WET’SUWET’EN FEMALE LEADERS DEMAND VOICE, CHALLENGE ACTIONS
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE (November 23, 2020) – The Wet’suwet’en Matrilineal Coalition has taken steps to ensure the rightful voice of female hereditary leaders is restored in Wet’suwet’en governance. The Wet’suwet’en Matrilineal Coalition’s legal counsel has taken the following steps on its behalf:
- Provided written notification challenging the validity of a June 3, 2020 “MOU” signed by federal and provincial ministers and certain other parties allegedly on behalf of the Wet’suwet’en to the federal and provincial governments.
- Provided written notification of the wrongful exclusion of female heredity leaders to the Office of the Wet’suwet’en (the “OW”).
- Launched human rights complaints with the Canadian Human Rights Commission and BC Human Rights Commission against the federal and provincial ministers alleging gender discrimination.
(Copies of the above documents are available upon request).
“The way in which governments and the OW have disrespected our governance structures – especially as it relates to female leaders – is unacceptable and cannot be allowed to stand”, said Theresa Tait Day (Chief Wihaliy’te), director of the Wet’suwet’en Matrilineal Coalition and Acting House Chief of House Beside the Fire. She added “The time has come for a comprehensive and inclusive review of Wet’suwet’en governance. This time our women must be part of it”.
The June 2020 MOU was negotiated following the blockade of the Coastal Gas Link project. The Wet’suwet’en Matrilineal Coalition believes both levels of government were aware of the risk that the Wet’suwet’en signatories did not have proper authority to sign the MOU.
“Our House system is core to the Wet’suwet’en way of life” said Hereditary House Chief Gloria George (Chief Smogelgem), Hereditary House Chief of Sun House, also a director of the Wet’suwet’en Matrilineal Coalition. “Governments cannot just turn a blind eye when Wet’suwet’en laws and customs are not respected ”.
About the Wet’suwet’en Matrilineal Coalition –
The Wet’suwet’en Matrilineal Coalition was formed in 2015 following a meeting in Smithers that involved Hereditary House Chiefs, House Chiefs, chiefs and council, and the Wet’suwet’en community at large, following a loss of confidence in the Office of the Wet’suwet’en. All directors hold traditional governance roles in the Wet’suwet’en House system, holding Hereditary House Chief status (or alternate status) and Hereditary Chiefs’ names. Its goal is to integrate Wet’suwet’en hereditary structures into economic development, in a manner that respects the role of all interested parties
(including elected Chiefs and Council). It has proposed—and continues to propose—constructive means to discuss and advance Wet’suwet’en governance.
Contact Theresa Tait Day: theresataitday @ gmail.com
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