The matriarchs are concerned. We are Wet’suwet’en matriarchs and mothers within the Gidimten (Bear Clan). Nagwaohn (Sophie Ogen- 81 years old), Cilikhk’in (Rita George 77 years old). We grew up respecting everything in life.
We are hereditary chiefs and we are responsible for our clan members. We have been so concerned – even unable to sleep over all the conflict in the community.
There has been a lot of changes which the newspaper has been writing about and this has affected the elders. We know our history. We know who we are, where we belong. As the five clans of the Wet’suwet’en, we follow our cultures and traditions in regard to clan territories. We never did cross or trespass into each other’s territories.
That is our law which is outlined in the Delgamuukw/Gisdaywa court case. This is our history. There has been too much greed that is taking over our lives. There are so many people stepping over the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs and making decisions on our territories without our consent.
There is so much division in the communities. There is discrimination even coming from within.
Recently one of our clan members was slandered. This is our skiy’ze, (future chief). We can’t sit back and watch this conflict go on. We can no longer allow this type of discrimination to go by unnoticed.
A 94-year-old Lake Babine Nation father clan came to visit us twice. He was very distraught. We have to respect what he is telling us and this is partly why we needed to write this concern. He says, “I come to you because there is big change that is happening. You should talk about it.” He stated that we are all living on Wet’suwet’ en land. I don’t like what is happening. The third time, he said, “I think of you sisters a lot.” That means a lot.
As elders, we have to listen to this elderly gentleman. We respect him and love him. We request that the hereditary chiefs and elders be consulted on all major decisions happening on our territories.
What I understand is that Nicola Valley Institute of Technology is trying to make changes to the College of New Caledonia. This college has been in place for several years. All nations, all people have had the privilege to train there and all staff from different backgrounds have worked there.
It disturbs me that people from Merritt will run the campus and all the hiring will be under them. Wake up! Are you really excited about this?
We want to protect our Skiy’ze and we need to be informed and our consent needs to be given regarding anything that happens in our territory. We would not go into another nation’s territory and try to control what happens in their territories.
Every different nations into their culture. We’re all different colour from our Creator. We respect who we are and respect other culture.
Rita George (C’ilikhk’in)