Despite promises to embrace a new journey of reconciliation with Indigenous Nations in British Columbia, the provincial BC NDP government continue to act like a 19th century resource colony.
In order to preserve Crown and corporate interests, the BC NDP government maintain a policy that utilizes Court injunctions to protect the potential profits of a corporation over the rights of Indigenous People.
Reconciliation cannot be achieved at gunpoint. This is the third time that the tensions have escalated in the Wet’suwet’en territory, even though there has been significant, well known, and entrenched opposition to the Coastal GasLink pipeline for years. This government can list all the actions they have taken, however the problem continue to persist and their approach has failed.
Their use of injunctions and police to enforce the natural resource policy decisions of this BC NDP is no different than how previous provincial Crown governments have used the RCMP to clear the land of Indigenous People.
Mr. Speaker, on Monday, the Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation thought my rhetoric was “harsh and unhelpful.” He blamed the disunity in the Wet’suwet’en territory on the Wet’suwet’en people, even though the disunity is rooted in the actions of this Crown government over decades.
The people in this House know that they’ve amplified the chaos, created by the Indian Act, that has wholly disrupted Indigenous governance structures that took good care of domestic and international affairs.
The minister said on Monday: “There has been — it’s no secret — conflict between the elected and the Hereditary system, but we continue to do this historic work.” Historic work. What historic work? Manipulating boundary disputes that were created by the modern treaty process to further divide and conquer in this colonial project?
It’s unhelpful that the minister scapegoats Indigenous people for the divisions that this Crown government policy deliberately created in our communities. The minister knows, like all the ministers before him, Indigenous people divided against each other are challenged to be united to do the real historic work: reconciling the history of Crown-Indigenous relations.
My question is to the Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation. From his perspective, has the historic work in the Wet’suwet’en territory been successful?
Hon. M. Farnworth:
I thank the member for the question. I think all of us know that the work around reconciliation is difficult and challenging, but what I can tell him, that every minister in this government, every member of this government has been actively working to ensure that we are able to work to resolve the challenges that we face, whether it’s with Wet’suwet’en or other Indigenous nations around this province.
It is why we introduced and unanimously passed in this House the United Nations declaration of Indigenous peoples legislation, which is a foundation in terms of reconciliation. We know that there are challenges. They are long-standing. But I think all of us in this House are committed to resolving them.
Member for Saanich North and the Islands on a supplemental.
What we’ve actually seen is, basically, a throwback to the 19th century. The minister and this government continues to advance and defend a resource colony mentality. It was the Minister of Indigenous Relations in the 1990s who when he was the provincial negotiator suggested that we would want to leverage residential school healing funds to “sweeten the deal” for Indigenous nations to sign these rights extinguishing treaties.
As we are talking about this right now, as I’m asking this question, fully armed, militarized RCMP are rolling into the Wet’suwet’en to do exactly what they have always done on behalf of the political and corporate leaders of British Columbia. Clear the land of Indigenous people.
This government is still acting like that 19th century resource colony. The Minister of Indigenous Relations is okay, apparently, with us utilizing an injunction process that has elevated a corporation’s potential economic losses over Indigenous rights. It’s deliberate.
This province has always used the RCMP to protect corporate interests. On Monday, it was the minister who was offended by me raising these questions. To the Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation: same question that I asked in my first question. From his perspective, has the historic work in the Wet’suwet’en territory, that he talked about on Monday, been successful?
Hon. M. Farnworth:
I thank the member for the question, and I will reiterate the answer that this House, this government, is committed to reconciliation. This House, this government is committed to ensuring the implementation of the rights of Indigenous peoples through that legislation. It’s also about bringing together unity, which the Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation has spoken about in this House.
It’s why we have provided funding to help resolve some of the issues, the challenges that the Wet’suwet’en are facing between the elected and the Hereditary. We are continuing that work and will continue that work. I’d remind the member that this takes place in the context of courts that have a role, of this House that has a role.
As I said when I got up, this government is committed to that work, and that work is going to continue.