The Office of the Wet’suwet’en operate under the false guise of Wet’suwet’en Law.

The Office of the Wet'suwet'en operate under the false guise of Wet'suwet'en Law.

The Office of the Wet’suwet’en operate under the false guise of Wet’suwet’en Law.

My name is Tsaskiy, and our Gitdimd’en clan has created a paper trail of our attempts to be consulted regarding how the “Wet’suwet’en Five” have been conducting business under the false guise of Wet’suwet’en Law.

They seem to have an identity crisis. On one hand, they owe their existence to the fact that Office of the Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chiefs operate under the Societies Act and have no seat in the feast hall to make decisions they are making to perpetuate their existence; but they want to be recognized as operating under the Hereditary system as well.

First, my experience as CEO and head of both the provincial United Native Nations, and the federal Native Council of Canada for fourteen years taught me that the method the OWHC follows is nowhere close to how a Non Profit Society is operated.

There are supposed to be proper notices of Annual General Meetings, annual elections to choose executive officers, to receive mandates for the coming year, to provide annual audited statements, to provide open communication with all members and so much more.

None of these have been evident, and meetings are always held to accommodate those who choose to follow this nondescript and far from legal receptor for program dollars from federal sources that only allow funds to be spent primarily for First Nation/Status Indian members on reserve; this is according to the federally mandated policy that excludes off-territory/off-reserve members through DIA policy.

When inquiring about any information about these arbitrarily called meetings with no accommodation for those of us who cannot possibly attend, we are met with rude and patronizing attitudes, which have become part of our paper trail.

When asking simple questions as non-profit society laws require answers to the membership for, we are, and have been publicly labeled as trouble-makers who should be dealt with in a shame feast. None of these actions reflect Wet’suwet;en Law and how hereditary chiefs need to conduct themselves.

Indeed the opposite is true, as depicted in the article about my aunt and father clan member, Smogilthgem, Gloria George, who has been vilified and verbally abused by their uninformed public actions. The same abuse has been leveled toward Our Gitdimden Matriarch Gilughgun, Rita George.

She has also been publicly verbally abused by these so called hereditary chiefs. If these folks supporting the Wet’suwet’en Five were trained properly, this would be the first law they would learn…to conduct themselves so as not to bring shame on our clans, and especially how to show proper respect for Deni Zeh, Tsako Zeh in public or otherwise. Their actions prove otherwise.

Above all, there is no evidence of where the Wet’suwet’en Five got the mandate to insert themselves as our nations’ spokespersons via the OWHC, and where the mandate comes from to pay themselves salary, travel and honorariums to publicly parade around in regalia, some of which are blatantly incorrect.

There is no evidence as a non-profit society, or the hereditary system they purport to follow, from whence these mandates originate. It seems they make up rules as they go, as they arbitrarily appoint themselves clan liaison positions and other titles that defy proper Wet’suwet’en protocol.

Meetings are held at times when it is impossible to attend with short notice and during the workweek when those of us working to survive off-territory cannot participate; nor is the agenda explained to us. For instance, the next Git’dimd’en meeting for march of this year is called at 4:30 pm on a Friday. Sure, we may plug in by telephone, but how realistic is it to expect us to patch in while we are likely still at work or commuting, or busy with our school children at that time of day.

 

I was embarrassed and extremely disappointed when the OWHC chiefs held a so-called Xmas feast for the urban Wet’suwet’en at the Vancouver Aboriginal Friendship Center on December 8, 2018. Our feast, for which we sat around waiting to be served for at least two hours, consisted of a bowl of soup and two pieces of fry bread, and a small cup of Nowuss, and the Wet’suwet’en Five et al, sat in the middle of the hall feeding themselves first, after which they disappeared from the hall, re-appearing all decked out in regalia, proper or not, and literally paraded themselves around the hall displaying their hubris, and later seating themselves against the wall and giving us “we think of you all the time” speeches.

What about simply consulting? They consult like the government does; little or not at all. After Warner Naziel declared to the whole gathering, that he was Smogilthgem of the Owl house, we departed soon after this blatantly false claim, as they totally ignored our clan chiefs and many other urban house chiefs in self-aggrandizing fashion.

We were treated as though they regarded us as “dumb urban Indians” and they graced us with their presence. Consultation with us as to how to conduct meetings in the urban center where we are scrutinized by other nations, many who supported us wholeheartedly throughout our Delgamuukw-Gisdayway court case, would have been a simple protocol to observe, especially through mere consultation about the urban landscape.

The Wet’suwet’en Five et al, would have then been able to acknowledge hereditary chiefs and dignitaries in attendance from other nations, who definitely were not impressed by this ignorant conduct.

My recently acquired MED degree and concomitant project report has now been officially registered with the UVIC library. As a means of placing this disrespect and abuse of ill-gotten power on record, the descendants of Gisdayway, Thomas George, and Tsaybasa, Mary George, academically recorded our marginalization by government, and BY our own OWHC, for posterity and a means of showing the other side of the coin.

My father clan member Smogilthgem, Gloria George, daughter of Thomas and Mary George, is one of the participants in our study which is named after Gloria’s mother Tsebasa’s message to us children as she stretched and tanned hides, sewed and beaded clothing, moccasins, gloves that she made as we listened to and participated in her teachings.

 

The title of this study derives from her teachings and is registered academically as “You’ve got to paddle your own canoe: The effects of federal legislation in participation and exercising of, traditional governance while living off-reserve.”

Precious little of the boots-on-the-ground teachings we received of our clan territories through Nagadildez, is reflected with accuracy through the treatment we report from the parties purporting to represent themselves as properly trained chiefs.

If they were properly trained, there would be no need for the reporting of this unfortunate colonial phenomenon, or of the disrespect displayed toward Smogilthgem or Gilughgun, or toward all the members of this study.

We have devised a well thought out strategy to mitigate all this confusion, and it is primarily following the hereditary governance registered in the evidence our chiefs described in our 1997 SCC Delgamuukw- Gisdayway decision, and is reflected in my project report, which according to Indigenous research methodology, and Wet’suwet’en Law, must be approved by all participants, and must pass rigor of same. This we have done.

The genealogy registered in our court case will guide us through this self-inflicted confusion and improperly acquired hereditary titles.

It is all there, and must be done properly in the feast hall, and with proper respect. It’s all there in the SCC decision. It doesn’t have to be made up.  And yes, we are also curious as to how the loosely mandated “go fund me” funds are to be disbursed.

If it was done on behalf of the entire Wet’suwet’en Nation, then will that reflect in the fund’s disbursement? Is it fair to be holding these numerous fundraisers all around the country without explaining what this Smogilthgem article was forced to do publicly?

We know we are all cash-strapped, but we feel that active inclusion be all Wet’suwet’en members to be the more truthful and effective manner to address this problem. Five male chiefs and their supporters does not accomplish this vision that our chiefs described in the court case.

They described Wet’suwet’en Law; Not this make-it-up-as- they-go process that does not pass the scrutiny or rigor of ALL Wet’suwet’en clans’ involvement and agreement. It would have been preferable that this was done properly, and in-house, but their public displays with half truths put us all in a position of having to the publicly launder our issues in public, simply to provide the other side of their publicly displayed coin…..with PROOF and Truths as befitting the hereditary process.

After all, the supporters of our cause deserve nothing less when we tap into their pockets for support. I call on our nation to do a full review of these actions that reflect on all of us, so that we may all work together. Our study report shows how this can be done through following what our chiefs, most of whom are no longer with us, have described in The 1997 Delgamuukw-Gisdayway SCC landmark court decision.

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3 Responses to The Office of the Wet’suwet’en operate under the false guise of Wet’suwet’en Law.

  1. JLS JLS says:

    After reading your painful letter with the understanding that unless this is aired in public, nothing will change. Indeed it is an inhouse matter, the problem is who controls the house. It’s also why I refuse to allow outsiders to comment on what is a local problem that requires a local solution. I fully respect your hesitation to speak out publicly, yet understand there is no other option on the table right now.

    I must also publicly apologies for leaving out Rita George in my articles regarding how blatant this attack on the George family was, I will admit it was my own ignorance on the facts. Even for myself it was a learning curve to discover how such a unified family (the Wet’suwet’en family) in the past, could become so broken that it would resort to crab mentality to be the chief top dog. I am still learning, and I am an all ears listener to those who are willing to share their story, as long as their intentions are directed towards solutions or internal reconciliation.

    So once again Rita George, my apologies.

    Sometimes we need to air dirty laundry as a last resort, before healing can begin.

    As I said in one article, growing up I had such high levels of admiration and respect for hereditary chiefs, not so much now that I grew up with as kids who are now hereditary chiefs. Its time hereditary chief’s step aside, let their educated children take over all negotiations, and allow the chiefs to become the symbolic signing authority once deals have been reached. Use democracy to govern all aspects of governance and negotiation.

    There is good reason we educate our children, so they can use their education to guide us into the future.

    Without democracy at the heart of the Wet’suwet’en family, I see no hope for a resolution to this problem.

  2. Avatar Tait says:

    I totally agree, democracy is needed. WMC is trying to reach the community so that we can make educated decisions:

  3. Avatar Name witheld by request says:

    I am a Wet’suwet’en man from the dark house. I was raised to speak my language by my great grandmother, the prior Nedebeas Christine Holland. I was raised proud of my heritage and have never known any other way of being no matter where in the world I may have been. I left to go to to school and travel for about 10 years and came back about 20 years ago. I came back to give back and work with the people. Over the past 20 years I have worked for many Indigenous people but never my own. When you don’t come from here you don’t exist. Such terrible etiquette and backward thinking. I am over it.

    The 5 that you speak about are a real threat to our way of being and represent a real retrograde approach to governance and unity, peace , and harmony. The reckless and reactionary approach coupled with bullying and intimidation only speak to the ignorance many of us have had to endure.

    I come from a long-house culture that claims to listen to all families within a house group. NOT JUST ONE! This is not the way Wet’suwet’en practice kinship. NOPE. The hijacking of female names is yet another outright disregard for tradition. I was taught that my house chief was matrilineal handed from the oldest female to the oldest female. How is it that a man now carries that name. It was never to go to a man. The level of hypocrisy has also been quite galling. Most of the 5 have been fierce loggers with huge capital and machines killing and hauling logs since the 60s and 70s and well into the new millennium. They have made millions of dollars logging trees, sitting on board with canfor and benefiting. Did anyone else in the house group benefit? NOPE. When the forest and range agreements were signed back in the 80’s where were the 5? Oh logging! Why the sudden interest in pipeline activism? Money, power, and plain old greed. The paper trail for these hooligans who live on my land is long since known, but now I have learned about go fund me pages totally $300 000 who made the decision to beg? I was raised that that was a no starter. You work an honest day for your wages and never rely on anyone. YUCK and shame. Also it has come to my attention that one of the 5 is both roadblocking and clearing the right of way for the pipeline now isn’t that just awesome? Unbelievable and the rest of the family turns a blind eye. Go figure. Better save face. DEMOCRACY NOW!

    I know that my grandmother had big plans for me and I have gone out in the world and done all that they would have been so proud of. This is never once been acknowledged. I turn to love, truth, honor, and respect for myself to raise above. There will be a day of reckoning for all of the haters and takers who can never have enough…power, prestige, idols, who hide behind Christianity. Laughable. I let go on a day to day basis to protect myself knowing that I know who I am and now one can take that away from me. I appreciate all of the women and men who have bothered to post here it is cathartic and I want to thank you for this and support the George women who have been treated so horribly and dishonorably.

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