Youth in Ottawa demand that justice minister get involved in Wet’suwet’en situation

A group of young people who have been occupying the justice building in Ottawa is demanding Justice Minister David Lamietti meet with hereditary chiefs to sort out the conflict in B.C. or they say that reconciliation is “meaningless.”

Indigenous Youth and Allies for Wet’suwet’en are into their second day of a sit-in.

“He explained how this was a domestic issue. What is happening is happening in Wet’suwet’en territories and the human rights violations happening on their territories is a domestic and provincial issue and the federal government can not get involved,” said Mi’kmaw land defender Sophia Sidarous.

In a statement, Lametti said he has “spoken by phone with the protesters and have heard their demands. I committed to bringing their demands to my cabinet colleagues and to engaging with them in good faith in my capacity and within the confines of my powers as a federal minister.”

At an Assembly of First Nations gathering in December, Lametti stressed the need for Canadian and Indigenous laws to coexist.

“In our pluralistic country with a deep, dark history of colonialism, we have a responsibility, I have a responsibility as a minister of the Crown, to rethink our approach,” Lametti told the assembly. “For meaningful reconciliation to happen, Indigenous legal traditions must be recognized in their own right, and applied alongside western legal tradition.”

Lametti even alluded to the Supreme Court’s 1997 Delgamuukw ruling, which recognized  Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs’ jurisdiction over their unceded lands.

Watch part of Justice Minister David Lametti’s speech to the AFN


Demonstrators don’t accept his deflection to the province.

And have given him another 24 hours to meet their demands.

They said Lametti’s inaction would prove to them that reconcilliation is dead.

“Further reconciliation in the future should immediately stop. Because reconciliation is meaningless if it is not applied to situations and human rights violations that are happening right now,” said Sidarous.

Reporter / Ottawa

Originally from the Cree Nation of Chisasibi on the eastern coast of James Bay, Quebec, Jamie has lived in Ottawa since 2015. Trained in journalism at Carleton University, he has worked as a freelance print journalist and as a writer/researcher for the Cree unit of CBC North out of Montreal. Jamie was hired as the reporter/correspondent for the Ottawa bureau in October 2019.