Wet’suwet’en MOU with Canada recognizes Aboriginal title

May 14, 2020

Maclean’s – With a virtual signing ceremony on Thursday, federal and provincial governments are set to formally recognize Indigenous title over traditional land for the first time outside a courtroom. A signed memorandum of understanding with Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs will launch a year-long negotiation to decide the terms of their claim to a vast territory in northern British Columbia.
Internal divisions, however, are evident between the elected chiefs and the hereditary chiefs. Elected chiefs overseeing the administration of five of the six First Nations reserves within Wet’suwet’en territory signed agreements with Coastal GasLink. Hereditary leaders representing eight of the nation’s 13 house groups, whose traditional jurisdiction is far vaster, secured community approval for blockades that would hamper its construction. (One hereditary chief supports the pipeline; four seats are vacant.)
The one – year timeframe allows the Wetsu’wet’en Hereditary chiefs to achieve consensus within the population to endorse and ratify the MOU.