(February 21, 2020, Iqaluit) Nunavut Tunngavik stands in solidarity with the Wet’suwet’en land defenders, and all the indigenous nations supporting them for their inherent right to govern their own territory and to protect their ancestral lands. The Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chiefs, have not provided free, prior, and informed consent to the construction of the TransCanada Coastal GasLink through their traditional lands. The Wet’suwet’en hereditary governance system predates colonization, a governance system that continues on today and must be respected.
Indigenous peoples hold rights to lands in Canada which extend far beyond the boundaries acknowledged by current federal legislation and policies, including Aboriginal title and rights to the lands they used and occupied prior to the arrival of Europeans and the assertion of Crown sovereignty. Aboriginal title and rights are recognized and protected by the Constitution Act, 1982—the highest law in Canada’s legal system.
Along with land claim and treaty obligations, the current path of reconciliation with indigenous peoples were supposed to be defined by Calls to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, as well as, the Calls for Justice of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. In traditional Wet’suwet’en territory and the Government of Canada is using coercive power and is dictating the use of land by means of establishing exclusion zones, forceful removal of land defenders, and threats to journalists. All these forms of force are very troubling and put into question collective Indigenous people’s relationship with Canada.
As a constitutionally protected land claim holder we are watching this very closely. The Government of Canada has spoken loudly in favour of “reconciliation”, but the essence of reconciliation is respect for the rights of the Indigenous peoples. Canada must accept that the Wet’suwet’en have jurisdiction! If Canada does not believe that, it is difficult for us, as an indigenous peoples, to continue to have trust in our relationship with the Government of Canada.
For more information, please contact:
Assistant Director of Communications
Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated
Tel: (867) 975-4900 Toll-free: 1-888-646-0006
Senior Communications Advisor
Office of President Aluki Kotierk
Tel: (867-975-4900 Toll-free: 1-888-646-0006