Justin Trudeau says the Incident Response Group will talk about how to handle the protests against a natural gas pipeline that crosses Wet’suwet’en territory in northern British Columbia. (Photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS)

EDITORIAL: Time for an end to blockades

Holding the economy hostage a poor way to achieve reconciliation

The time is long past for the barricades to come down.

What started earlier this month as a protest of TC Energy’s plans to build its Coastal GasLink pipeline through the traditional territory of B.C.’s Wet’suwet’en First Nation has become a convoluted mess. Blockades, supposedly set up in support of the Wet’suwet’en are now threatening our economy and are hurting innocent people as they endure the fallout of the protests.

Those protests are far from straightforward.

The 20 band councils along the pipeline route all support the gas line project which is committed to hiring Indigenous people and supporting Indigenous economies.

It’s the non-elected hereditary chiefs who inspired the protests and it’s worth noting that this is a group that does not automatically assume any office. In fact, it was only last year that three hereditary chiefs were stripped of their titles by the others in their group. The three women, who supported the pipeline, were replaced by three men who did not. A similar move in 2016 saw two hereditary chiefs stripped of their titles by the Haida Clan for supporting the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline.

The practice of stifling dissent amongst its own people should be a cause for concern about the legitimacy of the group.

And beyond the questionable representative authority claimed by the indigenous protestors, there is some question of what exactly, is being protested.

The protest having the most deleterious effect is actually a CNR rail-line blockade in Ontario by a small group of the Mohawk First Nation. That blockade is not endorsed by the local band leadership and, although it is ostensibly there to support the Wet’suwet’en, their demands seem to have more to do with their own land claims.

The blockade of the rail-line has already led to more than 1,450 layoffs by the rail companies.

Our ports have been impacted with more layoffs there, and some goods are now in short supply as their transport is disrupted.

RELATED: Bare shelves

Other, non-indigenous protesters have glommed onto the opportunity with a variety of grievances— many related to environmental concerns.

Some indigenous leaders have called for this to be a time for a renewed effort at reconciliation — a reconciliation apparently motivated by being held, metaphorically, at an economic gunpoint.

It’s a poor way to garner support or resolve grievances.

In the end, this strategy will hurt both our Indigenous and non-Indigenous populations.

First Nations

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A Saanich police officer in an unmarked vehicle stopped a driver going 70 km/h over the speed limit in front of the police department. (Saanich Police Traffic Safety Unit/Twitter)
Driver caught going 70 km/h over the speed limit in front of the Saanich Police Department

Officer in unmarked car issues $483 ticket, week-long vehicle impound

BC Greens leader Sonia Furstenau says British Columbians face a choice between “false majority government” and a “more cooperative, collaborative” form of governance during a campaign stop in Saanich North and the Islands Monday (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
BC Greens leader makes pitch for minority government during stop in Saanich North and Islands

Sonia Furstenau calls on British Columbians to reject ‘false majority government’

Saanich police are investigating a break-in that occurred at the Liquor Plus in the 3800-block of Quadra Street sometime overnight on Oct. 20. (Google Maps)
Investigation continues after overnight break-in at Saanich liquor store

Small wood panel removed, multiple items stolen

Ma Miller’s Pub in Langford. (Michelle Cabana/Black Press Media)
Historic Langford pub serves up some spirits

Ghostly experiences at Ma Miller’s pub

Michael Arthor Leighton is wanted by the Saanich Police Department for assault. (Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers/Twitter)
Police seek man wanted for assault in Saanich, multiple charges in other jurisdictions

Michael Arthor Leighton is known to travel around the Island, Saanich police say

FILE – People wait in line at a COVID-19 testing facility in Burnaby, B.C., on Thursday, August 13, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
167 new COVID-19 cases, 1 death recorded as B.C. enters 2nd wave

Three new healthcare outbreaks also announced

Advance polls are open from Oct. 15 to 21 with election day on Oct. 24. (Black Press Media file photo)
Rio Tinto Alcan’s aluminum smelter at Kitimat competes against producers in the Middle East and Russia that have no carbon tax. (Rio Tinto)
B.C. carbon tax highest in Canada, export industries unprotected

B.C. NDP, B.C. Liberals say they’re looking at exemptions

(Pixabay)
Vancouver teacher suspended after swearing, touching students and complimenting underwear

McCabe touched students, including rubbing their backs and necks, touching their hair and hugging them

Chris Istace campaigning in Crofton. (Photo submitted)
Green Party’s Istace apologizes for remark about First Nations gaming grants being a ‘handout’

Island candidate determined to do better in thinking and communicating matters of reconciliation

Sails down, masks up for Ron and Sherry Pryde, who completed a 119 day journey that was supposed to be 70 days. (Zoe Ducklow)
Coast Guard towed rudderless sailors to Port Hardy hours before a powerful storm

Rudderless for a month, the couple zigzagged most the way home with “a few donuts and lazy-eights”

A glimpse of some of the 480 (approx) cars written off as a result of the acid spills along the Trail highway in 2018. Photo: Trail Times
2 years after huge highway acid spill, Kootenay Ford dealer’s frustration grows with ICBC

Trail AM Ford owner Dan Ashman says he just wants fair compensation from ICBC

Mail-in ballot from Elections BC (Katya Slepian/Black Press Media)
At least 26% of eligible voters have already cast their ballot, Elections BC says

Voters can cast a ballot until 8 p.m PST on Election Day

A 2018 decision to fly a rainbow flag ended up costing the City of Langley $62,000 in legal fees (Langley Advance Times file)
Human rights win in rainbow flag fight cost B.C. city $62,000

“Lengthy and involved” process provoked by complaint

Most Read