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

Driver slapped with $483 ticket for excessive speeding in Saanich construction zone

Police traffic unit reminds drivers to slow down in McKenzie interchange

Victoria police investigating chop-shop found in Beacon Hill Park

Police asking public to register bikes with them in case lost or stolen

Island Health issues Victoria overdose advisory

Health authority warns of increase in overdoses from opioids and stimulants

Saanich makes ALC appeal for Prospect Lake Elementary parking, portables

Council votes in favour of seeking non-farm use designation

Central Saanich council spills plans for alcohol in public parks

Local expert Adam Sherk praises decision, warns of liberalization

Recent surge in COVID-19 cases not unexpected amid Phase Three of reopening: B.C.’s top doc

Keep circles small, wear masks and be aware of symptoms, Dr. Bonnie Henry says

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of July 13

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

B.C. NDP changing WorkSafeBC regulations to respond to COVID-19

Employers say reclassifying coronavirus could be ‘ruinous’

Statistical flaws led to B.C. wolf cull which didn’t save endangered caribou as estimated

Study finds statistical flaws in an influential 2019 report supporting a wolf cull

Beloved Island woman dies at 106

Dorothy Adair adored by the many people she met in Chemainus in two short years

Man arrested for allegedly pushing unsuspecting seniors, jumping on cars at Parksville mall

Cops arrest man after ‘aggressive incident’ at Wembley Mall in Parksville

B.C. man who went by ‘Doctor Ray Gaglardi’ charged with sex assault of teenage boys

The man, 75, is accused of assaulting teenage boys he met through Coquitlam-area churches

B.C.’s potential deficit $12.5 billion as spending spikes, taxes drop

Finance Minister Carole James gives COVID-19 outlook

Canadians torn on scaling back COVID-19 benefits to save money: poll

Of those surveyed, 78 per cent said they were worried about the size of the deficit

Most Read