Posted verbatim with permission.
I see all these posts supporting a few OW Hereditary Chiefs but what I don’t see is the Wetsuweten people speaking up about how this office operates. I get it though, I live on Westbank First Nation, I see exactly how opportunities are disbursed based on whether you are “one of them” or “one of us”. Luckily, I also lived up in Houston BC and know first hand about the motives of some of the OW Hereditary Chiefs.
My husband is the late Larry Tiljoe, a member of the Witset Band, Gilseyhu Clan and Unistoten “family” line. The Tiljoe family have lived and worked, off reserve, in the Houston area their entire lives. Larry’s father is Russell Tiljoe, Russell’s father was Alex Tiljoe, the late Chief Namox. Larry’s mother Elsie, is the granddaughter of Christine Holland, the late Chief Knedebeas. Elsie and Larry both hold trapline rights along the pipeline within Knedebeas territory and the family has a long standing and significant connection to the land in and around Houston and the Knedebeas territories.
In 1993, we started a silviculture business, Nadina Mountain Contracting, located within the Morice Forest District. Our goal was to become a sustainable First Nation contractor who harvested, replanted and rejuvenated the areas we harvested. We managed our contracts and ensured their successful completion and established solid working relationships with local forestry industry key players. We were employing people from Moricetown to Burns Lake, both Native and non-Native. We were employed full time managing the land in forest health, building our business. Then the Office of the Wetsuweten of the Hereditary Chiefs came along.
The OW, situated an hour east of Houston, took over ALL the forest related activities earmarked as First Nations. We were forced us to work under the OW for contracts within our own forests; the OW took a portion of the contract value for the “service”. The OW’s lack of knowledge in forest health and neglect in their financial responsibilities continually caused our business to suffer hardship which rippled to our banker, our employees, and our suppliers. Logging has been acceptable to the OW within their territory and during our time under the OW we noticed the work was cornered by individual OW hereditary chiefs like Chief Kloun Khun – Alphose Gagnon, Chief Knedebeas – Warner William, and Chief ? Adam Gagnon. They established their own companies and or employed down their own family lines. The OW chiefs negotiated contracts including the values and awarded contracts to themselves. The OW wanted ALL the work for the OW. We were forced out of our own forest district to the forest district an hour east of Houston.
In the end the OW took their own member’s livelihood, pushed him out of his own territory, blocked access to his trapline and forced him into bankruptcy. His final words to them warned that their greed would become cancerous.
I personally question the integrity of some of the chiefs, especially the 3 are mentioned above. I wonder if it’s the same case with CGL; that the OW wants to control ALL the negotiations, ALL the monies, ALL the contracts and ALL benefits and administer it back to the Bands in the territory? As it stands the individual bands will receive the monies and benefits and not the OW. If they can’t have it ALL then NO one will have anything.
Except the Province of BC in 2019 gave the OW over $1.1 million, 2019 GoFundMe organized by Jennifer Wickham raised $239,507 for beneficiary, Cody Thomas Merriman and 2020 GoFundMe organized by France Maybe has raised $171,279 YTD for beneficiary, Molly Wickham. The Unistoten GoFundMe Legal fund to benefit Tse Wedi Eltlh raised $385,000 and on and on. The OW protest family has plenty of economic benefit, it’s a multi million dollar business. The Wetsuweten are still left with nothing.
The cause is honourable, we need to protect the planet and I respect people’s right protest but when I see and hear millions of dollars raised to individuals under fake names, images showing “protesters” in $800.00 jackets driving brand new trucks, vans, snowmobiles with top of the line cell phones for live video broadcast, “protesters” with unlimited funds to forage for food at the local restuarants and stores, access to dry heated shelter and $500.00 honorariums paid to Chiefs to show up and protest, I can’t help but question what is really going on.
I’m curious does the OW have a plan to replace the economic loss to ALL the communites affected, if NO? or Is GoFundMe going to become the new way of living off the land for them as well?
Thank you for providing a place to share this and for what you do for the Wetsuweten, ALL the Wetsuweten.
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Thx for the education !!!! Complex to say the least. Greed is humanities worst attributes
Wow! Thank you for publishing this. We are always told to remember that every story has 3 sides…ours, theirs and the TRUTH!
We have been fed too much of one side of the story by a media that is looking for an easy story. We need to know more of the other side of the story, like this letter in order to determine what is the TRUTH!
Thank you for your site and for balancing out the story being spoon fed to the CBC/Global by people who are often not even Wet’sutwet’en
This story is true and sums up her views and experience like the rest of us in the Houston and areas beyond to the east. Many of our people appreciate and have great respect for the Tiljoe family and their parents, also by many non-native people too. WE have similar stories to simply make a living off industry weather it me mining, forestry, logging or tourism and continue to do so. I once again thank you JLS for sharing this story and hope it be used to get some of the truth that needs be circulated.
Thank You for your well informative, written, knowledgeable, and respectful commentary!
I have always wondered about the other side, and always wondered why there’s a lack of true journalism (the 5W’s) for the whole story.
I wonder what our ex AG would have to say about this, if She was aloud too!?
A company is going after wages and economic lost due to this protest along the Morice service road. OW is responsible for so much more loss. It’s good to know OW have the money to pay for these losses.
WOW…your Letter to the Editor is courageous. Thank you for providing your valuable insight into what might be going on with the OW given your own personal experience. I hope you can find the justice that belongs to you and your family
This is a brave lady getting her story out and good for you for having it up.
I’ve added your link as an update on my site. I also contacted the author and she had this to say: “Although Caucasian I have been a member of Westbank First Nation since I was 16. I have seen a lot . As you have read in (The) JLS report these 4- 5 chiefs are just bullies. The protesters don’t stop to think that what they are doing to the Nation is worse then any colonizers that they protest. I live in the Okanagan so I’m away from it but everyday I watch the gullible “show up” feeding off the garbage media gives them. The CGL provided informed consent. We lived here in Kelowna and they (flew) my husband to Smithers many times to the meetings. He, like many, opposed pipelines and he was open to listening and through the process, his mind was changed for LNG. The anti-pipers were the only ones ignorant and closed-minded and they still are!”
Even people with disparate views can get together and work towards mutally beneficial solutions. But we have to learn to agree to disagree sometimes or as a Nation we won’t be able to move forward.
I feel your frustration and anger. There are no more ignorant a people than those within the Canadian journalism community, who seize upon the ‘broad strokes’, to make their lives easier while feeding the ill-informed a diet of misinformation and misunderstanding.
Take heart: the truth is known amongst a few voices with the power to make the truth known and the more the ‘pipeline’ matter holds the headlines the better the chances are for the country to know the truth and government to move in the right direction to “put to bed”, both matters. I promise to do my small part to spread the truth.
I am glad I stumbled across this article and thank for you for your thoughtful insight. Your article certainly provides a much more clear picture as to what’s actually going on with these protests and the role of, and conflict between a select few of the hereditary chiefs and the elected chiefs and band members. Please forgive the comparison but the thuggish behaviour of these few hereditary chiefs and their followers reminds me of how the Mafia operates, moving into an area and through intimidation and sometimes force, putting legitimate business owners under their control. It further begs the question in my mind as to why the Mohawks in Ontario are so quick and eager to support the protests with their own blockades that have basically shut down rail travel in Ontario. What’s in it for them (rhetorical question)? I hope your story receives broader attention.
Freda’s Fickle Fandango or The OW Two-step?
Regardless of the environmental issues involved with this dispute (which I support in many ways btw) I am not sure hijacking a handful of hereditary chiefs and cross country blockades are the route to take? The supreme court stipulates the Wet’suwet’en have unceded right to the territories. This means they can now negotiate a land claim settlement or have it settled by the courts in the future…it did not give them actual title to the land…but recognized their right to sue for such. I wish them luck. I gather there are also over-riding territorial disputes with neighbouring First Nations to dispute also. Back in 2009/2010 Unist’ot’en organizer Freda Husan made it quite clear their clan wanted nothing to do with the OW (Office of the Wet’suwet’en) which includes the hereditary chiefs. This IS the office set up to negotiate treaties etc. From a 2009 press release:
There is no longer 22,000 km² for the Office of the Wet’suwet’en to Negotiate
by TSE WEDI ‘ELH
Moricetown, BC: The ‘Unis Hot’en (People of the Headwaters) members of the C’ilhts’ekyu Clan of the Wet’suwet’en Nation are publically declaring that the Office of the Wet’suwet’en does not represent their interests on rights and title for their lands, waters, or membership. Any claims from the Office of the Wet’suwet’en for the representation and management for any of their unceded territories or unceded rights are false and misguided. The C’ilhts’ekhyu traditional territories cover an area that is approximately 2/3 of the entire land mass of the Wet’suwet’en people.
In a letter that was signed and dated November 16, 2009, and sent to the Office of the Wet’suwet’en, as well as Imperial Metals regarding Huckleberry Mines Ltd., this C’ilhts’ekhyu group declared themselves sovereign from the Office of the Wet’suwet’en”….“The C’ilhts’ekhyu (a.k.a. Gil_seyhyu) Clan will no longer be represented with any past, present or future business activities that come/came from the Office of the Wet’suwet’en (a.k.a. the “Wet’suwet’en Treaty Office Society”; or the “Office of the Wet’suwet’en Society”)…..Freda Huson, spokesperson for the ‘Unis Hot’en people in the C’ilhts’ekhyu Clan. Any communication regarding ‘Unis Hot’en business will be brought to the attention of the new ‘Unis Hot’en company called Tse Wedi ‘Elh” Something has certainly changed since then…seeing as the “occupation” now seems dependant on having/seeking the support of the Hereditary chiefs and the Office of the Wet’suwet’en (OW) Could it be Freda’s two failed attempts at being elected chief at the nearby Moricetown reserve that necessitated her returning to the OW for support? Did a recent disrobement of 3 female hereditary chiefs who were supportive (along with many clan members) of development and their replacement with more compliant anti-development chiefs help with her change of heart? 😉 Who knows?
Either way…the GoFundMe feast of late has shown a small group of activists are gleaning an awful lot of dough from far and wide with their very media savvy antics.
The real chis need to seek help to get this straight out as the FAKE CHIEFS R GIVING THE GOOD CHIEFS A VERY BAD NAME
Please keep up the fight! I am sharing your articles and your webpage so Canada can know the truth about all these protests and many are funded with Tides Foundation ,a foreign funded anti Canadian resource group among others! I admire your courage to tell the truth in this day and age its harder to get with MSM! Those OW chiefs should be thrown in jail along with the Liberals and NDP ,Horgan and Trudeau you goofed up bad! Can you get this into any local papers,reporters, and the Rebel News,at least they tell the truth!
I’ll share as well, alot of Canadians have clued into the tides link as well as the bill gates link, but we need to make this viral, so will share on Facebook, twitter and every page possible, sorry this is happening to everyone, the UN, the liberals, greens, NDP and your hereditary cheifs who are doing this need to be stopped, we all have had enough, and the same thing with these activists and industry destroyers are trying to do the same to the US and Australia, Indigenous people there as well, Australia Nd Germany were first, then the US, then Canada
Here’s the latest GoFundMe campaign established 12 days ago which I am guessing is for the benefit of Warner Naziel and Adam Gagnon?…although they have not attached their names to it and use the more exotic guise of “Sovereign Likhtsamisyu” as the organizer/sponsor. I guess their earlier plea last spring on behalf of Warner Naziel for construction dough was languishing a bit… and it was best to set up another fundraiser while the topic was hot in the media? This second one is bringing in almost $4,000/day or so!
It was so much easier to figure out who established a fund and who was the recipient in the earlier $230,000 Cody Merriman plea in 2019 (organized by Molly Wickham’s sister and spokesperson, Jennifer) Cody is Molly’s mate btw.
Although that campaign is now over…an ongoing plea for funds organized by the mysterious France Maybe of Victoria has hit over $200,000 in approx 40 days. The recipient of these funds is Molly Wickham. I can only hope there is some fiscal accountability for how these funds are dispersed and used? The whole blockade fiasco has certainly become a “cash cow” for some these days. Sigh.
And on it goes….
Just to clarify a point made in the above FB post (although the post is directed at OW). Warner William has never worked for the Office of the Wet’suwet’en nor did his contracts come from them. He owned his own machine and worked for Kyah Resources which is an entity of the Moricetown Band. The others I cannot speak for.
Warner Williams is, however, on the Board of Directors at the Office of the Wet’suwet’en. It may be an unpaid position…but he certainly has a connection to the organization?
Wasn’t he on Band council for many years during this time as well as being part of the OW? I think someone needs to follow the money that goes Kyah Resources.
Besides being a hereditary chief, Warner William is listed as being on the board of directors of the Moricetown Band owned business Kyah Resources. He is also listed as a director at the Office of the Wet’suwet’en. I gather from above Ms McKinnon’s post above he also has his own equipment and works/contracts to Kyah resources. A pretty busy and enterprising fella all around.
WOW AND IS IT TRUE!
I have seen this same type of top down exclusionary dealings go on at the Blood and Peigan Reserves of southern Alberta. I wonder how many other First Nation members have been disenfranchised in their own land, by their own (so called) leaders across Canada? All this while complicit politicians take a bow for doing great things toward reconciliation while garnering votes from people ignorant of factual knowledge. Will we ever learn to view facts before jumping on the guilt assuaging band wagon?
Sounds like organised crime extortion.
In the interests of not being painted as someone unsympathetic to the plight of our Indigenous fellow citizens I will offer this. I am no stranger to these battles and have been on the other side of the barricades more than once. I know many of these people. For example, I have fond memories of the rollicking bus run up to Sun Peaks Resort from Vancouver in Sept 2004 for a demonstration…and I physically assisted in the dynamic re-establishment of a “watcher’s” hut on the outskirts of the resort to monitor further development.. I mingled with folks like Naomi Kline and Harsha Walia. I got to know the infamous Mohawk Warrior, Wolverine, from the earlier Gustafson Lake “standoff”. He got two years in prison for putting a rifle shot through an RCMP APC and flipping it ! We had a warm welcome by the Little Shuswap Band the night before. There was ceremonial dancing, speeches and dinner. I was flush with cash as I was a unionized Canfor millworker back then… and I donated $200 towards the bus cost for the trip…and another $200 not long afterward at the courthouse in Vancouver to help towards court costs incurred by the earlier demo. That being said…I have some huge doubts and lessening respect for how this small Smithers cartel of activists have gone about orchestrating this whole recent fandango of late. I not only have concerns about how over time they have managed to manipulate themselves into their present situation as supposed “spokespeople” via some questionable local antics within their own nation…but flabbergasted at how sundry outside non-Indigenous activists (aka allies) have swiftly come aboard and have helped develop some very savvy media manipulation to further their own particular agendas and gain exposure. I fear this has sown seeds of mistrust and divisiveness in the community. The original small group at the core of this forment have been less than honourable or honest about how they have gone about their machinations and have played the victim/sympathy card for all it is worth. They have played on historical settler guilt, sown discord through conflict & confrontation as opposed to seeking negotiation & dialogue. In my studied opinion (which is all this is) and from my local perspective I discern they may have more dubious motives and outcomes in mind for themselves? Celebrity, dough and a play for local political power perhaps being the most concerning. Their message and plight certainly has value and merit. Their anger is understandable. Their methodology for getting attention of late is suspect. Just some reflections and my honest opinion on the issue…from an old Social Justice Warrior. Peace.
The bottom line to all of this….. the democratic process has been done and majority must rule. Get the pipeline done…..!
I applaud your sitting down with pen in hand to let us know of your experience!
Both you and your late husband I do sincerely ADMIRE!!!
Sadly,I do understand that BC has never signed a treaty agreement with the Indigenous people,however,what is occurring presently is anarchy and unjust unjust to Canada as a whole.
Unfortunately,I do not have the answer to all this chaos ,however,I do know that what is occurring in terms of the blockades across rail lines etc.,going to the private premise of our Premer etc, is not the answer .. We do need our Federal Government and Prime Minister to take a STRONG LEAD.I am waiting to witness this ..
Actually British Columbia has signed 5 treaty’s to date and has a few working documents in progress with other Nations.
I admire what has happened with the Nisga’a Nation up the Nass way. Dynamic, independent and for the most part prospering with their own determined form of governance. I was particularly taken with their establishment of a Council Of Elders. Elected for two years, they function like a senate in some ways or a clearing house to monitor traditions and laws. A far cry from the confusing Hereditary Chief system that has caused infighting, factions and division in both the Wet’suwet’en and Gitxsan Nations recently. Let’s hope the present squabbles can eventually get resolved, some decent land claims are finally negotiated and settled once and for all, and the valley can return to peace and prosperity in fellowship with our indigenous fellow citizen, friends and neighbours.
The Gitxsan experience with gas lines, governance, hereditary chiefs and land claims here;
Thank you for the further learning / education. I am personally very aware of the plight of the First nations people and understand that there are severe complexities. It pains me because I have heard this first hand from the First Nations people who, I am proud to say, are part of my family.
Greed and corruption are a human problem that does not know cultural boundaries and have been from time immemorial and won’t be solved any time soon.
In the meantime it is important for all people to stand up and speak up when they see hypocrisy so that there can be a full understanding by everyone. And, shining the light of day on the situation is important to transparency and truth.
I believe that the gas pipeline is a ‘once in a generation’ opportunity for many first nations people to gain decent long term employment enabling them to care for their families and live fulfilling lives.