(Ottawa, ON) – Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Perry Bellegarde issued the following statement today on the situation in Wet’suwet’en Nation territory and actions by the RCMP in the area, including the kilometer 39 checkpoint:
“I am urging peace and I condemn any acts of violence in enforcing the injunction brought against the Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chiefs and their supporters. The use of force against peaceful people is a violation of human rights and First Nations’ rights. The RCMP is sworn to uphold Canada’s law, but Canada must respect First Nations laws and Wet’suwet’en laws. Canada’s highest law – the Constitution – affirms in section 35 the inherent rights of First Nations and our right to self-determination.
We will never achieve reconciliation through force. If this is really about the ‘rule of law’ then governments should be honouring the rights and title of First Nations in their traditional territories. The only way to resolve this is open dialogue amongst all parties, including dialogue with and within the Wet’suwet’en Nation. Going forward, we need to work at implementing First Nations laws as equal to common law and civil law.
The AFN supports the governance and decision-making process of the Wet’suwet’en leaders. Canada and B.C. should do the same.”
The Assembly of First Nations is the national organization representing First Nation citizens in Canada. Follow AFN on Twitter @AFN_Comms, @AFN_Updates.