Hereditary chiefs represent Lake Babine Nation

Hereditary chiefs represent Lake Babine Nation

Editor:

As a matter of their indigenous system of governance and law, the Babine Lake Carrier people are represented by the Babine Lake Hereditary Chiefs in decisions dealing with their Aboriginal title and rights in their traditional territory. The Hereditary Chiefs alone have this authority.

Through a Canada-British Columbia news release published online on Dec. 14, 2018, the Babine Lake Hereditary Chiefs learned that the elected council of the Lake Babine Nation, the province and Canada had entered into what they call the Tripartite Memorandum of Understanding to Guide Rights Implementation and Reconciliation Negotiations. Among other things, this MOU assumes – and Canada and the province commit to proceeding on the basis – that the band’s elected chief and council have lawful authority to make decisions in respect of our Aboriginal title and rights.

Neither the Babine Lake Hereditary Chiefs nor the Babine Lake Carrier people have ever transferred this authority to chief and council. The only source of chief and council’s authority in regard to land is federal legislation and, then, only in regard to reserve land. Thus, Canada, the province and the band’s chief and council are proceeding in violation of our indigenous system of governance and law.

The band’s elected officials called a meeting in Prince George on Feb. 20-22, 2019 to try to obtain support for the MOU, among other things. Insofar as they hope to obtain the consent of any hereditary chiefs, they would again be proceeding in violation of our indigenous system of governance and law, which requires that significant decisions affecting our territory must be taken to the hereditary chiefs in a Bah’lats (feast hall). Elected chief and council do not have authority to call a Bah’lats. In these circumstances, we hereditary chiefs are within our rights to reject the MOU and any similar agreements the band’s chief and council have entered into or may yet enter into.

Indigenous Affairs forcefully amalgamated the two Babine Lake Bands (Fort Babine & Old Fort) to the Lake Babine Band in 1956-57 without formal approval or consent by the members. Following the amalgamation, children were forcefully taken to the Lejac Indian Residential School and after leaving the school, a large number of members, approximately 2,000 were displaced and have been suffering away their homeland for 60 years. They are falling through the bureaucratic cracks with no help from the band or Indigenous Affairs. The urban displaced members of Lake Babine Nation fully support the rejection of agreements by the Babine Lake Hereditary Chiefs.

Babine Lake Hereditary Chiefs

Names and signatures of 29 chiefs not published, on file with Lakes District News