Minister and First Nations Conclude Negotiations

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Minister and First Nations Representatives conclude talks on blockades and protests.

Minister and First Nations have concluded talks on the status of the railroad blockades and protests against the development of natural resources in their territory.

The federal government and Mohawk First Nations representatives made “modest progress” Saturday. After hours of talks, Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller left the meeting near one of the blockades in question amid a crowd of media reporters.

However, Miller declined to elaborate on the details of what this progress entailed. Instead, he will deliver that message to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau himself.

“Tonight, we made some modest progress by opening up a dialogue with the people standing out there in the cold and doing so for eight or nine days. We talked openly, frankly, painfully at times, and sometimes with humour. There’s a lot more work to be done.”

Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller

The focus of the meeting was on the natural gas pipeline that crosses Wet’suwet’en territory. Opposed by their hereditary chiefs, these conflicting interests centre around a British Columbia based natural gas pipeline.

In addition, the minister said there are steps the federal government needs to take to resolve the blockade. The escalating situation, now in its 10th day, takes place on Mohawk territory near Belleville, Ontario.

In requesting the meeting, Miller asked to “polish the silver covenant chain,” a reference to one of the original agreements between the First Nation and the Crown settlers.

Despite initial goals, tensions remain strong.

Miller entered a closed-door meeting with about 80 people to have open communication and find a solution to the standoff. The meeting lasted approximately 9 hours.

The minister stated that his goal is to begin the opening of railway movement, as well as a broader discussion on government-First Nations relations. However, the discussion was quickly interrupted.

On a teleconference line, Wet’suwet’en hereditary Chief Woos spoke out against Miller. He stated that while RCMP units still patrol his territory, there would be no agreement.

In addition to this blockade, other blockades across the country have stopped both passenger and freight rail services. Now, pressure is mounting on the federal government to end them.

Despite this, local support remains steady. Locals have delivered toilet paper and snacks to the protesters at the blockade. Even one of the nearby pizza restaurants delivered free pies to the demonstrators.