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Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs say tensions with Ottawa 'beyond frustration' during Kahnawake visit
Published Saturday, February 22, 2020 3:28PM EST Last Updated Sunday, February 23, 2020 1:57PM EST
KAHNAWAKE -- Traditional chiefs of the Wet'suwet'en First Nation have arrived in Kahnawake, Que., as they continue their tour of Mohawk communities in eastern Canada where rail blockades in solidarity with their cause have been erected.
"We've definitely received good treatment on the part of the Kahnawake people," said Chief Woos, one of the hereditary chiefs.
The Kahnawake longhouse housed the historic meeting, which included a Words at the Edge of the Woods ceremony, which is a traditional way to communicate with those from other communities.
Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs oppose the Coastal GasLink project that would carry natural gas to the B.C. coast, though others in the community support the pipeline.
Countrywide protests and blockades followed a move by RCMP to enforce a court injunction this month against the hereditary chiefs and their supporters, who had been obstructing an access road to a Coastal GasLink work site.
Among the topics touched on in the ceremony were the pipeline, protests and a resolution with the federal government and RCMP.
Ghislain Picard, the Assembly of First Nations' regional director for Quebec and Labrador, thanked Kahnawake and the Mohawk nation for their support.
"That's what we witnessed earlier. In terms of what happens next, that's between them," he said.
One of the hereditary chiefs said Friday his people are willing to engage in nation-to-nation talks with the B.C. and federal governments, but not until the RCMP in B.C. have left traditional Wet'suwet'en territory entirely and Coastal GasLink, the pipeline company, ceases work in the area.
The comments came after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau emerged from meetings with senior cabinet ministers on Friday saying that barricades on rail lines and other major transportation routes must come down after two weeks of calls for patience and stalled attempts at negotiation.
Woos said Trudeau's comments have left the situation "beyond frustration, it's more like confusion."
"Mr. Trudeau has announced it's up to us but we've been saying since day one, RCMP, vacate the area," he said.
Their Quebec visit comes one day after the Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs visited supporters at Tyendinaga Mohawk territory to thank them.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 22, 2020.