‘Held hostage’

Binche separation Committee asks feds to step in to get separation negotiations moving.

“We are being held hostage by the Tl’azt’en Nation.”

These are the words the Binche Separation Committee has written in a letter requesting third party negotiators step in to help the separation process along.

In the letter to Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada (AANDC), the committee asked AANDC to appoint a third party to stand in for Tl’azt’en Nation to help with Binche’s separation.

Binche, which has been trying to separate from Tl’azt’en Nation for over two years, said in the letter Tl’azt’en has been trying to “stall and ignore the process.”

“I don’t know what their real issue is,” said Josh Hallman, chair of the Binche Separation Committee.

According to the letter, “dissension and tension” have been building between the communities, as the process continues to stall.

Hallman expressed his frustration at the lack of progress, which has been very time-consuming he said for the committee members, but he said the proposal Binche put forward for Tl’azt’en to review was “straightforward stuff” but they have not yet had any response from Tl’azt’en.

“They don’t want to let us go,” said Hallman.

Hallman is hoping the letter, which was also sent to MP Nathan Cullen, will lead to either the appointment of a third party to negotiate for Tl’azt’en or to pressure from AANDC and the creation of deadlines for Tl’azt’en to carry out the negotiations and complete the separation.

AANDC said they can only act in an advisory role in the negotiations and will not intervene.

Essentially, if Tl’azt’en chooses not to come to the table, the negotiations are stalled.

Binche became part of Tl’azt’en Nation back in 1959, and Hallman said the agreement was for Tl’azt’en to provide services to Binche, not to own them.

“We’re not Tl’azt’en, we’ve always been Binche and we’re going to continue to be Binche,” said Hallman. “We’re not going to wait another 30 years.”

Tl’azt’en did not immediately respond to interview requests.