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Province gives $7.22 million to Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs

Murray Rankin, B.C.’s Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation. Province of B.C. photo

The province is giving the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs $7.22 million to support work to implement Wet’suwet’en title and rights.

The funding will be used to support Wet’suwet’en governance and facilitate ongoing discussions related to the 2020 Memorandum of Understanding (MOU).

The three-year funding commitment will support the Wet’suwet’en in their work on governance and the shared goal of reunification within Wet’suwet’en Nation. The Office of the Wet’suwet’en, Houses and Clans will undertake an internal engagement process to advance unity-building, which will be inclusive of all Wet’suwet’en House members, says a government news release.

“This funding will support the unity-building work within Wet’suwet’en Nation that is critical to move forward in successfully implementing the MOU,” said Murray Rankin, Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation, in a news release. “Openness and transparency continue to be a key focus in the negotiations, and I am pleased that negotiators are giving regular updates to our regional engagement group and external community advisory council.”

The new provincial funding will also support more resources for Wet’suwet’en Nation to revitalize Wet’suwet’en governance structures for water stewardship, wildlife programs, eco-system monitoring and other initiatives to enhance collaborative stewardship and management of land and resources in the Yintah (Wet’suwet’en territory).

Some of the new funding will be used to renovate the former Lake Kathlyn school property, which Wet’suwet’en Nation bought in 2020 through a $1.23-million grant from the Province. The historical site to the Wet’suwet’en will be used for a Wet’suwet’en Nation governance centre, with space for administration offices and Wet’suwet’en resources.

The provision of this grant funding is not a repayable loan or treaty payment.

The province and Office of the Wet’suwet’en launched external engagement with non-Indigenous communities in the Wet’suwet’en Yintah on the ongoing negotiations under the MOU in September 2020 through a regional engagement group. A core advisory council also has been meeting regularly since February 2021. Both are intended to provide critical input and ensure transparency and openness with stakeholders and local government throughout the negotiations.

All parties remain committed to the negotiations under the MOU. The negotiations are active and ongoing.

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