Reconciliation means not stealing land

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We are watching history repeat itself. We are watching history repeat itself.

This same message preached more than a year later

For weeks now, the standoff between the people of the Wet’suwet’en First Nation and the Coastal GasLink pipeline has been flooding news organizations around the country due to recent changes in the treatment of the protestors by the RCMP.

Normally when writing about these types of stories, I like to offer a recap of what has taken place so far, what it means, and where we go from here. Unfortunately, I feel as though I’ve recapped stories like this far too many times in the past four years I’ve been working here at the Carillon. This story is hauntingly similar, and that’s the problem.

The people of the Wet’suwet’en First Nation have been protesting the proposed plan for Coastal GasLink to build a pipeline on their territory. According to Smithers Interior News, a news organization based in B.C., the pipeline project is “a 670-kilometre pipeline set to run from northeastern B.C. to LNG Canada’s export facility in Kitimat.”

And, just like I said before, I feel as though I’ve written about stories just like this numerous times during my time here at the Carillon: the government attempting to take control of land that isn’t theirs. As a country, this is ingrained in our history. This behaviour is beyond repetitive. But, when I looked into my news articles further, I realized just how right I was.

Exactly a year ago, I wrote an article entitled “Wet’suwet’en solidarity protest” for our news section detailing this exact situation. In said article, I wrote that the proposed pipeline passes through Wet’suwet’en land, and that the land has “never been formally handed over to the government via treaties or other means.”

I hate that a year later I’m stating all of this again. I so desperately want to say that things have improved – that the government has backed down and is allowing the Wet’suwet’en to decide what they want to have happen on their own land – but I can’t.

In fact, the only thing I can say is that things have gotten worse. A week ago twelve Wet’suwet’en supporters were arrested by the Victoria Police Department despite the protest being peaceful.

These actions are not reconciliation, and this is where a majority of my anger sits.

When I was writing my news article a year ago, I tried my best to keep things objective. I didn’t want to inject my opinion into a serious story. Instead, I tried to supply all the facts from every side, hopefully letting the readers establish a view for themselves. I did this with every news article I wrote. I could only hope that everyone who read my stories knew the side that I sat on.

But now, this is one of the perks of my current job: I don’t need to bite my tongue anymore. I can inject my opinion into everything I write, so I’m going to.

It’s absolutely laughable that the Canadian government preaches about reconciliation while doing things like this. It’s disgraceful, it’s atrocious, and it is everything that we, as a country, should stand against.

Indigenous Corporate Training made a blog post on their website about “what reconciliation is and is not.” On their list, they said reconciliation is not “a single gesture, action, or statement, a box to be ticked” or “about the loss of rights for non-Indigenous Canadians.”

It is “[recognizing and supporting] the deep connections Indigenous Peoples have to the land, building relationships, humility,” and “a commitment to taking a role and assuming responsibility in working towards a better future for every Canadian.”

The Canadian government needs to take notes.

When people point to Canada and claim that we have a racism problem, this is what they mean. They mean that we are attempting to take land from its rightful owners just because we believe we deserve it more than they do. That’s their home. That’s their life that you’re trying to slap a pipeline through.

It’s disgraceful that as a country we still believe that making money and closing a business deal is more important than protecting the homes of the rightful owners of the land. It would be a national scandal if the government attempted this with any other group, so why is it not more of a scandal now?

Because Canada has a racism problem. Because Canada still believes it can steal the homes and plow through the neighbourhoods of Indigenous communities just because they feel as though they are entitled to it. Because Canada, to this day, doesn’t see First Nation and Indigenous communities as equals.

I’m sick of it, and you all should be too.

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