Minister prepared to stay in northern B.C. for Wet’suwet’en talks ‘as long as it takes’

Canada’s minister of Crown-Indigenous relations is willing to stay in northern B.C. “as long as it takes” to reach a solution with Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs over the Coastal GasLink pipeline dispute, her staff said Friday.

Carolyn Bennett’s spokesperson made the comments to Global News as the minister and her B.C. counterpart Scott Fraser took part in a second day of talks in Smithers with the chiefs and other parties both for and against the project.

The ministers later confirmed they are staying in Smithers overnight and plan to continue talking Saturday morning. But the hereditary chiefs will likely not be available until later in the day, they said, citing funerals they are attending.

Friday’s meeting went late into the night, with all sides staying past the departure of the last flight out of town — guaranteeing the ministers would be staying at least until Saturday evening.

Those inside the hall said the talks were productive and went well, but no comments were provided once the group went home for the night, other than to say no resolution was reached.

Bennett’s spokesperson said comment would likely be provided Saturday morning ahead of the next round of talks.

Ahead of Friday’s meeting, Fraser said he’s also willing to stick it out until a deal can be reached that’s satisfactory to all sides.

“We’re ready to roll up our sleeves and get to work on the things we disagree on,” he said.

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