Supreme Court affirmed the right of First Nations to hunt, fish and gather in pursuit of a “moderate livelihood.”” 21 years later, the federal government has failed to define “moderate livelihood. The Sipekne’katik First Nation has therefor created its own self-regulated moderate living” fishery issuing seven licenses

November 20, 2018

Fed. Govt.

Muskotew Sakahikan Enowuk, the traditional Government of the Lubicon Lake Nation

Muskotew Sakahikan Enowuk, the traditional Government of the Lubicon Lake Nation, outlined a number of remaining concerns faced by the First Nation, despite a recently announced Treaty Land Entitlement Settlement between Lubicon Lake Band #453 (the “Band”), Alberta and Canada. The Nation is the traditional governance structure of the Lubicon Cree people which has functioned for hundreds of years and is separate from the Lubicon Lake Band #453 which was only recently created by Canada under the authority of the Indian Act in 1973 and revived in 2013.

January 21, 2022


Natural Laws of the Creator

Northern Ontario Business – On Wednesday, Jan. 19, Attawapiskat, Fort Albany, Neskantaga, Kashechewan and Eabametoong First Nations chiefs sent a joint letter to federal Minister of Environment and Climate Change Steven Guilbeault.

According to the letter, the chiefs met virtually with Guilbeault on Jan. 17 and expressed concerns about the terms of reference (TOR) for the Regional Impact Assessment (RIA) in the carbon-rich peatlands known as the “Breathing Lands”. “These are the world’s lungs, and rampant mining development could not only destroy this globally critical carbon sink but release its huge store of carbon and escalate climate change further into catastrophe,” reads the letter.

The chiefs said there needs to be an Indigenous-led investigation and decision-making process regarding the Breathing Lands and called Canada to restart “afresh” with Indigenous nations mutually and equally participating in developing, enforcing and leading the RIA. “What Canada, in agreement with Ontario, plans to do is far from proper or safe, and instead promotes recklessness and danger,” reads the letter. “Your draft TOR is narrow in geographic and activity scope, and wrongly excludes us Indigenous peoples from all but token roles.”

“Any attempt by the Crown to come back with less than the equality we have asked for and deserve, and which the fight against climate disaster needs, will be seen as nothing but an attempt to dress up a broken window with pretty drapes,” the letter states. “And any such attempt will lead to our active enforcement of the Moratorium issued last April.” “We will not accept mere “participation” in a unilateral, top-down, Crown-led process that ignores our jurisdiction, laws, and responsibilities,” they said in the letter.

April 5, 2021


Natural Laws of the Creator

NationTalk – Attawapiskat, Fort Albany, and Neskantaga First Nations in the James Bay lowlands have declared a moratorium on April 1 on any development in or to facilitate access to the Ring of Fire mining area in accordance with:

  • Our Indigenous Laws including the Natural Laws of the Creator;
  • Our Inherent Rights (arising from the reality that we have always have been “in here” in this place in the world);
    Treaty No. 9 between our First Nations and the Crown;
  • International laws including the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) and its requirements for free, prior and informed consent, the International Covenants on Civil and Political Rights and Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and customary laws that protect our right to self-determination, require environmental due diligence, and prohibit destruction of our ability to survive in our environments; and
    Canadian domestic laws that adopted and intend to implement UNDRIP (such as the federal Bill C-15); the federal Impact Assessment Act (IAA); Canada’s Constitution including section 35 affirming our Aboriginal and Treaty Rights, and the Charter section 7 being the right to life, liberty and security of the person.

This MORATORIUM is declared from this date and shall stand intact unless and until Canada and Ontario act in accordance with their obligations under the laws stated above, in respect of the Ring of Fire, and agree to a Regional Impact Assessment (RIA).

This MORATORIUM is declared because Canada, through the Impact Assessment Agency of Canada (IAAC) has breached the honour of the Crown, all the laws stated above, and the project of reconciliation and decolonization by acting with duplicity behind our backs in collaboration with Ontario, to render the RIA little but political puffery, with mere token First Nation “involvement”, narrow in its focus and weak in its result.


  • Shortly after the IAA came into force in 2019, some First Nations and others requested an RIA under it for the Ring of Fire;
  • Due to these requests, and given that the Ring of Fire begs for an RIA anyway – it is by definition a regional area for which much large scale mining and infrastructure development is sought – Canada agreed that a RIA would be held;
  • First Nations have expressed our expectation of equal partnership in the RIA, and have been requesting since early 2020 to have the RIA, including planning, not commence until after the pandemic and the crises it has caused in the First Nation communities are over, to ensure that First Nations could engage in this process safely and in accordance with our Laws and Customs;
  • Canada agreed to such suspensions of time, and gave assurances that First Nations would have meaningful involvement at all stages of the RIA, including planning;
  • First Nations have put Canada on notice since late 2020 that they intend to develop a proposal for a First Nations – led, comprehensive and meaningful RIA that does not allow Crown governments to use it as a mere window dressing, box-ticking exercise;
  • Despite Canada knowing of First Nations’ intent and agreeing to time to develop this proposal after the pandemic crisis had ended, Canada now informs us it effectively had no intent of paying any attention to any such proposal; and that Canada and Ontario have been collaborating behind First Nations’ backs for the last year to agree on the terms of reference for the RIA which they will show us in April “for comment”, and in which First Nations have nothing but token involvement.

March 16, 2022

Fed. Govt., ON

Opposition to Ottawa’s Ring of Fire Environmental Assessment

Mar. 16, 2022: Timmins Today – A coalition of conservationists, environmentalists and lawyers want Ottawa’s Ring of Fire environmental assessment process to be broadened in size and scope to include industrial centres like Sault Ste. Marie and Sudbury. In a March 15 letter sent to three federal cabinet ministers, the group is calling for a pause in the two-year-old Regional Assessment process in order to rejig the structure and governance to allow Indigenous communities in the region to take the lead.

It’s the same proposal put forward earlier by an alliance of remote First Nation communities in the James Bay area. 

The correspondence was sent to Steven Guilbeault, Canada’s environment and climate change minister; Jonathan Wilkinson, the natural resources minister, and Marc Miller, the minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations. Some of the signatories to the letter include representatives from the:

  • Wildlands League
  • MiningWatch Canada
  • Greenpeace Canada
  • The David Suzuki Foundation, an
  • World Wildlife Fund-Canada
  • Coalition for a Liveable Sudbury
  • the Wilderness Committee
  • Northwatch, Clean North
  • Canadian Environmental Law Association
  • Ontario Nature and
  • the National Audubon Society.

From what they’ve viewed in the draft agreement, released by Impact Assessment Agency and spelling out the ground rules, the group answered that this method disregards treaty rights, disrespects traditional Indigenous knowledge, and “betrays” the promise to engage and work alongside First Nations people.

In their letter to Ottawa, the group said they initially welcomed the regional approach, but what they see shaping up is a narrowly focussed one that places an emphasis on studying the impact of mining on the landscape. The kind of comprehensive assessment they want to see would examine the broader global implications of “massive industrial activity” on significant wetlands and watersheds of the greater Hudson Bay area.  “A proposed new mining district, approximately five times the size of the City of Toronto, should not (be) treated as fait accompli in this day and age,” the letter said. Disturbance of this undeveloped area, they claim, would result in the release millions of tons of greenhouse gases stored in “one of the most carbon-rich ecosystems on the planet.”

The group wants the study area opened up to include entire northern watersheds — namely the Ekwan, Attawapiskat and Winisk systems — the ecosystems of the region’s peatlands, wetlands and boreal forest, and want the scope expanded to include “all human activities” and the various factors that influence climate change. On the mining front, the group said this assessment must address the “social and environmental consequences” of the industry’s extraction, transportation and processing aspects, which means noting the concerns of residents in Sault Ste. Marie and Sudbury where Ring of Fire ore would be processed.

The group added Ottawa needs to restore public trust with a credible process, make good on its legal commitment to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and follow through on its obligations to climate change. “Canada may not be able to afford the carbon costs of full mining exploitation in the Ring of Fire given its location in one of the most carbon-rich ecosystems on the planet,” the letter said.

August 14, 2019

Fed. Govt.

People of the Longhouse

CBC – The Federal Government continuing to rely on a Specific Claims process that according to Peter Di Gangi, a board member at the First Nations-led research centre Yellowhead Institute, is the federal government’s conflict of interest. “The claims are against the federal government. At the same time, it controls the negotiation process, controls the funding. It controls just about every aspect of the process,” said Di Gangi. “That has an impact on the ability of First Nations to feel that they have an opportunity to have their claims addressed in a fair and open manner.”

Kanesatake’s 301-year-old land dispute highlights flaws in Canada’s Specific Claims Policy. In places like Quebec, underlying Aboriginal title to the land also complicates situations when the federal government seeks a “release” to the claim when a settlement is reached. For some communities, it’s viewed as a form of extinguishment,” said Di Gangi. “If you have underlying Aboriginal title and are sitting at the table with the government to resolve a specific claim, why would you want to release your underlying title just to settle a reserve claim?” Kanesatake activist Ellen Gabriel “It’s a monetary compensation for their derogation to something they should have been doing all along. It doesn’t give us back our land; it doesn’t respect or recognize our rights and unceded lands,” said Gabriel.

Resolving the land dispute by sitting down with the People of the Longhouse, the traditional governance structure for the Iroquois Confederacy of Mohawk, Onondaga, Oneida, Tuscarora, Seneca and Cayuga nations. However, the policy allows only band councils to file a claim.

February 8, 2022


Wet’suwet’en protests against Coastal GasLink

Canada’s National Observer – Gidimt’en land defenders are calling for the United Nations to visit Wet’suwet’en unceded territory to witness the alleged violation of Indigenous rights. On Monday, the land defenders filed a formal submission to the UN Human Rights Council’s expert mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous People arguing Canada is violating several articles under the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP).

The submission specifically outlines three significant police raids into the Wet’suwet’en yintah in January 2019, February 2020 and November 2021, which led to the arrests of 74 people in total.
“Ongoing human rights violations, militarization of Wet’suwet’en lands, forcible removal and criminalization of peaceful land defenders, and irreparable harm due to industrial destruction of Wet’suwet’en lands and cultural sites are occurring despite declarations by federal and provincial governments for reconciliation with Indigenous peoples,” the submission reads.

“By deploying legal, political, and economic tactics to violate our rights, Canada and B.C. are contravening the spirit of reconciliation, as well as their binding obligations to Indigenous law, Canadian constitutional law, UNDRIP and international law.”

Notably, the UN says Canada “provided no information on measures taken to address the concerns raised by the committee,” and that Canada is improperly interpreting UNDRIP. As the letter describes, Canada’s interpretation of obtaining free, prior and informed consent is “to guarantee a process, but not a particular result,” which contradicts the basic premise of consent. The UN asked Canada to respond to its comments by Nov. 15.

Ottawa neglected to file its response by the deadline and now says it aims to respond sometime this year.

November 18, 2021


Wet’suwet’en protests against Coastal GasLink

“Toronto Star – Fifteen people, including Indigenous elders, media and legal observers, had been arrested by the afternoon, according to Jennifer Wickham, a spokesperson for the hereditary chiefs and their supporters. Wickham stressed they had been acting peacefully.

Wickham said armed RCMP officers in tactical gear with canine units and heavy machinery moved into the Gidimt’en blockade at the 44-kilometre mark of the Morice Forest Service Road, using a vehicle and other obstacles to block the road. The blockade had been in place since Sunday after being set up by members of the Gidimt’en clan, one of five in the Wet’suwet’en Nation. They described the blockade as an effort to enforce an “eviction notice” on the company that the nation had first issued last year.

Wickham said Thursday the memorandum of understanding was meant to work toward agreements on Wet’suwet’en rights and titles; it did not include consent to the pipeline. She said pipeline opponents largely stepped back from protests due to the pandemic and to see how the talks progressed.
But they have not gone anywhere, she said.”

October 15, 2020


Wet’suwet’en protests against Coastal GasLink

(Xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish) and səlilwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) Vancouver, B.C. – On Oct. 13, Coastal GasLink called in the RCMP to remove a group of Wet’suwet’en women and community members who are holding ceremony at a proposed drill site for Coastal Gaslink’s pipeline. Union of BC Indian Chiefs (UBCIC) – UBCIC stands in solidarity with the Indigenous land defenders who are protecting the Wedzin Kwa, the river that sustains and gives life to their Nation, from test drilling. These land defenders are lawfully exercising their right to steward their unceded territories and strengthen their cultural ties to their lands through the sacred responsibility of prayer, smudging, and ceremony. The presence of the RCMP and the threat they represent – surveillance, intimidation, arrest, discrimination, and violence – undermines the authority and self-determination of the Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chiefs who have full jurisdiction over Wet’suwet’en lands.

Given the forthcoming provincial election and renewed statements from political leaders regarding the importance of reconciliation and advancing Indigenous relations, it is worrisome that systemic violations of fundamental Indigenous and human rights continue to occur over major energy projects such as the CGL pipeline and the Trans Mountain Expansion Project (TMX). Given the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the myriad of additional challenges First Nations are facing, the Province can no longer afford to deem industrial projects like the CGL pipeline and the TMX as essential services and adopt a “business as usual” approach. The health and safety of Indigenous communities must be prioritized.

Indigenous land defenders and community members cannot be criminalized and targeted for asserting their Title and Rights and conducting ceremonial and cultural traditions; this stands in acute opposition to the provincial government’s obligations under the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act.

February 6, 2020


Wet’suwet’en protests against Coastal GasLink

Union of BC Indian Chiefs – RCMP began aggressively raiding Wet’suwet’en traditional and unceded territories under the watch of the Provincial and Federal Governments. Chief Don Tom, Vice-President of the UBCIC concluded “Using armed force to take Indigenous peoples off their unceded and traditional territories against their will is not reconciliation, it is colonialism in all of its ugliness and hypocrisy.

January 6, 2020


Wet’suwet’en protests against Coastal GasLink

Unist’ot’en Camp – Hereditary Chiefs of all five Wet’suwet’en clans have rejected BC Supreme Court Justice Marguerite Church’s decision granting an interlocutory injunction, which criminalizes Anuk ‘nu’at’en (Wet’suwet’en law), and have issued and enforced an eviction of CGL’s workers from the territory.

“Canada and the B.C. government have both pledged to implement the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, but are trying to impose their laws over Wet’suwet’en laws. If this was really about the ‘rule of law’ then governments would be honouring the rights and title of First Nations in their traditional territories, which are recognized by Canada’s own courts. The AFN supports the governance and decision-making process of the Wet’suwet’en leaders. Canada and B.C. should do the same. There is no reconciliation in the actions that unfolded yesterday.” AFN National Chief, Perry Bellegarde

Feb. 6, 2020: Union of BC Indian Chiefs – RCMP began aggressively raiding Wet’suwet’en traditional and unceded territories under the watch of the Provincial and Federal Governments. Chief Don Tom, Vice-President of the UBCIC concluded “Using armed force to take Indigenous peoples off their unceded and traditional territories against their will is not reconciliation, it is colonialism in all of its ugliness and hypocrisy.

January 10, 2019


Wet’suwet’en protests against Coastal GasLink

“What happens when you engage Hereditary Chiefs in the Process vs excluding them?

Union of BC Indian Chiefs – “There are not a lot of similarities between the Broughton and the Unist’ot’en engagement with the Province (as stated by Premier John Horgan). In June, government-to-government work between our three Nations and the Province was confirmed in a letter of understanding (LOU) formalizing ongoing talks regarding salmon aquaculture in the Broughton Archipelago. Importantly, this was a jointly developed consent-based process where our Title and Rights were recognized and as a result, we included our hereditary leadership in decision-making on outcomes.

That’s an extremely important distinction because for us, that’s how we respected Delgamuukw and the wishes of our people. The Province also followed its own decision-making process. There was space in the process to revisit any Tenure decisions that weren’t jointly accepted. I’m confident that we would not have reached a point of RCMP action at Gitimd’en if a jointly designed, consent-based process had been in place.” Chief Bob Chamberlin of the Kwikwasutinuxw Haxwa’mis First Nation