Disrespectful that Horgan won’t meet during northern B.C. tour: hereditary chief

Disrespectful that Horgan won’t meet during northern B.C. tour: hereditary chief

Na’moks said he was frustrated Horgan didn’t meet with the chiefs

It’s disrespectful that Premier John Horgan won’t meet with five hereditary chiefs who oppose a natural gas pipeline while he is touring northern British Columbia, says the highest-ranking chief.

Chief Na’moks, who also goes by John Ridsdale, said the chiefs have asked the premier for a face-to-face discussion about the Coastal GasLink project.

Na’moks said he was frustrated Horgan didn’t meet with the chiefs on Friday, when the premier was in the area touring the LNG Canada project site in Kitimat and meeting with business leaders in Terrace.

“It really bothered me that he was not that far away and yet somehow could not take the time to come and speak with us,” Na’moks said Saturday.

The premier’s office said in a statement that upon receiving the meeting request on Thursday, it reached out to the hereditary chiefs to schedule a phone call.

“The aim of any discussion would be continued dialogue with a focus on de-escalation and on safety for all,” it said.

The office added that the premier has commitments that rule out a meeting on this trip, but he is not ruling out a meeting completely

“Staff continue to be in touch to work on this,” it said.

Na’moks said only an in-person conversation will demonstrate respect for the chiefs, who assert jurisdiction over 22,000 square kilometres of unceded Wet’suwet’en territory.

“We want to show the respect back, too,” he said. “If you’re going to have decent communication with anybody, it’s best to be looking eye to eye.”

The chiefs have refused meetings with Coastal GasLink and instead called for discussions with provincial and federal government leaders, arguing the duty to consult is held by the Crown, not the project proponent.

Coastal GasLink has signed benefits agreements with all 20 elected band councils along the 670-kilometre pipeline route. But the hereditary chiefs argue band councils only have jurisdiction over reserve lands rather than unceded territories.

READ MORE: Calls for dialogue as Coastal GasLink pipeline polarizes some in northern B.C.

Crystal Smith, elected chief of the Haisla Nation, has said her band council signed an agreement because the project is creating jobs for Indigenous people and lifting communities from poverty.

Horgan said this week that the provincially permitted project will be built, and the rule of law must prevail.

The B.C. Supreme Court has granted an injunction against supporters of the hereditary chiefs who are have set up camps close to a pipeline work site near Smithers. It authorizes RCMP to arrest and remove anyone contravening the order.

However the RCMP has said it’s not enforcing the injunction to allow time for dialogue between the hereditary chiefs and Coastal GasLink.

Horgan was set to continue his northern B.C. tour on Saturday with an announcement about a new hospital in Fort St. James and by attending the men’s B.C. Winter Classic hockey game in the community.

Meanwhile, Adam Olsen, interim leader of B.C.’s Green party, was set to visit the camps set up by pipeline opponents on Saturday.

Federal Green MP Paul Manly also said he was traveling to Wet’suwet’en territory to meet with the hereditary chiefs.

“I am going to listen and to observe the situation on the ground,” he said in a statement.

“I have publicly stated my support for the hereditary chiefs and others who are engaged in non-violent action to protect Wet’suwet’en land. They are in a very challenging and volatile situation. They need to be heard.”

— By Laura Kane in Vancouver

The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The COVID-19 outbreak at the two Coastal GasLink workforce lodges has officially been declared over. (Lakes District News file photo)
COVID-19 outbreak at Coastal GasLink worksites declared over

In total, 56 cases were associated with the outbreak in the Burns Lake and Nechako LHAs

The Nisga’a Valley Health Authority reported an isolated cluster of COVID-19 cases among non-direct care staff at the New Aiyansh Health Centre. (Gary Fiegehen/Nisga’a Lisims Government)
New Aiyansh Health Centre experiencing COVID-19 cluster among non-direct care staff

Nisga’a Valley Health Authority asking residents to cancel appointments outside the Nass Valley

A photo of the CervixCheck at-home test kit, developed by Eve Medical. (Submitted Photo/Katina Pollard, Métis Nation British Columbia)
Pilot project puts cancer screening into the hands of northwest B.C. women

Métis women experience barriers to cervical cancer screening

Brett Alexander Jones is wanted on several warrants province-wide, in connection with multiple charges. Jan. 21, 2021. Kitimat RCMP photo
Kitimat RCMP searching for man wanted on several warrants province-wide

Jones is described as a five-foot 10-inches Caucasian man, with blond hair and blue eyes.

The Nisga’a Lisims Government has extended its state of local emergency. (File photo)
Nisga’a state of local emergency extended, vaccines delayed

There are 21 active COVID-19 cases in the Nisga’a Valley Health Authority

Toronto Public Health nurse Lalaine Agarin sets up for mass vaccination clinic in Toronto, Jan. 17, 2021. B.C. is set to to begin its large-scale immunization program for the general public starting in April. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
B.C.’s COVID-19 mass vaccinations expected to start in April

Clinics to immunize four million people by September

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam speaks during a daily briefing in Ottawa. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld)
31 cases of COVID-19 variants detected in Canada: Health officials

Dr. Theresa Tam made announces 13 more variant COVID-19 cases in Canada

Daily COVID-19 cases reported to each B.C. health region, to Jan. 20, 2021. Island Health in blue, Northern Health green, Interior Health orange, Vancouver Coastal in red and Fraser Health in purple. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate stays stable with 508 cases Friday

Vaccine delivered to more than 110,000 high-risk people

The District of Saanich’s communications team decided to take part in a viral trend on Thursday and photoshopped U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders into a staff meeting photo. (District of Saanich/Twitter)
Bernie Sanders makes guest appearance municipal staff meeting in B.C.

Vancouver Island firefighters jump on viral trend of photoshopped U.S. senator

School District 57 headquarters in Prince George. (Mark Nielsen, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter)
Prince George school district settles with sexual abuse victim

Terms were part of an out-of-court settlement reached with Michael Bruneau, nearly four years after he filed a lawsuit

Surrey provincial court. (File photo: Tom Zytaruk)
New COVID-19 protocols set for provincial courthouses

The new rules were issued on Jan. 21, and took effect immediately

Police in Vancouver looking for male suspect who allegedly spat and attacked a store manager for not wearing a mask, at 7-Eleven near Alma Street and West 10th Avenue just before noon on Dec. 17, 2020. (Vancouver police handout)
VIDEO: Man spits on 7-Eleven manager over mask rule, sparking Vancouver police probe

‘Unfortunately, the store manager sustained a cut to his head during the assault’

The Vancouver-based SAR team successfully rescued two lost snowshoers off of the west side of Tim Jones Peak in the early morning of Monday, Jan. 19. (North Shore Rescue photo)
B.C.’s busiest SAR team raises alarm after 2021 begins with fatality, multiple rescues

‘People beyond ski resort areas of Seymour, Grouse, and Cypress go without cell reception,’ SAR warns

Police are searching for an alleged sex offender, Nicole Edwards, who they say has not returned to her Vancouver halfway house. (Police handout)
Police hunt for woman charged in ‘horrific’ assault who failed to return to Surrey halfway house

Call 911 immediately if you see alleged sex offender Nicole Edwards, police say

Most Read