Wet’suwet’en: Crisis ignited by decisions in the B.C. Legislature

Wet’suwet’en: Crisis ignited by decisions in the B.C. Legislature


Last night we heard news that the federal
and provincial governments will be meeting with the Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chiefs. We can all agree that that’s a positive development
for all Canadians. We have to be honest about how we got here. The people in this chamber today are not responsible
for 150 years of colonial policies designed to undermine and exclude Indigenous people. But they are responsible for their votes to
continue that legacy. This time last year nearly every member of
this chamber voted to provide the ignition point for this conflict. Bill 10 handed billions of taxpayer dollars
to LNG Canada, inducing their final investment decision. All members of this chamber, excluding the
B.C. Green caucus, voted more than a dozen times, knowing full well of the long standing rights and
title challenges in that territory. When the B.C. Green caucus was notified of
the government’s intention to push forward on the project, I asked whether they had a
plan to resolve the situation, the long-standing situation. I was told not to worry about it; it’s taken
care of. Well, this does not appear taken care of,
does it? My question is to the Minister of Indigenous
Relations and Reconciliation. Why did this government vote to advance LNG
Canada before clarity around governance and reconciliation in the territory had been established? Mr. Speaker: Minister, Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation. I thank the leader of the third party for
his question. I also want to thank him for his continued
work on addressing reconciliation issues. I appreciate the question; however, we have
secured meetings with the Office of Wet’suwet’en, the Hereditary Chiefs, beginning this afternoon
and tomorrow. I believe this is a hopeful sign. I’m an optimist, of course, but it is time
that we pull together and not reflect on the past. We have decided that working with the Office
of the Wet’suwet’en, in cooperation, to find a way forward, we’ll address the rights and
title issues of the Wet’suwet’en people and do so with respect. That is what I’m focusing on. Mr. Speaker: Leader of the Third Party on a supplemental. Difficult thing, not to acknowledge the actions
that got us here — over generations and decades, actually. Now that the on- and off-again talks are on
again, it’s my sincere hope that the representatives going to the Wet’suwet’en territory to sit
at a table for as long as it takes for a good-faith solution to this Coastal Gaslink conflict,
and not just deliver an ultimatum…. It has become painfully obvious to British
Columbians and Canadians that this system is broken. It’s not serving anyone well in this country
or province. This Legislature has had a Select Standing
Committee on Aboriginal Affairs for the past 30 years. I’m on that committee. It exists in title only, because the government
has not empowered it to be effective. That is a fitting symbol, I would say. We have a tool for all of us here to work
together, across party lines, to find solutions to make the systemic changes that are needed
to ensure that the people in this chamber don’t just continue the dysfunctional cycle
that has been going on here for generations. To the Minister of Indigenous Relations and
Reconciliation: I’m calling on this government to immediately strike and rename the Committee
on Aboriginal Affairs and empower it to better inform the decisions in this chamber. Will they do so? Mr. Speaker: Premier. I thank the member for his question. He will know, as a new member of the House,
that committees of this place are struck by consensus. The committee is going to be convened — all
committees are going to be convened — and then we decide within this place what we charge
those committees to do. The member will also know that although it
hasn’t received a lot of attention, earlier this week, the First Nations Leadership Council
was meeting with government officials to begin the work to put in place a work plan to implement
the declaration act that was supported unanimously by all members of this House not two months
ago. Work is underway, government to government,
and that work will then make its way to the committee so all members can participate in
that. But the work has to be initiated before we
can get to that step. But I thank the member for his thoughtful
question. I can’t wait for the committee to be constituted
and do its work.

2 comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *