First let me say this is my commentary and purely my own opinion based on the events that have unfolded over the last few weeks, and no disrespect is intended by my opinions. The title is sort of tongue in cheek, as we have moved from calling aboriginal Canadians to First Nations, but for the sake of this piece, using the original adage is more appropriate.
Not everything we are seeing or hearing from both First Nations individuals, and leaders is based on law but rather political opinion. I will say this much, if the Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chiefs had consulted with their lawyer prior to telling their own people to hold the blockade prior to the police action, I hardly can imagine they would have been told it was a good idea to ignore the court injunction.
The blockades are, and were a political statement, and require in most instances a court order to remove them. And to those who say they do not care about our laws, tough luck, you have the right to change it if you’re not happy with the law but you must do so lawfully.
I listened with respect to what the chiefs had to say, some showed their wisdom by keeping silence, while others spoke out. I heard and listened with great respect to what Chief Namoks (John Ridsdale) had to say. In particular to his veiled threat about when the pipeline gets to his territory.
John Ridsdale makes comments about machine guns on police, against unarmed, loving wonderful people, unsaid is the social media comments indicating a very hostile resistance. Police had a duty to be ready in case someone did use a rifle in haste or anxiety, the blockaders have shown online that they carry guns for hunting, yes they were peaceful for the most part, but there was no guarantee in advance that weapons would not be used.
Police had a duty to protect the officers upholding the law of this nation.
In another clip John Ridsdale states that as far as he is concerned those blockaders are innocent based on upholding Wet’suwet’en law. Fair enough, but its not the law of this nation and to date the Wet’suwet’en have yet to prove they own the land. I make that comment based on the following information.
“In 1997, the Supreme Court of Canada issued an important decision, Delgamuukw v. British Columbia, that considered Aboriginal title to Gitxsan and Wet’suwet’en traditional territories. The Supreme Court of Canada decided that a new trial was required to determine whether Aboriginal title had been established for these lands, and to hear from other Indigenous nations which have a stake in the territory claimed. The new trial has never been held, meaning that Aboriginal title to this land, and which Indigenous nation holds it, has not been determined.”
My personal feeling is that John no longer has the public support he used to have, not even among his own people. He united both Canadians and First Nations to stop Enbridge, however a lot of doors are closing on him now as every community both aboriginal and non-aboriginal wants the LNG project to proceed. I am hoping they are just words spoken in haste out of bitterness as opposed to a new position of my way or the highway, burning all the bridges of trust and respect with all communities living in this region.
My greatest fear is that the burning of all these bridges will result in a return of bitumen pipelines, and all those people that were burned this round won’t lift a hand next round.
Local communities support First Nations but most certainly not if its at their own peril, its not just about one mans back yard, we are all in this together like it or not.
Chiefs would do well not to feed the radical elements out there trying to stop the pipeline, those same radicals also want to shut down hunting, trapping, and probably fishing as inhumane entertainment. They are only feeding off the frenzy of mass social media created by radicals and they are using what you say to promote their cause, not your cause.
Although there is unity in public by the Office of the Wet’suwet’en, I personally find it hard to believe there is unity behind closed doors. Why? If they had the support John Ridsdale claims they have, then there would not be such a massive gap between members and chiefs on this very issue.
Freda ran in the last election, let’s not pretend we do not know why.
There is an old saying, blood is thicker than water, so publicly the Hereditary Chiefs scored a lot of points among their own people by making this about LNG vs Wet’suwet’en.
Publicly the fight between David and Goliath has made them look like the heroes of fiction novels. As a PR stunt they won with a landslide, but only outside of our region, locally in our towns, villages and communities you are are tearing down years of trust.
Waves of support coming from every aboriginal community that signed on to the pipeline, this was not about money, or land, it was about aboriginals against the goverment of Canada and everyone wanted to get on board. Every anarchist, every professional protestor, more people from outside of our families lands were fueling that wave than by locals who live here.
However it will not be forgotten in time, who killed the massive injection of much needed capital for Witset (Moricetown) if these few chiefs get their way.
Every community both aboriginal and non-aboriginal from Haida Gwaii to Alberta are being held hostage to the demands of a few hereditary chiefs.
Video footage of Peter Grant appeared, then later disappeared, unfortunately because it left more unsaid than said. I can tell you what he did not say, he did not explain what the rights were of the Wet’suwet’en leadership from Babine Lake to Burns Lake “Wet’suwet’en First Nation” were.
He did not say what would happen if they went to court and the hereditary chiefs who were stripped of their title spoke, he did not say what would happen if the chiefs who do not live in Witset (Moricetown) spoke to the court about their rights to allow the pipeline.
What he did not say was that the Chiefs in Witest had more rights to the land in question than that of the Chiefs who want the benefits of the pipeline.
So where does it leave all of us? Well it appears for now our rights do not matter much.
I do hope that the honorable hereditary chiefs will sit down and reflect, on what this means to all our communities, not just their own back yard.
Sne kal yëgh
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