Elected Wet’suwet’en chief feels shut out of discussion over tentative deal with B.C., feds

The elected chief of one of six bands within the Wet’suwet’en nation says she and other elected representatives should have been included in recent negotiations over rights and title with the provincial and federal governments.

Maureen Luggi is the chief of the Wet’suwet’en First Nation — a band under the Indian Act, as opposed to the larger Wet’suwet’en Nation, encompassing all Wet’suwet’en people.

“We later learned that other Wet’suwet’en communities were excluded.”

Luggi said she expects to soon see the tentative agreement through her membership of the Gitdumden clan, one of five Wet’suwet’en clans.

But in the end, she said, reaching consensus on whether or not to accept the proposed deal will require the involvement of all the Wet’suwet’en.

“That is what concerned us, that if anyone is going to move forward on behalf of the clan members in this community regarding Aboriginal rights and title, then our people need to be acknowledged and they need to communicate with us,” she said.

“They need to engage our people and collaborate with us regardless of the Indian Act.”

Luggi said she’s hoping to learn more at an upcoming meeting with the Office of the Wet’suwet’en.

The deal will need to be ratified by all five Wet’suwet’en clans, a process that does not currently have a timeline.

Global News requested comment from hereditary chief spokesperson Chief Na’Moks on Luggi’s concerns.

The draft deal between the Wet’suwet’en and government does not address the dispute over the Coastal GasLink pipeline.

While five elected Wet’suwet’en band councils have signed deals with the project, the hereditary chiefs who maintain they have exclusive authority over unceded traditional territory remain firmly opposed.

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