What to make of Idle No More

I have mixed feelings about the Idle No More protests.

 

 

I have mixed feelings about the Idle No More protests. There are growing divisions within the First Nations leadership, and there has always been a lack of clarity about how best to address First Nations’ poverty and unresolved rights and title claims.

However, we must be very careful not to judge these protests too quickly or too harshly.

The freedom to protest is a key tenet of a healthy democracy. While we might be inconvenienced by protests or even disagree with the reasons behind them, it’s important to remember that the freedom to protest is a fundamental democratic right we need to protect.

We must take care that our impatience with the personal inconvenience public protests may create does not enable our government to exercise authoritarian control over our freedom to express ourselves.

The Idle No More protests have been a long time coming. They are the result of increasing frustration with treaty processes that are set up to fail, an Indian Act that maintains a paternalistic relationship with First Nations, and the development of natural resources that continue to have unresolved ownership claims.

Our federal and provincial governments pay lip service to resolving these long-standing issues, but their focus on accelerating the development of Canada’s and B.C.’s natural resources has brought the issue of resource title and benefit sharing to a head. In the absence of consultation processes that work, clarity of ownership over these resources, and equitable sharing of the benefits of resource development, First Nations’ frustrations have grown to the point that they feel compelled to take to the streets.

When the treaty table doesn’t work, when the government won’t resolve long-standing legal rights issues, and when companies and the government make money from natural resources to which they don’t have clear title, what is left for First Nations to do but disrupt the status quo to force action on these issues?

The courts have said these issues must be resolved. The investment community has said these issues must be resolved. But federal and provincial political leaders continue to address First Nations issues with little more than empty talk.

 

Instead of grumbling about the inconvenience these protests create, if we take the time to educate ourselves about these issues and join the call for reform, then maybe this time our political leaders will finally start doing the hard work of resolving these complex issues once and for all.

 

By Bob Simpson

 

Ind. MLA, Cariboo-Chilcotin

 

 

Just Posted

Police seek Hedley prowler

Mischief takes place at night

Heavy snowfall for Coquihalla

Kelowna - Snowfall is expected to continue on the highway until Sunday

Neighbours ‘save the day’ when Jeep starts on fire

Damage could have been much worse if neighbours hadn’t pitched into help with Jeep fire in Keremeos

Okanagan wineries back to business as usual

“It’s business as usual,” said Jeff Harder, owner of the Lake Country winery, Friday morning.

Region takes a leading role in film

Okanagan Film Commission shines in 2017

President praises nearly 1,800 volunteers at B.C. Games

Ashley Wadhwani sits down with the Kamloops 2018 B.C. Winter Games President Niki Remesz

The way government learn someone has died is getting a digital overhaul

Governments in Canada turned to private consultants 2 years ago to offer blueprint

Bobsleigh team misses Olympic medal finish

Canadian team finishes four-man event 0.84 seconds behind first place, 0.31 seconds from podium

A most delicious competition at the Mall at Piccadilly

Salmon Arm hosts the Best of the Shuswap Pie Baking Contest

B.C. Games: Athletes talk Team Canada at PyeongChang 2018

From Andi Naudie to Evan McEachran there’s an Olympian for every athlete to look up to

Snowboarders sliding into fresh territory at B.C. Games

Athletes hit the slopes for first appearance as an event at the B.C. Winter Games in Kamloops

Looking back at the 1979 B.C. Games: Good memories, even better jackets

39 years later, Kamloops is hosting the Winter Games again, with some volunteers returning

OLYMPICS 101: Oldest and youngest Canadians to reach the podium

This year, Canada sent its most athletes in Winter Games history, here’s a look at record breakers

BCHL Today: Cowichan Caps play spoiler and Nanaimo wins 10th straight game

BCHL Today is a (near) daily look at what’s going on around the league and the junior A world.

Most Read