Some news media (like tthe Straight, in this article), are reporting that Wet’suwet’en chiefs are distancing themselves from the Unist’ot’en camp and urging cooperation with pipeline companies. You might run into this myth when talking with family and friends as well. Understanding the issue yourself will help you explain what is really going on to others. The truth is that the hereditary chiefs of the Unist’ot’en clan are unanimously opposed to all pipelines. Freda Huson, their spokesperson, has been doing a superb job getting that message across for the past 5 years!
Khelsilem responded to the article online with a clear explanation that you can point others to:
I think a confusing part of this article and what’s missing from whole story is the difference between Karen Ogen’s Indian Band which used to be named the “Broman Lake Indian Band” and renamed itself the “Wet’suwet’en First Nation”. The “Wet’suwet’en” as a whole include what is currently five separate Indian Bands. This is like Prince Edward Island deciding to rename itself “Canada” and the world thinking decisions/policies supported by that Province speak for the whole country.
Second to that… Aboriginal rights & title have been proven to apply to pre-existing social and political structures — in this case — the clan structure. The Unist’ot’en clan do have prexisting title and rights to the land they are occupying and enforcing their laws in. The Indian Bands who are pro-LNG want to circumvent these traditional and historical laws in favour of resource extraction and increased profits for their bands. This press release by the pro-LNG Indian Act politicians attempt to discredit the Unist’ot’en is disgusting and desperate.
In trying to cover the issue fairly, I think extra care needs to be made to explain this basic information to readers because this is not being explained well by many in the media and adding to the confusion.