You’re outta here, said the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs, returning a $25,000 cheque to the province, a down payment on capacity funding for the Pacific Trail pipeline.
In seeking support for the pipeline that will bring natural gas to Kitimat for a planned LNG plant, BC’s Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation department drew a line between the capacity funding and ongoing support for child welfare. The Globe and Mail described the move as “ham-fisted.”
In a document presented to the Moricetown Indian Band, the ministry outlined “what B.C. has done so far” for the Wet’suwet’en, including “continued funding” for child welfare programs.
Debbie Pierre, executive director for the Office of the Wet’suwet’en, said “LNG is not the springboard to opening discussions around child welfare.”
Minister John Rustad said there was no intent to tie ongoing funding for child welfare programs to the band’s support for the pipeline and LNG. Rustad blamed divisions between the elected and hereditary systems in the area for complicating government’s dealings.
“Internally, the Wet’suwet’en people need to work through those divisions of authority and power,” he said. BC is trying to reach a deal with the elected council, he said, but the hereditary leadership have raised objections.