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Westbank First Nation member questions hereditary chiefs’ anti-pipeline support

A woman of the Westbank First Nation questions the supports hereditary chiefs have for opposing the CostalGas Link pipeline.
Quinn Patrick Montreal, QC

As the anti-pipeline protests continue to shut down crucial parts of Canada’s infrastructure, the CostalGas Link pipeline and there is much confusion when it comes to the Wet’suwet’en people’s stance on it.

The Premier of BC John Horgan told the CBC that it’s a fight within the nation between the equal actors of hereditary chiefs, who defend the land, and the band chiefs, who want to see their people become financially secure.

A recent Facebook post that has been shared almost 5,000 times in its first day talks about the personal relationship that Terri Tilijoe has had with the Hereditary Chiefs of the Wet’suwe’ten people.

Terri is caucasian although she is a member of the Westbank First Nation and has been since she was 16, through her marriage with Larry Tilijoe, who is Unistoten. She believes that the vast majority of Wet’suwet’en people are in favour of the pipeline, estimating it’s about 85 percent.

The post began with Tiljoe stating, “I see all these posts supporting a few OW Hereditary Chiefs but what I don’t see is the Wetsuweten people speaking up about how this office operates. I get it though, I live on Westbank First Nation, I see exactly how opportunities are disbursed based on whether you are ‘one of them’ or ‘one of us’.”

Tiljoe described her experience with the OW Chiefs and how “In 1993, we started a silviculture business, Nadina Mountain Contracting, located within the Morice Forest District. Our goal was to become a sustainable First Nation contractor who harvested, replanted and rejuvenated the areas we harvested.”

“The OW, situated an hour east of Houston, took over ALL the forest related activities earmarked as First Nations. We were forced to work under the OW for contracts within our own forests; the OW took a portion of the contract value for the ‘service’. The OW’s lack of knowledge in forest health and neglect in their financial responsibilities continually caused our business to suffer hardship which rippled to our banker, our employees, and our suppliers.”

“I personally question the integrity of some of the chiefs, and I wonder if it’s the same case with CGL; that the OW wants to control ALL the negotiations, ALL the monies, ALL the contracts and ALL benefits and administer it back to the Bands in the territory? As it stands the individual bands will receive the monies and benefits and not the OW. If the OW can’t have it ALL then NO one will have anything.”

The protests continue while the Trudeau government continues to dither twelve days in, while various road and rail blockades cripples the transport of goods and people.

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Quinn Patrick
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