The long-sought and delicate talks between Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs and federal Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett and British Columbia Indigenous Relations Minister Scott Fraser began yesterday.
Bennett described the three-hour session as a “very good start.”
Fraser called the mood in the room “very good, very respectful.”
He did not elaborate.
“We don’t want to jeopardize anything. We had a productive day today and we’re hoping for a very solid day tomorrow, too,” Fraser told reporters.
Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chief Na’Moks, who is also known as John Ridsdale, left without making a statement.
In addition to the rail blockades, the chiefs’ opposition to a natural gas pipeline cutting across their traditional territory–as well as limiting a police presence on their land–has sparked demonstrations of support across the country since Feb. 5, when the RCMP moved into a Wet’suwet’en camp and made arrests while enforcing an injunction.
Prior to yesterday’s meeting, both the RCMP and Coastal GasLink, the pipeline’s owner, agreed to conditions requested by the chiefs as a prelude to the talks.
The RCMP committed to ending patrols along a critical roadway during the negotiations and Coastal GasLink agreed to a two-day pause in its activities in the region.
With files from CBC, CP, RCI