“As House Chief it is my responsibility to protect our House territory. We’re asking the Court to get Canada to act before it is too late,” said Hereditary Chiefs.

Two Wet’suwet’en Houses launched, through their Hereditary Chiefs a legal challenge asking the Federal Court to declare Canada has a constitutional duty to keep the country’s greenhouse gas emissions well within the Paris Agreement limit of 2 celsius above pre-industrial levels.

Wet’suwet’en House Chiefs launch legal challenge over climate impacts of fossil fuel projects on their territories. Constitutional challenge alleges infringement of Charter rights of future generations of House members due to Canada’s failure to act to prevent spiraling climate crisis.

The legal challenge lawsuit describes global warming as an “existential threat” that has specific impact on the rights of the Wet’suwet’en as guaranteed under Section 7 of Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms: the right to life, liberty and security of the person.

“The climate crisis is already hitting our House territories hard. You only have to look at the shrinking Hudson Bay Mountain glacier and count the salmon. If Canada is allowed to continue approving infrastructure for fracked gas projects on a 40-year timeline, our territories will become a wasteland before the project licenses expire”, said Dini Ze’Lho’imggin (Alphonse Gagnon).

If successful, the lawsuit could lead to far-reaching changes to Canada’s environmental legislation. It would enable the federal cabinet to cancel approvals previously given to fossil fuel projects such as the LNG export facilities and pipelines proposed for Wet’suwet’en Territories and the northwest B.C. region. The cancellations would kick in if it becomes clear that Canada will fail to meet its Paris global warming commitment.

“It is a threat to their identity, to their culture, to their relationship with the land and the life on it, and to their food security,” the statement of claim reads. It is a responsibility because large fossil-fuel infrastructure projects are proposed to cross their territories.” (CBC News)

They also want a declaration that Canada has an obligation to meet those targets under a section of the Constitution that requires government to maintain “peace, order and good government.” (CBC News)

“Since colonization, the feverish pace of industrialization has created a climate crisis because Indigenous people were pushed aside from protecting the lands from which they came. It’s time for Indigenous people to assume our traditional forms of government, to begin that process of healing the biosphere,” said Dini Ze’Smogilhgim (Warner Naziel).

Dini Ze’Lho’imggin (Alphonse Gagnon) and Dini Ze’Smogilhgim (Warner Naziel) represent the two Houses of the Likhts’amisyu (Fireweed) Clan. Under Wet’suwet’en law, House Chiefs, whose legitimacy is established through public Feasts, are responsible for protecting the House territories for the benefit of all House members. Wet’suwet’en traditional governance has been recognized in Canadian law, based on the Supreme Court of Canada judgment in the Delgamuukw case. The Likhts’amisyu Houses, however, are basing their current case on the Charter and other constitutional provisions and not on theirs 35 aboriginal rights and title.

The Wet’suwet’en and other Canadians are already experiencing significant impacts from climate change, as Canada is warming at twice the global rate. In particular, the Likhts’amisyu Clan House members are experiencing forest fires and salmon population declines. Anticipated future effects include reduced forest cover and reduced animal and fish populations, as well as adverse physical and mental health effects on Likhts’amisyu members, both resent and future generations.

The Wet’suwet’en have a dual governance system. While all five elected band councils support the Coastal GasLink project, some hereditary chiefs oppose it.

source : Wet’suwet’en Houses