CAMPBELL RIVER, B.C. – Hereditary chiefs must always be consulted.

This is according to Laichwiltach Nation’s Hereditary Chief Tsahaukuse. He also goes by the name George Quocksister Jr.

Chief Tsahaukuse added that people and corporations like Coastal GasLink are trespassing into First Nations territory if they come to develop the land without consulting the nation’s hereditary chief.

He said consulting hereditary chiefs is important because they have been around for much longer than elected chiefs.

“The hereditary chief always existed. It’s gone down through families. The elected system was put in by the Indian Act. There was never ever an elected chief or council back in the day. They were created to divide us up as people, that’s the bottom line,” Chief Tsahaukuse said.

At a gathering on Sunday at Spirit Square, Chief Tsahaukuse spoke about how the lack of consultation with hereditary chiefs meant that Coastal GasLink is stealing the Wet’suwet’en territory.

Chief Tsahaukuse said Sunday’s gathering was to show support for the Wet’suwet’en Nation’s right to govern their own land.

The gathering was also a stance against the RCMP’s actions up in Houston.

Sonny Assu of the We Wai Kai and Wei Wai Kum said what is happening up north is frightening.

“It’s important to stand here today in support of them and those line defenders who are on the frontlines protecting the Wet’suwet’en people’s lands and not just for the Wet’suwet’en people, but also for future generations of all Canadians,” Assu said.

“It’s important to stand up and acknowledge this to protect our land, to protect our water. Especially here in Campbell River, in Laichwiltach unceded waters where we have fish farms wanting to come in and build their fish farming operations in our territory… what’s to stop the RCMP at a future point, when we stand up and say no to fish farms?”

“If we get up on these barges and say no, we don’t want this happening to us and the RCMP comes in and says “well, you gotta go”, because that’s an invasion of our laws, our hereditary laws.”

In all, five representatives from Campbell River’s First Nations were present at the gathering.