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

Need a doctor in Sooke? You may be in luck

In anticipation of recruiting more doctors, medical clinic accepting applications for a waitlist

Greater Victoria real estate sales numbers tell two stories for July

Real estate board president Sandi-Jo Ayers talks about pent-up spring demand, low inventory

View Royal mayor victimized in CERB identity theft scam

David Screech shocked to find his CRA account was accessed, his banking information changed

Driver loses control, crashes into Saanich furniture store

Crash at Lazyboy Furniture store Wednesday afternoon

B.C. Appeal Court prevents Victoria woman from using the term ‘death midwife’ in her job

Pashta MaryMoon claimed she had been providing “death-care services” for more than 40 years

B.C. doctors, dentists call on province for mandatory mask rule

Open letter says masks should be worn in indoor public spaces, public transportation or in crowds

Dwindling B.C. bamboo supply leaves Calgary Zoo biologists worried about pandas

Zoo has been trying to send pandas back to China since May

Sooke Fall Fair hosts scarecrow contest

The contest is open to both local businesses and Sooke residents

Facebook launches its new TikTok clone, Instagram Reels

Facebook has a long tradition of cloning competitive services

‘We all have anxieties’: B.C.’s top doctor addresses return-to-school fears amid COVID-19

Dr. Bonnie Henry promises school restart plan safe for B.C. kids

B.C. fish harvesters receive long-awaited details on pandemic benefits

Applications to the $470-million federal assistance programs will open Aug. 24

B.C. fish harvesters receive long-awaited details on pandemic benefits

Applications to the $470-million federal assistance programs will open Aug. 24

Most Read