Wet’suwet’en supporter Leah Melville chants with protesters on the steps of legislature before the throne speech in Victoria, B.C., on Tuesday, February 11, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Reconciliation requires that all parties have a voice

Pipeline protests by the hereditary chiefs and their supporters have legitimacy, says letter writer

To the editor,

Re: Blockades violating people’s rights to move freely, Letters, Feb. 18.

The current protests by the hereditary chiefs and their supporters have certainly created quite a mess. They do seem to have some legitimacy. After all one group cannot simply colour in a map and say, ‘All this is mine’ without considering the claim of another group that has lived there for 10,000 years. With no treaties or any other agreement, there is a real question over the legality for Canada and B.C .to claim ownership of that land.

However, not having followed the story of these pipeline negotiations in detail from the very beginning, I have some questions. The hereditary chiefs must surely have been aware of the negotiations. Were they present, were they just forgotten, or were they deliberately excluded? If so, who excluded them and why? Did they refuse to attend? If they were present did they state their case and was the agreement made over of their objections? Was their jurisdiction over these lands even recognized by anybody? The answers to these questions, I think, have some bearing on the legitimacy of the current protest.

It seems to me, from their reactions, the provincial government, the gas pipeline company, the federal government, and maybe even the band councils did not realize there was another group that had to be included. This has produced a royal headache. Just consider, however, the situation that might arise if a particular First Nations band council negotiated a final land claims settlement with the B.C. and federal governments and excluded the opposing hereditary chiefs from the discussions. That would be way, way past a migraine.

If real reconciliation is to be achieved we – all of us – at least have to figure out who to include in the talks when conducting formal negotiations.

R. Macdonald, Nanaimo

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Blockades violating people’s rights to move freely

To the editor,

Re: Blockades violating people’s rights to move freely, Letters, Feb. 18.

Every Canadian should be standing firmly behind the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs and their cause.

This is not a climate change issue, nor is it a pipeline issue. Every single one of us every single day in every single Western nation is being exploited and enslaved by a system rooted in the very colonization that has destroyed First Nations in this country. The system is failing us. It is OK to say it out loud. We all know it, so let’s stop denying it. We do not have rule of law. Justice is not equally accessible to everyone. We do not have a justice system but rather a ‘just-us’ system in which the laws are written and the processes created by those of power and their influence over the government which proclaims to serve us. Their laws allow them to execute their agenda(s) without being inconvenienced by the people they proclaim to serve. When they don’t get their way, the corporate enforcers are sent in to break up the situation and restore order – all done within the law, of course.

James G. Smith, Nanaimo

READ ALSO: Federal emergency group meets on pipeline protests as rail blockades continue

READ ALSO: Amtrak warns of delays as railways from Seattle to B.C. blocked by Wet’suwet’en supporters

The views and opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are those of the writer and do not reflect the views of Black Press or the Nanaimo News Bulletin. If you have a different view, we encourage you to write to us or contribute to the discussion below.

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