"if you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen
the side of the oppressor." - Desmond Tutu.

Pipeline, Site C issues are also about Indigenous rights Featured

 

It is pathetic to see how the two contentious issues - Kinder Morgan Pipeline and Site C dam - are being evaluated through a purely economic standpoint and the pragmatic lens of big business which controls not just the media, but also the political structure of this country.

Most of the time, people get swayed by what is served to them in the name of development and progress. And if this is not enough, fear tactics, such as spiralling gas prices, are used to alter public opinion in support of the pipeline.

This has polarized Canadian society completely, and the minority groups, especially those from immigrant and non-indigenous communities, are no different. Many of them also support controversial projects, like Kinder Morgan and Site C, just for the sake of being part of the mainstream discourse that is being throttled down cunningly by the rich and powerful.

It’s a shame that a broader section among the settler immigrants, who are so passionate about their minority rights, won’t see that the opposition to these projects is coming from another most important minority community: indigenous peoples who make merely four percent of the Canadian population, despite being the original habitants of this land.

The indigenous communities have been consistently fighting against occupation of their traditional lands and attempts to push through development projects into their territories without informed consent. 

In spite of the fact that the development model of the dominant society has already done enough harm to the environment, creating problems like global warming and climate change, we remain skeptical to the political strength of the First Nations to dismantle such destructive models and provide us better alternatives. 

During such hard times, when we should actually be relying on the leadership of the First Nations who hold the key to keep Mother Earth safe and healthy, we continue to ignore their skills, despite  knowing well that they are much closer to nature and the land.

The way Kinder Morgan and Site C dam are being projected as symbols of development by ignoring the concerns of the indigenous groups, the governments in BC, Alberta and Ottawa are showing that they are no different from the colonial governments of the past.

It goes to the credit of the BC’s New Democratic Premier John Horgan that he has taken a strong stand against Kinder Morgan, yet he cannot escape the blame of giving a green signal to Site C dam. Likewise, Horgan’s party colleague, Alberta Premier Rachel Notley, may be a progressive leader as against others in electoral politics, but she continues to overlook the interests of the indigenous communities who are opposing Kinder Morgan.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, in spite of his humanitarian approach toward minorities and indigenous communities as against the previous Conservative leader of the country, has also failed to keep his words on nation to nation consultation with the First Nations on such ticklish issues.

Horgan supports Site C, while Notley and Trudeau support Kinder Morgan, which brings them on the same page when it comes to addressing the issues of the First Nations. Their only common defence to this charge would be that some First Nation groups are on their side. But who cares? Racist politicians like Donald Trump also have some Muslims, Mexicans and Blacks on their side. This is nothing but the politics of showcasing and photo ops.

It is time to stand up and call spade, a spade. If Canada really means what it says, it must stand up to show that it respects its indigenous population. The apologies for historical wrongs won’t do. Politicians of all stripes, left, center or right will have to fix this problem. Racism against indigenous communities is deeply entrenched in our political structure and we must acknowledge it and try to remove it honestly rather than repeating the mistakes of colonial masters in a more sophisticated manner.

 

Above all, the minorities who are so concerned about their own existence and rights in Canada should stand up for the Indigenous Peoples, who are the actual stewards of this country, and make Canada accountable for not doing enough to fulfill its responsibilities under the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

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