B.C. Indigenous Relations Minister Scott Fraser and Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett speak briefly to the press following Thursday’s discussions with the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs. (Quinn Bender photo)

Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs meet with provincial, federal ministers

Neither party speaking on the groundwork laid for tomorrow’s talks

Initial talks between the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs and ministers from the provincial and federal governments have wrapped up for the day with plans to continue tomorrow.

Speaking to reporters outside the Office of the Wet’suwet’en in Smithers, Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett and B.C. Indigenous Relations Minister Scott Fraser said the mood in the room was positive and they’re optimistic about heading into Friday’s discussions.

Neither minister would comment on the groundwork laid today with the hereditary chiefs.

“It’s not appropriate to talk about,” Fraser said. “We don’t want to jeopardize anything. We had a productive day today and hopefully a very solid day tomorrow.”

Hereditary chief Na’moks, who’s taken on the role of spokesperson for the chiefs, did not comment to the press.

READ MORE: Wet’suweten hereditary chiefs optimistic ahead of talks

The meeting comes amid continuing protests and road and rail blockades across the country, including at the B.C. Legislature this week. The protests have been ongoing since early February in opposition to the Coastal GasLink (CGL), a 670-kilometre natural gas pipeline being built through Wet’suwet’en traditional lands.

Na’moks said earlier today it’s still premature to speculate when the blockades will end.

“Most of them [supporters] are awaiting us to request it. If they see progress then things will quickly deescalate. We just ask that things remain peaceful.”

READ MORE: Speaker ‘will not tolerate illegal activity’ on B.C. legislature grounds, says chief of staff

Earlier today the RCMP announced they will cease patrols of the Morice West Service Road during the talks. CGL also announced a two-day pause on pre-construction of the pipeline in the Morice River area. These two conditions were critical for the hereditary chiefs to begin talks with the provincial and federal governments.

More to come.

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