Experts on Wet'suwet'en-Coastal GasLink dispute

Social Sciences, Humanities, Law, Education, Human and Social Development

Unist'ot'en Camp building with banner. Credit: Wikipedia Commons

The following University of Victoria experts are available to media to discuss various aspects of the current Wet’suwet’en-Coastal GasLink dispute including protests and blockades, broader issues of Indigenous law and governance structures, environmental review processes, the impact of colonial policies and where the public discussion should go next: 

John Borrows (Law) is an expert in Indigenous law. He can discuss most aspects of the framework of law surrounding the dispute and questions of Wet’suwet’en title and jurisdiction, internal dispute resolution measures, Wet’suwet’en law and government, the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) and Section 35 of Canada’s Constitution. (Office: 250-721-8168 or

Nick XEMŦOLTW̱ Claxton (Child and Youth Care) is an expert in the revitalization and resurgence of Indigenous knowledge through community-based and land-based enquiry. He is the elected chief of Tsawout Nation. Based on a recent study, he can speak to the need for Indigenous-led environmental assessments and discuss recommendations for co-creating research and monitoring programs with Indigenous Nations in adherence with UNDRIP. (Office: 250-472-4948 or ) 

Jeff Corntassel (Indigenous Studies / Centre for Indigenous Research and Community-Led Engagement) is an expert in Indigenous political movements, community resurgence and sustainable self-determination. He can speak to how the UNDRIP relates to free, prior and informed consent on Wet’suwet’en lands. He can also speak about unceded Indigenous land in BC and what that means in terms of Indigenous self-determination and land use. (Office: 250-472-5021 or . Please note, he is available after March 2.) 

Matt James (Political Science) is an expert in reparations and political apologies. He can comment on historical injustices and how Canada has responded to historical wrongdoings. He can also speak to how this may relate to the current situation between the Wet’suwet’en and the federal government. (Office: 250-721-6489 or ) 

Tamara Krawchenko (Public Administration) is a land use researcher and policy analyst specializing in regional development for the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD). As lead author on Linking Indigenous Communities with Regional Development in Canada, she can discuss how Canada can strengthen negotiations with Indigenous groups and improve environmental assessment processes in alignment with OECD recommendations. (Office: 250-721-6442 or ) 

David Milward (Law) is an expert in criminal law, evidence and Indigenous justice. He can discuss aspects of criminal prosecution in relation to the protests and blockades. He is available between classes Monday to Friday. (Office: 250-721-8154 or

Brian Thom (Anthropology) is an expert in the political, social and cultural processes that surround Indigenous People's efforts to resolve title and rights claims and establish self-government. He can comment on the challenges of implementing Aboriginal title in practical terms, and what Aboriginal rights and title may mean in a post-truth and reconciliation world. (Office: 250-853-3895 or )    

Edōsdi (Judy Thompson) (Indigenous Education) is a Tahltan scholar and educator and is an expert in Indigenous language revitalization and reclamation. She can discuss why it’s important for all Canadians to know the history of colonization, the impact of colonial policies on First Nations communities, as well as how settler Canadians benefit from colonization. (Office: 250-472-5499 or )

Note to broadcasters: Contact Suzanne Ahearne to discuss in-studio Skype or FaceTime interviews with researchers.

Image: Unist'ot'en Camp, Wikipedia Commons. CC BY 2.0


Media contacts

Suzanne Ahearne (University Communications + Marketing) at 250-721-6139 or

In this story

Keywords: indigenous, government, reconciliation

People: John Borrows, Nick XEMŦOLTW̱ Claxton, Jeff Corntassel, Matt James, Tamara Krawchenko, David Milward, Brian Thom, Edōsdi Judy Thompson

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