Adam Olsen (left) talks with hereditary chief Na’Moks (second from left) and Lihkt’samisyu Chief Dsta’hyl (right) at a small encampment of supporters just before the 39 kilometre mark of Morice West Forest Service Road on Jan. 18. (Trevor Hewitt photo)

BC Green Party leader visits Wet’suwet’en camps at heart of pipeline conflict

Adam Olsen calls for better relationship between Canada and First Nations

B.C. Green Party interim leader Adam Olsen was in the Bulkley Valley last weekend to visit Wet’suwet’en camps along the Morice West Forest Service Road.

Olsen’s visit comes after receiving an invitation from the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs to come to the territory and learn firsthand about the issues they are currently facing.

After arriving in Smithers just before noon on Saturday, Olsen began by meeting with hereditary chief Na’Moks (John Ridsdale) of the Tsayu clan to learn about Wet’suwet’en ‘Anuk nu’at’en — traditional law for the Wet’suwet’en.

Speaking to media Olsen said he believes the economic, social and environmental narratives currently unfolding in the province hinge on a better relationship between Indigenous and Canadian leadership.

He said he found Premier John Horgan’s Jan. 13 comments about respecting “the rule of law” in the dispute between Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs and Coastal GasLink (CGL) to be lacking.

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

“I think it’s problematic when you refer to the rule of law and indigenous law is excluded from that,” said Olsen. “It’s pretty clear that the Canadian court system has recognized Indigenous law as part of the broader legal context in this … country and in this province.”

He added that while numerous politicians have spoken out in support of the Wet’suwet’en, talk can be cheap when compared to actions.

“For me it’s more about what we do and what we show.

“I think that there’s this idea that the more simple that we can make it the easier it is that we’re going to find a resolution. The reality, though, is the more simple we make it the less likely it is that we find a resolution.”

Olsen said he has plans to meet with the Smithers RCMP detachment on Jan. 19 to discuss the ongoing situation.

He said despite the events following a Dec. 31, 2019 interlocutory injunction he has confidence the situation will be resolved peacefully.

“It’s the confrontation that makes me so sad,” said Olsen, noting that real change can’t happen until provincial and federal decision makers sit down at the table with the hereditary chiefs.

“Confrontation is easy — finding the space to have a peaceful resolution takes time and work.”

During the meeting Na’Moks expressed pride on behalf of all the hereditary chiefs having Olsen on their territory.

“You need that conversation to understand each other,” said Na’Moks. “The chiefs, when we come together, we’re the government on the land, that’s all there is to it. There’s nothing above us.”

He ended by noting the high stakes associated with the dispute.

“Other nations have called us and said that we will set the template for the future of this country — and we plan on it.”

Escorted by Na’Moks, Olsen reached kilometre 27 of the road at approximately 3:20 p.m. where a number of supporters were busy erecting a new wooden building on the land.

Speaking to supporters and members of the media Na’Moks thanked Olsen for coming out to the territory.

On behalf of all my fellow hereditary chiefs I want to thank you for this,” said Na’Moks. “This proves to everybody that doing the right thing for the right reason brings us all together, makes our heart strong, makes our soul strong, makes our song strong and you make us strong, so on behalf of my fellow chiefs misiyh.”

Olsen said it was an honour to be invited onto the land.

READ MORE: RCMP create access control checkpoint at 27 kilometre point of Morice West Forest Service Road

“I come up here with humility in my heart and with a real hope that I have in humanity that we find peaceful ways through these difficult situations.”

After chatting with supporters Olsen, Na’Moks, a few other individuals with The Office of The Wet’suwet’en and members of the media proceeded down the road to a police roadblock (which the RCMP have referred to as an access control checkpoint, but the hereditary chiefs and a number of human rights organizations have referred to as an exclusion zone) located at the 27 kilometre point of the road.

After being let in by RCMP officers, they proceeded to a small camp set up just before the 39.5 kilometre mark of the road, where a number of felled trees made further passage impossible by car.

Green Party Member of Parliament for Nanaimo—Ladysmith Paul Manly was also in town over the weekend, arriving on Jan. 19.

The Green MP said he wanted to hear the hereditary chiefs’ concerns regarding their ongoing dispute with CGL.

“I’ll be reporting back to my colleagues in the House of Commons and i’ll be bringing this up in the [House] so it’s good to have firsthand knowledge and to have an opportunity to listen firsthand,” he said of the chance to come and learn about the dispute.

In their platform both the federal and provincial Green Party indicate they are opposed to fracking and LNG exports because of climate concerns related to the process.

Echoing Olsen’s comments Manly said he was disappointed with Premier Horgan’s statements on the CGL development continuing.

“[Horgan] was asked to meet with the chiefs and he hasn’t,” said Manly, who characterized the way the situation has unfolded as a massive political failure.

“I think that, you know, if you’re talking about reconciliation and you’re talking about implementing the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples then it’s really important to have an open honest dialogue.

“The fact that we have the RCMP mobilizing on an enforcement order … that just shows failure on the part of the politicians.”

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

 

Adam Olsen (left) talks with hereditary chief Na’Moks (second from left) and Lihkt’samisyu Chief Dsta’hyl (right) at a small encampment of supporters just before the 39 kilometre mark of Morice West Forest Service Road on Jan. 18. (Trevor Hewitt photo)

Adam Olsen (left) talks with Lihkt’samisyu Chief Dsta’hyl (right) at a small encampment of supporters just before the 39 kilometre mark of Morice West Forest Service Road on Jan. 18. (Trevor Hewitt photo)

Just Posted

Voters in Saanich North and the Islands, here lining up outside Sidney’s Mary Winspear Centre on the first day of advanced voting, are among the provincial leaders in getting in their votes early. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
It’s Election Day in B.C.: Here’s what you need to know to vote

B.C.’s snap election has already broken records for advance voter turnout, mail-in ballots

RCMP stock photo (Black Press)
Charges laid against Prince George man, 39, in drug trafficking probe

Tyler Aaron Gelowitz is scheduled to appear in court Nov. 18

B.C. doctors encourage patients to reach out for telephone or online care during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Unsplash)
How was your virtual care experience through the Omineca Medical Clinic?

The clinic has an online survey for patients in the region

Blackwater Gold Mine. (File photo)
Artemis Gold plans phased approach for Blackwater Project

Artemis Gold will directly employ up to 580 people during the initial construction period

John Rustad poses for a photograph infront of St. John Hospital in Vanderhoof after he made the announcement of investing in Hospitals in the area. (Aman Parhar/Omineca Express)
Rustad announces St. John Hospital upgrade if BC Liberals are elected

The incumbent BC Liberals MLA for Nechako Lakes made the announcement on Tuesday, Oct. 13.

B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry gives a daily briefing on COVID-19 cases at an almost empty B.C. Legislature press theatre in Victoria, B.C., on March 25, 2020. (Don Craig/B.C. government)
B.C. sees 223 new COVID-19 cases, now 2,009 active

Two new care home outbreaks in Surrey, Burnaby

BC Liberals Leader Andrew Wilkinson, BC Greens Sonia Furstenau, BC NDP John Horgan (The Canadian Press photos)
British Columbians vote in snap election called during COVID-19 pandemic

At dissolution, the NDP and Liberals were tied with 41 seats in the legislature, while the Greens held two seats

100 Mile Conservation officer Joel Kline gingerly holds an injured but very much alive bald eagle after extracting him from a motorist’s minivan. (Photo submitted)
B.C. driver thought he retrieved a dead bald eagle – until it came to life in his backseat

The driver believed the bird to be dead and not unconscious as it turned out to be

Chastity Davis-Alphonse took the time to vote on Oct. 21. B.C’s general Election Day is Saturday, Oct. 24. (Chastity Davis-Alphonse Facebook photo)
B.C. reconciliation advocate encourages Indigenous women to vote in provincial election

Through the power of voice and education Chastity Davis-Alphonse is hopeful for change

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

White Rock RCMP Staff Sgt. Kale Pauls has released a report on mental health and policing in the city. (File photos)
White Rock’s top cop wants to bill local health authority for lengthy mental-health calls

‘Suggestion’ included in nine-page review calling for ‘robust’ support for healthcare-led response

A Le Chateau retail store is shown in Montreal on Wednesday July 13, 2016. Le Chateau Inc. says it is seeking court protection from creditors under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act to allow it to liquidate its assets and wind down its operations.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Clothing retailer Le Chateau plans to close its doors, files for CCAA protection

Le Chateau said it intends to remain fully operational as it liquidates its 123 stores

Green party Leader Sonia Furstenau arrives to announce her party’s election platform in New Westminster, B.C., on October 14, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. Green party says it’s raised nearly $835,000 in 38 days

NDP Leader John Horgan is holding his final virtual campaign event

Most Read