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Disrespectful that Horgan won't meet during northern B.C. tour: hereditary chief

HOUSTON, B.C. — One of five hereditary chiefs of the Wet’suwet’en Nation who oppose a natural gas pipeline in northern British Columbia says it’s disrespectful that Premier John Horgan isn’t planning to meet with them during a tour of the region.

Chief Na’moks, who also goes by John Ridsdale, says the chiefs have a long-standing request to meet with the premier as they say they will only discuss the project with government leaders rather than proponent Coastal GasLink.

Na’moks says the premier’s office contacted him personally but he didn’t think it was appropriate to have a one-on-one discussion, and now Horgan is looking at setting up a phone call with all five chiefs next week.

But Na’moks says only a face-to-face conversation will demonstrate respect for the chiefs, who say they have authority over 22,000 square kilometres of unceded Wet’suwet’en territory.

The chief adds he was “really bothered” that Horgan did not make time for a meeting on Friday, when the premier was in the area touring the LNG Canada project site in Kitimat, and meeting with business leaders in Terrace.

The premier’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Adam Olsen, interim leader of B.C.’s Green party, was set to arrive in northern B.C. on Saturday to visit camps set up by the hereditary chiefs and their supporters near the pipeline work site.

Coastal GasLink has signed benefits agreements with all 20 elected band councils along the 670-kilometre pipeline route, but the hereditary chiefs argue band councils only have jurisdiction over reserve lands rather than unceded territories.

This report was first published by The Canadian Press on Jan. 18, 2020.

The Canadian Press