The Office of the Wet’suwet’en, which is the organization the five hereditary chiefs opposing the Coastal Gaslink pipeline operate under, is not a band council, but rather a registered non-profit society.
It was created in 1994 to operate as a central office for Wet’suwet’en and was affiliated with the Gitxsan Nation for many years. The office, located in Smithers, is governed by the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs residing throughout the traditional territories.
According to the office’s website, “the Office of the Wet’suwet’en does not receive core funding (continuous funding from one year to the next) from any form of government.”
However, according to its financial statements for the year ending March 31, 2019, it relies heavily on government funding.
During that year, the office recorded revenue of just over $6 million. The largest single contributor was Indian and Northern Affairs Canada which provided $1.6 million. Next comes the B.C. Ministry of Children and Families at $1.5 million; the Province of B.C. (Title) at $1.1 million; Department of Fisheries and Oceans – $442,000; Administration Recovery – $390,128; Department of Justice – $371,629; Other revenue – $355,592; Canfor – $185,500; Land sharing/environment agreements $62,305; and logging – $10,000.
The largest expenditure for the office is wages and benefits at $2.1 million. All 13 hereditary chiefs receive a stipend for their work. Chief 1 (they are not named in the financial statements) receives a stipend of $9,500, chiefs 2-11 receive a stipend of $9,250, Chief 12 received a $9,000 stipend and Chief 13 a $4,500 stipend. They are all reimbursed for travel with Chief 3 racking up $17,153 in travel expenses and Chief 1 a total of $16,142. Total travel expenses for all 13 chiefs was $70,357.
Down the road in Burns Lake, the Wet’suwet’en First Nation operates. This is the elected band council of the Wet’suwet’en.
According to the band’s consolidated statement of operations for the year end March 31, 2018 (the latest year posted), it operated on revenues of $1.9 million.
The largest source of income was Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada which contributed $716,476. The second largest source of income was the Province of B.C. which contributed $392,012. Band generated income total $243,680; Carrier Sekani Family Services contributed $225,029; other aboriginal grous – $81,253; other income (Ministry of Transportation, Northern Health, and PGNAETA) accounted for $82,253; Canada Mortgage and Housing – $33,135; Coastal GasLink $13,000.